What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine;
what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.
The body is a sacred garment.
First chapter of Usual Girl Parts
Most women think I’m a man when I walk into the delivery room. I have a stocky build, but it’s my beard that does it. One patient last month said, “I don’t want a male nurse hunkering down over my crotch,” then blushed redder than hell when I asked if she needed another pillow. Almost all the obstetricians are men so I don’t know what her problem was. Pregnant women have a right to be touchy since their hormones are screwed up and they’re carrying fifty extra pounds but I don’t have much sympathy for ladies who look at me shifty-eyed like they’d much prefer a “normal” clean-shaven nurse. Tough, I say. After a couple hours pass, they’re in so much pain they don’t care who the hell is giving them drugs as long as they get enough of them.
I’m working second shift, two to eleven at night. This particular delivery starts out routine though I’m working with Dr. Burk, the obstetrician I like least. It happens to be his weekend on call. He grimaces a lot, does not like my beard, and treats all of us nurses like we don’t know which end the baby is supposed to come out of. This pisses me off since I’m a midwife, too, and have probably delivered as many babies as he has. He’s around thirty-five, close to my age, but cocky as all hell. Under his scrubs he wears bright red and blue and orange ties that are five inches wide and supposed to be very stylish, but they look awful on him because he’s thin and the tie covers half his chest.
I give the mother an injection for the pain and she smiles at me while brushing her hair back from her face. It’s long, straight, parted down the middle, and damp with labor sweat. I hand her a cool cloth for her forehead and a rubber band to pull the hair back. The father is typically anxious and paces from one end of the room to the other, tugging on his beard. He’s wearing a red turtleneck and browline glasses with thick dark plastic frames that make him look scholarly and like he’s frowning. They’re a little older to be first-time parents — the mother is forty-one and I’d peg the husband a couple years past that since his beard is specked with gray.
She’s only in labor for six hours, a fairly easy birth, but in the last hour she grips my hand tight though she barely makes a peep. I coach her in Lamaze, counting her breaths, counting the seconds in between contractions.
“I don’t want too much pain medication,” she says. “You don’t know how it will affect the baby.” Still, she accepts another injection when I offer.
The baby comes out beautiful and bloody and strangely quiet even after Burk clears out its mouth. The father is crying instead, which is something I appreciate since men try to hide tears. I take the baby to dry it with warm towels, do the Apgar tests, and determine the gender. I check its heart rate, reflexes, and color while the baby looks at me as if to say, Well that was interesting, now what do we do? Before the second set of Apgar tests I examine its genitals, and find I can’t quite tell if the baby is boy or a girl. There are two small knobs near its urethra, partially descended testes, and farther back there is a small opening, what seems to be a vagina. I trace the slight hair on the baby’s head. My fingers tense. It‘s not strange for babies to be born with indeterminate sexual organs, maybe a large clitoris that looks like a small penis, or a small penis that looks like a large clitoris, but I’ve never seen anything like this except in textbooks. Never had to explain it to parents, either. I bite my lip. The baby will probably need to have more than a few tests. I feel sorry for those ones, the kids who come into the world then get stuck with needles for the first week or two of life on the outside.
I listen for a moment to the beep of the equipment monitoring the mother’s vital functions, the sound of other babies crying down the hall, and “Proud Mary” being played at the nurses’ station because Jennifer is on duty and she keeps Creedence on. Can’t think of anything to do but wrap the baby in a blue blanket because it’s the one I grab first. I hand the infant to its mother and let her coo over it for a moment before telling her quietly that the baby’s organs are indeterminate.
She stares at me.
“That means the gender isn’t clear yet,” I say, adding quickly, “it happens with a lot of babies.”
I take the baby from her carefully and unwrap the bottom of the blanket to show her the testes and vagina. The mother gapes. Dr. Burk peers over my shoulder at the organs, clears his throat and says, “It’s a little complication. You have a girl. We’ll have to do minor surgery.”
“No,” I say as the mother reclaims her child from my arms. “The baby needs to have genetic testing.”
Dr. Burk glowers at me. “That is not necessary. The baby is obviously a girl. She has female organs. We could do the operation tomorrow and remove those little bumps.”
“They’re not bumps,” I say. “I think they’re testes. You need to check before you cut anything off.”
“The child is a girl. We can do the operation tomorrow,” Dr. Burk says loudly.
