She’s Getting Tired of Crackers

She knew she should eat the last, stale cracker. It stared at her and she stared back but she didn’t pick it up.

Tara’s stomach was empty. The emptiness made her nauseous, but she couldn’t eat the cracker.  It was the last one and it was all alone, and she felt sorry for it for a moment until she remembered that she had to be an adult now and shouldn’t feel sorry for inanimate objects. It was time to give up childish ideas, and a grown woman and a mother should never think about the emotions of a lonely cracker.

Crackers probably don’t even have feelings.

It had been a long eight weeks, mostly spent eating crackers identical to the one at the bottom of the bowl, the lonely one, and throwing them up moments later. She might have been able to keep this business to herself, she thought, if it hadn’t been for all the vomiting. But her mother had taken her to the family doctor when she’d been sick for three weeks, and though she’d begged, Dr. Nelson had refused to go along with her “terrible stomach virus” diagnosis. Sarah was vaguely aware of words like HIPAA and patient confidentiality, but she certainly didn’t know what to do with them and expected that he would tell her mother. He had, and the ride home after that first visit had been silent. Sarah clutched her stomach, fought back nausea, and every few minutes sneaked a glance at her mother. She saw Susan’s set jaw and stone gaze. Weeks later, her facial expression was unchanged.

Susan hadn’t recovered yet. It takes time measured in longer increments than weeks to get over the fact that you’re going to be made a grandmother at 38. No one else had discovered their situation yet; it was between her and Tara, and her husband, of course. Dave had cried when he found out that their only daughter had gotten herself in such a mess, and he’d since gone silent on the matter.

For now they avoided the topic. Susan bought crackers and poured them in bowls, set them on Tara’s nightstand beside the shiny bottle of prenatal vitamins, and went back downstairs without speaking. Sometimes she brought a ginger-ale, too, and set it on a coaster. Dave hadn’t shared the care-taking responsibilities, but no one noticed because he’d never shared any care-taking responsibilities. It was as if nothing had changed in their home except that their daughter had gone on some sort of fashionable all-cracker diet. That was something that Tara would do, too. She was always following silly trends.

Susan hadn’t found much to hope for in the situation. As the weeks passed and the chance of miscarriage decreased, the reality began to take hold. She was going to be a grandmother, her daughter a teenage mother, her family a spectacle among the community.

The first ultrasound was Tuesday. That gave her three days, thirty-six hours, nearly half a week to prepare herself. She lightly held her rosary and prayed without forming words.

Must there be a heartbeat?

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