The Living Will Christina Kapp Macro-Fiction

map The Living Will

by Christina Kapp

Published in Issue No. 279 ~ August, 2020

On the day I am “celebrating” my t-minus one month due date, I have an argument with my husband about writing our wills. “We don’t have anything to will to anyone,” doesn’t fly with him, despite the fact that a mortgage company in Omaha owns our house, an array of credit card companies owns our furniture, and Honda Motor Finance owns the new Odyssey he insisted on purchasing at month five. We don’t even own our educations free and clear, which means that hypothetically someone could show up, proclaim, “Off with their heads!” and repo those as well. Despite all this, whatever pregnant man agenda my husband has from god only knows where insists that having a will was something you are supposed to do before you became a parent.

“If anyone is about to die,” I yell from the powder room toilet, “It’s me.” Then I add, “And all I’m leaving you is this kid.”

The kid seems to enjoy using my bladder as a bongo, so the powder room is where I spend a lot of my time. It has an unreasonably large mirror, which means there was no way not to look at yourself while sitting on the toilet. Also, the walls are painted police uniform blue, which has a way of making me feel both ghostly and guilty at once.

I wish I could say that the color choice had not been my own.

I also wish I could say that I am at least trying to make good, mom-like choices. I’m not. The worst decision I made recently was not telling my husband that I ate his leftover pizza for breakfast. Then I doubled down on the mistake by complaining that I couldn’t stop burping it up while we were fighting about the will.

In my defense, pregnant lady pizza burps are repulsive.

Far worse than hijacking his fridge pizza had been the choice some handful of months earlier not to tell him that I’d had a brief flirtation with a realtor from the local Keller Williams in the Kroger self-serve deli bar. He was late to an office party when I discovered him trapped in the honey glazed, Buffalo, barbecue vortex that is the chicken wing section. (Stick with the Buffalo. The Buffalo will see you through anything.) This neighborly assistance led to an invite to the aforementioned office party, where I was gifted several beers and let him put his hand on my ass in public. I thought he was sort of sweet. It’s a nice thing to feel attractive, even if it’s just in a Kroger strip mall.

Neither the pizza burps nor the strip mall interlude or any of the array of other things that happened seem like specific choices in the sort of powder room toilet hindsight I am currently experiencing. I mean, I am pregnant now. Things are different. It isn’t about how I got here, but the future, the ultimate good of humanity, that I need to focus on.

This is why I am driven to act when, after a couple more rounds of who-will-inherit-our-child-and-our-debt that led my husband to take off in the Odyssey, I happen to look out the window and see a kid being pulled down our street on a skateboard. He is weaving back and forth at the end of a rope like a water-skier behind a blue Subaru Outback, screaming his head off like the death wish teenager that he is. Due to what I like to think is pure budding maternal instinct, I grab both sides of my belly and waddle-run out into the yard to scream at him to stop being a fucking asshole before he gets himself killed. Now, I don’t know if I distracted him, or this was bound to happen anyway, but just at that moment, the kid swings too far to the right and slams into the back of a parked car.

There is a scream of shattering glass. There is blood. There is more waddle-running. When the boy slides off the car, his knees buckle like a bad marionette. The Outback skids to a stop, reverses, and whirrs backwards to the skateboard kid. The driver, a twitchy and rib-thin shirtless boy, runs around the car and attempts to shove the rope, the skateboard, and his friend into the backseat.

“Stop! He’s not okay,” I say, trying to catch my breath from all the waddle-running. “He needs to go to the hospital.”

“Fuck no,” the driver kid’s mouth is clenched so tight it doesn’t appear he has lips.

I grab one of the injured kid’s arms, figuring my almost-mom status makes the grabbing of stupid children more, you know, justified. The lipless driver kid grabs his friend’s other arm, and just as our tug-of-war starts to get really competitive, the injured kid vomits all over the front of himself.

“Fuck!” the friend says, and let us go. For some reason, I don’t, which might be due to my inherent competitiveness, or might be further evidence that I’m turning into a mom for real. It’s hard to say. More tellingly, I feel a little bit bad for the lipless boy, even though I also know he’s definitely high. This is when a man in a blue checkered shirt and a garden-hose green tie walks out of one of the houses down the street. He calls out, “What’s happening?” and sure enough, it’s the Keller Williams Chicken Wing Man, who I will call Mike for argument’s sake. He looks at the kid with the puke all over him, the lipless high kid, and big ol’ pregnant me and says, “Well, this is a conundrum of sorts” and “maybe it’s time for 9-1-1?”

