by Alan Dalby
It was their third try, and it seemed to be going flawlessly. Edgar Greene rubbed his wife's belly as they both sat in the waiting room. Audrey put her soft hand over Edgar's and they both smiled as they looked down at the stomach that housed their growing baby. After two painful miscarriages, both of these parents-to-be were nervous but hopeful. It didn't seem fair to either of them, especially to Audrey. Who were those two little people that had come before this one? What would their names have been? Were they boys or girls, or one of each? Who would they have grown up to be? Every day she felt the lingering despair over the loss of here two little ones. Everyone wonders what really happens when they die. Does their soul live on? Do all of their thoughts and experiences go with them into another life? Or do they just simply disappear? Audrey wondered all of these things about herself and others. She also thought of the two souls that had been taken from her body, dead before they had a chance to live. What happened to them? Where do the unborn go when they die?
"Audrey Greene?" A kindly looking nurse called out from the hallway next to the registration desk. Audrey stood and nodded. Edgar stood with her and took her hand. The two followed the nurse back to a little room where she performed the routine checkups on Audrey. "The doctor is a little backed up today, this being flue season and all. He'll be with you as soon as possible." The plump nurse smiled and closed the door behind her. Edgar stood and took his coat off.
"How are you honey? Cold? Warm? Do you want to take your coat off or leave it on?" Edgar draped his coat over the chair he was sitting in and kneeled before his wife. He took her right hand and gently kissed it.
"I'm fine Edgar." Audrey said softly. "I'll have to have this big old coat off before the doctor gets in here anyways though, so I may as well do it now." Edgar stood as Audrey did. Like the true gentleman he was, he slowly removed his wife's coat for her and draped it over the back of her chair. He waited for her to take her seat once more before returning to his. "Everything is going to be just fine this time." Audrey said before taking a deep breath and exhaling. Edgar leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Audrey grabbed him as he moved his head back and planted a much needed kiss onto his lips. The two remained locked in this loving embrace for several passionate kisses. Audrey ran her fingers through Edgar's thick hair as he rubbed her right arm lovingly.
After a thorough exam, Audrey was told by the doctor that everything looked to be going just fine. His only suggestion was that she avoid stressing out too much. He knew about her past losses. He had been her doctor for many years and had treated her with some heavy-duty medication to get her through the months following her miscarriages. The doctor realized that she would worry herself over another loss. He took Edgar aside and gave him some advice about keeping her stress levels down. They were three months in, a third of the way through. There was still a chance that something could go wrong, but this time Audrey was having frequent doctor's visits and check-ups. She was reading through book after book about keeping a growing fetus healthy, and how the mother herself could go about taking better care of herself as well.
Edgar held onto Audrey as they crossed the snow-packed parking lot to their Jeep. At home, the couple watched as the frozen white flakes fluttered around outside through the windows. Each unique creation fell slowly from the heavens and onto the frozen earth below. Inside the fireplace, the flames danced and roared as Audrey and Edgar snuggled on the couch. The two high school sweethearts were now in their thirties. They had been together so long, through so much. They held hands and gave each other slow soft kisses in between sips. Audrey sipped her apple juice as Edgar sipped his milk. He had promised he would not drink any alcohol while she was pregnant. He had never been much of a drinker anyway. He kept a stocked bar for when visitors dropped by. At the front of the bar was a bottle of seventy-five year old merlot. The bottle sat there, as it had for many years now, collecting dust. It was to be opened only in celebration of Edgar and Audrey's first baby being born.
Two more months passed without incident. Edgar sat at his desk sorting through paperwork when his friend and coworker Ben passed by. The older man stopped and turned around, knocking on Edgar's door. "Hey there champ!" Ben said with a grin as he entered the office. He grabbed a tennis ball sitting on a table at the entrance to the office and began to toss it up and down. "I hear you've got a baby on the way." Ben said, knowing that he was treading in shaky waters. "Boy or girl?" Edgar gave up on trying to concentrate on his work and sat back in his chair.
"We're not sure yet." Edgar said. "At this point we're just walking on that edge, you know, hoping and praying all goes according to plan this time." Edgar said with a grimace. "You know."
"I hear ya buddy." Ben said. He motioned for Edgar to catch the tennis ball. Edgar held out a hand and grabbed Ben's throw. "Well I wish you all the best. You and Audrey. You know that, but I just wanted to remind you."
