he holds the roll of bills bunched tight in her fist. Like a strong wind
would be all it would take. Her savings gone like that, tumbling across
the pasture. The address is right but the place feels wrong. Empty
fields, a barn drooping like a sick dog, the paint on the farmhouse left
or leaving. Not the kind of place to start a family. She shuts the door on
the sedan and walks up the humpbacked drive.
The doorbell chimes like a death rattle through the house. Nobody answers. Nobody ever answers. Eyes shut at night, all of her bunched up into hoping. She has enough stored inside her to bring this whole place to life. She bangs on the door, ready to cave it in if she has to. Somebody yells for her to come round the back.
She follows a trail of busted and broken paving stones around the side of the house. A fat man sits in the shade of the porch. He pours her a glass of lemonade and smiles. He has a small black tooth and she tries not to look at it.
They say a few nice things and when he asks for the money she gives him it to him. The bills wadded with the sweat from her hands. The quiet desperation of last resorts and rites. He takes a long time filling out the certificate. He waves it when he’s done, to dry the ink. It even looks legitimate. The more she stares at his tooth, the more she feels like she’s tumbling backward into darkness.
He leads her through the furrows. The field not fallow here. The soil rich and dark. Fronds of cabbage, still young, the leaves curled inward, keeping things hidden.
At the far end of the field, he leans down and grabs hold of an iron ring set in the ground. The door comes open with a puff of dust. Concrete steps leading down into darkness. The stink of cabbage. And then the sound of crying. Small forms wriggling down there in the darkness. Potato faces, dabs of eyes. All of them reaching out. Pick me, pick me.
Remember when you were a minipop, and you saw that film, you know, the one you loved that never had a sequel? Well, let's say it did. And it was just like you imagined it, only a little bit worse.