Unwanted

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Alice is eight months pregnant when she realizes that she doesn't want children. In fact, she doesn't even like children. However, she has trouble communicating this to her husband because of the
societal pressure that every woman should want to be a mother.

Submitted: June 25, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 25, 2018

A A A

A A A


 Unwanted

By Krista Piccotti

I look down and I can’t see my feet. My feet- where are- I untangle them from beneath the sheets and stand up, slithering them into my slippers. I can feel them. I can. I know they are there. I just can’t see past my- I look in the mirror and there they are. Right there, below my ankles. My eyes travel from my feet up, calculating my body, analyzing, taking notes. Something feels off. Like my face is slanted like a Picasso painting, only I don’t remember it being that way before.

And I notice my stomach, which was rounder than I remember it being. Much rounder. Like it was a deflated balloon someone blew too much air into, and if I move too quickly it will pop. Though instead of floating up, it’s sinking down, it’s trying to slide off of me, or rather, it wants to. Or maybe I want it to. I do. I want it to drop- to feel the weight gone. I feel the thing moving inside of me. Inside of that once deflated balloon. How did it get in there? Why did it get there? When did it get there? Well, that was eight months ago, I remember that. I remember that eight months ago my stomach was flat. What I can’t remember is my high school anatomy class, where we labeled diagrams about reproduction. Something about a fallopian tube, I think. But more importantly I can’t remember how I ended up with this thing floating in my uterus? I remember my husband asking…

He whispered softly to me, “a baby,” that’s what he said, “a baby.”

“What?” I asked. His left hand traced the line of my stomach and suddenly I felt the urge to- kick. To scream. To run.

“Wouldn’t that be something?”

“What?”

“A baby. Alice, a baby.”

“Yeah, I guess that’d be something.”  His voice was so soft and pure and innocent. Babies weren’t something I thought about, or had been thinking about ever. In fact, I make it a point to actively not think about them in my daily life and…

 

Beeeep! My answering machine goes off, but I didn’t notice the phone ringing.

“Hey Allie, pick up the phone... Allie…. Allie, I know you’re there, pick up! Listen… I know you hate parties and social gatherings and things… but you’re having a baby for Christ’s sake, I mean this party isn’t just for you anyway and it would mean the world to mom…” Ugh it’s Bethany.

My beautiful, energetic, babbling sister. She loves babies. It’s an obsession she has. And it’s not just babies, but baby things, baby shoes, baby clothes, baby blankets. And it’s not just human babies, it’s baby chicks, and baby puppies, and baby kids (right that’s what a baby goat is called, a kid.) She just likes small things with tiny bodies and big heads.

I don’t get it, no… no, she doesn’t get it; I tried to explain it to her but- I mean I tried to tell her that I don’t like to think about – well, I don’t like to think about their tiny hands and round, bald heads. I don’t think about their soft nails. I don’t think about fetuses. Mutant little- what yah-muh-call-its just floating around in there. And I especially do not think of myself with children, around children, holding children, burping children, changing their diapers, looking at children, shaking their hands, giving them an ice cream.

I’ve been making a special effort not to think of children since Hal and I decided to try for a baby. Ever since I found out that I’m pregnant, I have especially been avoiding playgrounds, public pools, and Chuck E. Cheese’s. I have an ongoing list of places to avoid, mapping out my town. Come September, when school starts again, I’ll have to avoid the library and the parks, as well as candy shops, pizza parlors, and the step-by-step craft sections of the art supply store.

 Seeing them makes me nauseous. Not in a throwing up type of way. No. It just sort of sits there, the nausea I mean. It doesn’t go up or down, it just tumbles in the lining of my stomach. And that was before I knew I was pregnant. That was before the pink plus signs and unprotected sex. That was after Hal said, “A baby wouldn’t that be nice?” And I think I said yes…

I remember when I told Hal. I should have never had told Hal. It wasn’t until I told him that I held his fragile heart so tightly in my hands. If he never knew, it would not have mattered. It wouldn’t have. I could have – made an appointment to… or called my doctor and – but I couldn’t drive and my hands were shaking too much to dial. The phone was too far away -that’s what it was. I couldn’t call because the phone, I couldn’t find it. And then eight months passed and I still couldn’t find that damn phone.

