The story starts with braid. The gathering of lock, the weaving tress, the simple arithmetic of the act, the act being braid. She wore braid like a shell. And when they had been together for long enough, a few weeks maybe, in that courting zone between the touch and the taste, she taught him to braid. She taught him the art of braid, the math of it. A subgenre of knit, she said. A cousin to knot. His weeks started rooting themselves in braid; he began thinking of their form for hours during his days, wanting to learn the ways the hand moves, the hair folds.
When they met, when they fell, she was with child. He did not ask questions. You do not ask questions about the other half when you have found a Her. Do you hear what’s being said? She was his Only.
It began at the end of the first three months. The cravings for math. The way some women in the tender state crave olives dipped in tapioca, the color yellow, Bach. He sometimes wondered if all that math got caught in her blood stream, filtered through her veins, until it slid into the body of her child with the same brand of invasion as bad teeth or webbed toes. Math a scheme to disrupt the system, the system being the child.
She had just learned her body, said it had taken years to understand, to interrogate and trust. There is no law for coming to know your form; there is only theory and trial. She had just learned how hers worked: the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the offs and the ons. The next time my body changes this swiftly, she said, will be after I die, when I am beneath, when I go beyond, when I become hereafter.