Withering Child - Jennifer Baccus

Every second could be my last, and I have yet to even draw my own breath. I wait impatiently for my fate to tear my small frame from the only world I have ever seen or known. Each thought is a lifetime, unfortunately I've never even had a life to live, so wouldn't it be considered irrelevant to think on the future now, Mother? Do you think of the voice I never had calling out for you, Mother? Do you hear it, even now, calling "mother. Mother."? Or do you block the thought of me from your mind, Mother? I never even had a name, Mother.

How long as it been since your unforgivable, unconscious sin, Mother? Two months? Not so long to you, but it's all I've ever known. In this womb of cold feeling, I'm lost in your fluid, not knowing the comings and goings of the world - waiting for the day I know love. Can you see that I'm scared, Mother? I don't understand why you would do such a thing, Mother. Mothers love their children. Mothers cuddle their children. Mothers are devoted to their children. But you, Mother, hate me. You loathe my existence because I've hindered your life. I'm your child; your creation; yourself divided by two and yet you have chosen my destruction. I didn't even have a voice to protest.

I'll never know the colors of the sky and clouds, or feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. The ocean breeze will never brush through my hair and I'll always wonder what ice-cream tastes like. What is the smell of the flowers and trees, that I'll never see. I'll never know the touch of a mothers' loving hand on my round cheek. The only friends I'll ever know will be those in the tin bucket at the doctors feet, all of us in sealed paper bags. Mother, why did you take the loving embrace away from me? Why did you never give me a name, Mother? Why was I not worthy of your world, Mother? Mother. . . . Mother. . . . Why didn't you love me?

I feel the harsh metal scraping my out of the false warmth and detaching the cord of life which has sustained me these two months. I can feel it sharply . . . Scraping . . . Scratching . . . I'm drowning in air and harsh light against my closed lids. Asphyxiation and decay is the future before me. Why did you do this to me, Mother? Why did you make me, only to annihilate me? I can hear the screaming of your voice, does it hurt you too, Mother? The only word you ever spoke to me is now engraved - a terrifying scream of pain. Am I grotesque to you, Mother? That man, in the white, stained with the blood of countless unborn children like me, he sees my bloody form in his latex hand. Do you see me Mother? Is that why you scream so loudly?

I wanted love. Is this how you give love, Mother? Is this the only generosity you can show me? Is my death and act of absolution? I wanted love. I'll assume that this is the way you love me, Mother. I'll die quietly, without my newborn cry rising the heavens. If it makes you happy Mother, I'll die. I don't know what waits past the darkness and I know I can never have the answers to my questions. I love you. I wish I could have told you. I wish I could have touched you. I wish knew your embrace. I have so many desires and no time. I'll disappear into my plastic coffin and decay into fragil dust. I'll fade away into the back of your mind. Please, from now and again, think of me with fondness. Think of me as a child without the color in his eyes, Mother. Goodbye, the door that will never open has been shut. And I fade . . . Without a word.

The doctor looked at the woman through her spread legs, his white mask and surgical cap covered his face except for his old, hard eyes. "Are you sure this is what you want?"

"Yes."

He sighed, "Is this is your first - or have you -?"

"My first."

He hide down behind her stretched gown, "I've taken many. Today. Yesterday. For years. Soon, they aren't even human to you any more, just clumps of blood and placenta. Are you still so sure?"

"Yes."

"Then let us begin."

The woman clinched her fists shut as the doctor extracted the fetus, the zygote, the mass of dividing cells, from her womb. She cried out in pain, in regret, in anguished torture and through her mind flashed the life of the child she would have never known, the child she murdered. What would that child have looked like? Would he or she have her eyes? Her nose? What color would the hair have been? What did the voice sound like? She stared gapingly at the white ceiling, half-blinded by the bright lights, spots dancing like fireflies in her vision. She felt the cold of the instruments against her tender flesh and the pain wrenching in her gut. She breathed in sharply and bit her lip, drawing her own blood into her mouth, every second lasting an eternity. Why was she doing this, she had asked herself over and over in the waiting room. The answer always sounded more like an excuse than a true reason - she couldn't' afford a child. She didn't have the time. She wasn't married. She wasn't the mothering type. The father didn't want it. But nothing seemed to validate her choice. Everything, since the moment she walked into the pristine, hypocritical waiting room with it's flowered couch and glistening wood tables covered in various magazines, seemed wrong. She had sat on that soft couch, rubbing her stomach staring off into space. Why was she doing this? The answer was lost in oblivion as she felt something slide out of her, warm and wet. She looked down and brought her clammy hand up to her mouth to muffle the whine escaping her throat.

She watched, horrified, as he held the bloody heap in his palm and she gaped as he numbly dropped it into the tin trash-can with the "Hazard" sign in white and black on the front. It shut with a ferocious clank, the finality of a vicious extermination. The florescent light and the doctor's figure blurred as hot tears filled her vision and stung the whites of her eyes.

The doctor stripped off his gloves with a loud snap, "It was a boy."

The echoing sobs carried through the clinic, adding to the symphony of motherhood's regret.