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Melissa Holm Shoemake

Miscarriage Story Told with Quotes from the Movie “Mean Girls” (2004)

1. “Is butter a carb?”

On our girls’ trip, we check a suitcase of liquor and protein bars

so we can skip meals. For weeks, the group chat was a buzzing countdown

to the beach and detailed workout regimens and diets. And now we’re brushing sand

off our bottoms while we apply sunscreen to each other’s backs, and it feels so good

in between the cheese fries and cranberry vodkas to belong.

We’re so lucky to have each other, we say during champagne toasts

and several glasses later we say things like Here for you no matter what.

And I love you.

For breakfast we eat the buttered muffins and croissants we’ve avoided,

and have serious talks about the difficulty of finding friends as adults (I know, right?).

We’re doing life together, she says.

And it tastes like Diet Coke.

2. “On Wednesdays we wear pink.”

Midweek and I realize I’m a little late. My husband

and I are not trying but the plastic test is blazing

with two pink lines and I have to fetch

it from next to the toilet for him

to believe the shock of joy in my voice.

At our next girls’ night my mouth is brimming.

I coyly refuse a rosé before showing the 7-week

ultrasound and recount the flicker of a heart.

And then surprise! She’s pregnant too!—

our due dates two days apart.

You’ll be such a cool mom, I say

before we trade stories about vomiting.

3. “…got hit by a bus.”

At first it was brown. “Oxidized. Old Blood. Not necessarily a concern,”

I google. But then came tissue and a trip to the ER.

I invent a new ritual: Wear all gray, black underwear.

Scrub off all the dead skin cells I can in the shower.

Shave. Clip nails. Floss. Brush teeth.

But I make the mistake of preparing a toaster strudel,

the pastry too reminiscent of flesh, and the strawberry jam...

4. “I want my pink shirt back”

My body strains to regulate, the next period deep crimson

and a second cruel sloughing of lifeblood.

When she wraps her arms around me,

her belly bloating with growth

and easily pressing into mine,

highlighting what I lack,

I feel more space between us.

Let me know if you need anything, she says.

I don’t know how to define anything

but I plan a girls’ night when everyone is free.

5. “It’s October 3rd.”

Texts an hour before girls’ night:

Ok, so I got enough cheese and crackers for 8 people.

Do you think that’s enough?

So sorry. I’m too tired and pregnant. Need to rest.

Oh, girls’ night is tonight? We have tickets for this thing…

I can’t go out. I’m sick.

We’ll make it up to you soon. Promise!

6. “You can’t sit with us.”

I still get invited to the baby shower and the brunches and the movie nights

but I’m at her anniversary party and later she posts a photo captioned “My girls.”

I’m not in it.

7. “None for you…”

A few months later, I’m pregnant again

when my husband and I take a trip to the mountains.

I sit on the deck of the rental overlooking the glen,

coco cooling in my mug. An early darkness casts,

the sun drained behind the peaks—

And thumbing through my phone

I see her birth announcement.

Quickly, I click the screen to black,

float in the layers of my grief,

hoping to discover its height or its depth,

reaching out for an edge to hold

but the limit does not exist.


My 3-year-old’s bare butt whisks

through my periphery and my mind whips

to a memory of my mother’s tight crack

of a mouth when she discovers I’ve licked

the stamp collection my father keeps

in the closet next to my toddler bed.

She’s helping me change so I’m naked

when he walks in and discovers I stuck

each one to my comforter in pride.

With one hand he grips my wrist and dangles

my doll-like body above the carpet.

With the other he spanks my cheeks.

The terror reverberates through my flesh

and my future. My mother’s face offers

pity and her arms offer pants. My confusion

and lack of understanding is like their God,

the same yesterday and today and forever.


Melissa Holm Shoemake lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two sons where she works in college administration. Her poems have appeared in various journals including The Southern Humanities Review and Iron Horse Literary Review. Her chapbook Ab.Sin.The. is available from Dancing Girl Press.


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