What the hell do they call that cell before it splits into two and then four and so on until a baby? Well that is what you were when your mom and me lived on a riverbank, under a greasy hill.
Before we lived together I’d cruise by flapping my feet in big loud splats that I knew she could hear from half the block away. She’d be all, rapping her cane against the curb, knacking her head around in slow circles, zeroing in on my location. Your mom has echolocation like bats do only not nearly as good as bats. On the other hand, I’ve never seen your mom run into a plate glass window and I seen bats do it.
So I’d feet-slap up to her and I’d put this huge goofy look on my face because it gave me courage, see? And I’d say, “This girl is blind because the gods won’t let her see her own true beauty. If she did, the earth might explode.” I’d make crashing sounds with my mouth. She would laugh like the stars caught fire.
That laugh wrecked me. Oh, your mom is pretty, with dainty features and strong shoulders. Unblind she’d of been an athlete of some kind. But that laugh! You will never laugh like that, and neither me, because we can see somebody might be looking.
She loved me for my nose and because she finally admitted she echolocated that I always put a stupid look on my face. She thought it was cute, and I was the only guy she knew that was nervous around her. She felt special.
She spent one night in my box with me, and I swore up and down that a woman so fine as that deserved an apartment and a job-man and I’d become it for her.
She touched my face on either side with both hands. She said, “If you do that, we won’t be free. Every tiny thing you keep is one more small chain. Sooner or later, just like Gulliver, those tiny chains hold you fast.”
All I said was, “I love you.”
Under the bridge crossing the greasy river, I built a house that swung on chains. I stole the pieces from construction sites. Stealing, she told me, was fine because it isn’t really yours, so it doesn’t own any piece of you. Your mom liked the noise because it blocked out her echolocation and made her feel blind. Blind people, she told me, ought once in a while to feel that way. I’d snake my hands under her dress and tell her that once in a while I ought to feel a blind person. I’d make her laugh and then I’d love her.
Under that bridge, with the cars and trucks whirling overhead and the noises all around, it was a naughty feeling all the time. Some crazy combination of dirt and noise and animal piss mixed with human, all washed away by the constant clean sweep of the river left me feeling naughty like a twelve year old and the National Geographic with a latched bathroom door.
One time, when you was way past the zygote and well into fetus – almost baby, you was – I came back from gathering. I feet-slapped loud under the bridge. Nothing was there but one chain hanging. From it was a note. The note read, “The baby needs Gulliver chains. I broke the house so you’d stay free.”