The blood refused to stop spilling.
I stared out the window with hazed, blurry vision. Wet fingers pressed against the glass. My sister’s fading voice was shrill as she frantically zipped in and out of traffic. Her face reddening and fingers threatening to burn right through the steering wheel, she threw horrified glances in my direction as I seemingly dissolved into my seat. I imagined her tone to be a striking shade of red; piercing and feverish. Though, her fiery spirit was dwindling and she was melting right alongside my embers of consciousness. Sounds and images slowly began to evaporate. I felt weightless and airy, floating through a part of the universe I didn’t know existed.
My hands gravitated to my blooming abdomen. I sighed in relief and caressed my belly, immersing myself in thoughts of the life growing inside me. Falling deeply into my imagination, I smiled as I envisioned my baby cooing and curdling in my ear, taking her first steps as I cheer on enthusiastically. I turned over in my bed and extended my hand toward Dixon, longing to feel his warmth. I drearily opened my eyes upon feeling the vacancy, and was sorely greeted by blinding fluorescent lights accompanied by the sharp tinge of an IV in my arm. Sirens screeched and shrieked in every quadrant of my brain. Numbing vibrations echoed through my body.
I turned and spotted Dixon sleeping uncomfortably in the corner. Suddenly, I remembered. Snapshots of blood running down my leg painted the walls of my mind. There it was again—red. My chest thumped relentlessly like a child discovering pots and pans. I heaved loudly as the pieces of the puzzle began to reveal the truth.
“Di-Dixon,” I sputtered.
He wasn’t waking up. Struggling to clear my throat, I growled his name in hopes of rousing him. He stirred for a moment, then adjusted to being conscious. His eyes opened widely upon seeing me lucid, then immediately glossed over.
“It’s gone. You lost the baby.” He straightened himself up in his chair and avoided my eyes.
Even through my hospital gown, the beauty of my round belly shone through. From the moment of its growth, it created a light inside me that was visible to the world. It housed a connection I felt with my baby, and I was still riding the waves of that high. My face grew wet with tears. The gruesome images increasingly bombarded my thoughts, the room appeared to be spinning, and my abdomen was cramping sorely. There was a ringing in my ear and a heaviness in my chest that overwhelmed the pain my body produced.
Come on little baby, come on. You’re still with me, aren’t you?
Woefully, I sang to my baby.
Lullaby, and sleep tight, my darling sleeping.
On sheets white as cream, with a head full of dreams.
I held my belly and I sang a song from the depths of my heart.
Sleepyhead, close your eyes, I’m right beside you.
Lay thee down now and rest, may your slumber be blessed.
I sang as the nurse sat and rubbed my back. I sang as Dixon commanded me to stop. I sang with my body, with the very motherhood I had adopted in the few months that I carried my child.
Lullaby, and good night, you are mother’s delight.
I’ll protect you from harm, and you’ll wake in my arms.
I sang with the sorrow that captivated me because this feeling of loss was unnatural. How could anyone feel this much sadness and not wither away?
Guardian angels are near, so sleep without fear.
Dixon paced furiously as I sang through the lumps in my throat and the cold glares he threw at me. My body was frozen. I wanted to break into a million little pieces, but my baby’s song held me together. It wrapped its arms around me and rocked me into healing. I sang until the words could no longer form and were replaced by cries of mourning and defeat.
Practically a stranger at this point, my husband stepped to me and barked, “It’s over, Victoria. The baby is dead, you are singing to no one. Stop it. You have to stop.”
I waited to feel a morsel of anger or sadness from his neglect, but nothing ached more than my empty womb.
“Why are you doing that?”
I’ve been home for three days. Each passing day has been more morose than the last and my assumption that I would be numb by this point was incorrect. Dixon grunts and mumbles, shrugs instead of speaking and I haven’t had it in me to fight. Until now. With the sleeves of his shirt rolled up, his tie slacked, and beads of sweat rolling down his sulking face, Dixon hacks away at the remnants of the rocking chair we put together. Unscrewing pieces bit by bit, he throws each removed part, adding to the pile of destroyed baby furniture that once contained the anticipated existence of our child. My child.
“We don’t need these things anymore,” he declares.
“And what right do you have to decide that on your own? You didn’t discuss this with me first. How dare you?”
He froze. Slowly turning around to face me while still holding onto what would’ve been the arm of the chair, Dixon began to laugh menacingly. His cold eyes danced in the contempt I knew he had for me.
“How dare I, Victoria? Really? How dare you?” He inched himself closer to me until I could feel his breath above my upper lip. “How dare you come in here and ask me why I’m doing this when you’re the reason why!”