 

 I rummage through my closet looking for something sharp. All of our coat hangers are plastic. Everything in the house- there is too much plastic. Ever since I- I made a trip to Dr. Rollan’s office, our family psychiatrist, because I nicked my hand on a corkscrew opening a bottle of wine. It wasn’t intentional it wasn’t- but Hal- Hal thinks it was, and then I started going to Dr. Rollan and he thinks it was and that’s when everything turned into plastic. So I look in Hal’s closet instead and rip his clothes to the floor and nothing. Nothing. Until I get to his tux. The one he wore on our wedding day and finally metal. I push the wire against my palm to flatten it out. It seems necessary that it should be flattened. Playing with the wire in my hand, I glance in the mirror, as if it is a diagram of the inside of my vagina. I am trying to map it out to- understand where – and how  -this would-

I squat. For a long time, I squat, feeling the metal wire between my fingers. I trace around the heap that is my stomach and down my thigh. How did it come to this? Why did I wait this long- eight months before I- I press the wire against my vagina. I thread it through its thick walls and can feel it scrapping against me. It feels like I am doing one of those puzzles where you have to trace your way out of the maze, only I can’t see the borders. I am jabbing it-the wire I mean.

 Only I don’t know what, or where or- understand the geography of my own body. My stomach is in the way, only making everything more confusing. I can’t properly move the wire because of my stomach. And it is cold- the wire. Something I can’t- not think about. It feels like nails in there. Like my vagina, itself, is rusting. And everything hurts. Everything. I squeeze in my breath to stop my vocal chords from- I cry and clench my stomach and I pull, I yank it out of there. And I bleed, a lot. It-the blood, clings to my leg as it spreads, but it’s not enough. That’s when I hear Hal’s car pull up in the driveway.

My muscles, my bones in my body are locked in some type of contortion and I cannot move for fear I will crack or dislocate, something. My cheeks are sticky. I am not crying, but my cheeks are sticky and I want to-

 Nerves sew my tongue to the insides of my cheeks. I can’t speak. I can’t imagine how I could-

“Hey, honey, I’m home.” I hate how he says that, he sounds like Dick Van Dyke and I’m no- no Mary Tyler Moore, or- or Donna Reade.

“Sweetheart?” He’s looking for me in the kitchen. A place I would never be.  I scrape off the blood and throw the hanger in the bathtub. I wash my hands and my face and my hands again. I close the bathroom door behind me.

“Sweetie?”

“I-um-I’m in here.” The blood- there’s blood. On the floor I mean. What do I… I move the rug aligned by the sink, it’s white. Why is it fucking white? I watch, as the edges turn pink, it’ll have to be good enough for now, at least. I shove in tampon to absorb some of the blood.

He lies on our bed, his chin sticking up towards the ceiling with this big grin on his face. I walk towards him and he kisses my stomach.

“How was your day?” No I cannot- words do not formulate- thoughts do not- I cannot tell him that- He looks at me long and hard. His stare is magnetic and his voice is round and smooth, “What’s wrong?”

I do not answer. He sits on the bed and touches my leg. I love when he touches my leg, or at least I used to.

“Baby, tell me.” Funny how he uses that word- how he calls me-

“I can’t- I- I-.” He stares at me all sympathetic like- a real Jimmy Stewart sort would.

“What, what’s wrong?”

I touch my stomach hesitantly I try to be kind like he is…

“I’m pregnant that’s what’s wrong I-I’m fat gettin’ fuller by the second I- I’m- I can’t see my feet. Aren’t you concerned that I can’t see my feet?”

“Of course, not. I think it’s beautiful what you’re doing. I mean the belly and all you- you are beautiful.”

“No. No. That’s not it. That’s- it’s not what I mean.”

 “What do you mean?”

“I want it gone. I want it out.”

“The baby will come soon…”

“No. gone, gone, I mean really gone. I don’t want to be a mother.”

And that did it. I finally shook him. Finally caught him off guard. Stopped him in his tracks. He didn’t know what to say to me.

“Why?”