"Thanks Ben. It's nice to get as much support as we can. I'm sure Audrey will appreciate it as much as I do, maybe even more." Edgar said before tossing the tennis ball back to Ben. Ben smiled and set the ball back on its desk before turning to leave. He knocked twice on the wooden doorframe before exiting Edgar's office. Edgar sat back and thought for a few minutes. He was sinking very deep into his own mind when his cell phone rang. He took a moment to bring his mind back into the world around him before answering. "Edgar Greene speaking." With that, it was back to business as usual.
As Edgar walked into the house, all seemed quite. There was an eerie feeling all around him as he passed through the front hall, hanging his coat up and wiping the soles of his wingtips off on the welcome mat. As he made his way into the living room, all was dark. The shades were drawn and no lights were on. Edgar flipped on a lamp next to the couch and listened to the silence. Then, a very faint sound began to enter his ears. He followed the sound towards the main bedroom. It grew a bit louder and became more distinctive. It was Audrey, and the sounds of her whimpering were all-too-familiar. As Edgar entered the bedroom, he found a sight he had been dreading. Audrey's side of the bed was in shambles. The covers tossed aside violently, and a pool of dried blood that had soaked into the mattress stared Edgar in the face. He rushed into the bathroom, toward the source of Audrey's cries. There, Edgar fell to his knees and began to tremble, his lower lip quivering uncontrollably.
Audrey was naked in the bathtub. A trail of blood droplets had followed her in from the bedroom. They were all over the floor. The bathtub had no water in it. Audrey appeared to be shivering all over from the mixture of the cold and the heartbreak. Edgar crawled across the tiled floor. Dried blood got onto his hands, shirt cuffs, and slacks. He climbed up into the bathtub and slowly made his way toward Audrey. "Don't touch me!" She snapped. Edgar backed away and sat down on the other end of the spacious tub. The two curled up on their own. They sat in silence that was broken by occasional sobs and sniffles.
"We should get you to the emergency room. You've lost a lot of blood this time." Edgar finally said meekly. He looked up at his broken wife and waited for a response. "We should at least go to the doctor."
"What for Edgar?" Audrey snapped again. Through a massive onslaught of whimpers, sobs and a very shaky voice, she yelled. "I know what this is! I've been through it, and so have you. There's no point in going anywhere or doing anything! I don't want to go through this again. I promised myself it wouldn't happen again. If I just ignore it, maybe it will just go away. Maybe if I just sit here and wait, my baby will come." Edgar moved toward his wife, offering out a supportive hand. "Stay the fuck away from me!" Audrey screamed. "Just get out of here Edgar." Edgar stayed put. He tried again to move toward Audrey, to touch his grieving wife. "Get out!" Audrey's face was pale and furious. She was channeling all of her sorrow and rage into this moment, and it all came out at Edgar. Finally, the shocked and saddened husband exited the bathtub. He slowly made his way out of the bathroom, then the bedroom; trying as hard as he could not to look at the blood all around him.
Edgar spent the week by his wife's side. She would not eat, she didn't seem to sleep, and she never left the bathtub. Edgar kept the furnace up to eighty-five to make sure she did not freeze to death. He kept in touch with Ben, who luckily had the connections to get Edgar a free pass from work for three days. Throughout those three days, Edgar would come in for every meal time, bringing Audrey a plate full of food. He begged her to eat, but never got a response. Her eyes were empty, drained of their tears and of Audrey herself. She became this empty motionless shell, so much so that Edgar would check her pulse from time to time to make sure she was still alive.
The weekend passed and Monday was fast approaching. Edgar knew he couldn't buy himself anymore time off from work. He thought on it long and hard and picked up the phone. "Hello?" Came a strong female voice from the other end of the line.
"Holly?" Edgar said. She gave an affirmative reply. "Hey, this is Edgar."
"Hey big brother." Her voice grew empathetic. "I'm sorry about what happened."
"Thanks." Edgar said softly.
"How's Audrey holding up?" Holly asked.
"In the bathtub, for the past six days." Edgar explained.
"Oh man. She's really taking this one hard huh?"
"You can't even imagine. That's why I'm calling you actually. I need your help." Edgar said.
"Sure. Anything you need, you just name it." Holly replied.
"I'm out of time as far as staying away from work, but I don't want to leave Audrey alone. Could you come over tomorrow morning? I just would feel better having someone here with her. She won't go to the doctor or the hospital, and she won't eat or drink anything. Maybe you could relate to her better. You know, get her to come out of her shell."
