One night, after too much pink wine and cheap whiskey, my husband asks if I want to start a family. I do.

Together we pop what remains of my birth control pills into the garbage. One by one by one. Pop, pop, pop.

Early the next morning, just before dawn, the earth tremors here, here, and here, unlike anything anyone has ever seen.

And, later, I dig the pills out of the trash, swallowing them all, one by one by one.

We measure my basal temperature, figure out when I ovulate, fuck furiously. We do it doggy style, because we read that it increases the odds. It feels feral and raw, natural and wrong.

The newscasters on TV tell us it is the hottest day in June on record. The house swells in the heat, and we sit in front of the fan, dripping sweat and semen.

***

We think, maybe, this time it has taken. I awake expecting blood, but there is none, and this gives us hope.

Hotter and hotter days keep coming. Bugs have taken up refuge in our home.

Finally, we buy a test and rush home, but something has beaten us there: something red and slick as guilt. We do not cry.

We just keep trying.

***

At this rate, the ice caps will melt sooner than expected. The oceans will swell with it.

I keep my legs over my head after we’ve finished. Not a drop drips out of me. We are conserving it all.

***

The doctor tells us it just takes time: each body is different. We ask if we should do a fertility test, see if something more is wrong. He assures us this would be premature. Creation takes time. Our world took millions of years, after all.

Our conversations are thick with the silence of things we cannot say. Doubts. Fears. Relief. Blame, worst of all.

If only you hadn’t wrestled in high school. Hadn’t worn such tight jeans.

If only I hadn’t taken all those pills. If only I would’ve let myself bleed.

***

People begin to talk. Too many cars, too much fossil fuel. No, it’s what we’re feeding the cows, don’t you know? If everyone switched to vegan diets, we’d have more time. Fuck the government. They did this to us.

***

Sometimes, we just can’t look one another in the eyes. There’s too much pain there. We fuck, and his hand covers my face, and I don’t move it. For the first time in weeks, I come. I come gloriously. No child should be made in that.

Snow begins to fall. This gives us hope. We play in it like children, dancing around the yard, sticking our tongues out to let it melt in our mouths like cotton candy.

We only taste ash.

***

The next time I think I’m pregnant, I keep it a secret. I don’t want to get his hopes up again. I see the way he looks at me and the way he doesn’t.

And, I’ll admit: I want to cradle this on my own. I want to feed this secret at my breast. I want to let it grow.

The moment I’m sure, something bursts forth from the ground. All those tremors. They shook something loose.

The newscasts are all in terror. Big cities evacuate. Small ones close in on themselves. Something has come, and with it our destruction.

Pastors preach end times. This must be an avenger. An angel of death. Antichrist. This must be a goddess of destruction—like Kali or Cailleach.

***

Once morning comes, whole cities have been leveled. The rivers run red. There’s no counting how many have died. Better to count those who lived.

He says we shouldn’t bring a child into this. What were we thinking? We should be praying, instead. We don’t remember the last time we prayed. Did we cause this?

I ask him who we should pray to—his god or mine? And did he know that Kali is both the creator and destroyer?

I tell him about the pills out of the trash. I tell him about my secret, how it grows. I tell him that God must be a woman, to be so angry.

He looks at me and I know that he knows what a woman is capable of.

Hannah Gordon

Hannah Gordon

Hannah Gordon is a Detroit-based writer, coffee addict, and amateur baker. She is the managing editor of CHEAP POP. Her work can be found in Ellipsis Zine, Maudlin House, Synaesthesia Magazine, WhiskeyPaper, and more. When she's not writing, she's hanging out with her cat and watching cooking competitions or shows about angsty teen vampires.
Hannah Gordon

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