Parenthood – Courtney Clute

Month 0

Shortly after losing the baby, we plant Gerry.

Gerry is a pothos plant, a “devil’s ivy”—one of the easiest plants to grow. We chose a pothos because we couldn’t take another loss.

Just a few weeks later, the seed germinates, sprouts into a tiny leaf that we coo at.

Month 1

Gerry is a single, full-grown leaf. He sits in a red solo cup on the window ledge of what would have been the baby’s room. His green breaks through the thick fog of despair.

We heard it’s beneficial for their development to read to them; that they can hear you. So, we read him passages from Great Expectations.

Month 2

We stroke his now multiple leaves, perky and alert, soaking in life. “Gosh, it seems like just yesterday he was just a little seed,” we say. “They really grow up so fast.”

Month 3

We rehome Gerry into a plastic pot we got on clearance from Lowe’s. He loves it, filling into his new clothes, his vines starting to tumble over the edges, clumsy like he’s learning how to ride a bike.

Month 4

We enjoy pressing our fingers into Gerry’s soil, checking his moisture level. We love pouring teaspoons of fertilizer into his pot while singing, “Just a spoon full of sugar…”

It feels good to take care of something.

Month 5

A few of Gerry’s leaves fade to a pale green. We develop heartburn, literally worried sick about him. A plant book we buy says we just have to rotate him, so he gets equal sun. Our heartburn simmers into a dull ache in our chests.

Month 6

Gerry deserves something sturdier, more mature, now that he’s practically a teenager, so we move him into a 6-inch ceramic pot that we had specially painted by someone on Etsy. The pot is a cerulean blue with “Gerry” printed on the side in a sophisticated yellow cursive. We buy a hand-crafted mahogany coffee table and place him in the middle of the unused room.

It’s now Gerry’s room.

Month 7

It’s been a long time since we’ve had anyone over, so we throw a party. Our friends take turns circling around Gerry, like a human mobile. They ask how old he is, if he’s doing any extracurriculars, if he’s learned how to spell.

Month 8

Gerry likes to go on walks. We push him around in a stroller with the best safety features. Old women in tracksuits like to stop and poke at his vines, which are now longer than his pot.

Month 9

Gerry moves out. He’s now in his “I’m an adult now, I have to be independent” home—a stone hanging planter from West Elm. We hang him on the front porch, so he can bless all those who enter our home.

We look out the window, arms around each other, reminisce over the days he was barely just a single leaf. “I can’t believe we made him,” we say.

But we remind ourselves that we can’t be there for him forever. He will have to learn to navigate the world by himself. We can always birth more.

Courtney Clute has an MFA from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in Passages North, Fractured Literary, Emerge Literary Journal, Lumiere Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, and Z Publishing’s Florida’s Emerging Florida Writers: An Anthology. You can find her on Twitter at @courtney_clute.

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