The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: What Shines from It by Sara Rauch



Until the night we’re cooking dinner, and I’m watching
the water boil, and I can’t stand it anymore: We need
a bed. I don’t know why this is such a thing with you.
And Jacob, knife poised over a tomato, says, It’s not a
thing.
Don’t play dumb—I’m tired of this.
And you think a mattress will help? he says.
I pick up the nearest bowl and fling it at the floor.
Jacob jumps a little and says, What the—
It’s a bed, Jacob. Why is that so fucking hard for you to
understand? I start to cry—I don’t want to—I can’t help it.
He puts the knife down and stoops to pick up the pieces
of the bowl. We’re both barefoot. He gets the trash, throws
the bigger pieces in, gets the broom. I stand there, sniffling.
Like a girl.
He puts his arms around me, strokes my hair.
I should’ve kept my word, I say.
He steps back, takes my chin in his hand. About what?
Not letting you touch me till we got a mattress.
He sighs, and my whole body stiffens at that sigh, and
then he says, I’ll get you a mattress. I’ll get it tomorrow.
I’m pregnant, I say, and he steps back like it’s contagious.
We stare at each other, in this awful way, all my tears
gone, and what I’ve suspected for over a month, and known
for sure since yesterday, settles around us.
What about—? he says.
What about it? It’s not foolproof,Isay. But who’s the fool
here, him or me?
What are we gonna do, he says, and he sits down.
What I am going to do, I say, is go to the clinic, and—
We should talk about it, Jacob says. He takes my hand,
tries to pull me closer.
I already made the appointment. There’s nothing to talk
about.
Jacob knows this, I know he knows this, but his head
sags. He flexes and unflexes his hands—they’re so elegant,
like bird wings—and says, Just tell me what you need.
I need a bed, I say, and he nods, like maybe he finally

ntil the night we’re cooking dinner, and I’m watching
the water boil, and I can’t stand it anymore: We need
a bed. I don’t know why this is such a thing with you.
And Jacob, knife poised over a tomato, says, It’s not a
thing.
Don’t play dumb—I’m tired of this.
And you think a mattress will help? he says.
I pick up the nearest bowl and fling it at the floor.
Jacob jumps a little and says, What the—
It’s a bed, Jacob. Why is that so fucking hard for you to
understand? I start to cry—I don’t want to—I can’t help it.
He puts the knife down and stoops to pick up the pieces
of the bowl. We’re both barefoot. He gets the trash, throws
the bigger pieces in, gets the broom. I stand there, sniffling.
Like a girl.
He puts his arms around me, strokes my hair.
I should’ve kept my word, I say.
He steps back, takes my chin in his hand. About what?
Not letting you touch me till we got a mattress.
He sighs, and my whole body stiffens at that sigh, and
then he says, I’ll get you a mattress. I’ll get it tomorrow.
I’m pregnant, I say, and he steps back like it’s contagious.
We stare at each other, in this awful way, all my tears
gone, and what I’ve suspected for over a month, and known
for sure since yesterday, settles around us.
What about—? he says.
What about it?It’s not foolproof,Isay. But who’sthe fool
here, him or me?
What are we gonna do, he says, and he sits down.
What I am going to do, I say, is go to the clinic, and—
We should talk about it, Jacob says. He takes my hand,
tries to pull me closer.
I already made the appointment. There’s nothing to talk
about.
Jacob knows this, I know he knows this, but his head
sags. He flexes and unflexes his hands—they’re so elegant,
like bird wings—and says, Just tell me what you need.
I need a bed, I say, and he nods, like maybe he finally

