IT'S IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO IMAGINE going my whole life without having kids. I want to be a mother more than anything. I tried everything for the past two years—natural conception, in vitro, little tricks like herbal teas to relax me and keep me prime for fertilization. I even lit a candle after mass every Sunday for fifteen weeks. But every try was met with a heavier and more expected disappointment. Dr. Greenburg basically told us to give it up. He suggested adoption. It was in our “best interests” to avoid getting our hopes up.
I apply more red lipstick in the bathroom mirror. I probably had enough on two applications ago, but it’s something to keep my hands busy. The purple circles under my eyes are pretty well-concealed by foundation, and my mascara is perfect. I play with my brown curls. My hair is half clipped back, but I’m not sure how much of it should be in front of my shoulders and how much should be behind them.

mes into the room. He grabs me around the waist and kisses my neck. “You look beautiful,” he whispers in my ear. I grin, staring at his reflection in the mirror. The few weeks before he’d asked me out, I would grin just thinking about Derek. My cheeks would hurt after a while. But it was a good kind of aching.
It was freshman year of college, and Mom and Dad had been fighting with Lisa again. The smell of her incense still lingered around the house, though I’m sure Mom had already made her put it out. It was summer, but already dark outside. Yanni was still blasting from Lisa’s room, though, something heavy on violin. Mom and Dad were convinced that Lisa was doing pot; she’d been listening to all the New Age stuff for a couple of years by then, since she was about thirteen, wearing “that hippy shit” as Dad liked to call it, and burning her incense. The truth was that Lisa didn’t do pot until college, but our parents wouldn’t believe that. As I sat on the couch in the living room, scribbling something about the French Revolution into my notebook, I heard the steps squeak. I turned toward the front door. Lisa crept down the stairs, then hung a left and walked into the living room, sitting on her knees next to me, facing the window. Her hair was straight, waist-length. She wore a sleeveless white shirt and a long purple skirt, and as she sat, legs folded up under her, she played with the gold coin bracelet on her wrist. I underlined a phrase in my textbook.
“So how bad was it this time?” I asked, still looking at a map in my textbook.
“Eh. Not any worse than usual,” Lisa replied. Even when she was in deep, she managed to sound calm. That might have contributed to her reputation as a pothead. “You know, Mom screaming, Dad all silent and disappointed and whatever. The whole nine yards.”
I glanced up at Lisa as she pulled the curtain aside. She stood up and slipped on the flip-flops by Mom’s wooden organ in the corner. “Kitty, Ryan’s here. If Mom and Dad happen to ask, could you—”
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About Audrey T. Carroll

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Audrey T. Carroll is a Creative Writing major at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. Her work has previously been published in Sphere and Variance. She is co-editor of Variance this year.
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