She had said it that morning. She said it aloud, her eyes closed — all the rules followed: “white rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit.” In response, Ernest rolled over and rubbed his wife’s swollen belly: “Are you craving rabbit stew now or worried about the white elephant gift?” In the light of the morning, white light through white gauze curtains falling on white sheets and a tangle of white legs.
“Oh,” she said, “it’s a good luck thing, Ernie. Nothing, really.”
He had laughed at her comment, saying, “I’m not sure you starting the year off with superstitions is all that helpful when you know this white elephant’s trunk always delivers.”
In that moment he had been in her hand. She had squeezed. She had released, smiling into his eyes as she heaved her delicate, yet gravid, body out of their cloud heavy bed. “Don’t lecture me about superstition when we have to get ready for your mother’s new year breakfast.”
With a groan he tucked himself into the waistband of his briefs and launched himself out on his side, saying, “at least you don’t have to go with a hangover.” For a moment, both remembered the previous night: stars, his cocktails, her grape juice, champagne flutes, clinking. Twenty-eight days from the due date: things were coming together — right.
“Every morning is a hangover for me right now,” she had said to him as they met at the end of the bed with an underwear-clad kiss, “thanks to you.”
He had responded with a sly wink of one blue eye, “you were there too, I recall.” This sentence was repeated an hour later as Ernest pulled his red truck into his mother’s driveway. Harmony was naming on each finger the family members she would feel obligated to remember.
“Yes, but that was a year ago, exactly.” Before opening the door, she sighed and saying, “Terry and Terrie, Chrissy and Christopher, Gene and Jean...”
“It’s not that bad,” he had said, kissed by the sun as his mother met them on the porch with gentle hugs.
“What’s not that bad?” slipped out of Ernest’s mother’s mouth.