Birth by Timothy Parrish

Once I tried to kill my mother.  Some acts you can’t outlive. Ask her and she’ll tell you.  Everybody ever born had already done what I was supposed to do. I knew better. My head hid deep within her bodydoubting the efficacy of creation. It took her three days and nights to issue me. Back then I was a fighter. At some point near the end the doctors spoke of at least saving the baby. Her body recoiled and the reverberation moved me. I could have died, she said, and said again throughout my childhood, with your father watching and thinking of the cigars he was going to give to every stranger in the hospital. What about me, I never managed to reply. From the womb my tiny little baby head had known a crime was in the offing. I came out feet first, skidding. I gave myself up. Years later, when I went to college, I was required to write a paper stating my view on abortion. I was for it. Mom read my paper and was furious. How could you think such a thing? What if I had aborted you? My point exactly, though I could not bring myself to say it to her, because, I can’t deny it, she is my mother.  So I’ll tell you, whoever you are.

I entered this world a failed murderer and found myself sentenced to life.

[The author’s picture is not posted at the request of the author]

Timothy Parrish is a writer and critic affiliated with the Comparative Literature Department at the University of California, Davis and Virginia Tech. His story, “Philip Roth’s Final Hours,” appeared in Raritan (Summer 2016) and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novella, “The Critic,” just appeared in Ploughshares Solo (2017). His most recent book of criticism is on Ralph Ellison. He also edited The Cambridge Companion to the American Novel.

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