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  • R. Gurley

Bella on Birth

A rabbit died behind my house a few days back. I noticed it yesterday, lying on its side; its ears distinguishable; its eyes open as if seeing God; the rest in the state of decomposition, worms crawling in its hair the color of the desert ground. I turned away, hoping its carcass would disappear.

Bella found the rabbit this morning.

“Joo got a dead rabbit back here,” she says through my kitchen window where I make coffee.

“Yes, I was trying to forget about it,” I replied.

“Joo got a shobel?” she asks.

“A shovel?”

“Jes, a shobel. I bury him,” she says.

I go to the front porch, retrieve a shovel and walk to where Bella is, under the shadow of the eave. She’s put on headband, face mask and rubber gloves. She grabs the shovel from me.

“You sure aren’t like my other friends, Bella,” I say.

Her eyes are large with the black innocence of the rabbit lying on the ground. Her eyes are the only thing I can see; she says from under the mask she’s secured behind her ears.

“The other animals cannot see this” are the words that come from underneath the mask’s cloth.

Neither can I, so I tell Bella, I’ll make her a coffee for doing this.

I return to the kitchen where no dead animals lay, preparing coffee for my friend grunting and groaning outside the kitchen window.

“Joo got a bucket,” she yells through the screen.

I do not ask questions. I find a bucket in the heap of DIY gear piling up with laze and good intentions. I pass the bucket through the window.

Bella knocks at my front door minutes later.

“Joo got a wash cloth?”

I hand her ten. She wipes off. I thank her more times than I can count.

“It’s just not something I can…”

Bella laughs, “Oh, I think you do it if you have to.”

I hand her a coffee and offer her a seat. We stare for a moment at the sun; then the words come as they do when Bella comes over. The rabbit’s death spurs us to talk about birth. Bella has two sons, still in El Salvador.



“I pay twelve dollars to have the second one and I even have the surgery,” she says.

“A C-section?” I ask.

Bella nods her head.

I tell her in Bolivia up to 95% of births are c-sections in private hospitals.

“It’s a class thing,” I add.

Bella listens, then says, “In my country, womens are allowed three.”

“Three?” I ask.

“Three C-sections,” she holds up three fingers.

“What happens after that?” I ask.

“The doctors fix them without even asking,” she says.

I repeat what she says to confirm. She nods.

“Jes.”

“They don’t even ask?”

Bella nods to confirm.

We look out at the horizon, sipping coffee. The sun higher than it was.

“I learn things from you, Bella,” I say.

“I learn things from joo,” she says.

We finish our coffee. I pick up her glass.

I wash the glass in the kitchen sink after Bella leaves, contemplating those who cross our path from birth to the moment we become a rabbit on the ground. Bella is one of those I call friend.

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