the altogether true story of a wayward afterbirth

* Gentle reader: Do not fear the worst. No one was harmed in the creation of this true story. If your stomach is steely, please read on.

Sunday morning, around 11: Wellesley's campus is crawling with alums wearing feather boas and funny hats, the better to celebrate reunion with. A large herd of students have stuck around after exams to work the weekend, in exchange for a small wad of cash and the chance to rub elbows with gainfully employed people. The staff is also there, of course, exhausted from the weekend itself and the weeks of envelope-stuffing leading up to it.

A couple of townies take a dog for a walk on campus, strolling past one of the ponds. What's that floating at the water's edge? A bird? A plane? In point of fact, it was a placenta.

The police show up with a bulldozer and a police boat, anticipating the worst. The news vans and helicopters follow, like remoras with satellite feeds. The campus is locked down until every dorm room and dumpster can be searched for a sign of a baby or a mother or some explanation for a wayward afterbirth. The pond is emptied, trash is picked through, and the campus canvassed by dogs. Twelve hours later, still no explanation.

Fast forward to lunchtime the next day (raise your hand if you've lost your appetite!): Somehow, it seems, the police learned that the offending tissues belonged to someone who gave birth several months prior (everyone was healthy!) and must have brought her placenta home from the hospital in some sort of David Lynch-style doggy bag, at which point the placenta took up residence in the family freezer. As I'm sure everyone can relate, freezer space is a limited and valuable commodity. And there comes a time in every adult's life when stock must be taken and priorities laid bare. I like to imagine that moment went something like this:

Honey, I need to make room for the 30-pound bag of frozen berries that I brought home from Costco--do we keep the turkey carcass from two Thanksgivings ago that we'd swore we'd make soup with, or is it finally time to toss the placenta?

And then, unimaginably, a young mother or perhaps father decided to set the thing loose, Free Willy-style, into a small pond (a VERY small pond, people) on the campus of a women's college, whereupon the thing thawed and floated to the surface and was recognized by someone and/or their dog.

Don't believe me? Stanger than fiction, people.

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