After I marry Eddie at the courthouse in my pink gown from the school dance, Lee takes us to Dollar General. She—he hands me one hundred dollar bills and says, “To set up your new life with my son.”
Eddie says, “Thanks, Mom,” even though Lee doesn’t have her—his—her boobs any more. Eddie looks more like Lee now she’s a man.
We got nothing, so we’re glad for the $100. Mom says Daddy’s sold Diana, my 4-H cow, because the inseminations won’t take and what’s the good of a dairy cow that don’t give milk? Diana’s in love with a moose that hung around last fall, so it’s not her fault. Daddy should’a given me the money he got for her anyway.
Eddie carried me over the threshold, and we fucked like bunnies on a mattress last night. Lee and my folks wouldn’t believe it, but that was our first time. Eddie treats me old-fashioned. He’s cute. He doesn’t care what the other boys say or that my wellies have cow shit on them. To him, I’m neither slut nor dairy queen. And I’m not now. I’ve got a husband and apartment in town. Mom and my brothers can get up at five to milk and muck without me.
We start with eight white plates, four mugs, and eight bowls for cereal, soup or ice cream. A can of Folgers. The empty can will keep the loose change we’re saving for a car.
Eight glasses. “Look at these.” Eddie holds up a beer mug. “We’ll freeze them like Dad does.” When Eddie’s dad drinks, he looks at Lee like that bull moose looked at Diana.
“Wine glasses,” I say. “Way classier.” I ting one with a glossy pink fingernail.
“Just use regular glasses,” Lee says. She—he is right, dammit. I put it back. We already have four Big Gulp cups.
Eight forks, spoons, butter knives—a bargain at two for a dollar. A plastic tablecloth so we can have the folks over: Mom, Daddy—if he’ll come—, Lee and his girlfriend, Eddie’s dad, my little brothers, Eddie’s half-sister and her baby. The baby won’t need utensils. Good thing the baby’s father ditched her, because we wouldn’t have enough plates. My piggy little brothers can use paper. I chuck four boxes of spaghetti and eight cans of tomato paste into the cart. That’s $43.
Aluminum roasting pan, spatula, three wooden spoons. Colander, blue bowl, purple pot holders, and purple-striped dish towels. Good thing I saved three bent pots and a scratched frying pan from Grandma’s house when she died. A cone for making coffee. Foil, plastic wrap, paper towels. A box of candles to stick into the empty wine bottle from after the homecoming game when we got engaged. Matches to relight the pilot in the apartment stove. A vase. I get some marigold seeds, six for a dollar on account of it’s December, to grow in spring.
Lee puts a butter dish into the cart, and I pick salt and pepper shakers shaped like fat babies. Eddie, who’s not superstitious, gets one serrated knife and one paring knife. My mother won’t give knives because a gift of knives will sever the relationship. Did Daddy ever give me a knife? I look at Lee, wearing a t-shirt tight enough to show huge chest and arm muscles. How does it feel to have your boobs cut off? I wonder if he nursed Eddie.
My mom didn’t breast-feed any of us, though the mid-wife and Daddy wanted her to. “Fucking boob-nazis,” she’d said when the visiting nurse came to the farm after my middle brother’s birth. “And you—“ she’d said to Daddy. “You’re just cheap.” She’d handed that brother and a bottle off to me two weeks later to get back to the dairy. The littlest brother after him too. I missed Diana—her soft prickly cow muzzle chew-chew-chewing, her side warm against my back as we lay in the pasture, that stupid bull moose mooning across the fence—more than I missed the boys. After every insemination, I’d waited to feel something move. What would that be like?
Lee and Eddie veer into the hardware aisle for duct tape, a screwdriver, whatever our last one-dollars will buy.
I’m alone. This aisle smells of baby powder. I slide my hand under my coat to my belly, still flat. Another month, I figure. The baby bottle slips into my breast-pocket. Not one of the one-hundred ones.
Photo By: Sweet-Tooth Cakes and Cupcakes