God’s Work, Women’s Work

Abby Horowitz

God pulls on a pair of latex gloves, the points of His fingernails poking sharply at the ends.

God moves like a lover, rolling down the comforter, rolling up the sleeping woman’s shirt. God peels off her underwear. God spreads her legs apart. Then, closing His long-lashed eyes, God blows a mighty breath into His cupped hands. The curtains tremble with the air that overspills His grasp, the woman stirs a little in the breeze.

God bends down above His target until He’s so close that His lashes brush the insides of the woman’s thighs. Then He opens the woman with His gloved pinky, and guides His handful of divine air inside.

God says, “Let there be —” and names the child who then begins to grow.

The woman sighs a little in her sleep, and God sighs with her, pleased with His labor. He tugs off His latex gloves and cocks His ear towards the bed, listening for the whispers of the new creation growing and singing God’s name.

Weeks later, the angel comes to Him in tears with the report: that the woman, at the doctor’s office — how there was silence where the heartbeat of God’s creation should have been.

God’s face turns dark. God tries to remember the woman over whom the angel cries. God tries and tries. The Gods pulls up his suspenders and heads back down to work.

The woman lies on the hospital bed in a paper gown, knees up, palms open, a doctor standing by her feet. God is glad her eyes are closed; it means He does not have to dodge her gaze. God regards the mound of her belly. God once again snaps on His gloves. God whispers His favorite cover-up — “God gives, God takes” — roughly in her ear.

Once again, He spreads her legs. He pushes His hand inside, rooting deeper and now deeper still until He finds the faulty mess He’s made. Then he scrapes the walls of her insides with His razor nails so that no evidence of His failure will remain.

And God stuffs His botched creation in an orange box labeled WASTE.

And God peels off His bloody gloves.

“Better luck next time,” He tells the woman on the bed, her eyes still closed. Then He whispers the name of the child she might have had.

God is proud of himself — his hands hadn’t trembled at all as they held the heart-dead mistake. Missed opportunity, He corrects Himself. He bends down to rub a drop of blood off His wingtips, then goes shooting upwards. And that’s God’s work, done.

The woman had felt blessed; the woman had praised God when she first found out. Then she had gotten right to work.

As her belly grew, the woman filled her head with dreams of sons and daughters. They wore light blue cotton overalls and white shirts with snaps, and followed her around the house, padding after her like a line of ducks whispering Mama, mama, mama. She sang them lullabies at night and in the mornings, kissed their cheeks awake. She brushed their fine, fine hair and built them towers of blocks that were tall enough to touch the bottom of heaven. She poured bubbles over their warm bellies and taught them patty-cake.

Then the silence in the doctor’s office, the appointment at the hospital, God’s hand sneaking back between her legs.

Her eyes open. The doctor says, Well done, and the nurse pats her arm and then follows him out the door.

For a long time, the woman lies still on the hospital table, feeling the weight of her new emptiness. The new hollow in her heart. Then she beckons to the doorway and a line of children come stepping into the room. The room is quiet except for the slaps of their bare feet against the linoleum.

The children march over to the orange box labeled WASTE. They open up the lid and out climbs their bloody brother who God has thrown away. He smiles at his mother and she smiles back and says his name. It is a lovely name. Then he sits with his brothers and sisters on the hospital floor and they all clap hands.


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