205.348.7264 mfj@sa.ua.edu

Stretch Marks

Leigha Whitridge

      The mirror holds a woman in her thirties, late thirties, with six gray hairs and twenty-one white sunspots on her arms. Eleven wrinkles begin and end up near her hairline, under her eyes, and on her neck. She feels like the Grand Canyon. Four stretch marks sprawl on her waist like purple vines binding her figure.

      She looks down at her calloused feet wearing a tarnished toe ring. When she bought it, her two thighs were more toned and her biceps clung tightly to her bones, her hips slender. She sometimes wishes she could be full like that again, but she knows she is sturdier now.

      Her daughter inches into the bathroom smiling; her cheeks are ripe apples. She picks up the child that is getting too heavy to pick up. Soft fingers find it fun to trace all along the purple vines, up and down and around the sides of her mom’s belly.

      “What are these lines?” her daughter asks.

      And she says, “A gift.”