She startled awake and looked around, wild-eyed, forgetting for a moment where she was. The flickering TV cast a cold light over the room. One AM. She hadn’t slept for long. She lay on her back with her head tilted awkwardly on the hard foam pillow and gazed down at her belly. It wasn’t a mountain any more, really, more of a hill now. Still, she had somehow expected to have her flat stomach back. Naive again.
Rolling to her side brought a throbbing pain. But the sight of the small face in the shadows eased the ache. In her delirium, she had almost forgotten her baby was beside her. Dark little eyes gazed knowingly at her through the transparent bassinet.
Sara pushed herself up and reached out, tugging the pink hat down over the fuzzy head as she pulled her baby close. She inhaled the warm, infant scent. “You’re awake. Are you hungry?” she cooed. The baby nuzzled a tiny face violently into Sara’s bosom, rooting around. “Okay, okay, just a minute.” She let her gown fall from one shoulder and guided the gaping mouth to her breast. She winced, anticipating the discomfort. She was already sore. The baby’s lower lip formed an uncomfortable seal. “Ow!” Sara cried, louder than she had intended. She slipped a finger in to release the suction. “Come on, we can do it, right?” This time, the baby took a full, hungry mouthful and latched on, cheeks pumping like a machine. But without reward – her milk hadn’t come in yet. Sara wondered if she would ever be able to satisfy this needy soul.
Suddenly, red and blue flashes from the TV screen caught her eye. The crawl read, “LIVE. Breaking News.” Sara strained her arm to reach the volume button on the remote. An ecstatic crowd cheered onscreen. Cameras flashed. A young girl seated on her father’s shoulders waved an American flag almost too big for her to hold. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the next first family of the United States of America.”
“Oh!” Sara gasped. The election had been decided. The next president stood onstage, regal, waving at the crowd, long hair flowing in the breeze. “Maria Martinez!” the announcer’s voice echoed. The future president embraced her husband and teenage son before moving to the podium. Sara couldn’t take her eyes off the stately profile with chin tilted slightly upwards, full lips, prominent nose. Martinez could have been sculpted by an artist. The cheering throng was too loud for her to speak. But Martinez waited patiently, smiling.
All at once, Sara felt a new rush of warmth within her breast. The baby gulped with soft rhythmic sounds. Actually drinking! One tiny hand clutched at her with a sharp-nailed grip. “Yeah, you stick with me. It’s you and me, huh?” Sara stroked her fingertips across downy skin. “Amazing. You could be President one day, you know.” A trickle of white traced the shape of Sara’s body. She closed her eyes and smiled.