“Because I won’t be good at it. I mean- I’m fucked up and the world’s fucked up and this baby it has no shot and-”

“This baby has the best shot. It has us.”

“That’s what I’m worried about. I can’t give this baby what it needs I have nothing to offer.”

His voice gets real soft like he’s talking to my stomach, but he’s not because he’s staring intently at me, “It’s okay to be nervous. I know it’s hard to picture but-” Nerves. Sure, yeah that’s it. He continues, “I mean unless you mean-” his eyes get real quiet.

“No. No.”

“It’s too late for that anyway, right?”

“Yeah.”

“But, you do want this, don’t you? I mean this was our decision this is what we”

“Yes, of course,” I say, because it would be horrible to say otherwise-

And he is right. Of course he is right. I have to convince myself to love this baby. That is my duty as a mother.

 

The day after I told him I was pregnant, I panicked. I wanted to abort the thing. In fact, I drove myself all the way to the clinic. I spoke to the doctor, he wasn’t my doctor- that is to say I didn’t recognize him. But he knew me, or my sister, or my father or my family or something, some family friend from a long time ago I suppose. Apparently he knew of my irrational tendencies, or at least that’s what he told me, referring to the incident with the corkscrew.

“An abortion is a delicate- well you see, it’s just not something you’d want to rush into.” Yeah, and neither is getting pregnant, but here I am. The doctor hands me his phone.

“Call Dr. Rollan,” he insisted, “just to make sure.” They never let me make decisions on my own. I remember Dr. Rollan telling me:

“Uncertainty is normal.”  It was something that I would apparently get over. Given my certain history of mental illness I thought it would make more sense to contain my DNA to one designated area. To kill it before it infects the- but that was not Dr. Rollan’s advice.

 

Hal holds my face. And I smile because his touch is warm.

“Are you okay?” I nod and kiss the palm of his hand.

“You ready to go?”

“Go where?” I ask. He touches the small of my back.

“We’re visiting your sister today, remember?”

“Just let me” dry my face. Pretend that I’m not… “get ready” I say, “ I just need to-”

“It’s okay, no rush.” I don’t understand how he can be so gentle about everything. I go into the bathroom and rub my face until it’s dry and chalky and I can feel the rub burns and it kind of feel nice because at least it is something. Something to feel.

“I’m ready,” I sniffle.

“Okay.”

 

SURPRISE. They all yell, surprise. Great. A baby shower. I should have seen this coming. My sister approaches, dragging me into a crowd of strangers. I find myself sitting at a round table on my sister’s patio eating sandwiches that are made out of vegetables and whole wheat bread, my two least favorite things in the world other than...

“Allie stop whining. Be happy. You’re pregnant. That’s a good thing. Remember?” I take big bites of small sandwiches to avoid conversation. It would be impolite if I talked with food in my mouth. Then my mother hurries towards me with a relative on either side.

“Alice, darling, Miss Figg is dying to see you, dying!” my mother pushes me in opposite directions of the house. I see faces, so many different, faces of people I barely know, almost know, haven’t talked to in years.

 I want to make a fit. Throw some knives. To yell. To scream. To punch. To scream. But who will hear me?

“If you will excuse me,” I breathe through the sentence slowly so my head will stop aching. I rush into the bathroom, as lady-like as I can. I close the door. Sitting on the toilet, I stare at my stomach and cry, and cry. My face bloats up. There’s a knock.

“Someone’s in here!”

“I know you’re in there silly. Come out it’s your party.”

It’s Bethany. Of course, it’s Bethany.

“I’ll be out in a minute.” She knocks on the door twice.

“I said I-” Bethany walks into the bathroom.

“What’s the matter with you?”

“What do you mean what’s the matter with me? What’s the matter with you barging in here-”

“You always do this. You hide away in your little corner…doesn’t matter what other people- what other people went through to make this-”

“I never asked for this! I never- I don’t – I never said I wanted any of this.”

“This baby isn’t just yours! He’s a part of the whole family. Damn it Alice! Is it that awful to spend time with us.”

“It’s not my baby.”

“what d’you mean?”

I step towards her and hold her arms, shaking her.

“No, I’m telling you, it’s not my baby.” I sink to the floor.

