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The woman who was in line ahead of me at the social security office is ahead of me, still, at the elevators to exit. We stand with another woman and her stroller.

“How old?”

Silence, the most brief.

“Cuantos anos?”

“Tres meses.” The woman from the line gasps and peers into the stroller, then cups her own belly, which I hadn’t noticed beneath her layers.

“Oh my God! Seis meses,” Rubbing her belly, still, the elevator lights up, dings, opens. We all climb on. In Spanish, now, the women coo and laugh about their children. Unmarried, each with more children at home and small children in strollers or bellies right here at social security, the elevator fills with beautiful Latin linguistics. They don’t know that I know.

Another ding, door opens, we exit. She turns to me, the bellied, vibrant one, not in Spanish, but accented in a way she can’t help.

“I hardly gained a pound, you see? You can’t even tell I’m pregnant.” She pulls back her vest and shows her belly nested in a thermal as we walk.

“Wow.” I’m smiling, but unsure of what to say. I can’t understand the comment she makes next, but assume it’s in English. Then,

“You can’t depend on a man these days. Have to do it all yourself.” So matter of fact, she makes her last statements. And with a wave, hustles out the door of the social security first floor and around the corner, skinny jeans hugging pregnant thighs.

I stand perfectly still in the sunlight and cold air at the intersection wondering at the impossible gap between our two lives. Yes you can—should I have told her? And, no—you don’t have to.

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