Father tripped on his beard while running to the hospital where Mother was in labor.
Outside the delivery room, a nurse barred Father—his cavernous beard, with chambers for cloud and cabins of lighting, was just too dangerous; a quark’s discharge could induce disaster. And what if the doctor, hurried, became lost in the labyrinth of wires, cords, tangles? What then? Father must wait outside the delivery room.
Mother delivered four hours later, a son.
Once a nurse had cleaned the child and given him to Mother to suckle, Father was allowed into the room. Emerging from the den of his beard, he said, “My son. My handsome son.”
Mother said, “My son. My handsome son.”
For two nights, Father, Mother and Son remained. While vaccinating and measuring the child, many pled with Father to chop down his beard.
He would not. For, having watched Mother nurse their swaddled son to sleep, Father understood.
On the second night, while Mother dreamed, Father unbundled the blanket and plugged his beard into the infant’s umbilicus.
In a rocking chair they energized, until Mother, panicking, awoke. “My son! My handsome son!”
“Calm yourself,” said Father. “I have nourished him. See how he sleeps, content in my beard.”
“My son! My handsome son!” Mother said again. Then, with a violent flourish, she clasped Father’s bristles and ripped them from his face.
Father bled; Mother screamed.
They screamed back and forth; the child slept the sleep of ever sleeping.
A nurse arrived.
“See what you have done?” the nurse said. “See what your beard has done.”
About the author:
I am editor of The Mustard Seed Risk and editor-at-large for the Metropolitan. I attend Eastern Washington University in pursuit of an MFA in Creative Writing.