You prepare your son’s breast milk by heating it gently in the pan of boiling water. The tiny bottle bobs and lulls like a lost Bouie, the fawn-colored liquid inside bubbling slow and steady, like the waves before they rogue.
You take the bottle out, press the fake nipple against your wrist like you have watched your wife do every day, and test the tepid temperature. You screw the lid off the bottle, hover it over your cup of black coffee, and pour it in. You take a loud sip, relishing the sweet taste of your wife’s milk.
She has been ignoring you, your wife. Not on purpose, of course. Lately all of her attention has been directed towards your new son. You understood this was going to happen. The new parenting classes you had to take at the hospital advised you of this. A new baby means things change. Still, you missed where your lips once touched the sweet petals of your wife’s areolas. How she would tremble like a shy earthquake about to erupt. The power of your touch always was a wonder for you. Now: Vaseline clung to dry, cracked nipples where your mouth once sucked. Her breasts were huge buffalo bladders, swollen with lightning struck scars on stretched skin.
You hand the bottle with the remaining liquid to your wife. She looks up at you, storm clouds under her eyes, and pushes her lips into a smile. Daddy’s little boy, she says.
Hillary Leftwich
Skippyjon Jones
Judith Byron Schachner