“You shouldn’t,” I say more loudly and take a step toward him. I’m larger than Dr. Burk and he slouches back. For a moment I’d really like to punch the bastard in the gut, but Dr. Viola, the other on-call obstetrician, pokes her head in the room and asks if something is wrong. I haul her through the door and show her the baby.
Dr. Viola smoothes her finger over the baby’s arm, inspects its genitals, and says she has seen a few infants like this before.
“We’ll do blood work and a few scans,” she says. “We need to look for development in sexual organs and measure hormone levels.”
“I want a girl,” the mother says, holding the baby tighter to her chest. The infant starts crying.
“We could do the operation tomorrow and you’d go home with a little girl,” says Dr. Burk. “It’s a simple procedure. I’ve done them before.”
“So have I,” says Dr. Viola, “but I would not suggest it right away.”
Which makes a lot of sense to me, but it’s been a big debate lately. I’ve read papers written by psychologists who say that, after the right surgeries, gender can be determined by how you raise a little kid. Give it dolls and put it in dresses and it’ll be a little girl. Give it trucks and overalls and it’ll be a little boy. I don’t know if I buy it. Seems too easy. A lot of doctors want to believe it, though. Then they can just snip and stitch and that’s that. But if you really think about the body, how many different systems interact with each other, those hormones and glands and genes and organs, you have to figure it’s not as easy as making a uterus and telling the kid it’s a girl.
“I want a girl,” says the mother. “I’ve always wanted a girl.”
“Let’s wait on surgery,” says the father, touching his wife’s shoulder softly. “It will only be a few days. We shouldn’t do this when we’re stressed.”
“You don’t have to wait,” says Dr. Burk.
“After tests you may want to let the baby decide later, when it is grown.” says Dr. Viola. “You need more information.”
The father nods. The mother tears silently.
“I’ll order blood work right now,” says Dr. Viola.
I leave the mother and father and baby to bond for a half hour, but when I return and ask if I can take the child to the nursery, the mother lets it go too easily. I nestle the baby in its own bassinet. It doesn’t cry, blinks at the mobile dangling overhead, the bright circus animals painted on the ceiling, my bearded face. I sit beside the baby for a moment and hope the mother is recovering. Can’t be too mad at her because she’s in shock. Mothers can be out of sorts for days or weeks or months following the delivery. My mother was out of sorts for years. This explains why I had a better relationship with my father.
It started when she decided to name me Willafred, combine my grandmother’s and grandfather’s names because she couldn’t make up her mind between Willa or Freda. One of the many things for which I will never forgive her.
Around nine while I’m eating dinner in the cafeteria, Burk finds me.
“You shouldn’t have shown them the baby’s genitals,” he hisses. “That makes things complicated. In these instances we say there’s a problem that the baby needs minor surgery to correct. Tests don’t help. They make the parents confused. All mothers want is a healthy child.”
“You don’t think that’s what I want, too?” I say. I hate the way he says “we.” I don’t want to be paired with the bastard.
“Sometimes it’s better not to tell them everything,” he says. “Even with tests, we still have to base surgery on how easy it’s going to be. If the child doesn’t have a penis and isn’t going to look like a boy to other boys, what are we supposed to do? You want him to be teased all his life?”
“What the hell do you think happens when you make a kid a little girl and she goes through life thinking she should be a little boy?” I say.
“You’d rather the child have testes and a vagina until she’s sixteen?” he says. “We’ll do surgery and the kid won’t be a freak. What parent in her right mind wouldn’t accept that as the best option?”
“I wouldn’t,” I say. “Not right away.”
Burk walks away muttering, “You can make a hole but you can’t build a pole.”
He’s full of shit.
After dinner I visit the baby in the nursery, hope to see the parents nearby, but they aren’t there. Probably sleeping, which is understandable. A pink label is on the crib as if the surgery has been performed and it’s a done deal. I feel heaviness in my own breasts looking at the baby who has no say in the matter. Because I have a few spare minutes I scoop the baby in my arms, hum to it quietly. “Brahms’s Lullaby.” I’m proud of my voice. I got all the soprano solos when I sang in my high school choir, but that was fifteen years ago. Now I sing in the nursery when no one else is around.
