Milk

Certainly not the best thing I've ever written. Still, I hope you find some enjoyment in reading this.


"I'm tired, little one. So tired."

My baby has stopped breathing.

I know this not because I'm a particularly good mother with some extraordinary perception of my brood. I am a terrible mother. I have no special senses. I know that he has left me alone to die sometime in my dull future simply because the comforting wheeze of his tiny lungs working is now absent, gone with the breeze whipping at poorly wrapped cloth. A breeze carrying whispers and decomposition.

"I guess you were tired, too. Always seemed sickly. You didn't kick much in my womb. Cried… very little. I appreciated the quiet. I imagine it's going to be very quiet from now on, with you gone."

I gaze down at my sole legacy, for whatever the corpse is worth. I suppose I am callous. I'm not crying. There is nothing inside me. I haven't felt a thing since my husband left me to carry our baby in my belly without aid, to moistly give birth in a garage without a hand to hold, to fend off the dogs with a wrench and scurry around like a rat. Now the child is gone and all my efforts were for naught.

He lies still at my breast, his suckling having ceased also, the baby's tiny, fleshy form growing cold as we sit together on the stone back of a gargoyle overlooking the burning city streets with its toppled domino buildings and beyond those, pretty green clouds drifting in a dim, featureless, domed sky.

Green like his eyes, now closed forever, closed to the world. Closed to me. There's nothing to look at when you're dead, like my son is now.

Gently I pull my rigid, severe nipple from his soft, slack maw, watching curiously as the milk marinating inside comes running out, dribbling from the corners of angelic lips, bathing his chin in nourishment. Wasted.

"You really are so little."

Lean closer, touching my nose to his.

"You're a deadweight."

Tongue emerges, gently swiping his lips. I taste sour. My milk is sour. I think I poisoned him with my produce, despite the good intentions. Many things work that way. I can only hope it didn't hurt. Numbness is an old friend.

"I'd say sorry, but you can't hear me now. And I can't keep carrying you around with me, wherever I'm going."

I let him fall like a stone, spinning, down to the ground. He breaks apart upon contact with the road like a rubbery bag of swollen colour, spitting out the contents in a bright splash over the asphalt. He is gone and I accept that. It's a mercy that there are no tears to shed. I used to shed a whole lot, back at the start of this. I was young, though. I still had a thing inside, that glimmering feeling called hope.

Lost with the birth of my small, sickly child.

"It'll be okay. It'll all… work out in the end."

I cup my breast, getting used to the cold my palm brings as I shield it from the burning, sooty air. Slip the heavy, veined barrel of the flesh back inside. I do up all the buttons in my old shirt and swing my legs over, forcing myself into a stand on the gargoyle's faithful back. I'm tired, hungry, and bored to some extent. I'd jump if the prospect of suicide didn't seem so weak. My time will come, and I'll greet it with dignity.

Barefoot, I begin my trek over the rooftop and down a flight of stairs, back to the hovel in a dilapidated office that I call my home. I rummage around my belongings that litter the desk and shelves, producing a candy bar and soda in a can, which I take with me to bed. The bed being some sheets and a soiled duvet.

I sit down in the nest and I am comfortable enough. I tear open the wrapper with my teeth, spitting the foil shards out before taking a bite of the sugary foodstuff. I set the bar down, chewing, and open my can with a tug of the tag, peeling it back. Swallow and sip. Swallow again. Sip. Spit out.

My mouth tastes like metal. Copper, I think. I drop the can and its contents spill out, like acid, spreading over my legs; mounds shifting, hidden beneath darkened fabric that glistens and burns.

"Oh… oh, dear… I'm so clumsy, huh? Yeah. Clumsy me. Always been a fault of mine."

Close my eyes. Take a shaky breath inwards. Seize it. Wince. I feel woozy.

"Yep. So clumsy…"

Maybe I'll finally get to die and be done with it. Watching myself wither away takes so long. Then again, time is the one thing I've got. Or maybe not. Might not be a false alarm this time.

I think about my baby. Did he feel something akin to this as he fell? Like the air cutting his fragile crust, the world turning, flailing limbs plunging into gravity's embrace. But I forget; he was dead. He felt nothing.

I think about my husband. Hard on the outside. Warm, soft on the inside. I can remember watching as the light left his eyes. He was so kind to me. He was a good man. Not like the other losers, according to my mom. A rough diamond, according to my dad.

I think about how it feels to be the last woman alive. I escaped the masters with their lightning sticks and brain probes. I didn't see anybody else get out. When the invaders left the world in their sun ships, I searched, and I have found nothing. No one.

A ghost city. Burning. Rotting. A corpse devoid of buzzards. Flesh shall tan under the sun. I can still smell its last breath.

I should care more. Strangely, I care very little.

But that's a miracle, I suppose. Numbness. My friend.