"The Pepper Plant"
Eddi was twelve weeks into the pregnancy when she bought the pepper plant.
"I feel like I need the practice," she told the clerk at the garden center.
She actually felt that she needed some kind of distraction, something that wasn’t a baby book or a question about her child-rearing plans from an eager co-worker that would leave her worrying away the rest of the afternoon. And she had always loved the taste and the color of hot peppers. She took the plant home, gave it new soil, and applied an Epsom salt solution to its leaves.
Once the plant, a cayenne, had produced several fruit, Eddi snipped one of the peppers and sliced off the tip. She was well into the second trimester by that point. She brought the piece to her mouth and began to nibble on it. Immediately she wanted to cry.
The burn of it was horrible, nothing like she remembered or had expected. Her stomach had felt like a minefield flooded with acid throughout the previous months, but she had still hoped to be able to enjoy some of what she had worked so hard to grow.
She called her mother.
"I can’t do this," Eddi wailed into the phone, "I don’t know what I was thinking. I can’t do this."
"Do what?" her mother said. "Honey, is this about the baby?"
"I just wanted to eat a pepper," Eddi said.
She couldn’t stand to look at the pepper plant the next morning, and she was hardly able to look at it the day after that. She did, however, check on it three days later. Its leaves were drooping. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she whispered as she silently urged the water to fill the watering can. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t eat the peppers; it was still her plant. Yet she wasn’t as worried as she thought she should’ve been. Somewhere deep inside of her, a voice was saying, It’s all right, it’s all right.