After twenty years of marriage K. had given H. everything except children. It was too late for that. Everybody said so, especially the doctors, who were the experts on childbearing. H. had been 67 when he met K., who was 37 then. Biology had spoken.
For the first few years they had made love like very young people. K. used protection, if only because that's what she'd always done; and as if to show that even at his age he was still a responsible adult, H. used protection also, so that they were doubly sheathed against the chance of new life.
After those first few years, H. had other concerns to think about, such as postponing his own death. He had discovered a small bottle on which “Elixir of Immortal Life” was written in runes, in the cupboard of his great-grandmother who, then already over 150 years old, had stopped celebrating her birthdays because nobody would believe the age at which she was still alive anyway. His great-grandmother had turned from girl to woman to mother to crone and as such she sat, night and day, unbelievably small and shriveled, an icon of time itself, in an armchair clad in red velvet. H. spent much of his time ascertaining the ingredients in the elixir, which remained maddeningly elusive.
Meanwhile, K. was busy turning her greeting card company into something she could live on after H.'s death. Despite his family's mythical longevity, K. did not really believe that H. would be around for her own old age.
Mother's Day was always high season in the well-wishing business but when K. had noticed how many competitors there were already, K. had moved into an empty corner of the market. Her cards contained short messages of hate upon women with children celebrating what was not an everyday experience for every woman. On a notepad, she wrote a possible slogan for an anti-Mother’s Day card: “I wish I was adopted, mom!” K.'s Mother's Day cards were quite successful.
So there were no kids and it was Mother's Day again. “Why don't we celebrate 'Shaving Day' for men," H. smirked, and K. laughed, a little tensely. H. and K. were having breakfast out and it was impossible to focus on their private feelings because everywhere in the café, mothers were smiling in the middle of their families small and large. On the spot, surrounded by dishes covered with eggs or pancakes or waffles, they turned into übermothers, projections of the perfect or the insufficient or the not present or the omnipresent, the negligent or the controlling mother, into types, into sculptures of themselves with enormous, eternally bestowing breasts and equally enormous claiming cunts, faceless like the Venus of Willendorf, amazons armed with a kitchen knife and a sieve for a shield.
K., now 57, looked at H., now 87, and found him just as attractive and sexy as she had many moons ago when she met him. H. looked back at her, his smile a little strained because he felt shy in public. Tender thoughts crossed his high forehead, related to last night's lovemaking, which both had enjoyed loudly and lustfully, when K. suddenly felt a cramp. Something was different. She got scared and reached for H. She noticed the blue veins on his hand. She closed her eyes and put her arm across her belly, shutting out the buzz and the voices around her. Life had spoken. It was mother's day after all.