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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Puppet for Lily

The first time I saw her she was rummaging through the trash, high out of her mind on god knows what. When she found what she’d been looking for—a soiled shred of plastic bag—she tied it in her hair like a bow. She began clawing savagely at her face, as if bugs were crawling underneath her skin, and that’s when she turned and I saw it: bursting out from underneath her cutoff top was a huge belly…she was at least six months pregnant.
I saw her again about a month later. The sun had barely reached its zenith of the afternoon when I recognized her on the street—a different piece of trash bow-tied in her hair—and not pregnant. Did she have a crack baby? lose it? abort it? I barely had time to wonder because I was forced to hop back clear across the sidewalk. With fingers down her throat she was spewing vomit all across Mission Street, the entire crowd at the bus-stop her audience. She was crying hysterically and tried to wipe her face but only smeared the puke that had been dribbling from her mouth. Ironically, I’d just said goodbye to my friend Lily who’d revealed—gushing with excitement—that she was pregnant. We’d left a baby boutique minutes before, wondering if the little creature swimming inside her would prefer a piggy puppet or a lop-eared bunny once it was born.
Steering clear of the puke puddle, I suddenly crossed the street heading back towards the baby boutique. Tears bubbled at the brim of my eyes without spilling down. The piggy puppet, I said over and over, the words reeling silently round in my mouth. Lily had to have the piggy puppet for her baby—she had to.

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