“How could?- Do you mean it’s not Hal’s? Are you- did have an affair?”

“Of course it’s Hal’s! It’s more his than it is mine.”

“Oh don’t say that. I’m sure you just need some- ”

“I don’t want this baby.” She sinks next to me on the floor and squeezes my hand. I squeeze her hand back.

“You, don’t want this baby?”

“I don’t want it.”

“Why?”

“ Because I- I hate it. I can’t stand it- I – I tried to love it, I did, I swear, I did.”

 

I was in my car ready to leave the clinic when I realized I had no idea what I was supposed to do, I mean if I wasn’t going to kill the thing, what was I supposed to do with it? I called Dr. Rollan again.

“Then, what? What do I do?” I didn’t introduce myself- on the phone I didn’t say who it was.

“Who do you think this is?” I waited impatiently for his response.

“I’m sorry miss just-”

“Alice. It’s Alice, If I- can’t kill it- then….”

“Maybe start by not referring to it as- ”

“Well what am I supposed to…”

“The baby it’s a baby. Why not call-”

“Because it is an it.”

“Listen, there’s no need to get excited here-”

 “Yeah… Sure, what’s there to be excited about?”

“Try to get in the spirit of things, maybe go shopping or something?”

“ So you want me to buy my love for my own...”

“It’s not a permanent fix I know that, I just think it would be healthy if you thought of your baby in a new way. It’s a good place to start.”

“ uhuh… uhuh… yeahh I guess I could…”

“ We can talk about this more tomorrow, during your session.”

“Uhuh. Sure.” I hung up the phone. I swallowed my nausea and washed it down with water. Shopping… fine, I could go shopping.

So I went to the mall and  bought onesies with animals printed on them that had disproportionate bodies and big eyes. I didn’t like anything really, nothing was interesting. I just grabbed something-anything, handed my credit card to cashiers. I was at some department store looking at some flowery bib when a saleswoman asked me if it was for a boy or a girl. Or at least I assumed that’s what she was saying because I didn’t hear her. I was busy convincing myself that babies could be happy- that they could make me happy, and I wasn’t doing a very good job of it. I kept thinking of everything I would lose. I was wondering about how Baby will take my paycheck and how Baby will take my career. Baby will take me. I won’t be me anymore. I will be Baby. I left my bags with the saleswoman, bought myself a sweater, and went home.

 

“Where were you at the party, you, you disappeared.” Hal holds my hand with concern.

“Just some girl talk with Bethany that’s all.” I finish putting on my pajamas. I turn out the lights.

“You sure? I mean from everything you were saying before…” I pull his hand onto my stomach and kiss his cheek.

“You feel that hon. He’s kicking, he’s really kicking.”

“Or she, could be a she.”

“Maybe…”

“Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” Hal doesn’t mean it as a rhetorical question, I know that, but I pretend he does and I kiss him. The only thing I am sure about is that I love him. And maybe that’s enough. Maybe... We fall asleep on top of each other, my face tucked in his arm, and I feel safe for a while, until I can’t turn over because my stomach is in the way.

I try to fall asleep, but my eyes are stretched real wide, I physically cannot close them. Then I remember the bloodstain in the bathroom. I tiptoe out of bed. I watch him for a moment to make sure his eyes don’t blink. To make sure that he’s asleep, really asleep. Quietly I close the bathroom door behind me, I pull on my yellow cleaning gloves and spill bleach on the floor.

I make circles with my arms, but it is only pinker – I push into the floor- but it won’t- I can’t. I scrub sanding down the palm of my hand in the process. As I scrub I try to picture myself with a baby, but very time I try it seems a bit distorted- accept Hal, I could picture him. In fact, Hal looks good with a baby in his arms. It’s a picture that I’m excluded from, so what happened…What happens to me once this baby is born? Will he love me the same? Will he still look at me like- like some romantic Nicholas Sparks cliché- What if he’s just using me? Using me for my stomach. To grow things. To grow babies I mean. Maybe he doesn’t need me after that... Maybe… No… No… I’m crazy, I know I’m crazy I- My stomach hurts, it aches. I push my entire body weight over my arms to apply pressure- to apply force to the scrubbing, but it only causes me to collapse. I feel light headed. I need some food.

