The Machine

I was trying to explain to Sam what a cognitive challenge it is to really, truly come to terms with the fact that another human distinct from me is growing in my tummy.  The thing is, I told him, I’ve lived in this body for thirty years.  It feels like I know it pretty well, how it works, what it does.  But suddenly there’s this whole new system in play, something I’ve never used or experienced before, taking over my body.

“It’s like you’re a railway station,” Sam said helpfully, “and the trains have been coming and going for decades, full of commuters.  Everyone knows the schedule and the trains are usually on time.  But in the corner of the station there’s this Machine that’s never been used.  It’s all steampunk, Victorian-encrusted, pneumatic, pipes all over.  It’s been there so long that everybody ignores it.

“But one day, the stationmaster comes in, with his handlebar mustaches and his suspenders, and he says, ‘Fire up…The Machine.’  And everything goes quiet.  Then finally somebody walks over and flips a switch on the Machine.  Everybody holds their breath.  At first it doesn’t seem like anything’s happening.  Then a low hum fills the station, and the Machine starts to unfold, its pipes snaking out across the floor, plugging into the walls.  And everyone’s just standing around gaping while the Machine starts chugging faster and faster and getting bigger and bigger.”

“Yeah,” I said, “it’s kind of like that.”

“And also,” Sam added after a moment’s thought, “the Machine makes a baby.”

2 Responses to “The Machine”

  • Madeline Says:

    This description is fantastic. I felt that being pregnant was like going through a second puberty–just as many physical and emotional changes, just as unsettling and weird. Thankfully, though, with less social ostracism.

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