The pace of my heartbeat quickened, my stomach began to flutter, and nausea was so deeply buried in my bones I thought I might faint from the pressure.
“Every woman I know has carried their baby to full term, but you…,” he chuckled, “you with your cravings and your…your obsession with your job. You carried on with the stress, you kept forgetting to take your prenatal pills. You were lazy. You didn’t take care of it, Victoria. You failed.”
When I was 12, I accidentally drove my bicycle into the side of a car and I remember thinking that I’d never feel a pain greater than the soreness that invaded my body for weeks. Of course, I was proved wrong through different occasions of physical and emotional pain, but here I am thinking the same thing again.
“You failed me, you failed your family, and now you saunter in here and dare ask why I don’t want to look at this anymore. Who do you think you are?”
Tears began to fall from his eyes, but I couldn’t see past his darkness. The veins bursting out of his neck were throbbing as the hairs on his arms stood erectly, unwavering in the midst of our harsh winter. There was no love. No warmth. He loathed me. My husband stood before me, and while I saw him, he saw an enemy. I studied the frown that had been plastered on his face since the moment I awoke in the hospital. I took in his brown eyes, thinking of how I loved watching them twinkle in the mysterious radiance of the moon.
I wonder if our child would’ve had his eyes.
I could tell he awaited a response, but I didn’t have one. All I could do was pull his hand toward my belly and let it rest.
“Let’s play pretend,” I whispered with hope glimmering in my sad eyes.
With his hand in mine, I guided him to my hollow womb and searched for a heart beat in his eyes. Feeling his palm grip the round surface, I breathed a sigh of relief and inhaled the compassion that emanated from his intimate touch. Before I could exhale, Dixon’s hand fell. The connection was lost and he was wiping away his tears.
“I don’t have time for this.”
Quickly turning his back to me, Dixon made his way to his office as my plea for his return was answered by the slamming of his door.
I didn’t know for sure, but I believed we were having a girl.
I fantasized about taking her to a quaint park. The neighborhood mothers would peer at her and inquire about my feeding schedule, whether she’s colicky, and if I was getting any sleep. I’d welcome their advice about how to trust babysitters or what to do when I was certain that she hated me.
Sitting on the newly painted bench, I took in my surroundings as the laughter and screams of playing children both soothed and saddened me. Before I could entertain another thought, a little girl with a messy ponytail plopped down right beside me. Her tiny legs swayed excitedly as she hurriedly ate a red, melting popsicle, oblivious to the fact that it was staining the sides of her mouth and clothes. I stared at her in fascination. She looked to be about 7 and I began to wonder about what kind of thoughts swirled around my head at that age. Feeling my shameless eyes on her, she turned to look at me and smiled genuinely, flashing an incomplete grin that displayed several missing teeth. I could tell she didn’t think I was strange. As I sat up and prepared my things to leave, her squeaky voice piped out.
“Are you Nathan’s mommy?” She continued to kick her legs, her body bouncing along with the swinging.
“Uh, no. I just…I’m just sitting here. What’s your name?”
“Hi Elyse, I’m Victoria.”
She returned to her popsicle as we sat in a comfortable silence, neither of us mindful of her now sticky, candy red face. “Why do you look so sad, Victoria?”
Elyse’s concern startled me. I wasn’t aware that I appeared as somber as I felt.
“Well, I…lost something that was very special to me.”
She thought about this for a moment, then said, “Our dog ran away once and I cried a whole lot, but then Pickle came home! Maybe you’ll get your thing back, too.”
I found Dixon sitting on the floor of Amelia’s room. The sun was setting and it shone a mixture of lazy orange and pink rays into the unveiled window. I stood in the doorway and admired his athletic frame as his fingers danced along the edges of scattered wood fragments. The door creaked as I leaned more heavily on it, and he turned to face me. His eyes exposed his sorrow and defeat, the starling confusion that had stumped him. His shoulders sunk, and he wept.
“Vic…I…I don’t…,” he stuttered.
He was as broken as me. A chill went through my spine, and I was reminded of the first time I saw him. It wasn’t love at first sight, but time certainly stopped moving as I was swept up in the shiver that consumed me when I watched him that day. Now here we were. Dizzy and out of breath, inhaling the fumes of grief. I knelt and lied on my back, feeling the plush material of the baby’s rug on my skin. Little by little, tears flowed from the corner of my eyes.
“I don’t know how it happened.”
I confessed to the twilight of the dusky sky. Swallowing my husband’s darkness, I placed my head on his lap. He stroked my locks and we wandered about in each other’s mystery. We stared intently at one another as despair dripped from his eyes like the melting cherry popsicle. Dixon’s hand timidly reached for my womb. He let his palm settle, and I closed my eyes as he submerged himself in the abyss.