She slipped out of her mother into my palms on the seventh day of spring almost two score years ago. Small and slippery and vernix-spattered, with opalescent pink skin, she lay in my hands and opened her eyes and astonished me. Shortly afterwards her nine-month co-tenant peeked out, hesitated, retreated then plopped into a steel dish. The placenta lay in the dish, mute. The baby cried. She had fingers and toes and a belly and limbs and a face and girl bits and a mouth.
We took the baby home.
Seven is a mystical number, springtime a magical season. In a story I wrote about her I called her Pleasant Spring Goldenmountain. That name will serve for this story too.
Born of midget parents, she was tiny. The Pleasant One, being pocket sized and portable, was perfect for carrying and cuddling and tickling and flinging into the air and (generally) catching on the way down. She’d laugh and scream and I’d chuck her towards the ceiling time and again until once, gasping, she cried: ‘Stop! I’m not a toy, Dad.’ Chastened, I stopped.
The little one loved her father, attaching herself to him as if to a placenta. While she was still far too young to appreciate it the dad read ‘Great Expectations’ to little Springtime. She listened to the connection between Joe Gargery and Pip. She would say to her dad, ‘Ever the best of friends old chap. Ever the best of friends.’
Around the age of twelve her classmates shot up so much she had to crane her neck to talk with them. When her neck tired she’d address her friends’ belly buttons. A doctor friend recommended growth hormone injections. By this stage the Pleasant One knew her life’s mission: to mother early and often. She knew too that a short person’s small skeleton often had a small pelvis too narrow to allow a baby through. Some short mothers couldn’t give birth naturally.
Every day for three years the Pleasant One injected her belly with the hormone and she grew. Her mandible grew wide enough to accommodate her teeth and her long bones flung her up to a towering five feet, two and a half inches, plenty big enough for babies. ‘I’m tall, Dad’, she said. And she stopped injecting.
Growing up in a family that lacked nothing other than fiscal discipline, Springtime would hear her parents groaning over the bills they had to pay. On weekends the child worked as a medical receptionist and saved her earnings. When she wanted new clothes she chose and paid for her own. Aged fifteen she decided she’d like a holiday in North Queensland. She worked and saved and paid for it herself. Aged sixteen she wanted to improve her French. She worked and saved and travelled to Paris where a man exposed himself to her outside the produce market. To improve her Hebrew she enrolled in a girls’ boarding school in Jerusalem for her summer holidays. Soon she could speak like the prophet Isaiah.
One day Springtime said something that made her older sister and her brother laugh. Her parents laughed too. ‘That’s funny, darling’, said her father. ‘I know Dad. I’m funny.’ ‘I’m funny too, darling’, said her dad. Springtime rolled her eyes like an epileptic. And laughed.
When she entered her early twenties Pleasant Springtime determined her father was not perfect. She told him so. From time to time, lest this slip her father’s imperfect mind, she repeated this information, adducing evidence. Her mother shared this surprising opinion and voiced it aloud. The two made a chorus and seemed to enjoy it.
Pleasant Springtime collected a couple of degrees, became a psychologist, gathering a bouquet of diplomas, coing to leadership of a large team of professional peers, some a good deal older than she. A number of fruitless connections came and passed before she met the good man I will call Running Bear. She married the bear and she bore him two infants, a Minor Prophet and a red gem.
And her Gargery father lived happily ever after.
Postscript: Twenty years after injecting herself full of Birth Canal Enlarging Hormone, Springtime elected to deliver her children by caesarean section.