You will be here tomorrow, or three weeks from now. The toughest waiting game.

I stop at the slightest jab in my abdomen, waiting, hoping. Could it be? I hold my breath as you sleep, waiting for your next move to know that you are okay, that you are breathing, that you are still there, nestled against the soft curve of my uterus. My body has changed to make room for you, changed so much it has become unfamiliar–like someone else’s–but not one stretch mark, as if you grew to fit only the space my body was able to make for you. This growing bump I’ve been watching, measuring, rubbing, the only sign of you I have for now. Only a small layer, a curtain in between us, concealing you. Our anticipated christmas gift. I think of your smile (mine or your father’s?) and pray for you to be kind — the terrifying responsibility we have to teach you to be a decent human being, one filled with compassion and love. Will you remember the songs I sang to you when you were no bigger than a bean? Will you recognize my voice when they prop you onto my chest, still caked in red and white, your eyes swollen shut? I think of your personality, on the cusp of gemini and cancer, and wonder: what kind of child will you be? expressive? introverted? sensitive? Who are you, my little man? What will it be? 

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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