What if everything you are going through prepares you for who you were meant to be?

What if mother drank when she carried you? What if father slammed her against the kitchen table, and she had to have you early? What if you nearly died? What if you were four, and father started slipping into your room and said he’d kill you if you breathed a word? What if teachers said your attitude wasn’t very ladylike? What if a funny boy gave you the time of day? What if he giggled you down to his daddy’s workroom? What if, afraid, you lay there like a piece of wood? What if funny boy scowled, said, Get rid of it? What if mother put you out with the trash? What if you kept it to make a point? What if you had no health care? What if they fired you when the register came up short? What if Lynn—your only friend—said I’ll watch the kid for the night? What if, free for once, you just drove due south because you’d never been anywhere that hadn’t made you freeze? What if you lay on the beach and when a boy stopped by your blanket you thought Lord, not again? What if, while squeezing the wet condom into a napkin, he said, I have a baby back home? What if you woke in the Dreamland Inn, turned on your phone, and saw 33 frantic messages from Lynn? What if you thumbed out your rage against the world and your little boy came on to type i miss u bunch? What if—finally—you cried? What if you showered, slipped back into old clothes, and went home to work on the life you had? You didn’t, of course. I’m just saying, What if?