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In the NICU, a chorus of machines makes it seem like Darth Vader is around every corner. You
are sleeping inside a bright warm bubble. Wires run from under your blanket to screens that spell out the opening lines of your story. Six weeks early and barely six pounds, but breathing on your own. You had revealed a secret. So doctors plucked you from that dark warm ocean, to save you from waves of poison meant to save your mother. How many people almost get to be heroes before they’re born? One day I will tell you how I stepped from that hospital onto streets newly washed by a passing storm, the air a sweet mix of cut flowers and bus fumes, and how my heart swelled as I misread a rainbow over Washington Heights.
Bill Merklee’s work has appeared in numerous journals, was included in Best Microfiction 2021, and was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2022. He lives in New Jersey.
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