The Lady that Smells Like Sweet Milk wrapped me in a pink, fluffy blanket. She sat on a plastic chair and loosened my blanket a bit only around my neck.

“Let’s see those sweet ears,” a man’s voice said. I loved it when the big people talked to me using real words, not like gugu or gaga.  I had never heard him before. He did not sound at all like the Man that Lived with the Lady that Smells Like Sweet Milk.

She held me tight and kept the blanket away from my face. Something hot and sharp came poked me in the ear. I howled. The Lady that Smells Like Sweet Milk did not move. She usually moved when I howled. Why isn’t she moving?

I gave it more lung.

No movement.

“The earring?” the man said over my howl.  Do people not hear me?

The Lady that Smells Like Sweet Milk reached in her bag for a black velvet pouch with two tiny gold spheres. The man inserted one earring and secured it on the back of my lobe. Tears  streamed down my face.

“One down,” the man huffed.

“Maybe I take her outside for a moment?” The Lady that Smells Like Sweet Milk asked the man. I kept sobbing, because I can also pretend I don't hear.

“Let’s just finish,” the man said.

The Lady that Smelled Like Sweet Milk turned me to the other side and I got a whiff of her sweet milk. Oh, so good. I want that now. I cried louder for it but no one listened. Instead of sweet milk, I got another hot needle in my other ear and another earring.

“All done,” said the man.

The Lady that Smells Like Sweet Milk moved the blanket closer to my face, bounced and shushed me. “Now everyone will know you are a girl,” she said.

I suckled the sweet milk and went to sleep. I dreamed of lava.

“Walter, come home. Something is wrong with her ears. They are red as beets. And she’s hot all over.”