Her Body, His Money, Their Child

by Jacob Richardson

His penthouse overlooked a beachfront. High tide crept towards the building. It was too early in the day to be so dark outside. It had stormed earlier and would soon storm again. Thunderclouds would give birth once more.

She was lollygagging in front of the bathroom vanity, wearing black lace nighties that he had bought for her. She was pinching her waistline and looking at her butt from the side. Her stomach was full with food he ordered for her from room service. The girlish potbelly on her petite body made her look like she was still a few weeks pregnant.

“You’re getting fat,” he said. “I’ll have to buy you a corset.”

He watched her from the dinner table through the open door in the bathroom.

“Maybe I’m eating for two,” she said.

“Don’t joke about that.”

“I’ll do as I will.”

“You always do.”

“Doesn’t everybody?”

He was scraping the cheese from his cheeseburger because he ordered a hamburger, not a cheeseburger.

“No,” he said. “See this? You know I eat cheese on everything, even applesauce. But our religion says we shouldn’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”

“What’s it say about being with prostitutes?”

She was teasing her hair. He could see her reflection grinning in the mirror.

“That’s complicated,” he said. “And anyway, you were an escort. I paid you only for your time. It’s been just you and me since we met, right?”

“Yeah,” she said. “You’re my only client for almost half a year.”

“Don’t call me a client. You know I hate that,” he said. “I was supposed to be more than that.”

“What’s that even mean? Boiling a kid in its mother’s milk?” she said.

“Mixing milk and meat. It’s like mixing life and death. It’s complicated,” he said. “Our religion says to separate milk and meat.”

“Your religion,” she said.

“It can be your religion too,” he said. “And our children’s.”

“I want a wedding ring before I ever have a baby.”

“Is that why you got the procedure done?”

“I don’t know. I don’t want to argue about this again.”

“Tell me. Look at me.”

“I just don’t know. It’s a complicated thing too.”

She lit a cigarette, causing a pregnant pause.

He had lost his appetite. There were still traces of dairy on his beef.

He got up and looked out through the panoramic windows that surrounded his suite. He stared out at the restless fecund ocean.

“There’s two kinds of people,” he said. “To some people, the beach is where the ocean begins. To other people, the beach is where the ocean ends, people who do what you did,” he said.

He looked at her. She looked at him.

Another storm was near. Lightning struck somewhere in the ocean and the light flashed on their faces. It wasn’t long before the thunder sounded.

“It’s my body,” she said.

“You used my money to pay for the operation.”

“It was my choice!”

“It was our child!” he said, as the thunder crescendoed.

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