Belly Up

Betsy was all for heading to the Caribbean or Central America, to the Rio Dolce, the “sweet river”, in Guatemala.   That was where I imagined delivering the baby, anchored up  surrounded by jungle, where a medical helicopter probably couldn’t land, even if there was one to call.  But that was part of the attraction.  All-or-nothing consequences appealed to my romantic side, that is, the side I was trying to stay away from by not falling in love with the woman I married, and with whom I intended to have children.

It didn’t occur to me that the sudden desire to become a father had been just another love-at-first-sight event, another one I decided not to resist.  So here I was with a pregnant wife, realizing a fantasy.  The ambition to deliver my own child was attainable too.  Betsy wasn’t bluffing.  I could imagine lifting the bloody infant from between her legs, cutting the umbilical cord myself.  I saw the whole scene as clearly as if it had already happened.

Betsy would follow me for as long as things kept working out her way,  anyplace the sweet rivers of life-on-a-postcard flowed.

I went on implying to her, that I was as well prepared for deepwater as the boat was.  I knew better.

I stood on the dock, staring at Mysterion, a nautical fantasy ready to go, seaworthy.  I looked down at the surface of the water, greasy calm, oily brown with a diesel rainbow.  Floating belly up was a dead blue crab, a mirror image of fear telling me to move on.

I decided against the Rio Dolce, not to deliver my own child in the jungle or anywhere else.

Not to risk complications without medical backup was wise, but it was the fear of the responsibility that decided me.  I was beginning to wake up to the reality, as opposed  to the fantasy of fatherhood.  With just a few millimeters of embryonic cell tissue depending me, I was trying to figure out how to behave as a changed man.