Author: Amy Lyons

I meant to birth children but they slipped my mind. I should have ransom-noted a reminder with the black and white word-magnets on my aughts refrigerator, though those sudden stories trended toward pronoun erasure and my sketchy memory, even as a twenty-something, would have slotted a roommate as the directive’s addressee. My likely fragments on that fridge: write stories blendingly, travel blind, rest noons. The roommates mothered one by one despite wino pacts to sister off together into cinematic sunsets.

Mid-thirtied and C-level salaried, I spewed marketing strategies to a table of doughnut-dunking stakeholders when, advancing slides PowerPointedly, I saw the audience as their truer selves: parents, all. The detritus of offspring festooned their persons: unicorns galloped along the CFO’s necktie, the accounts director’s coffee mug revealed her as the world’s best mom, a breast pump bloomed inside an IT guru’s open briefcase.

Unreproductive and embarrassed, I posed unnaturally at the post-forty conception clinic, crossed my legs to approximate virtuous young ladyhood for doctor fertilizer. My bosomy blouse flounced ten years age-inappropriate. Mammary, my fashion stated, latchable. Fallopially speaking, I was unobstructed. The doctor mapped sperm’s hypothetical swim through twin tubal tributaries emptying ovumward. Uterus inhabitable, it was a lack of scramble, a certain un-sunny-side-upness that made my body unviable.

I flung myself on planes all through my fifties to live and learn and drink a cup in every country. The sixties I spent nurturing my spirit. At seventy, a shaman prophesied children gathered at my feet. Impossible, I told her, too late. She shook her head and laughed like rain.

In the cushy retirement chalet, I dialed my grandchildren and all of them answered. The oldest agreed to grab my prescription, the middle one said he’d be over for lunch. My roommates’ kids rarely return messages, show up on holidays with lukewarm leftovers and rumpled re-gifts.

There are six of us old ladies in the world. They’ve studied all our chromosomes, drawn our blood and formed questionnaires around our diets, habits, social interactions, and exercise routines. Impossible, they say, child-bearing can’t skip a generation. The only commonalties? We forget facts easily and our nocturnal dreams occur in colors that don’t technically exist.