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“The Cost” by Liz Busby

The Cost


We had been married three months when I turned to my husband and told him we should have a baby. I had never been one to count my future children, to pick out their names, plan my future with them. Something changed when we got married. I could barely contain all the love I felt for the whole world, I was about to explode from it, drown in it; I couldn't pour it out fast enough into just one person. I needed more.


When we told my dad that we were pregnant, he shocked me with his first comment: “Do you know how much that will cost?” I was hurt that he thought so little of my ability to plan my own life.


But he is right. I do not know how much it will cost me.


Not just the insurance costs, the co-pays, the hospital bills that arrive like unwanted love letters. But also the inability to breathe or eat or think, the days when I can’t walk, when I can only cry in bed and watch remodeling shows. The worry over what is probably nothing but might be something, the uncertainty of constant advice and counter advice. And finally, afterward, the days of sleep sacrificed to feed a hungry mouth and comfort a tiny heart.


Even still.


###


Sarai and Abram had been married for many years when she turned to her husband and told him, “We need to have a baby.” Sarai had counted her future children, had been told to count them, that they would be as numerous as the sands of the sea. It took her years to admit that something had to change. Her love for him had led her out of her idolatrous father’s house, had saved them in pharaoh’s court, had been enough through all these years of herding; it would survive this. She could offer him this much more.


When Hagar tells her she is pregnant, Sarai shocked herself with her first comment, “You don’t understand how much this child has cost.” Hagar is hurt by her mistress’s anger when she expected rejoicing.


But Sarai is right. Neither of them know how much it will cost them.


Not only the reversal of roles, the resentments hidden less well than they should have been, and the taunting between those who had formerly been like sisters. But also the feud carried down to his unexpected half-brother, a relationship stillborn because of the warring women. The stinging heat of the desert sand, the constant search for water in the land she was cast into. And finally, afterward, that sacrificial ram, sparing her son’s life from sharpened bronze by only inches.


Even still.


###


Eve and Adam had known each other for only minutes (or was it millennia?) when God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. The woman had no expectations for the future beyond this singular moment, knew not what children were, nor how to obtain them. Something would have to change, but what? Her love of the man overflowed—they were made for each other—but it lacked direction. Her meandering lead her to a tree in the garden, to a conversation about wisdom, to new certainty about the way forward.


When Eve told Adam she was ready to have children, Adam shocked her with his first comment, “Do you realize what this will cost us?” Eve is hurt that he doesn’t understand what she has come to know: that this was the only way.


But Adam is right. She doesn’t know how much it will cost her.


Not only the scratches of weeds and thorns against her growing belly, the sudden pain and fear as her body prepares itself, this blood and water and new life spilling from her. But also the patient feeding and teaching of two small boys, the daily raising of their crops and their herds. The blood spilt once more upon the ground, the grief of loss doubled by divine malediction. And finally, afterward, that sacrifice, infinite and eternal, to repair the rift she had made.


Even still.

This piece was published in 2023 as part of the 12th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz by the Mormon Lit Lab. Sign up for our newsletter for future updates.

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