House of Cards

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

by Shasta Grant

“We should paint the room blue if it’s a boy,” Jake says and Elise doesn’t ask what room, doesn’t point out that there is no room, no house, no place for them to keep a baby, let alone raise it, and she doesn’t tell him that painting a boy’s room blue reinforces gender stereotypes, doesn’t scold him for being so binary with his thinking, which is something her mother would do.

Instead, she nods, says “uh huh,” lets him have this fantasy of a blue room in an imaginary house somewhere, a house that might as well be made of air. She tries to enter this fantasy with him, tries to open the door made of air, step over the threshold, and when she does, she finds herself in the baby’s blue room, the house is only this one room, the walls are sky and clouds, there is no roof at all, no floor and she wants to ask what will support the crib, the changing table, the rocking chair – things that other people put in their nurseries, people who live in solid houses made of wood and brick.

The breeze cuts sharp across her cheek and she stands suspended – held by gases or gravity, she isn’t sure, but she knows this won’t do. She imagines placing the baby in its crib, but every time she tries the baby falls through the clouds, plunges down, down, down. Elise sees herself clutching her neck, and then shrugging her shoulders, walking back out the door, leaving it all behind.


Shasta Grant is the author of GATHER US UP AND BRING US HOME (Split Lip Press) and is the Coordinating Editor at SmokeLong Quarterly.


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