(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Annemarie, a single mother, lives in a trailer park in Tucson, Arizona, where her parents moved from New Hampshire for her father’s health when she was a child. Her father, whom she remembers fondly, died less than a year later, leaving his wife, Magda, and Annemarie to fight poverty alone. With all their money spent on getting to Arizona, the mother and daughter could not return to New Hampshire. It is one of Annemarie’s many regrets.

Annemarie has just received a note from her forty-four-year-old mother, announcing that she is pregnant. Magda is an environmentalist and activist who wears pure cotton dresses and makes necklaces from the lacquered vertebrae of nonendangered species. Annemarie herself is also pregnant, although Magda does not know about it, and Annemarie sees her mother’s pregnancy as a way to upstage her. Before receiving the news of her mother’s pregnancy, Annemarie had not spoken to her mother in months, although their mobile homes are only one hundred feet from each other. Magda has been waiting until Annemarie stops sending her negative energy. She breaks her silence, however, to ask Annemarie to take her to a clinic for amniocentesis.

Annemarie’s best friend is Kay Kay, a diminutive but independent locomotive driver. In the days before taking her mother to the clinic, Annemarie confides in Kay Kay. Annemarie thinks her mother is too old to be having a baby and fears that her son, Leon, will take her mother’s side, and that she will be abandoned. Kay Kay reminds Annemarie that many mother-daughter relationships are problematic, citing her own mother as an example, but Annemarie feels hopeless where her mother is concerned. In these conversations with Kay Kay, Annemarie also talks about her relationship with Buddy, her former husband and the father of her son. Buddy...

(The entire section is 746 words.)