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I’ll tell you how we conceived him, he says when the past seems to get away from him.
He tells it over and over again like he’s trying to figure out where I really came from.
How I happened. He’s read up on all the research.
Found proof that it’s nothing he did wrong.
There was a storm, he always starts. His eyes get that crazy shine. We’d been trying but Shelly couldn’t conceive. So she went to the doctor and got on birth control, you know, to get the fertility going. We tried and tried.
We’re out in the Bering Sea on some other guy’s boat—I ran it for him that winter. Crab season. (You know, the most dangerous.)
It was the worst storm of the year and we’d been trying for months on the pills. I’m looking out over the bow from the captain’s seat, trying to steer. The waves and spray are coming over our little boat and it’s dark like it is all the time during crab season. Our fog light was pretty dim—not mine.
I’m trying to see any logs, looking out, when I feel this tap on my shoulder.
It’s time, she says. The worst time! A storm in the Bering! That’s not something you mess with, not on another man’s boat.
But I did it anyway, we did. (He laughs.) It was time. It wasn’t waiting.
That’s when his eyes get a little misty because he starts thinking about fate or destiny and life in the way it has to work out—how it always does. Or it doesn’t and then it does anyway.
Shelly left to go back to town, flew home. Season was over. We did okay, still young. I had to stay with the boat awhile until we got everything all shut down.
I head back to the bunks one night and the guys say, Man, you’ve got a package in your locker. It’s got our address on it, my name on the front. I open it up—and you know what she sent me?
All that was in the box was a blue whistle, a stale cookie with creamy blue frosting, and a card that said, ‘It’s a Boy’ on the front. That’s all it said on the card—she didn’t even sign it or say I love you or anything. A blank ‘It’s a Boy.’ That’s just who she’s always been.
And so nine months later we had Cade and then all the baby hormones were still working and so Millie came along full of fire and that was it. We couldn’t have any more kids.
That damn storm. He’ll smile.
It’s his way of making it work. He can think about those drugs or maybe the thrust and pull of the Bering. How I was born as a gift from that unforgiving sea, a blessing.
How I grew fabulous, living on the other side of the country with a flower in my hair, loving this hot sticky Savannah heat even though my heart still sinks with those icy blue waves.
How when he calls now so rarely, he doesn’t have much to say, and he’s thinking of how we got here, the two of us.
How that cookie was blue and the card was blank.