If the divine masterplan is perfection
Maybe next I’ll give Judas a try…
I don’t want this again and again
But I dont really mean it
You say you dont want it, this circus we’re in
But you don’t really mean it…
Cos it’s 6:58, are you sure where my spark is
Here. Here.. Here…
Spark – Tori Amos
One more time, you say. We owe it to ourselves to try.
But what you dont say is that there is no us anymore. We have unraveled and I, I have realised that without you I am nothing. My packet of syringes lies atop the medicine cabinet and a pack of cigarettes stowed underneath the faux flowerpot on the balcony. Each night when you are asleep, I sneak away and with the sliding doors locked firmly behind me, take a deep drag. It seems such a trivial thing, and a tad juvenile but I’ll take my victories where I can get them. How did we become this? How could you not notice how far I’ve fallen.
The cold shlick of the gel as the ultrasound is passed over my abdomen keeps me from daydreaming. But all I want to do is curl up, close my eyes and pretend that it all isn’t happening. You clutch my hand and peer closely at the black and white display screen. Your expectation is palpable. I want so badly not to disappoint you. A flicker on the screen. The attendant misses it, but you don’t. At your behest, she moves her wand and finds the flicker. It pulses erratically and steadies into a beat. On and off it goes, perfect, irrefutable.
“Congratulations, sir!” She beams and a chill runs through me. You are ecstatic and you wrap your arms around me in a loving hug; totally oblivious to the growing stain on your dress shirt. I want to be happy for us, so badly. But this despair is like lead in my bones. I’m too frail to go through this again.
The maid found my stash of cigarettes this morning. I had gone a week without any, I thought the urge was past me. But last night I felt so cold, even with your arms wrapped around me under the duvet. It was like dread had twisted my insides. Thoughts of all the others tormented me. Especially of him, so perfect. So frail with his little eyes closed and his still chest. I didnt mean any harm, I just wanted to forget. I woke up this afternoon to a sheaf of nicotine patches and a nurse from the hospital, standing guard outside our bedroom.
I can feel you now, stirring. Even though scientifically you are a fetus, too small to be considered a human being. But I can already see you making faces at me as I bathe you. Your grubby fingers latching onto my hair as I pat your back to make you burp. Your first giggle. Your first step. And I worry, so much. Even getting out of the bed in the morning is a debate that I have to win against the paranoia in my head. It was just all too much for me, I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed silently so the nurse won’t hear. Please little one, please don’t leave me…
He came home with a dress today. Grey, with a blue satin bow bridging the empire line. It was beautiful. He’d barely laid it on the bed before I snatched it up and slid it over my wrinkled nightdress.
“The nurse will help you get dressed.” He said, his cheeks dimpling with a smile. ” We have to look our best for tonight.”
“I’m throwing a party to celebrate your first trimester.”
“Why did you do this Kashetu? I begged you not to tell anyone. it’s too soon.” I whispered in tears and clutched my belly through the clothes. but he wouldn’t hear of it; he’d invited everyone, he wouldn’t let me embarass him.
The smiles were as wide as they were fake. Congratulations they said over and over again and hugged Kashetu and offered their nuggets of advice from years of experience as parents. But their pitying looks spoke of their discomfort. It hadn’t escaped them that was the fourth time they were celebrating a conception and never a delivery. I felt their judging stares boring holes in my back. How soon before we have to come console you was the question that hid on their tongues. How long before this joy is soured.
I haven’t left the house since the morning I put on my favorite sundress and the front hem rose five inches above the back. That was three months ago. Just a month to go. The bed has a permanent imprint of my back and I have trod down a path on the shag carpet. I wear the little gullies that my tears have worn down my cheeks. I still haven’t recovered from the last time. The looks of worry when we waited for confession after mass, the little statements laden with double meanings, morbid curiousity thinly veiled as concern. Somedays I sit on the window sill and look out at the children in pretty raincoats and yellow wellingtons splashing through the puddles on their way home. And I daydream of us, your little hand in mine, splashing in puddles, unconcerned about the stares and whispers. Happy.
Something is terribly wrong. Lord, something is wrong with the baby. My side, it hurts. It hurts when I move, it hurts when I breathe. I tried to get off the bed and the room spun around me. The stain on my dress is growing, the life inside me is draining away. I grope for the phone and clutch it with trembling hands. Tears are blurring my vision, I cant see the digits on this bloody phone. Kashetu, why aren’t you here yet? I need you. I curl into a foetal ball, try to wrap my self around him. Jesse, I can’t lose you. I won’t.
Tap! Tap! Tap!
Warm hands on the crook of my elbow.
“We’ll just stick a needle in nice and slow, you won’t even feel it.”
Pain. Sharp and illuminating. Where am I? Woozy, what are they giving me? Something is wrong, something I should remember. What? Darkness.
“Amy.” Kashetu’s voice. Soft, whispering; trying to say something. I try to open my eyes but my lids are too heavy. So tired, just want to sleep a little more.
JESUS!!! Where is my BABY?!!
Kashetu is at my side. Where did he come from? My hands automatically fly to my belly and I feel the coarse cotton of the hospital gown. No stirring; no warmth, no unexpected kick. I panic, begin to pull at my hair which someone had carefully combed. He tries to calm me, but I thrash against him, scratching at him, trying to maim him with my weakened arms.
“Where were you when the pain started? Why didn’t you come? What happened to the baby?”
Kashetu grips me in a bear hug, pining my arms to my side like a vice.
“The baby’s is fine. She’s a little small but perfectly healthy.”
A nurse approaches us with a tray but Kashetu sends her away. A grateful sob wracks my frail bones and I clutch onto my husband for dear life. The gullies worn on my cheeks are irrigated again and it flows out, all the worry, the frustration, the pent up emotion of the past few months purged in the torrent. It’s over finally. The shame has passed…
I feel wetness on my shoulder, Kashetu is sobbing silently too.
“What’s wrong?” I whisper through my tears.
He’s stuttering, cutting up the sentence into small chunks of coherence, each unintelligent phrase pushing up like bile against my diaphragm, choking me.
“Amaka, I’m sorry. There were twins… Two… two babies. The trauma… It…. it was too much for him. He…. He didn’t survive…”