"I'd be happy to. Abby is at the sitter's tomorrow, it's my day off from being a mommy. So I could come over no problem." Holly said.
"Great. I'll swing by the doctor's office after work and get some of the anti-depressants he gave her the last couple times. I'll get off as early as I can."
"No rush. The more time the sitter has Abby, the more money she gets and the happier she is." Holly said brightly.
"I'll be happy to pay for the overtime if there is any."
"Don't even start Edgar. We're family. I wouldn't accept a dime from you." Holly said.
"Thanks Holly. Not that she'll respond, but I'll let Audrey know you'll be visiting tomorrow. Thanks again."
Edgar found himself in the bathroom holding a cold glass of water. He hovered over his wife who had changed her position slightly. Edgar sat down on the edge of the tub and looked down into the clear fresh water inside the glass. Audrey, in a moment that shocked Edgar, reached out and took the glass from his hands. He felt her pain as she opened her mouth, her dry lips seemed glued together as they ripped apart. She had a hard time sipping the liquid, and an even harder time swallowing. The glass fell from her trembling hand and shattered against the base of the tub. Audrey tried over and over to get out the word ‘sorry', but could not do it.
"Don't move. I'll clean it up." Edgar said. He rushed into the kitchen, returning with a dust pan and brush. He carefully swept the fragments of the glass into the pan, avoiding cutting and part of Audrey's naked body. He set the pan and brush aside, reaching out with soft fingers to move Audrey's long hair out of her face. There she was; his beloved wife. Her face was pale and she had lost weight from not eating for a week. Her eyes still had that emptiness, but he was seeing signs of Audrey coming back. "Holly will be stopping by tomorrow. She wants to see you. Maybe you could clean up and get dressed. She could make you a salad. She makes great salads and you must be starving."
"It's my fault." Audrey's voice was so weak Edgar could barely hear her.
"What?" He asked. He knew what she had said, but he wanted her to say it again. Maybe, he thought, she would understand how ridiculous that sounded the second time around.
"It's always been me." Audrey's voice grew a bit stronger. "All three of these little lives that never saw the light of day. It was my body that did it. My body killed them. It was all my fault."
"Honey, that is not true. A lot of couples have a hard time getting a family started. I'm a part of this just as much as you are. This is our loss. It's our fight, and we can't give up now." Edgar smiled slightly as he stroked his wife's hair. "We will win eventually. One way or another, I promise you, we will have our baby."
"Will it be a boy or a girl?" Audrey asked. Her voice didn't give signs that she was in any way cheering up, but at least she was speaking.
"A boy. A strong little boy who will drive us nuts, and we'll love every second of it." Edgar rubbed her shoulder a bit.
"What will his name be?" Audrey asked.
"I chose the sex. You get to choose the name." Edgar smiled.
"Toby." Audrey said without hesitation. "I've always liked that name. It almost sounds like ‘to be'."
"Well then Toby it is." Edgar said before he leaned in and kissed Audrey on the cheek.
Monday morning came and Edgar waited patiently for his sister to arrive. Running out of time, he gave her a call. "I'm running a little late Edgar. I've got a spare key, so go ahead and take off. I'll be there within twenty minutes." Without a choice, Edgar took off for work, but not before kissing Audrey goodbye. She had managed to bathe, put on some pajamas and a bath robe that the couple had taken home from the last hotel they stayed at in Las Vegas. Audrey lay there on the couch in the living room, her long curly hair still wet.
"You have a nice relaxing day baby." Edgar said as he gave her a kiss. "I love you so much." He said, looking deep into her eyes with sincerity.
"I love you too Edgar." Audrey almost let a small smile form, but it quickly faded.
"I'll see you tonight." Edgar said as he rushed out the front door, tossing his coat on along the way. It had not snowed in a month. The seasons were about to change, and that sleet that came in between snowing and raining had been spotted on and off. Still, it was cold outside; cold enough to give a guy the sniffles as he headed from his Jeep, through the parking garage downtown, and into his office.
"Welcome back big guy." Ben said as he followed Edgar into his office. Edgar hung up his coat and laid his briefcase on his desk.
"Hey Ben. Thanks a million for bailing me out last week." Edgar shook his old friend's hairy hand.
"If anybody had a valid excuse to take some time off, it was you." Ben said solemnly. "So, how is everything? Audrey?"
