by Rebecca Wallwork

810 7th Avenue
On this block, there is a Chase bank, and a deli, and Rosie O’Grady’s saloon. Across the street, a Sheraton. There is a stop for the M20 bus and, on the corner, a cart
selling hot dogs. But you are heading to the 21st floor of 810 7th Avenue, to the clinic where they are selling hope. There it is, in big block letters. A Robert Indiana sculpture on the corner of 7th and 53rd. HOPE. This, you take as a good omen as you ascend to that lucky level, leaving behind the fact that your mother died at 53, at street level, or on the subway tracks—or maybe somewhere more subterranean than that. You are looking forward, beyond the serious face of the doctor in her white coat and across the skyline of the city you once called home. Hope. One last try after two rounds of blood draws, sonograms, needle demos, trigger shots. One last try after two retrievals on 8th Avenue, after modest harvests, failed fertilizations, withered hope. You sign the papers, do the tests, he comes in the cup. Again. You’re to report back here when your period arrives.

The blood doesn’t come.
“Maybe it means you’re pregnant?”
Your friend’s eyes wide.

West 90th Street
Red brick. White-framed windows. Planter boxes and the leafy park beside the Hudson across the street. The pre-war apartment building rises 14 stories, but it is the home on the corner of the first floor that has incubated your own. The home of a friend, a peer, and the site of winding conversations about the order of words. The entrance is on 90th Street, and the doorman knows you from the workshop visits. But this week in July, you are not there to write, but to wait. Here, you have waited for the blood to come, but it would not. Here, in the guest room, the plastic stick perched on the sink of the guest bath, as if you were a gaggle of girls having a goss at the club. Here, you are still the you who does not know what’s to come. Still just a daughter, a friend. A human humming with the hope and terror of what if?

Then you go in there—
come face to face with a YES,
a new chapter starts.

1524 Euclid Avenue
At home, in your quarter of this Spanish Mediterranean block of your barrier island town, you watch sheets of water fill the yard, creep toward the front door. Hurricane season has begun—this one mere tropical storm. You watch, you wait, but like a
polite canvasser, the water stops on the step. The threat retreats. The tender cells
inside hover, doing their silent work, unknown. The doctor has warned that the
pregnancy may be a chemical—one that might simply disappear, or perhaps an
ectopic, where the embryo fails to find its way home, implants outside the uterus where it cannot survive. They’re monitoring it, they tell you, taking your blood, doing more scans. They tell you to watch, to wait, so you nap, meditate, manifest, and scroll.

You sip on bone broth,
talk baby names, cross fingers
tight, behind your back.

400 Arthur Godfrey Road
Dark glass-fronted curves, palm trees, and valet parking out front. In the waiting room, the palm trees reflect in triplicate, like you’re inside some kind of maze. There’s still nothing on the sonogram, but the new obstetrician isn’t concerned. Your hCG
levels are going up. He smiles. Hands you a “your baby is due on ___” card with a mythical date scrawled across. Indecipherable doctor’s script. Heading to the lab for a blood draw, a dolphin crests in Biscayne Bay. That must be a good omen. The black cat who stares at you with red eyes in the dusky dawn? That’s just a cat. You are
officially seven weeks pregnant. The embryo, the size of a pomegranate seed. There are none of the warning signs of an ectopic—no shoulder pain, no bleeding. The local
OB-GYN is still smiling at you. You take screenshots of a baby swaddle on Instagram. You Google the cost of delivery. You watch and you wait.

You can’t see a storm
cross the ocean in the dark—
but can you feel it?

4300 Alton Road
You know when the pain blows you awake at three am. Sweat down your back. The emergency room of Mount Sinai sits on the edge of Biscayne Bay, quiet and efficient in the August dark. “Are you usually this pale?” asks a nurse. You stumble. Doctors
appear. IV fluids and a scan, but the tech won’t tell you what she sees. You shiver
under blankets, machines beep, nurses flock. You’re lightheaded. Hot. Blood drawn and transfused. The word ectopic comes from the Latin, ectopia, cells in an abnormal place. In Greek, the idea is sleeker, ektopos, meaning simply out of place. The OB chief arrives in a bow tie. “Go! She has to get to the OR.” A gurney flies down a hallway,
surgeons scrub up, a nurse holds your hand. Time is ticking, insides bleeding, as they rush you into surgery, move your body into place. Beneath bright lights of the OR, cells rupture, but you, dear R, do not.

Your people know you
love them—bright lights and faces
of concern—you’re out.

1524 Euclid Avenue
When you wake, you are no longer pregnant. You recover, slowly, gingerly, as a
category-five hurricane rears its head. You’re stiff and bruised. You monitor the cone. Irma is forecast to send a seven-foot storm surge into your ground-floor Spanish Med apartment, wash away your barrier island town. You pack up, you flee, a photo of your maternal line, four generations, in tow. You watch and wait. Until the storm turns and your home is spared, so you come back. The power comes back. Palm tree debris is hauled away. You’ve stopped looking at baby stuff on Instagram. You wait for an epiphany, for normal. But it can take weeks, months, years to recover from the damage of a hurricane. Some towns, cities, islands, countries, are never the same, and it takes weeks for you to realize that there is no more normal. Somewhere along the way, you shed your skin, became something else. You’re still you, but with
something extra. A knowing, a shadow, an outline in the shape of you. You feel it
hovering, like a cone of uncertainty over a map. It moves with you when you walk now. You’re not sure if or when the outline will fade. But you know it’s there. And this—this is how

you go forward,
the blurry you in lockstep.
You, you, once mother.


Rebecca Wallwork is a writer based in Miami Beach and the author of the 33 1/3 book, New Kids on the Block’s Hangin’ Tough (Bloomsbury Academic). Her work has been published in Islandia JournalThe Washington Post, and Interview magazine. Rebecca is completing an MFA in Creative Writing at Florida International University, and you can find her online at rebeccawallwork.com, on Instagram and Threads at @msrebeccaw, and on Twitter at @MsRebecca.

SLAG GLASS CITY • Volume 10 • March 2024
Header image by qwesy qwesy.