irma and her em­manuels

Scout - - FICTION - By ANTHEA REYES

THE CLINIC doesn’t close dur­ing the hol­i­days. Maybe on Christ­mas. Maybe. But for the rest of the hol­i­days? Con­trary to what most peo­ple think, ba­bies don’t stop drop­ping un­til late into Christ­mas Eve.

bla­tantly wel­com­ing any girl des­per­ate enough to pass by.

A lot of the girls who come to her are stu­dents. High school, col­lege, med school, law school. Four times out probin­syanas who ven­tured into the city spon­sored by their par­ents or some ex­tended fam­ily mem­ber in the hope of giv­ing bet­ter chances for the rest of the fam­ily. The girls usu­ally come right be­fore Christ­mas break, right be­fore they have to come home. If their par­ents didn’t know, if no one knew, then it didn’t hap­pen. And so they look for her, for Ate Irma. All of them doubt­ful, all of them scared, all of them un­grate­ful.

The story’s al­ways the same. They got out, they fell in love, they got fucked, and then they wanted out again. Away from this kind of re­spon­si­bil­ity, away from that kind of life.

told her. As if there was more than hav­ing another life in­side them. As if there was more than this mir­a­cle in­side their womb.

to keep the baby of the only man she had ever cared for, if that child hadn’t been force­fully sucked from her womb by hands that raised her, then she wouldn’t have wanted any­thing more out of life. Other than the one she would have borne.

So here she is. Tak­ing care of the women who would throw away what she would tear heaven and earth for.

don’t want them, if they want to waste their chance, then she’ll be right there to catch it for them. She will take care of the mir­a­cle they can so will­ingly, so cal­lously throw away.

The clock on her wall strikes a minute past mid­night. left, alive if a lit­tle un­steady from the surgery. She takes the pre­cious lit­tle thing that was just cast out of its home. She glances at the other lit­tle bod­ies care­fully pre­served in the beau­ti­ful jars she cleans at least twice a day. For later. For now, the lit­tle baby in her hands will do. If their moth­ers don’t want them, then she will take them and wel­come them into her own womb. Make space for them again and again un­til one catches, un­til the dam­age is un­done.

The baby twitches. She al­ways re­serves the fresh­est one for her Noche Buena.

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