ntil the night we’re cooking dinner, and I’m watching
the water boil, and I can’t stand it anymore: We need
a bed. I don’t know why this is such a thing with you.
And Jacob, knife poised over a tomato, says, It’s not a
thing.
Don’t play dumb—I’m tired of this.
And you think a mattress will help? he says.
I pick up the nearest bowl and fling it at the floor.
Jacob jumps a little and says, What the—
It’s a bed, Jacob. Why is that so fucking hard for you to
understand? I start to cry—I don’t want to—I can’t help it.
He puts the knife down and stoops to pick up the pieces
of the bowl. We’re both barefoot. He gets the trash, throws
the bigger pieces in, gets the broom. I stand there, sniffling.
Like a girl.
He puts his arms around me, strokes my hair.
I should’ve kept my word, I say.
He steps back, takes my chin in his hand. About what?
Not letting you touch me till we got a mattress.
He sighs, and my whole body stiffens at that sigh, and
then he says, I’ll get you a mattress. I’ll get it tomorrow.
I’m pregnant, I say, and he steps back like it’s contagious.
We stare at each other, in this awful way, all my tears
gone, and what I’ve suspected for over a month, and known
for sure since yesterday, settles around us.
What about—? he says.
What about it?It’s not foolproof,Isay. But who’sthe fool
here, him or me?
What are we gonna do, he says, and he sits down.
What I am going to do, I say, is go to the clinic, and—
We should talk about it, Jacob says. He takes my hand,
tries to pull me closer.
I already made the appointment. There’s nothing to talk
about.
Jacob knows this, I know he knows this, but his head
sags. He flexes and unflexes his hands—they’re so elegant,
like bird wings—and says, Just tell me what you need.
I need a bed, I say, and he nods, like maybe he finally

gets it. Not that it matters right now. All the padding in the
world won’t make this landing any softer

Jacob holds the front door, so I go in first. There, in
place of our sleeping bags, is a bed. A mattress and
frame and quilt and matching pillowcases.
Big, I say.
He goes over and pulls back the covers. He says, Get in.
And even though my whole body aches, even though
I’m crampy and bleeding and more exhausted than I’ve ever
been in my entire life, I don’t move.
Jacob’s face betrays nothing like sadness or shame. Do
you like it? he says.
Where’d it come from?
He walked through the protesters with me, sat in the
waiting room, still clutches the sheet of care instructions. If
you develop a fever. If you bleed through more than three thick
pads in three hours. If you pass gray, green, or white tissue.
Dan brought it, Jacob says.
He bought us a bed?
I bought it, Jacob says. He delivered it.
Takethe antibiotics you weresent home with. Take over-thecounter painkillers as needed.
I know I should say thank you. But my mind’s stuck on
the story Jane told me over the holidays, about a mother of
hers whose baby stopped moving inside at seven months.
How the woman carried it to term, how the labor dragged
on, how the baby arrived blue-lipped, with ten delicate fingers and ten delicate toes. And I think of how long the woman waited, just to have that still form placed in her arms.
Jacob says, You need rest.
He unlaces my shoes and pulls my feet out of them. I get
in between the sheets. Blue. They smell brand-new, creased
in perfect rectangles.
He says, Do you need anything? and when I shake my
head, he lies down behind me.
Resume your normal activities the following day.
You made the right choice, he says.
Avoid anything that causes pain.

You’ll be a good mother someday, he says.
You’re not helping, I say.
He loops his arm around me, rests his hand on my belly.
But it causes pain, and I move away.


This selection comes from What Shines from It., available from Alternating Current Arts. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Gokul Prabhu.

SARA RAUCH’s fiction and essays have appeared in Paper Darts, Hobart, Split Lip, So to Speak, Qu, Lunch Ticket, and other literary magazines, as well as in the anthologies Dear John, I Love Jane; Best Lesbian Romance 2014; and She’s Lost Control. She has covered books for Bustle, BitchMedia, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary, The Rumpus, and more. In 2012, she founded the literary magazine Cactus Heart, which ran through 2016. She holds an MFA from Pacific University. Sara teaches writing at Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop and Grub Street and also works as an independent editor and manuscript consultant. What Shines from It, which won the Electric Book Award, is Sara’s first book. She lives with her family in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Find her online at sararauch.com, on Twitter at @sararauch, and on Instagram at @sara__rauch.

Gokul Prabhu is a graduate of Ashoka University, India, with a Postgraduate Diploma in English and creative writing. He works as an administrator and teaching assistant for the Writing and Communication facility at 9dot9 Education, and assists in academic planning for communication, writing and critical thinking courses across several higher-ed institutes in India. Prabhu’s creative and academic work fluctuates between themes of sexuality and silence, and he hopes to be a healthy mix of writer, educator and journalist in the future. He occasionally scribbles book reviews and interviews authors for Scroll.in, an award-winning Indian digital news publication.

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