'Eggs' by Bob Jacobs

Something laid eggs in my wife’s ear. The eggs hatched. The baby things burrowed into Gloria’s brain and killed her while she slept. There wasn’t a mark on her. They cut up her body to find out what did her in and the baby things were still in there.

Everyone dies. Not everyone gets killed by babies. I’m thankful that they killed Gloria while she slept. If she’d been up and about, if she’d been driving to the library, if she’d been helping an elderly person across the road when the baby things munched tunnels through her brain, it might have been far worse.

She was in pretty good health when she died. She’d put on a few pounds, walked slower than she used to, and had to get up in the night to pee. She wore glasses for reading, was missing a couple of teeth, and rested a moment when she got to the top of the stairs, otherwise she was in pretty good health.

She liked babies, but we never had any of our own. We tried, we really did, but it didn’t happen. For a long time we thought it still might, but it never did. Things that happen often happen suddenly. With things that don’t happen it’s often more gradual. Sometimes it takes years for something to not happen. So it was with us and not having a baby. It took years. I think I only really accepted it that morning when she wouldn’t wake up.

It seemed at the time like the baby things killed Gloria suddenly, but thinking about it, that last evening she’d complained of a headache while we were eating dinner. Maybe that's when the baby things started eating Gloria, while she was eating a chicken and mushroom pie, with mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy. Maybe it began even earlier. She took aspirin. That seems ridiculous now, but she told me before she went to bed that evening that the headache had eased a little.

She liked eggs. She could poach to perfection. She must have poached a thousand eggs over the years, each one cooked so that the white held together while the yolk was a golden runny sunrise kept in place by expectation, waiting to grace a plate of bacon.

Knowing what I know now, I don’t know what we could have done differently. We’d still have tried for a baby, she’d still have poached those eggs, she’d still have taken the aspirin. Maybe there was something else, something more we could have done. Now it seems like we did so little, and we did it so gradually.

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