"Audrey has been a complete mess. She seemed better last night and this morning, but I'm really worried about her. This is the third time. I know how hard it is on me, but that baby wasn't growing inside my body. I have no idea how she must feel. I can go by what I see and hear, but that's not feeling. I'll never know how she is feeling, or how she felt the last two times." Edgar sat at his desk and stretched. Ben looked down at the carpet and admired the pattern. "Sorry Ben. I don't mean to bum you out with my problems."
"Hey, what good is a friend if he's only around for the good times?" Ben looked up and smiled warmly. "You know where to find me if you need to talk." Ben said before exiting Edgar's Office.
"Hello, Doctor Fell, please." Edgar sat in a small café just down the block from his office building. He often wasted away his lunch hour there, though he usually brought his work with him. "Doctor Fell? This is Edgar Greene calling."
Edgar managed to drop by and pick up Audrey's prescription, which her doctor handed out without giving it any thought. He dropped it off at the pharmacy and headed back to the second half of his work day. The hours ticked by as Edgar tried to concentrate, a task he found nearly impossible. He managed to sneak out fifteen minutes before six, and made his way quickly to the pharmacy to pick up Audrey's pills. Upon arriving home, he found the driveway empty. His sister must have just left, he thought. He grabbed his briefcase, Audrey's pills, and a box of chocolates he'd grabbed at the pharmacy. He found that the front door was unlocked, which was unusual. Holly must have forgotten. Edgar hung his coat up in the hall, dropped his briefcase, then toted the bottle of anti-depressants and candy into the living room.
"What in the hell is wrong with you Edgar?" Audrey's voice came from the darkness. Edgar's eyes adjusted to the lack of light in the house and he spotted Audrey sitting on the windowsill at the other end of the room. "You let her bring the baby over?"
"Oh God." Edgar's arms dropped to his side. "She had Abby with her?"
"Yes she had Abby with her!" Audrey yelled as she stood up. "Didn't you think to yourself that having your sister bring her baby over might be just a little upsetting to me?"
"Honey, Holly told me over the phone last night that Abby would be with the baby sitter all day." Edgar said. "I never would have had her come if I knew..."
"I can't deal with this anymore Edgar. I can't deal with any of it." Audrey said.
"I know things are tough now honey, but you've made it through this before. I'm here for you. Whatever it takes, whatever you need or want; it's yours. All you have to do is tell me what to do for you."
"Do you have my pills?" She asked.
"Yes. Doctor Fell wrote the prescription without any questions."
"Give them to me." Audrey demanded. Edgar made his way to her silhouette and handed her the bag. It crinkled in her delicate hands as she gripped it tightly. "Can you get me a glass of water?" She asked, still in an angry tone.
"Sure." Edgar said. "Oh, here...I got you these too." He handed her the chocolates. Audrey slapped the box out of his hands.
"Water. Just Water." She said. Edgar meekly nodded and retrieved the water in a plastic cup from the kitchen. Audrey took two of the pills and stretched out on the couch. "I don't need anybody here to watch me tomorrow. I just want to be alone." She curled up and closed her eyes. It wasn't long before Audrey was asleep. Edgar hoped her dreams would take her away from the mess that their life was for a little while. He grabbed a clean blanket from the bedroom closet and covered her up, gently stuffing a pillow under her head as well.
"Goodnight my angel." Edgar whispered. Audrey moaned and shifted around a bit. Edgar went into the main bedroom. He had covered up the blood stain on Audrey's side days earlier. Still, just knowing what was underneath made him feel uneasy. He waited and waited, and finally, sleep took him.
Edgar awoke to the buzzing of his alarm at four a.m. as usual. He slapped the irritating little machine and the noises ceased. Edgar yawned and stretched. He slipped out from under the covers and scratched a few unmentionable places. It was still dark, as was always the case when he woke up on a weekday. Only this darkness seemed different. There was an odd feeling, almost sickening to this particular morning. He fumbled with the lamp on his nightstand and turned it on. The shock that rushed through his body literally floored him. His mind shut down and panic raced through every one of his veins. Reality spiraled into a twisted nightmare and in an instant his entire life was changed.
