Johnny’s gone. Tyana texts from the window sill. Her legs dangle outside. She won’t tell Max where Johnny went. An updraft blows her skirt over her face. She wobbles. Could this be the moment? But it isn’t.
She flips her legs inside the apartment, and strides to the door, pulling it ajar. Passing the mirror, she sees blood on her face. Hastily she washes it off.
Tyana throws a clean towel over the spots on the bed. Let Max figure out what he caused. She opens the window and looks down the 13 floors. In the corner of her mind she thinks he might save her, even though she knows what is done can’t be undone. Then she climbs back on the sill and swings her legs outside.
The door flies open, and Max is there. “Tyana!” he calls, running innocently towards the window. His dark eyes shine at her. “Don’t!” he shouts.
“Goodbye forever,” she replies, summoning up bravery. Tyana slips off the ledge like she is easing into a swimming pool. And she flutters down, the wind flooding her nostrils. There is a single thud as she hits the pavement.
One hour earlier
Her sneakers bounce along the pavement as Tyana walks baby Johnny home from the hospital and lays him on her bed. The infant has the same dark eyes as his father. His cheeks are rosy, and his mouth is like a black cherry, sweet and fresh. She takes a picture and texts it to Max. She kisses baby Johnny. There is an itch deep inside her skull.
Johnny screeches like only a newborn can, when Tyana bites through his lower lip. He is tender, and the flesh is better than anything she has ever eaten. The baby keens but it is too little to make much noise, as his mother gobbles a tiny hand. The finger bones remind her of eggshells. With eyes open, Tyana chews up Johnny’s pudgy arm. Blood spouts from the shoulder. She opens wide and sucks voraciously, like it is breastmilk. One finger twitches on Johnny’s remaining hand. Then it stops. The baby is dead. Tyana goes for the organs and eats the legs like drumsticks. Soon, only a mish-mosh of sinew and bones remain. She throws the grizzle in the kitchen sink.
Tyana is satiated, while hating herself.
Seven months earlier
She pisses on the pregnancy stick, hating that she is single. Max had pulled out every time, but now her period is late. It’s just two days, but that never happens. Tyana decides she’s definitely going to keep the baby, even without Max.
While she waits for the results, she thinks over names. She picks John after her grandfather, if it’s a boy.
For a girl, she could do Maxine after Max. But she hasn’t talked to him in weeks. Tyana wonders if he really loved her. She brushes away angry tears. Just because she came out only ninety-eight percent human doesn’t mean he is better than her. That jerk!
She examines the pregnancy stick. It reads positive. Impulsively, she texts Max a photo of it and writes, it’s yours!
Tossing the phone on her pillow, she wanders around her bedroom. Would a basinet fit in the corner? Should she find out if it’s a boy or girl?
Her phone whistles from the bed. It’s Max. Thanks for telling me. Are you sure it’s mine?
Yes! Responds Tyana.
Of course, I want to be its dad, writes Max. Tyana sends him a red heart emoji. Max doesn’t respond.
Eight months earlier
Tyana smiles at Max as he walks into the coffee shop. He doesn’t respond. In his hand is an envelope. Maybe it is a gift?
“Hey, hi,” he says joining her. Tyana wants to plant a kiss on his neck, but he lays the envelope on the table between them.
“I miss you,” she gushes.
“Um oh, that’s sweet, but…” he says.
“Well I don’t think we are good together.”
“Why?” Hesitantly, Max opens the envelope and pulls out the paper inside. He slides it across the table. The heading says, Origins Inc. Her name is on top. There is a line in red print, drawing Tyana’s attention. It says she is two percent Lamia. Next to it is a warning also in red, it says, Beware, Laminea have violent tendencies and are not suited for parenting.
“What the heck does that mean? I’m not violent,” says Tyana too loudly. Her cheeks redden. A woman from another table looks over, then looks away.
“Show me your results,” she demands. Max pulls out a sheet from his lapel pocket. She can see right away that there is nothing in red print.
“I’m really sorry,” he says, moving toward the door.
“It’s two fucking percent!” shouts Tyana.
Nine months earlier
They say only two percent of men are completely honest when online dating. All the guys Tyana’s chatted with are dweebs or creepy, except for Max. From his profile he seems normal. She puts on her little black dress that fits perfectly. Then she rubs lotion all over. Her legs are dry like snakeskin.
Max makes reservations at an Italian place. There are white tablecloths and jazz is playing in the background. Tyana has never met anyone as smart and handsome as Max. They get along perfectly.
“Are you free tomorrow? Go for Thai?” He asks her for a second date over the bruschetta. Tyana says yes immediately. Everything moves like a dream. He’s the real thing.
Before dessert, Max pulls out a tiny scissors and cuts a piece of his hair, putting it in a small plastic tube marked Origins. He hands her the scissors, saying, “It’s for ancestry testing. I wonder what our babies would look like?” She cuts a lock and he helps her put it in a different tube. Tyana feels like he has proposed.
They go back to his place and she wraps her legs around him. She says, “I love you forever, baby.”
“I love you too, forever,” he says back.