by Alysa Chesler

Gordon is trying to impregnate me–he says so–and then he tells me he also plans to leave me. I hear him say it’s because he’s sick of me, but he wants to make sure I remember him forever.

I’ve noticed, for several months now, that he’s paying great attention to when I get my period, figuring out my whole fertility thing. I try to hide it, but there’s always ways to tell. If he suddenly wants to have sex with me and I’m on my period, he’s got to pull out the tampon first. He always wants to screw me, every day really, but Gordon goes through it quickly, like it’s simply something else on his list of things to do.

It’s no compliment really. I am struggling to find some way to listen to myself and not depend on someone else. Why aren’t I strong enough to get out of here? Is it because an important part of me is still infantile? My soul maybe?

Unprepared for life, it seems. If I’m not prepared for my own life, how can I be prepared for someone else’s?

* * *

Gordon got his way. I clutch my enormous stomach in total awe. There is a baby lying there in safety, whispering a lullaby from the center of my being. I hope it is a girl. Maybe she will know a lot more than me. She’ll be able to hear a madman before he steals her will.

Gordon comes and goes. I wonder where he sleeps. He doesn’t have many friends, even though he thinks he does.

I decide my baby will sleep in the laundry room. I refurnish it with pink and blue flowers on the wall. There is a stained-glass lamp overhead, so I can see when I clean my baby’s dirty bottom. I’ll get my breast ready to nourish and sit at the kitchen table. Gordon can’t mind this, if he is even around.

I listen insanely for him when I start to feel the baby drop. But all I can hear is God’s moan. It is a sound that seems like it is rising from the ceiling. Everything in the room sounds like it is moving. The dishes in the kitchen clatter. The chairs are dancing.

* * *

I just gave birth to a baby girl. She has three ears. It seems the third one grew from an area in her chest, near the heart.

Oh my god, this is not my child! There is no one in the world like this, at least, I don’t think. Maybe she is simply all of Gordon’s unplugged inner cords?

What will I name this baby girl? Or, more important, will I keep her? I’m wondering now what that third ear will do. Will she hear more of what’s going on in my inner thoughts? More than I do? I don’t know how much she’ll be able to comprehend, being a newborn.

So I work on her name. Adina? Lira? Heara? I decide if I do keep her, I’ll have to get an extra pocket sewn into her clothes to keep her third ear warm.

I hear from the nurse that Gordon did actually come into the hospital when I was done giving birth, but once he was told how the baby turned out, he left, and told them to tell me he said goodbye, and that he’ll never see us again.

He said, “This baby is a freak of nature, like you.”

I decide to keep the girl. She’ll be like a twin. I will have to raise her, but she will always hear the truth before I do, and she will know the truth when I don’t.

Yes, yes, bless her third ear.

Ms. Chesler’s biography, in her own words: My name is Alysa Chesler, and I am 31. I never know what’s going to come out of the pen when I put it down on paper, it just feels good to write. I have been a poet most of my life, and I published a book of poetry called Voices of the Omnipresent Shadow in 2009. I first started writing short stories with my creative writing teacher, Diane Sherry Case, only one year ago. I’d like to say that the inspiration for this story comes from a life experience, but it does not! This surreal fiction is something I would have never expected; I always wrote realistically. However, Third Ear was inspired by a Frida Khalo painting my mentor showed me, and then it took on a life of its own. There were only 2 ears there.