Monday, June 23, 2008

The Darkness of One

She curled herself into a knuckle on the closet floor. Biting her lip, she tried on an amateur pain, wanting it to push everything away.

Not fair.

She punched the belly she had once caressed. Harder. Three days after, and its slackness slaughtered her.

We made it to sixteen weeks. Not. Fucking. Fair.

She touched a finger to her lip, and shuddered at the blood.

Twenty-two cycles of misses. Three in-vitros. One near divorce, as the obsession rode her. Thousands of tears cried, including dozens on the day the test came back positive, hundreds on the morning they first saw the fluttering heartbeat on the ultrasound. But now she couldn’t cry. Like everything else, her ducts were empty.

I did everything right. Didn’t I do everything goddamn right?

This nursery. Painted blue and yellow, with Martin’s cock-eyed giraffes, the week before . . .

The paint fumes, maybe?

The new carpet smelled funny, too. She sank her nose into the fibers, inhaling its chemicals until she felt queasy.

Phantom nausea.

For her ghost baby.

Matthew Jeffrey . . .

Matthew was their compromise. Jeffrey was to honor her father, who had died when she was ten. They had joked about calling him MJ, since Martin had grown up in Chicago, watching the Bulls’ #23 dominate the NBA, and his small world. Martin thought it was a sign that he was due on the twenty-third of February.

“I’m just sayin’, Lila. He’s destined for great things.”

“And I’m just saying that I’ll be happy if he has ten fingers and toes. We can work on his jump shot later. Or never. Maybe he’ll be the artistic type . . . like his dad,” she had teased, as he wrapped his paint-splattered arms around the slight bulge they had taken to calling Homer.

She got on her knees and, with her teeth, tore tags off the onesies and tiny pants and sweaters hanging from the closet rack, spitting them out on the immaculate carpet.

“Honey?” Martin’s voice searched from the hallway.

She blanched at its invasion.

For she had lost him, too. The only number she understood now was alone.

With her toes, she gently slid the door closed, so that even the light could not find her. So that she could lick her dark, wet wound.


Anonymous said...

What a powerful ending. That image--the closing door. Pulling with her foot.

I'm afraid for her. And for everyone around her. That fire of unfulfillment and crushed dreams and identity will consume a lot before it goes out. If it ever does.

Great pacing and language here. It felt very natural. And still unique.

Hoodie said...

This is hard for a pregnant girl to read.

Yesterday a lady told me that there are people out there who would give everything to be able to have the experience I'm having. I told her that at times it feels like I am giving everything. It's a hard road.

But I am grateful. I am.

The imagery was heartbreaking.

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Jason.

Not every story can have that happy ending. I didn't want to leave her in the dark, or her husband out there, still calling for her. But it felt true to the moment.

I can only hope that in such cases, light and fulfillment come again.

I almost feel the need to apologize, Hoodie. You shouldn't have to read about this, now.

You're right: the road you're on is so difficult, especially with other kids to take care of. Just because someone might envy you doesn't mean that it's an enviable state to be in. It is hard. And impossible to be thankful all the time.

But I know your baby is so lucky to have you...

Now go rest! :)

Aine said...

Though I thankfully have not experienced this, her questioning of every possible cause rings so true.

For she had lost him, too. The only number she understood now was alone.

There are so many possible moments in life when this is a raw fact. I fight this with every fiber of my being (perhaps because I came into the world a twin...), but the reality is that there are times when we are simply alone.

I am scared for them. I hope they find each other in the darkness.

Sarah Hina said...

I've never experienced a miscarriage either, Aine, but I imagine it's impossible not to feel that void--that absence of a dreamed-of future--at every moment in the days and months afterward.

Being alone is dark. We all fight it, I think, until it's either forced upon us, or we just succumb to a dreary choice and call it "fate."

You're right to be scared for these characters. But you're also right to still have hope. We never know what the future will bring. There's some light in that.

ChrisEldin said...

This is painful to read. The ending felt true to this experience. I have a friend who went through something similar, and I think you captured its essence.
There seems to be always a touch of darkness in your writing, which I really like. This one is more heavily coated...

Scott said...

Whoa. It's like this was real. I have a friend who has tried with his wife so many times, for years, to have a baby, and they couldn't stand to be around people (like my wife and me) who constantly talk about how cute their children are. It really makes me thankful to be where I am at today. The bitter irony is that we weren't even trying.

Bernita said...


And thank you for supporting the Roast yesterday, Sarah.

Sarah Hina said...

Chris, you're right--this is probably the darkest piece I've written for the blog. I think the essence I was going for was a numbed absence after being handed the world. I'm glad you thought it succeeded in showing that. :)

Scott, some couples have it so hard. It's really not fair. To want something so badly, and work at it for so long, and still come up empty has got to be a brutal experience. I hope that your friends' marriage hasn't been degraded in the process.

My pleasure, Bernita. It was fun. :)

And thanks!

Anonymous said...

Incredibly well paced. Her pain was palpable. You made me care about her.

Sarah Hina said...

That's the best compliment a writer can get, Ruth. To forge a connection between reader and character is what we all try to do.

Thank you! :)

Vesper said...

This feels extremely real, Sarah - like all your writings, in fact.
I think I know this feeling of end of possibilities. Very sad, yet I believe that with time hope will come again... I hope so.
Beautifully written.

Sarah Hina said...

I think hope always comes again, Vesper--if we open the door and let it.

And thank you. :)