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(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Corinne and her husband Russ are surprised that she has become pregnant and are a bit nonplussed by her condition. At thirty-eight years of age, Corinne thinks she is a little old to be having her first child; the timing is especially awkward because her career as a stand-up comedian seems to be about to take off. Her gynecologist agrees with her and suggests that she consider having an abortion. Over the next few months, this question dominates Corinne’s life.

Before long, however, the baby enters Corinne’s internal conversation: The baby, she thinks, has begun singing. Sometimes the songs are Broadway show tunes, sometimes operatic arias. Although mystified and unable to explain the strange phenomenon, Corinne has trouble denying that it is really happening.

Three months into her pregnancy, Corinne begins to get bookings at comedy clubs, and it seems to her that the baby sings even more exuberantly just before her performances. She goes over well at one club but is not renewed because, the club’s owner says, her humor is all mental stuff: It lacks guts or feeling. She is not surprised. Almost everyone in California smiles a lot, she thinks, but few seem to laugh much.

After Corinne tells Russ about the baby’s singing, he tries to be understanding but concludes that the strange phenomenon is a sign that the pregnancy is overstraining his wife. He suggests that an abortion would probably be best. When she tells her gynecologist about the singing, he laughs and assumes that it is one of her typical jokes. When Russ presses her on the question of the singing, Corinne reluctantly admits that it is all in her imagination. The baby immediately stops singing.

When amniocentesis indicates that Corinne’s baby will probably be deformed, Corinne decides on an abortion. During her initial pre-abortion examination, however,...

(The entire section is 465 words.)