Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some Other Parents' Yes

The doctor says the o-word and it hangs like a guillotine in the air. Your father asks, If this was your child? The doctor says, Yes, of course. Without a doubt. Do I have your permission? Your mother, exhausted from delivering you, is crumpled on the bed, her open-backed gown still pushed up around her wet thighs. Your father looks at his wife, at her damp curls slicked back. She is too scared to cry. That's when your father says it. Yes. You imagine that tiny yes fluttering down from your father's lips like a falling maple seed. Sometimes it is a helpless yes, a grasping yes, a choking yes, a yes that wraps itself around his throat until it squeezes the last drop of air from his soft esophagus. Sometimes it is a mean yes, a cruel yes, a yes delivered in relief, a yes uttered simply so the decision will be behind him. And sometimes it is a no-yes, a yes that might have been conceived of as a no, a no that might have morphed into a yes, spontaneously, on his lips, like a butterfly breaking through its husk. And sometimes--sometimes--when the doubts pushing on your mind at forty-five thousand pounds per square foot are more than you can take, you wonder if, perhaps, the word that tumbled out of his mouth was a no after all, a tiny one, light as rice paper, and maybe a cross breeze from a door swinging shut sucked it away and it was some other parents' yes the doctor heard.

--Megan Pryor

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