‘That’s it,’ I say to Reservoir Mum as we’re sitting in the living room working on separate computers. ‘I have no chance of finishing a Wednesdays from The Womb by tomorrow. It’s 10pm and all I’ve written so far is Pregnancy’s going well. Move along now. Nothing to see here…’
‘Heaps has happened,’ RM says. ‘How about the car?’
‘It broke down. We nearly died on the highway. I don’t think it’s such a great story.’
‘Should I write about Steve telling me we were destroying the environment by having too many kids…’
Reservoir Mum shrugs. ‘I don’t know. You’re too angry about that. I think you should keep The Womb posts funny.’
‘Every post? Always funny? The prick is trying to make me feel guilty about my choices. I want to write angry. Just one angry From The Womb post.’
‘The car breaking down will be really funny… the engine dying out on the highway, how cool you were under pressure… getting the car across five lanes of peak hour traffic on a major highway… the kids laughing at everyone honking at us and slamming on their brakes…
I sigh as I put in the earphones and shuffle the iPod to my self-titled playlist, Reservoir Dad. I’m pleased that the first random song is ‘Shattered Dreams’ by Johnny Hates Jazz. ‘Okay, I’ll have a crack at it.’
The car is choccas-full-of-bags and kids and crumbs when we pick up Reservoir Mum from her place of work in the middle of the city. As she angles her choccas-full-of-baby-body into the car I tell her, ‘The temperature gauge was just rising a little but I’ve put some water in the radiator and it should be right.
‘You know where the radiator is?’ she asks, smiling.
‘Yes,’ I say, ‘It’s right next to the clitoris. Still, we should keep an eye on it. If the temp starts to rise again we may have to call it quits on this trip and try another weekend.’
I take off the headphones and say, ‘Do you think I should include the clitoris comment?’
Reservoir Mum thinks for a moment before saying, ‘Funny to us but probably a bit juvenile for the majority.’
‘True,’ I say, before pausing, ‘What’s this got to do with babies and wombs and all of that though…’
‘What isn’t about that?’ she says. ‘Our life is infused with kids and babies. Oh, don’t forget to include Tyson’s blood nose.’
‘Shit yes!’ I say.
We’re a few minutes into the three hour trip to visit Gran and Pa in the country and everything has been running smoothly and according to plan and the sky is a bright blue but there’s the passing awareness within me that a hellish adventure is about to play out when Reservoir Mum yells, ‘Oh, shit’ just as we’re travelling over the Westgate Bridge wedged in between two 36 wheelers.
Tyson has a blood nose. It’s a geyser. He rubs at his irritated nostrils and within seconds has the blood-covered crazy face of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Reservoir Mum is screaming for wipes and I say ‘In the bag’ twice because I know her chances of finding them are slim and she’ll be asking me again. She manages to find some tissues but hasn’t got great reach into the back seats thanks to her baby dome and Tyson is fighting her all the way, throwing his head from side to side and slapping at the tissues rapid-fire with both hands. Lewis lurches away to avoid the blood bath and Archie starts elbowing Lewis and yelling, ‘Get off me’ and although I seem calm on the outside, on the inside I’m a…
‘Yo,’ I say, pulling the headphones again and leaning over, ‘I’m gunna go internal wolf again.’
RM drops her hands from the keyboard to her lap. ‘You just can’t,’ she says. ‘People who read Reservoir Dad don’t want to read your psycho fantasy stuff.’
‘It’s the best way to convey the shift in my mental state,’ I say.
‘People just won’t read it. If you start on about the wolf you can just say bye-bye to your readers from me.’
As I shuffle the iPod through to Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ I consider that Reservoir Mum probably has a point and I decide I won’t include the wolf in the recounting of the story but the fact that I have to censor myself irks me and this has been a tough week with the car at the mechanics and the building of the new house delayed and the Mentally Sexy Comp busying to its end and the kids waking up with a touch of the gastro and now I’ve taken on sponsored posts and am starting to think I’ve over-committed. This is the first week I haven’t been excited about Wednesdays From The Womb and I’m thinking that maybe I should just go to bed and forget about it when the IPod battery runs out and I have no music and then comes Steve’s comment again, riddled with sarcasm: ‘Four kids? Well, that’s environmentally conscious…’ and
… the hair grows down the bridge of my nose as it flattens and shortens and sits on a jaw that is much longer and full of teeth…
‘Shit. I can’t stop thinking about that Steve comment now and I keep going all wolf,’ I say to Reservoir Mum. ‘This is pointless. I’m going to bed.’
Reservoir Mum yawns and says, ‘Me too.’
If there’s anything more snug and secure than a baby in a womb it’s probably this bed, right now. I’ve just woken. It’s 2.45am. There’s Reservoir Mum and me – with the baby in the womb in between us – and Tyson. We’re lined up spoon-style and the four of us are only a room away from two other crucial little critters – Archie and Lewis.
I’m aware of the strange quiet of the inner city suburb at night. Outside this house there’s the sound of the occasional car rising and fading like a wolf’s yawn. And there goes the distant rattle of the last tram. The silence it leaves behind haunts like a ghost. Even the dim street light has its own hum and presence. Through all this I’m aware of Steve’s comment and the soundless slumbering masses. I feel myself disappearing into the fleshy blanket over Melbourne.
But the dullness begins to leave me when I finally focus on the inside of this house. There’s the rhythm and warmth of my family slumbering. Tyson is cradled in my arms and Reservoir Mum’s breath is against my neck and when her belly presses against my back there’s the kicking of our baby and all the doubt is instantly gone. I will not feel guilty for my choices. I want him here.
When I next think of Steve it’s as sleep approaches. He’s walking towards me and I find my smile in the dark.
(Reservoir Mum says bye-bye)
The hair grows down the bridge of my nose as it flattens and shortens and sits on a jaw that is much longer and full of teeth. My hands disappear and the pads of my paws touch the ground. My back arches and the hips buckle and my legs develop a kink and with a stretch I feel the claws protrude and scrape at the dirt beneath me.
The first leap is a return to power. The hook into the earth, the drive from the hind legs, the way my lips curl, naturally. Every movement is simply felt – there is nothing but the next leap as I meet it, the next kill as it crosses my path…