As I drive home I’m still thinking about the baby. I wish I had more stuff in my apartment other than the television to distract me. I don’t have a roommate, don’t have pets, and all of my furniture – the couch, kitchen table and chairs, my bed and desk – is secondhand. Functional but not great. I own a few books I bought used, but most of what I read I check out from the library. I like travel books and I’ve saved most of my income from the past five years. Someday I’ll go to Europe or Asia, see part of the world. But my work is what’s most important. I do a lot of overtime. I can’t leave a woman who’s in labor, especially not after I’ve spent a number of hours with her. Otherwise I’m a bit of a loner. Always have been. In part it’s my nature, and in part it’s the beard.
My facial hair started growing when I was thirteen. When my mother found me in the bathroom, rubbing my finger over the fuzz on my chin, she screamed, then she cried, then she dragged my father in from the living room and told him to teach me how to shave. She wouldn’t let me out of the house in the morning until she ran her fingertips over my chin and pronounced it baby bottom smooth, save the small cuts. I obeyed her for a couple years, but I hated shaving. I hated getting nicks on my chin. I hated the extra time it took in the morning. I already didn’t like many of the things that came along with being a girl. Wearing dresses. Wearing makeup. Being given dolls (which I resented though I liked babies). I wasn’t fat, just had my father’s thick build, and liked doing curls in the garage with his barbells when he wasn’t home.
When I was fifteen I tossed out the razor and started growing a beard. I’d never been outgoing, and this didn’t help. The few friends I had thought I was crazy. Twice the asshole principal threatened to send me home from school for being a distraction. He never followed through because my dad stormed into his office, demanding I be allowed to keep my facial hair. Dad was an insurance agent and played the straight man. I think he supported my beard because he saw I had the guts to raise the kind of hell he’d never been able to. He drew the line at allowing me to wear pants to school, but I had to take what I could get.
Dad let me borrow the little scissors and comb he used to trim his beard, and when I was sixteen, he gave me my own set. After school I’d sit in my bedroom, do homework, and practice trimming my beard. I kept up with weight training so boys wouldn’t give me any guff. Mom didn’t like it much, but Dad was happy that I wanted to lift. We bench-pressed and did curls together in the evenings.
It came in handy when I had to deck one guy for calling me a bearded cunt. I bloodied my knuckles and his face. After that none of the guys tried to mess with me, except for taunts shouted from a safe distance. Even in a skirt and flats I could outrun and tackle most of the bastards, and they knew it.
“Who the fuck do you think you’re gonna marry,” one guy shouted from the safety of his bike. “No guy would have you. You’ll be wearing the pants.”
“What the fuck is wrong with that?” I yelled back.
“You’re gonna be one lonely old bearded bitch,” he yelled before riding away.
“Better off than the poor girl who marries you, asshole,” I called.
The taunts never got to me. Those guys were used to girls who wanted to get married and have kids. At sixteen I could have cared less that my matrimonial odds were in jeopardy, and wouldn’t have missed a chance to beat the snot out of any boy who smirked in my direction.
I was a star in chorus and honors choir, and that’s what mattered. It wasn’t too long before I started to enjoy my beard and the way it looked on my face. The hair became silky when I grew it out, and if other people didn’t want to talk with me because of it, too bad.
My beard was a point of contention between my mother and father, and we had many quiet dinners as a result. They weren’t people who screamed arguments, but had full-blown wars in complete silence. My parents got divorced when I was a junior in college. I guess they figured since I was gone, their togetherness didn’t matter as much, but I’d known the split was coming for a long time. Part of my dad’s support of my beard was so he could upset my mother. Sometimes this bothers me, but most of the time it doesn’t.
In college I had a few boyfriends, guys who thought my beard was attractive, even sexy, but they were hard to come by. When I was twenty I went through a period, nine months long, when I shaved every day. I told myself it was an experiment to see how men would act around me when I looked like any other woman. Really I was too damn sick of being alone. I’d date a guy for three weeks, and if things were going well I’d tell him about the beard. One bastard slapped me across the face. I punched him in the gut. The others didn’t hurt me physically, but called me names before stomping out of my apartment or shoving me out of theirs.
More than once I thought of the boys in high school who said I’d be wearing the pants and never get a husband. I realized they had a point, at least when it came to the guys I dated. Something about my beard made them feel threatened or inadequate, like I’d run around fixing sinks and unclogging toilets and mowing the lawn and leave them babbling in a corner like castrated imbeciles. There didn’t seem to be a happy medium, a way for me to be myself and not feign helplessness and a smooth face.
