Shell

(second person omniscient)


The walls are blue, like a cloud of mold or a faded bruise; blue like the pale veins that intertwine with purple ones, shining through the thin transparency of your son's skin. The walls are blue like sorrow and sadness and other misfit words, like other feelings you have felt and wallowed in.

You're slumped against the closet door, whose hinges will barely hold you, and the handle is cool against your arms, folded behind the vessel that you live in. It's cool like a katana that sleeps in its case, a knife that rests in the block...

An eerie glow spills into the room, streaming from the window - which is shut tightly, slammed closed in a moment of frustration. You wonder if maybe the moon is trying to reach out to you, if maybe this light will pull you to the sky and you will be free, finally.

There are stars stenciled below the air vent near the door, and you wonder how they got there. You wonder how many other babies have occupied this room, and then an intense fear grips you, like nothing you've ever experienced, because you realize that he is your baby and you are solely responsible for him. For this.

There are fireflies, too, flitting through cutout trees on the wall. The whole left wall is encompassed by black construction paper, with little strips of green lining the bottom like wainscoting. It's a paper forest. And the fireflies disappear and reappear; you think of the different faces your son will wear.

You are scared of the unknown, and even being scared scares you, and then all the moonlight fades from the room and for an eternity you are left completely and utterly alone in the world. There is no light to guide you; no hope to raise you.

The kitchen knives are just down the hall, locked away – for safety's sake – but still not safe for you. From you.

Your son breaks the silence with a horrible blood-curdling scream, begging for nourishment, attention. And so you go to warm milk for him, telling yourself all the while that you will kill yourself once he has been fed. That it would be right. That someone would find you, find him. Send him to a shelter.

This is what you want.

You test the bottle. A patch of skin on your arm feels like it's melting, and you remove it quickly; too hot. After it cools and you've given it to him, you think, I am still afraid.

He holds the bottle feebly, fussing because it empties too quickly, and you hope against all odds that he will not grow up like you, that he will not drink away the world.

You hope that he will not contemplate suicide, and then you shake your head and retire to bed, gripping the sheets for dear life.

The bed is warm, your son is quiet, and life is bliss.