Or
Samuel Cole
Break

They started bombarding me the moment she showed me the positive pregnancy test; lucid, lurid flashes of his, or her, future. Stadiums chanting his, or her, name; penthouse, or playboy, views; hobnobbing in the right, or left, circles; the big, or small, screen; jet setting to London, or Mumbai; just, please God, anything but me.

Day of delivery, moments before the birth canal opened for business, I saw my little boy, or girl, standing beside me, holding my hand, looking up at me with big loving eyes, as if to say, hi there, daddy, you're my best friend and hero. I almost fainted, or vomited.

I held our boy, Joseph Clarke, and fell in love with all of his pieces, parts. Skin against skin never felt so electric, or vulnerable. Half-me in every way. Better schools, clothes, shoes, houses, cars, toys, and friends shot me like bullets, each one sinking deeper, crippling me further, drastically altering the way I smiled at my wife, laying there smiling at me, as if to say hi there, daddy, you're my best friend and hero. I almost cried, or dropped Joseph from my wishy-washy hands.

Days, or nights, got shorter, Joseph busy testing the limits of parental love, and winning. Mundane tasks of diaper duty, baby lotion, or powder, sink baths, and rocking chairs made me forget, or ignore, the visions I had before birth. Cooing, or spitting up, has a remarkable way of sticking you to the present.

But words, or sort of words, babbled. Sitting up wasn't merely an option anymore, but a choice. Walking came natural. Sucking on everything, or anything, became pleasurable for both of us. The house, little as it was, became overtaken by the littlest, or biggest, person in the world.

We tried playing catch, or throw, but neither one seemed normal. I exemplified speed, but he rather enjoyed taking it slow with his favorite dolls. We sang, or hummed, nursery rhymes, but he sounded as off-key as me. I tried to stretch him out, but he refused to grow. Stadiums, penthouses, and jet setting began to fade, or die, replaced by doctor visits, or big sounding machines which made Joseph, and his mother, tremble, or cry.

But we, or I, wouldn't give up, determined to find our place in this world. Little doesn't mean useless—or does it? No, it doesn't.

So we tried things again, this time with modified shoes and the tiniest glove I'd ever seen. But kids point, or laugh, at things they don't quite understand and Joseph began asking questions like why do kids point, or laugh. So I lied, not one to acknowledge weakness, or fabricate the truth, and said, "You are no different than anyone else."

"Me bees better net time," he said, my little boy, or girl, standing beside me, holding my hand, looking up at me with big loving eyes, as if to say, hi there, daddy, you're my best friend and hero. I almost fainted, or vomited.

Samuel Cole lives in Woodbury, MN. He loves to run, STEP, photograph radiators, hang with friends, boo bad movies, and of course, write. Website: www.maneuverableword.com.