It took me too long to figure out that hiding my beard was a stupid idea, but in the end I didn’t regret the experiment. Not the firsthand education in relationship matters, and not the realization that there may not be a guy who’s right for me.
After I became a certified nurse midwife I drove out to Montana and worked on the Blackfoot reservation at the Indian Health Service hospital. It didn’t pay much, so the IHS hospital was staffed by a lot of people who really cared about giving others quality medical treatment, and a few fuck-ups who couldn’t get a job anywhere else. I was in the delivery room and became a roving midwife, went to the smaller communities to help deliver Blackfoot babies and white babies and babies that were a bit of each. Some people smirked at me, but most didn’t seem to mind the beard, were just happy I was willing to trek into the back country.
I’d been out in Montana for five years when Dad had the heart attack, so I moved back to Ohio and got a job in Toledo to be closer to him. That was four years ago. He’s doing better now, works part-time and goes out with his golf and bowling buddies. I don’t see my mom though my parents live in the same town, half an hour’s drive from me. Mom says she won’t let me in her house until I shave, but every Sunday I have dinner with Dad, two miles away from her. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but if she’s going to tell me I can’t be her daughter as long as I have a beard, I don’t figure it’s that bad a loss.
At the beginning of my shift, two in the afternoon, I peek in on the mother in her hospital room. The father snoozes in a chair while she blames herself aloud.
“I shouldn’t have had so much caffeine,” she says, “or that glass of wine at the end of the first trimester. I could have exercised more.”
I feel bad for her because it’s always the women who do this. Fathers never think their sperm was defective or anything. Most of the time it’s nobody’s fault, just dumb fucking luck.
I step into the room. The mother glances at me.
“I should have had the baby sooner.” She shakes her head. “My chemistry was off.”
I tell her it’s not something she could change. The baby is healthy and that’s what matters. “Don’t worry,” I say, “the tests will make things more clear.”
“The baby’s a freak,” she says. “What’s not clear about that?”
“It’s not a freak,” I say. “You have a beautiful child.”
“It will be after the surgery,” she says.
“The doctors may suggest that your baby not get an operation yet,” I say, though Burk will tell the parents to cut the kid up and raise it as a girl, no matter what.
“What are we supposed to do?” says the mother. “Call her an ‘it’ for twelve years until she makes up her mind that she wants the testes off?”
“What if ‘she’ decides ‘she’ wants to be a he when he’s fifteen?” I say.
“She won’t,” the mother yells. “I have to set things right so she can be like any other little girl.”
I leave because I’m trying not to cry and because the mother is probably trying not to cry, too. I want to imagine how she’s feeling, how much it hurts to have a kid that doesn’t look like she expected. I want to imagine how my own mother felt when I grew a beard, why she forced me to shave for so long. Mothers want their kids to be happy, to fit in, to be spared from teasing. They know other kids are too damn cruel. But I know that, too. And I know I like having a beard. I like playing with my beard, rubbing the hairs between my fingers. I like smoothing it with my hand when I’m standing in long lines, shaping it in the morning with my tiny scissors, and the way it makes my sharp chin less prominent. I have a face that looks better with a beard.
When I visit the baby, examine its chart, I think about the gossip that started circulating six months ago, whispers around the nurses’ lounge about an eighteen-year-old girl who was conferencing with doctors about sex reassignment surgery. She said she felt like a boy, but the surgeon was trying to talk her out of it, encouraged her to get further reconstructive surgery on her female organs and more hormone therapy.
I saw her in a patient lounge when I brought in cookies.
“Would you like one?” I said, offering the plate. Her eyes widened.
“You’re not a man,” she said.
I shook my head.
“Did you ever feel like a guy?” she said, leaning forward in her chair. I frowned for a moment, but only a moment. Her voice sounded hopeful.
“No,” I said. “I’ve always felt like a woman. But I’ve heard that sort of thing can happen. People who have female organs can feel like men.”
“Yeah,” she said, taking a cookie and slouching back in her chair.
She didn’t seem like she wanted to say more, so I nodded and left. It wasn’t my business since she wasn’t my patient, but in the nurses’ lounge I heard a lot more rumors about her. They couldn’t have all been true because they ranged from her parents not telling her anything about the condition, to her needing weekly hormone shots, to her having extensive surgery on her genitals at birth to “correct” them, then needing four more surgeries after that to “perfect” the organs. Whatever the case, things hadn’t gone well and she wanted to be a guy. I saw her a couple more times in the hospital. She smiled at me but didn’t say anything. I think about her every so often and wonder what happened, hope that whatever it was she’s happier now.
