Story: You Are What You Are

By: Tracey Levine

pregnant woman

Light pours into Judy’s bedroom window as if it’s coming from a tipped pitcher. Michele’s on her elbows, back arched to the window, sunning. It saturates her bare, pregnant stomach. Judy sits beside her on the bed, also tilted back but just slightly, struggling with her own, very pregnant, front.

Judy slowly gets up, goes to her closet, and opens it. Stuff falls out and bounces off of her protruding belly. The percussion makes Michele sound, “Huhhhh!”

Judy ignores the spilled items and digs in, has to come into the closet with the side of her body so that the bump isn’t in her way. When she finds what she’s looking for, a plastic, kiddy record player, she clumsily removes it and disturbs more stuff in the closet that rolls out into the room.

Michele says, “Jesus Christ, Judy! It’s like a fucking avalanche!”

Judy backs up with the record player resting on her front. She says, “It looks like my closet puked.”

Michele gets up and the bed springs quiver and ping repeatedly like tinny, far-away music. She pulls her enormous shirt taut over her belly, and says, “Sometimes you’re so fucking dumb, Judy.”

Judy drops the record player by a wall socket then uses the bed to lower her body to the thinning carpet. Just below a half-squat, she lets herself fall. When she lands, the firmness moves through her middle like a flash of heat, and she tells Michele, “You’re pretty dumb too, you know.”

Judy plugs the record player in and sets it up for play. She inches over to her bed and bends closer to the ground. She pulls a meager stack of records out from under it and feels she’s being watched. She looks up to see Michele leaning back on the dresser with her arms crossed over her breasts. Michele demands, “What you got there?”

Judy responds, “You won’t like them,” then slowly inches her way back to the record player with the stack under one arm. She lays the records beside the player and takes the one on top in her hands. She puts the sheathed record to her face and inhales deeply. Michele comments, “I thought you got over that phase. Jesus, I don’t want to hang out with you if you’re going to be a freakshow again.”

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