Adam is in his bunk, the lower one with its blue metal rail. He has his dog Silver under one arm, its fur matted with love, and Baby Lassie on the other side. He’s kicking his legs around, kind of rolling on his rump to stay awake. He’s thinking about something, and he says to me:

“I didn’t enjoy you very much today.”

And I think, Well, I’ve spent far too much time worrying about his grammar. I consider, briefly, the essence of our relationship. But he feels a little contrite because he goes on now:

“It was mostly about the pony. I really wanted to ride a pony. I wanted…” He sighs.

“I am very, very tired.”

He rolls over and throws an arm around my neck, companionable again. He pats my cheek.

“You are a very good girl,” he says. He yawns, and so do I.

The slats of the bunk above us are like the ribs of a whale. I think of Jonah, I think of the city of Nineveh and God’s willingness to destroy. I notice that Adam’s nails need trimming; they are scraggly and grubby, but still that hot baby pink, only the crescent grey.

And he is falling asleep, it’s coming on him.

“I love you” he says, reflexive already.                                                                                   

                                                                                * * *

There are two little people holding hands, crossing the street. The man wears a red baseball hat that is falling over his eyes, and he is smiling. The woman carries a red umbrella and is wearing green frog boots with yellow eyes.

“By themselves.” Adam speaks with wonder. He is sitting in his car seat, watching.

“Don’t stare,” I tell him from the front.

“Why not? They’re very interesting,” Adam answers. “The tiny man stepped off the curb holding the tiny woman’s hand. They looked very happy. Who are the little people?” he asks.

“They are midgets,” I say.

Now his sister comes back to the car. She has been in the cheese shop by herself buying cheese while they wait outside in the car. She loves cheese. Sometimes she says she will run away and join a cheese cult, but that’s just a joke. She is ten and knows almost everything.

“Who are the midgets?” Adam asks now that she is sitting in the back beside him.

“What? You’re either are a midget or you’re not.”

“Am I a midget?” Adam inquires.

“Yes.” She nods. “That’s why you have the M in your name. A-D-A-M.”

He thinks about this. There are midgets in the circus. When will he have to go?

“Are you a midget?” he asks his sister.

“No,” she says. “You can see. Now let me read my book.”

There is always Tyler, the dog next door. Tyler loves him. He jumps up and licks Adam’s ears whenever he sees him. He’s very clever. He could be trained. They will wear matching green capes and do tricks together, Adam can already stand on his head.

Perhaps he could be shot out of a cannon and land on an elephant’s head. And he could hold a burning ring for Tyler, who was brave too, and Tyler would jump through it. Everyone would clap. Even his sister.

“I am a midget,” he tells me when I come to tuck him in.

“Can I take my star blanket to the circus? Can I come home when I want?”

“You are home,” I tell him. “And you are not a midget.”

“But I’m very small,” he says with regret.

“You are a small boy who is growing.”

“But maybe I am a midget who is growing.”

“No.” I kiss his forehead. “And if you were a midget, which you are most
definitely not, you would still be my perfect boy.”

Now I hush him and lie down beside him. But Adam is already dreaming, and the stick- on stars are winking. Soon it will be morning.


Pushing through the crowded bus, I open up a space for him. Intrepid, small hand in mine, he follows. An old man rises to give him a seat, because he is young and beautiful and just beginning. The world makes a place for Adam; even the steps of the bus stoop down to accommodate him when we get off. We walk.

“How far?” he asks.

“Two of the long kind of streets across town, five of the short.”

“The up ones and down ones,” he says, walking backward and zigzagging. He spreads his fingers for balance.

“Hurry up,” I tell him, but he just laughs. He knows I don’t want to get there either.

We stop to buy fruit salad. The Korean woman smiles when he says, ever courteous,

“Thank you, miss.”

“Can I run?” he asks when we see the hospital door. I nod, unsure. Can he? Should he?

Well, he’s off like a comet, a blaze, a boy. Inside, we walk down the hall holding hands again.

Pediatric oncology, pediatric hematology. We are lost. Pediatric cardiology is last on the hall, a heartbeat away. We swing in. There is a child screaming, “Mama, Mama, Mama!”

“I’m here,” she answers, “I’m here.”

I can see the knot in her jaw though I have never seen her face. I hear mitral valve replacement. I hear 40 percent. I want them to shut the door.

“Are they hurting him?” Adam asks, looking up at me.

“No.” I am firm. “He’s just afraid.”

Adam offers me a piece of kiwi, and the nurse comes out. She is blonde and a little too sympathetic.

“You can bring your fruit,” she tells him.

“May I bring my mom?” he asks with his particular gravity.

He weighs her smile as she clips the leads on the stickers that now cover his chest. Alligators she calls them.

“I’ve seen real alligators in the wild,” he informs her. “Is anything wrong with me?”

“We’re just looking at your heart.” She clips one more on his sternum.

“Remember?” I say. “There was this funny sound, and now we want to look. Just to be sure.”

There was a hole, the pediatrician said, between the chambers of his heart, so large that they hadn’t heard it. Was I too old when I made him? Was I thinking of other things? Did I forget to put my heart into the making of him?

Adam peels off the stickers that leave him patterned with red welts. We wait for results; we wait for the doctor. On the doctor’s desk is a model heart, red and blue with extruding arteries, large as a man’s fist. I remove a silver screw in the front, and it falls open, the chambers revealed.

“Is that a heart?” He is incredulous. “I thought it looked like this.” He draws a heart in the air with his finger. I shake my head.

“My heart is smaller,” Adam says with certainty. “What are the holes?” And he points.

“Those are the chambers, like the rooms of the heart.”

“Are there doors?”

“Yes, there are two,” I answer.

“One to get in,” he says. “And one to get out if the robbers come.”

The doctor is young with silver spectacles and a voice softened by the west. He handles my boy like an origami balloon, paper thin and collapsible. He listens. And then, while my breath rushes away, he says:

“Adam, you’re fine. Your heart is okay for, oh, ninety-five years more.”

“That’s a long time.” Adam nods.

“One hundred years,” the young doctor says. “Is that enough?”

Then he smiles and hands me the echocardiogram, the map of my son’s heart with its four perfect chambers. A place where many women will be lost.

Photography Credit: Jason Rice

To date, Susan Eve Haar’s work has been primarily in theater. Her play The Darlings was published by Broadway Publishing (2006). Her plays have also been published in The Best Men’s Stage Monologues of 2007 and in The Best 10-Minute Plays of 2018. Her work has been produced at Primary Stages, The Women’s Project, 13th Street Rep, and a variety of other venues. Haar’s work has been recently published in bioStories, bluestem, The Borfski Press, Citron Review, Forge, The Furious Gazelle, Glint Literary Magazine, Saint Ann’s Review, Stonecoast Review, and Sweet Tree Review. She is a member of The Actors Studio, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and HB Playwright’s Unit, was a selected participant at The Women’s Project, and served a residency at New River Dramatists. Her work is included in the book of monologues, Radical Thinking Inside a Box, which will be published by Smith & Kraus in 2019. She also has monologues which will be included in Best Women’s Monologue 2018 and another in Best Men’s Monologues 2018, both to be published by Smith & Kraus.