My father calls the next morning. He asks how I’m doing, and how things are at the hospital. I tell him I’m fine and that work, as always, is interesting. I say I’ll be there for dinner on Sunday. I ask how he’s feeling and he says he’s fine. He always says he’s fine. I worry anyway.
I make toast and think about the baby, wonder which doctors and nurses are poking the poor kid now. If the parents decide on surgery the baby will need many surgeries, all sorts of constructions and reconstructions. But if the kid doesn’t have surgery there will be confusion about just what she or he is, one gender or the other or neither. At least there will be a chance for the child to make up its own mind.
When I start my shift at two I scan the baby’s chart, note the series of blood tests to check hormone levels, and scans to look for developing gonads or a uterus. I pick the baby up and cradle it to my chest. Its green eyes blink.
“Have your parents been to see you today?” I ask.
The green eyes blink again. It yawns a baby yawn.
During my dinner break at nine I return to rock the baby, play with it. For four days I roam by the nursery whenever I can to visit. Sometimes I see the parents — the slightly balding father holding the child while the mother looks over the sea of baby beds with pink and blue tags. I try not to think anything bad about her, figure she holds the baby when I’m not around.
On the fourth day the father is alone. I stop to speak with him when he waves at me.
“You have such a good baby,” I tell him. “Barely ever cries.”
“A good baby.” He sits in an orange plastic chair, rocks the child slightly.
I rub my chin.
“My wife is home fixing up the baby’s room,” he says. “A pink carpet and pink sheets and pink blankets and pink teddy bears. It makes her feel better. This has been rough.”
I imagine the kid drowning in a wad of cotton candy.
“It doesn’t matter so much to me as it does to her,” he says. “I wouldn’t mind holding off on the surgery, but Burk seems insistent we do something as soon as possible. I can understand that. Fix things while the baby is little so we get this behind us.”
“I can understand that,” I sigh.
I return to my apartment at midnight with a sack of day-old bagels I picked up this morning from the bakery. When I walk in the door, the sparseness is striking. My father drew me back to Ohio, but he has his job and friends. He’s been getting along well enough for the past four years, and he’s good at selling insurance. Dad has a gift for conveying reasonable-sounding threats, things people don’t often think about, like how their car could be washed away in a hundred-year flood or their home bashed in by a tornado. Somehow he’s able to make people think they’ll lose everything tomorrow and need one thousand dollars worth of policies.
Every once in a while my dad takes me out for drinks with his insurance agent friends. I get a couple martinis and he gets to show me off as his accomplished daughter with a beard. I pretend I’m being displayed like any grown kid, but I know it’s more than that. My dad is proud of my degrees, but that’s not the reason why his friends smile and stare.
I love my dad, but I don’t think he needs his bearded kid for moral support. I drop the bag of bagels on the counter and sit on my secondhand couch. The apartment smells of nothing.
Maybe it’s my imagination, but when I get dressed the next morning and snap on a clean bra, it seems like my breasts are larger. At the beginning of my shift I hold the baby, kiss its forehead, sit in a rocker in the corner and tell the baby about being a sixteen-year-old girl with a beard and an angelic soprano voice. The mother isn’t bringing milk to the nursery, so I’ve been feeding the baby bottles of formula. I hate formula. Mixing it. Pouring it into the bottle. Feeding the damn stuff to kids who can’t get breast milk.
Later in the afternoon I see the parents, the mother standing beside her husband in the nursery while he holds the baby. She is pale, her hands clasped together.
I say hello.
The father tells me they’ve just talked with Burk. The baby has androgen insensitivity syndrome, meaning it has XY chromosomes but isn’t sensitive to androgen, the hormone that produces male sex characteristics. It has no penis, uterus, or fallopian tubes, just the testes and small vagina. Burk says the pediatric surgeon advised enlarging the vagina and creating a uterus.
My breasts feel heavy, ache with a swelling weight.
The mother smirks. “I told you. I knew it was a girl. She’ll have surgery in two days and we can get on with things. I can get on with being a mother.”
I say, “What if she decides she’s a boy in ten years?”
“Oh hell,” says the mother under her breath. “Would you leave?”
