Issue #19 |

Learn to Love Your New Body

When bumps that look like something between pimples and warts erupt across her stomach, the doctor welcomes her to the postpartum experience, tells her bodies do weird things. When her underarm hair starts to grow down her ribcage, thick and stiff, almost like the shaft of a feather, he tells her she needs to stop expecting to go back to what she was. “Bodies change,” he says, “especially after pregnancy. Learn to love your new body.”

She wants to ask him when she’ll learn to love her new life. Instead, she pulls a heavy sweatshirt over her new growth and leaves, embarrassed at what she’s become. Motherhood has turned her into a mess of unwashed hair and dirty sweatpants, unwaxed mustache and milk-crusted bras. The baby demands to be held, screams every time it eats. Her only role now is to feed the baby, then to rock it until the wailing stops. Late at night, she sometimes wonders if this is all she’s ever done.

When something begins to sprout between her shoulder blades, she ignores it, and only when her shirts won’t lay right does she have her husband take a look. “Wings,” he says. “Tiny ones. Like a baby chick after hatching.” He touches one. It tickles. “I think you’re growing feathers.” Rather than go to the doctor, she practices accepting these changes, though she wears a hoodie when she leaves the house.

 

To read this story, please purchase a copy of Issue #19 or, to never miss an issue of Story, subscribe to the magazine

Laura Leigh Morris is the author of The Stone Catchers: A Novel (UP Kentucky, August 2024) and Jaws of Life: Stories (West Virginia UP, 2018). She’s previously published short fiction in Laurel Review, JMWW, Pithead Chapel, and other journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing and literature at Furman University in Greenville, SC.

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