In 1960…


In 1960…
by Grace Palmer

…my husband tapped the teaspoon on the crème brûlèè and the yellow crust cracked. Egg yolk and cream spilled onto the cloth and my stomach wavered.

The foetus curled, I swear, somersaulting and dreaming in my watery home. I thought, it will stop soon, lay down bone and blue, grow into the caul.

He lifted his glass of Mateus Rose to toast our future, black hairs scurrying under his cuffs. Babycham bubbles popped in my nose and the cherry rolled inside my cheek, all fur and flesh. Everyone drank alcohol in pregnancy, then.

‘It’s the size of a tadpole. How can it make you so green?’

The tadpole wriggled and waited for limbs.

At night, I hugged the pillow in the spare room and had a fancy for coal. Every morning, the baby pushed up bile as if entitled, sent me jagged to the ceramic bowl. The days continued, crooked and raw.

Our doctor prescribed Thalidomide. It worked; the sickness rolled away, and I ate, ballooned to drum-tight, and waddled either side of Big Bump. My husband returned to lovable.

I was still prone to fainting, moon-watching and puffed ankles, so he drove me to Whitby in the Mini Traveller. We bought fish and chips with fine salt and hot vinegar. I remember thinking, this is the best meal of my pregnancy, my baby is thriving.

Our daughter, naturally, became a scientist.

And her wings sprout from her shoulders.

Grace Palmer’s stories have been longlisted for the 2018 Tongues & Groove prose poetry award and the 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize. She’s currently editing two novels. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, teaches creative writing to adults, and runs Novel Nights.  Find her online at or on Twitter at @wordpoppy.

Image courtesy of the FDA.