The consultant called it pregnancy material and told her to expect more. Gave her a leaflet about a local support group and told her to go home and rest. Myra called it her baby and grieved.
She touched a hand to where the life had once been. She hadn’t felt it then, it was still too early, but she felt an undeniable and cold absence there now. Broken and hollow, it chilled her palm and fingertips. She held her hand against the small swell of her stomach and imagined there was still life inside her, still warmth and hope.
The coldness spread through her like ice shifting and stalling in her veins. She wanted to cry, but tears weren’t enough. Ragged, silent sounds shook her.
Afternoon sunlight filtered through the drawn curtains, motes of dust skipped and fell in the shadows. The yellow wallpaper hurt her eyes and her head thumped with a grey, creeping numbness.
She lay for hours, curled on the bed and finding no comfort. She couldn’t look at it again, not yet. A sharp tang of blood clung to her fingers and she could see dark stains in the gloom. Her mouth tasted bitter and metallic, like filaments of tarnished copper on her tongue.
Eventually she slept and found dreams of bones and decay.
The world was unreal when she woke, dark and insubstantial. Shadows twitched in the corners of the room. Her whole body buzzed as if a thousand flies twisted inside her and she was already dead and rotting from within.
She was still cold, still empty.
She fumbled in the bedside cabinet. Ray always kept a pack of Camel Lights and matchbooks from countless hotels and bars. There would be more once the conference finished at the weekend.
The match hissed as it struck. Myra watched it burn, felt the heat as the flame bit at her fingers. She struck another and lit the cigarette, drawing the smoke down deeply. The tip glowed amber in the darkness.
Myra held it above her stomach. It gave the pallor of her flesh a warm glow. She ground it down against her skin where it stung and burned. Teeth clenched, she relished the heat. She removed the cigarette and re-lit it with a fresh match. Brought it down again. Her skin tingled and prickled sharply.
The night outside was silent and soon she slept again. A fitful, feverish sleep with dreams of dirt and growth.
Dawn woke her; birds twittered in nearby trees. She was still cold, still empty.
Her legs felt unsteady as she walked to the bathroom. She pulled the cord; the light was harsh and sterile. Her reflection shuddered in the mirror as she bent down to the floor. The blood stained towel lay crumpled at the foot of the bath. She picked it up and unfurled the edges.
A small bloodied mass lay in the centre. Pulpy and unidentifiable. Myra reached out a finger and almost touched it. She shifted to kneel directly beneath the light and studied it closely. Head cocked, she turned the towel this way and that.
“A seed,” she said eventually. Her voice was small and lost.
She covered it again and headed down the stairs and towards the back door. Early morning light reached in through the frosted glass.
The air was crisp and fresh with a slight chill on the breeze.
Her garden flowered all year round; always had. Her fingers were green, not the red ingrained there now like strange nicotine stains.
The earth was damp with dew beneath her bare feet. The soil was rich and good as she dug deep with her hands. She could almost taste it. Her fingers snatched and clawed at the dirt as she made a hollow in the ground.
Her stomach burned and itched in small circles of pain. She was still cold, still empty; but not for much longer she thought.
Myra took the seed from the towel. It felt soft and sticky in her hands. She planted it and compacted the earth around it.
As the sun brought the first warmth to the day she sat back and waited for her seed to grow.
L.R. Bonehill never meant to hurt anyone all those years ago; he just wanted to play, that’s all. Drop by the boneyard at http://bonehillsboneyard.blogspot.com/