I move into the kitchen and make myself a snack. I pull out a jar of peanut butter. Maybe I’ll have an apple. I look for a knife. I find something plastic that will probably only break against the counter. I search the cabinets for something sharp. The room is spinning, or maybe I’m spinning. All I know is that there are too many moving parts I can’t concentrate on-

I find a knife with the pots and pans at the bottom of the cabinet. I go to the fridge, take out an apple, and pull out a cutting board. I place the cutting board on the counter and the apple next to the cutting board. I pick up the knife. I place it back down. My hands are shaking I can’t- I have to keep them still. I can do this. I pick up the knife, but it slips through my hands and cuts my finger.

I feel the blood oozing out and my body falls back, but the kitchen counter catches me. I need to throw up and I press my fingers on the back of my tongue. Maybe I can spit the pain out of me. Maybe I can get it out. The kitchen won’t stop spinning unless I get rid of it. I need to- to leave I-I hold my breath hoping it will stop the room from spinning, but it makes everything worse. I clench the knife in my fist for clarity because something about it feels stable. I drop it and pick it up again. I run my fingers over the blade of the knife, feeling its ridged edges. I trace my stomach with its blade. I graze the knife over my skin and a chunk falls off and I dig the knife further, but it hurts and I scream, sinking to the floor.

I hear rustling, I hear his footsteps, I- I scream again.

Hal comes rushing in, “Alice, Alice! What’s wrong?” I sob gripping his arm real hard.

“I’m sorry. I’m so.. so… sorry.” My vision swirls into patches of glowing black dots. My husband mumbles something to me.

 “The doctor, I need to see- I” My head feels extremely heavy and I see the little- black- black dots…grow bigger and bigger…black dots….

“I’m sorry, sorry I’m not enough.”

 

I wake up to chatter. Lots and lots of chatter Too much chatter. And some mention of a baby. And some mention of blood. Did I lose it? Is it gone? Am I? No… I feel a pain searing through my stomach. I scream. And five people come running towards me, tryin’ to comfort me, tryin’ to tell me it’s okay. That what’s okay? My stomach hurts. My back hurts. I ache all over.

When I finally open my eyes I’m in a pale room decorated with flowers. Hal is holding my hand and rubbing his head. He looks at me. And I’m crying, watching the edges of the wallpaper curl.

“I’m sorry… I’m soo... soo sorry…. I didn’t mean- I love you so much.” And it- he doesn’t say it back. Why won’t he- can’t… I need him to say it back.

“Why did you do it? To me, to our to the- you could have really hurt…”

“Really hurt what?” I sit up.

“You could have- you wanted this baby remember… what happened to…”

“To what?”

“To the idea of being a family?”

“I want it out. I want it out now! It’s either me or it?”

“Alice, it’s gone. The baby Alice- you, you…”

“What?”

“I was holding you because of the blood- and I was gonna drive you myself cause- the ambulance they weren’t-  I mean they were too far so I- I carried you myself and I- I dropped you, I mean I really dropped you. On your stomach- on the concrete- on the way to the car- ” He pulls his hand away from me.

“I’m, I mean I didn’t mean- I um… I wasn’t trying to…”

“I loved that baby.”

“I know. You loved that baby more than you love me. I’m not enough I can’t be- How can I- Will you ever love me for-”

“I don’t know Alice, right now, I just don’t know. Right now you got what you wanted and me- me I’m left devastated, so right now, I don’t think you get to ask me that question because I can’t tell if it was your fault, or my fault, or the baby’s. Maybe… Maybe I should have listened… But maybe…. Maybe you should have told me.”

“ I should have. I know I should have.”

“And I really, really wanted that baby. And even if you told me no- I still would have wanted it. I still do want it.”

So no, the answer was no. He kisses me on the forehead. He stares at me for some time.

“I do love you, you know that, right?” and I do know that he loves me, but I also know that love isn’t enough. And this, the baby, is not a sacrifice that is worth it for me. And he should know that. I should tell him. I will tell him after I get some sleep.


© Copyright 2018 Maria Lucia. All rights reserved.

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