Hair cut at ten, accountant at two, and I felt so strange. Four days of headache gone, but I couldn’t move properly. I would be fine. When I opened my mouth to cancel the appointments, slowly, slowly, the sentences dripped off my tongue. I would be fine.

Days later, when I was at Kaiser Vallejo, talking slowly, like I was Southern my mom said, I wheeled to the speech therapist. The room was small, made even smaller by partitioning. The speech therapist had her desk by the door. I could barely fit my wheelchair in. Would I be fine? She beat a pencil and said a two-syllable word—baby—matching the word to the beat. Then she told me to try. I did. Ba-by. Baby. Would I be fine?

About Nikki: Nikki Thompson is a poet, book artist (aka Deconstructed Artichoke Press), and happily failed architect. She fled Southern California for UC Berkeley, where she earned a degree in architecture and edited Berkeley Fiction Review. She remained in the Bay Area and earned her MFA in creative writing from California College of the Arts in 2002. She has worked extensively with Small Press Traffic and the San Francisco Center for the Book. Her work has appeared in Paragraph Magazine, Spork, and Palimpsest. She is the host and organizer of the Deconstructed Artichoke Press Reading Series in San Francisco’s Mission District. She currently teaches special education at South San Francisco Unified School District, while residing in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights with her fiance and Boxer-Pitbull mix, Billie Holiday.