with apologies to Margery Williams…


“Does it hurt?” asked the Mother-to-Be.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for she was always truthful. “When you are a Mother you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” the pregnant woman asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are a Mother, most of your skin has stretch marks, and your belly drops out and you get loose in the joints and very tired. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are a Mother you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are a Mother?” said the Expectant Woman. And then she wished he had not said it, for she thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.