“I hope the surgery goes well,” I say.
I turn quickly and march to the bathroom, shut myself in a stall for fifteen minutes. All afternoon I have waking nightmares. What if the surgeons mess things up? What if the kid doesn’t like being a girl? Why can’t that father take a stand? Why can’t the mother take a deep breath and wait a few years? Fuck.
Before my dinner break I notice a little damp spot on the left side of my chest and figure I spilled a little bit of coffee on myself. Then I notice a little damp spot on the right side. I go to the bathroom to inspect the matter, and discover I’m lactating. I sit on the toilet and consider this for a moment. I’ve heard of it happening before, how women who’ve never had kids sometimes produce milk when they take babies in. Their hormones become sympathetic. Their bodies want to mother.
That night I start planning. I have the next two days off and hope it will be enough time, but there isn’t much to pack since I need to leave most of my stuff in the apartment, can’t look like I’m going on a trip. At two in the morning I lather my face. I haven’t shaved in thirteen years. The razor burns my skin though I don’t cut myself. After the beard is gone I cut my hair short so it falls just above my shoulders.
The next morning I take most of the money out of my bank account, buy baby clothes, a baby car seat, baby toys, and a sweatsuit for myself because I don’t usually wear them. I walk to the used car dealership, one I’ve heard has a pretty good reputation. The salesman is a young guy. I explain I need something sturdy, maybe a truck. He shows me a ’68 Ford F-100 that looks to be in decent condition. I pay cash.
I take my books back to the library, take my pots and pans and baking trays and television to the Salvation Army, then dust and vacuum and clean the bathroom. After making a few sandwiches I throw out most of the food in my fridge.
At ten at night I drive my old car, a ’62 Ford Falcon, to the convenience store a couple blocks from my apartment. I leave the door unlocked, the keys in the ignition, and the motor running, buy snacks for the trip and walk home. The Falcon will be someone else’s before long.
I wear my scrubs under my coat when I drive to the hospital. If anyone sees me, I’ll look like I should be there. I leave my coat in a stall in the ladies’ room. The nursery is darkened so I can slip inside. I don’t jog but keep a quick pace. There are a couple nurses on duty. I can’t dawdle, take the baby from its crib, wrap it in a blanket, and creep back to the bathroom. I lay the baby on the counter beside the sink, slip on my coat, and cradle the baby inside, holding it next to my body with one arm. The baby isn’t a crier, doesn’t make a sound as we leave the hospital. Maybe it knows I’m saving it from an operating table.
Back in the truck, I secure the baby in the car seat beside me. I’ve packed more things for it than I have for myself, just have my snacks and savings, the cash spread out in my purse, the diaper bag, and the bag of baby toys. Shouldn’t leave it all in one place. The baby and I will go where we need to, keeping our fingers crossed. I have friends of friends in South Dakota and New Mexico, can make a few calls to the reservation in Montana and get people to vouch for me so I can find a job. I can type. Work a cash register. Even work in a hospital or as a traveling midwife like I did before. It won’t be the best pay, but I can barter my services for food. I have to figure out a few things, how to get new social security cards and birth certificates, but I know enough people who work in hospitals and will understand my ethical reasoning, ones who won’t mind helping me out with a little forgery since I’m in a pinch.
I drive for an hour until we’re over the Indiana border. The baby fusses a little, hungry. I pull into a rest stop and unbutton my blouse, let it nurse. The baby latches on easily though it’s only been breast-fed a few times before. As we sit in the dark I realize the milk is a blessing in other ways — if we’re stopped by the police and questioned I can explain to them, even show them if necessary, that I’m lactating. That makes it more obvious that the child is mine. It’s so hungry it finishes with one breast and wants the other. The suckling hurts more than I expected, but I get used to the baby’s small mouth, the quiet rhythm, the needfulness.
Teresa Milbrodt is the author of a short story collection, Bearded Women: Stories (Chizine Publications), a novel, The Patron Saint of Unattractive People (Boxfire Press), and a flash fiction collection, Larissa Takes Flight: Stories (Pressgang). Her second novel, The Unicorn Maker, will be released by Break Away Books in spring of 2017. She is addicted to coffee, anything by Sherman Alexie, long walks with her MP3 player, anything by George Saunders, and frozen yogurt, in that order. Read more of her work at: http://teresamilbrodt.com/homepage/