I don’t mean to, but I smile a little bit. It’s always nice to have someone in your corner.

Chicken Wing Mike helps me guide the injured kid to the curb. We try to get him to sit, but instead, he lies on the pavement. He might have been moaning a little when the cops showed up. Blue-gloved EMS people also appear in an ambulance. They stabilize the kid’s spine and do all sorts of very urgent things in the most boring possible way. Chicken Wing Mike and I are trying really hard to do nothing, and it’s going reasonably okay until Mike asks, “So, where’d you get that baby?” I say, “I’m pretty sure from my husband,” which I meant to be a sort of flip, offhand comment, but Chicken Wing Mike takes it all seriously like “Just pretty sure?” and I can tell he’s madly doing calculations in his head. I assure him that I’ve done all the calculations already, and yes, it’s true that I’m using the new math, but it’s cool if you rely on your intuition to work through the problem. I laugh like it’s all just realtor cocktail party banter, but he knows we had sex at least seven times, two of which occurred in my car, the Ford Fiesta that I had before we had the Odyssey, which was not really built for that sort of contorting and maybe some corners were cut to make it all work. So yes, at this point, I’m going to have to concede that some stuff that I didn’t add into the equation might also be important, but to be honest, I don’t see the point. I mean, Chicken Wing Mike is a realtor wearing a garden hose green tie. This seems to be a pretty good indicator of something I definitely could not put into an inoffensive and still coherent sentence, so I change the subject.

“Are you selling a house on this street or something?”

He frowns. “Don’t you owe me five hundred dollars?”

This is true. I do. He loaned me five hundred dollars, but this is on the topic because my husband, on month one, actually the day I told him I was pregnant, decided that we needed a “babymoon” where we could “reconnect” and “work on our relationship” before we let everyone in on the pregnancy and things got “crazy.” A month or so before, I had spent far more money than was reasonable on getting my hair highlighted and Keratined to impress Chicken Wing Mike, who in my memory was capable of better wardrobe choices, and at the time it only seemed fair that he’d reimburse some of that. So I told him I needed a loan for my grandmother’s funeral, and I had to go “take care of things.” After that, I disappeared.

Regrettably, this fact is also true. I ghosted him. He knows it, and I know it. But I had an excuse. I was pregnant. I had a marriage to salvage.

The EMTs load the kid in the ambulance and leave as the sky turns pink and orange and beautiful with the setting sun. A police officer pulls the Outback into a parking space on the curb. The owner of the car the kid hit shows up and makes of a big show of being outraged by the dents the kid’s body made in his trunk. Chicken Wing Mike and I stand there. The cops take our information. My feet hurt, and I feel tired and a little bit dizzy, so I sit on the grass. Chicken Wing Mike looks down at me.

“You okay?”

I shrug.

“What happens now?” he asks, staring out at the horizon.

“My husband says we have to make a will. That’s the next thing on his baby preparation list.”

I wish the EMS people were still here. I don’t feel well.

Chicken Wing Mike makes a huffing sound. I stare at the fire of light growing in the sky. I want to tell him I’ll pay back his five hundred dollars, but I don’t.

“Make sure you have a living will,” he says, jutting his chin at the collection of police cars. They have turned off their flashers and are beginning to pull away. “Sometimes that one’s more important, you know, to those who are left.” Then he goes back to the house for sale down the street, and I sit by myself on the grass until the sky turns purple and the streetlights come on.


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Christina Kapp has published her short fiction, poetry, and essays in numerous publications including Forge, Barn Owl Review, Gargoyle, DOGZPLOT, Pindeldyboz, PANK,, and apt. Her stories have won an honorable mention in Glimmer Train's Fiction Open (June 2011) and been nominated for a Best of the Net award (2009). She has a M.A. in writing from Johns Hopkins University, a M.A. in English literature from Rutgers University, and leads the Franklin Chapter of the New Jersey Writers Society. She is currently working on her first novel.