Eight months and one week is a long time to go without caffeine, but I did it for the baby, assuming Elijah or Dahlia would be calmer and healthier without my favorite stimulant. But I couldn’t last the full gestation. That humid August Friday, a storm looming in the east, I could bear it no longer, so, at my favorite neighborhood JavaStop, ordered a milkshake with three shots of espresso and two scoops of chocolate ice cream, all submerged in cold French press with brewed coffee ice cubes. Not surprisingly, I erupted from my sweat-soaked lethargy, staying up all night reading about breathing to prepare for my first birthing class the next day. Midway through the morning, vibrating with energy, I went into labor, three weeks early: one week per shot of espresso. Because I hadn’t yet packed, the stop at the house to gather possessions was necessarily haphazard: Richard Burton reading John Donne to get me through the hours to follow; Van Gogh in Arles to look at between contractions; a yellow pad for ideas. Pre-partem depression receded into memory, along with desperate ideas for adopting my baby out to a more fit mother after the Columbine Massacre caused me to question the sanity of giving birth in such a country. The coffee swept my depression into its proper perspective: we live in a dangerous world. But twenty-four hours later, Baby Eli emerged whole and fine, apparently unscathed by the caffeinated cocktail that catalyzed his arrival. Nearly seventeen years later, I still tell stories about that life-giving, lifetime engendering coffee milkshake. Each morning, grinding the beans, I give thanks.
Flash Fiction by Annie Dawid
Published in Summer 2017