Suddenly she was noticing eggs everywhere. A nest in the tree outside her apartment, half-off cage-free at Whole Foods, window dressings in the Village featuring perfectly speckled porcelain specimens snug in faux-nests. She couldn’t escape the symbols of fertility popping out at her where before she hardly noticed.
In fact, here they were again this morning, leftover paper decorations from Easter taped to the windows of PS 41. Melissa slowed her usually brisk morning walk to the subway, stopping for a closer look. Colored sloppily with gentle lavenders, blushing pinks, delicate blues, hazy yellows, names written in scrawling attempts at penmanship. Hunter. Emma. Joshua. Olivia. Row after row of poorly cut-out paper ovals, each with a name.
One viable egg. Thirty-eight years old.
This thought ran through her head as if on a tape, round and round in a punishing mantra, as if she had done something wrong. Clearly, she hadn’t though! It took a lot of work to get to where she was in her career. Mostly, she didn’t notice the years floating by.
She shook her head with one tight jolt and resumed her walk. Entering the coffee shop around the corner, she inhaled the familiar scent and took her place in line. In front of her, a little girl, no more than five or six, clutched her mother’s hand. She wore a plastic Dora backpack, the brown curls from her ponytail barely brushing the pink plastic top. Would her little girl have had the same brown curls, like Mark’s? Would she have had her blue eyes, her grandmother’s stern cleft in the chin? As the little girl swung her mom’s hand and chewed on the forefinger of the other hand, quietly taking in the coffee shop, Melissa’s heart clenched.
At the register, Melissa ordered her skim latte and then saw with heavy irony the little tray by the tip jar overflowing with chocolate eggs, sixty-percent off. She handed over her five and dropped the change in the jar with a barely perceptible sigh.
When she arrived at her office twenty minutes later, she sat down and pulled out the card the doctor had given her yesterday. It was still too early to call, but she passed the card through her hands, back and forth, over and under, before resting it against base of her monitor. Then, deciding she didn’t want her assistant or any of the more gossipy editors to see the card emblazoned with the words Fertility Specialist, she tucked it in her desk drawer. As if she would forget to call.
Melissa was going to have a baby, one viable egg or none. She wasn’t about to let anything get in her way.