The midwife’s voice grated Cassie’s ears. She counted the white spotlights on the ceiling. There were too many, and they were dancing too wildly for her to keep up. She couldn’t count. She couldn’t push.
“Water,” she gasped, “I need water.”
“Not now, darling. Breathe!” said her husband, massaging her scaly hands. Through his fingertips, she felt him shake and tremble; and she felt how he tried not to. She gaped at his face, his strong black eyebrows in a heap, his lips tight and blue.
She sucked in air, but it failed to go beyond her throat. She bent forward and spouted vomit, over her husband’s gown, the white bed, and her own naked, swollen legs, lifted and bent, as if she were a frog.
The monitor beeped itself into a frenzy. Cassie tried to push again, but she didn’t have a body. Her eyes stared at the screen, at the straight blue line, at where the waves had settled.
“Push!” yelled the midwife.
“Push!” yelled her husband.
She pushed with her legs, and suddenly there was no effort. She was floating in the ocean, with baby dolphins jumping about her, green fluorescent light dancing on their skins as they dipped in and out of water.
She dived and drank, and gazed towards the beach, where her body lay with a whale stuck between her legs. The whale winked at her and she winked back. Then she turned and swam.
They slit her open like a fish and ventoused the baby out. Glistening and silent he slithered, to be revived by midwives on adrenalin, and by the stale breath rattling from between his father’s lips.
As doctors tended to her, Cassie twitched on the bed, gushing blood and water, singing a song to the whale.
by Walburga Appleseed