Cracked

Fried: When I turned thirteen, my older brother handed out tabs of acid and brought me and my friends to the beach. There was a guitarist who played notes that swarmed like bumblebees, hanging in the sticky, summer air before winding into the distance, their stingers ripping a rainbow through the damson-charcoaled sky. An octopus ran his tentacles over my skin, suction cups sticking in the bends between my elbows, knees, and thighs, before he moaned the most intoxicating red I’ve ever seen, and I bled blue.

Over-easy: Mum never got over the fallout from what happened at the beach and planned a mission overseas with the church, three weeks before my baby was due. She said it was her responsibility as the pastor’s wife, and claimed she didn’t realize pregnant people were restricted from travelling internationally. My water broke, flooding our microfibre couch during a Top Chef marathon. The ambulance didn’t arrive in time, and Lucinda was born in our living room while I stared at last year’s family portrait—the one where my parents still looked proud of me.

Poached: Lucinda held my pinkie while she slept, nestled inside my sweatshirt and a tea towel covered with sunflowers. Her strawberry-coloured lips knit into a perfect kiss as we were wheeled into the hospital. My dad’s sister met me at Admissions, her evening gown clinging to her hips and smelling of champagne and octopus. She dabbed at my tears and told me to keep the noise down while they coaxed Lucinda from my arms in order to give her away to another family.

Scrambled: The antidepressants my therapist prescribed in my mid-twenties didn’t work. All I saw was Lucinda. Her perfect nose, tiny toenails, and endless eyelashes. In the dark, her heart beat against mine, her hands and feet drummed on my insides. My therapist didn’t think I needed anything extra, so I found someone who did and wasted the rest of the decade away with him.

Basted: It took eleven years to decide to try again, on my own. I followed the defrosting instructions the clinic gave me, squirted the specimen’s sperm toward my cervix, and vibrated myself until orgasm. I caught up with Top Chef on my old DVD player over the course of the next forty-eight hours, while sitting cross-legged and praying.

Hard-boiled: The cello lessons I took on a whim led me to first chair of the community orchestra, and to Mason, whom I met at a recital. We married ten months later at city hall, on a hot July morning, and celebrated alone, over sweet tea and beignets. Two months passed before my gynecologist told me fibroids had blocked my fallopian tubes. The next week Mason came home with a golden retriever, whom we named Sunny. She slept on my side of the bed.

Jennifer Todhunter is a number nerd by day, word fiddler at night who enjoys dark, salty chocolate and running top speed in the other direction after her two children. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in theEEEL, Word Riot, Pidgeonholes, and Unbroken. She can be found on Twitter at @JenTod_.

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