Katherine Hubbard

Ordinary

I want to write a story of a real-life woman. Not some housewife screwing the electrician. Not a woman who hates husband/children/designer/friends. No incest, no drugs. No suicide. Just a woman, thirty-seven, happy with her body even after two children.

Her husband hasn’t fucked her best friend/his best friend/ the secretary/ the boss. He isn’t remote. He isn’t manipulative. He doesn’t bring flowers, but he does do the laundry: dabs jelly stains with Shout, knows to add the Biz. Folds his daughters’ small shirts. Hangs the cotton dresses to dry. In bed, he watches his wife twitch through dreams, thinks about how deep at sea he’d be without her.

In my story, the woman’s children aren’t sulky teenagers. They don’t slam doors, write hate notes, aren’t sarcastic. Neither child has autism, violent allergies, ADHD; though her friends have children who do. The oldest will occasionally skip the awesome bus where big kids sit in back and tell jokes that are new only to them. Sometimes, this child prefers to have her mother to walk her into Kindergarten and kiss her goodbye. At the park, the woman’s baby collects red leaves, but forgets them; when home there is disbelief, then anguish. The child wraps her arms around her mother’s neck, clings like a gibbon and the woman feels how her baby’s tiny heart beats faster than her own.

And then,one night the woman in my story stands naked, fresh from the shower and sees in the mirror there is something weird going on with one breast. It’s wall-eyed. There is an almond-sized lump slipping below the skin.

This is still the story of an ordinary woman. A woman like you. Her daughters sleep. Her husband puts out clothes for tomorrow. She turns her back to him, hesitates the way she hesitated before telling him she was pregnant. The lump against her palm. Not thinking. Seeing her girls: the oldest, legs gleefully stretched out for her mama to admire the white ruffled socks, the sparkling red slippers; and the baby, gently tucking her doll in the discarded shoe box.

Katherine Hubbard is a freelance writer and editor living in the Philadelphia area. She has an M.A. from NYU. Her fiction has been published in small journals as well as in Seventeen Magazine. Her story "Long After Midnight" was part of the inaugural production of the InterAct Theater's program Writing Aloud.