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The Anniversary

After Jin-Ah got the call from the doctor’s office, she gazed out of her living-room window. Thick clouds, black and hulking, stared back. It was mid-November, and drizzling. The low, grungy sky looked more like a wall than atmosphere. Even Will’s favourite tree across the street seemed raw and thin, but little brown birds still whipped in and out of it as if it were spring. Jinny took this as a good sign. Only happy birds flitted about like that, she thought, and decided that she might also be happy. Then, just at that moment, a little brown bird, the size of a coin purse, flew straight into her window, making a crisp clunk.

Jinny shrieked.

She dropped the phone which she had forgotten to put down after the doctor’s call. The battery pack and bits of plastic scattered across the wood floor. Damn it, she said to herself, and got to her knees, making sure not to move too suddenly for now a tiny something was starting inside her, dividing inside her. While putting the phone back together she couldn’t help but laugh at herself for having shrieked when no one was around to hear it. If Will had been home, she wouldn’t have made a sound. Will liked silence. He liked for the air to remain still. Sometimes they went entire evenings without talking and Jinny had simply grown accustomed to this.

She popped in the battery pack, scrunched in the wires. The baby, of course, would not be silent. Fearing Will’s reaction, she considered telling him the news in public. Dinner at a restaurant, perhaps. A place with candles and circular booths of velvet. The idea cheered her up. The baby news would melt them back to love. Maybe they would sit side by side and hold hands, though they hadn’t done so in a while, not even in private. She would look into his eyes, and if the moment felt soft enough, she would playfully hint at being pregnant by reciting a poem. ‘I’m a riddle in nine syllables,’ she would start, and after saying the final lines (I’ve eaten a bag of green apples, boarded the train, there’s no getting off) she would make Will guess what she was, the way she made her AP English students guess. Will was a dentist, not a man of literature. He stared into mouths in search of disease. But he did enjoy puzzles and might like solving this riddle-poem. Jinny looked out of the windows again, the screens now jewelled with raindrops. They could take a cab to Lincoln Park and then, if time allowed, stroll to whichever restaurant caught their eye, light drizzles and grey skies be damned.

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