Edgar slowly got up, hoisting himself with his hands clamped onto his side of the bed. He didn't want to look again, but he had no choice. It was an unavoidable truth that lay there on the other side of the bed. The stillness of the morning echoed in the discolored body that had just been alive the previous night. The empty bottle was still in her hand, clenched tightly as if she didn't want to litter on the bedroom floor. Edgar slowly made his way onto the bed and began to crawl on his hands and knees over to the lifeless body of his wife. Audrey had taken every last anti-depressant pill that he had just filled the prescription for the night before. Ninety pills had gone down her throat and into her stomach, then slowly taken her away from Edgar and this world. She was still in her pajamas and bathrobe. Her right arm was extended, holding onto the empty pill bottle. Her left hand was pressed firmly to her chest, holding a note to her bosom. Edgar tried to pry the note away, but only managed to rip a corner off of the paper. He looked at it and made out the words. It simply read ‘His name would have been Toby'.
"Oh God honey, why?" Edgar began to feel the tears flooding from his eyes. His words were spread out in between his sobs. "Why did you have to do it?" Edgar got up next to her body and put his hand on her cold shoulder. He squeezed it tightly as he cried out loud. There was still a faint trace of warmth to Audrey, but her body was stiff and lifeless. She was gone. "I love you so much Audrey!" Edgar screamed into her deaf ear. "Oh my Audrey, why did you do this to yourself?" Edgar wrapped his arms around her with a bit of difficulty and let his tears fall onto her neck. "It wasn't your fault God damn it! Audrey it wasn't your fault!" Edgar remained with his wife, doing his best to cuddle with her ridged body. He sobbed and cried for hours and hours on end. His cell phone rang many times as the morning passed by. Edgar stayed with his wife all day and night, ignoring the calls that were no doubt coming from Ben or somebody else at his office. He held onto Audrey and felt what little warmth was left fade away until she seemed frozen. "I know you're cold honey." Edgar said softly as midnight approached. He grabbed the covers and pulled them over himself and his wife's dead body. Slowly, Edgar fell asleep, still holding Audrey in his loving embrace.
Nightmares flooded Edgar's subconscious, horrid images that continually shook him from his sleep. Each time he awoke, he would check Audrey once more. He kept on hoping that this was the real nightmare. That if he kept falling asleep and waking up, eventually it would be over. He would look at Audrey, see her chest moving up and down as she slept. He would kiss her neck, the warmth of her filling his lips. She would arouse and look over to him with that beautiful smile of hers that he had treasured each time he earned one. She'd touch his cheek with her soft fingertips and slowly caress his face, telling him he needed to shave more often. They would snuggle tighter and tell each other how much they love each other. The late hour would not keep them from exploring each other's bodies again for the first time, finding new favorite spots to kiss and tickle. They would forget that they had to be up in a few short hours and give in to the passion of the moment, making love so sweetly that all of the troubles of the world would disappear for that one amazing night.
The morning came. Edgar woke up to the sound of his alarm going off as it always did. He slowly slipped away from his embrace with Audrey's cold empty body and slipped over to his side of the bed. He stood up, grabbed the alarm clock, and ripped it out of the wall with such force the cord separated from the back. He tossed the clock with a mighty velocity at the wall, shattering the plastic box into shards with all kinds of internal pieces poking out. He then grabbed his cell phone and looked at it. He had eighteen missed calls. He dropped the phone onto the carpet, grabbed the lamp from his nightstand and slammed the heavy brass base onto the phone, thoroughly dispatching it. He tossed the lamp aside and stood there in the darkness of the morning. "Edgar." Audrey's voice called to him softly. Edgar turned in shock, expecting to see his wife alive once more. She was still dead. Still in the same position he had left her in moments earlier.
"Audrey?" Edgar said out loud. He waited but received no reply. He walked around to her side of the bed and turned on her lamp. She was still Audrey, only not quite as he was used to seeing her. He knelt down, kissing her forehead as he descended. It was so cold. He looked her over again and again. He rubbed her arm and put his hand over hers, the note still clenched firmly to her chest. Edgar reached down slowly and put his hand softly on her belly. "We could have tried again." He said with tears forming in his eyes once more. "His name would have been Toby." Edgar promised. He put his head down on the bed and softly cried. His hand remained on her belly. This was the belly that had once held his unborn children. Three little babies, all taken away from a young couple who had one simple dream; to raise a family together. Now Edgar was all alone. His children never born, his wife now gone...he was all alone in this world with no purpose anymore. Suddenly, Edgar felt movement inside Audrey's belly. He fell back from the bed in shock, slamming his head against the heavy wooden dressing cabinet behind him. Everything went black.
The sun was out in full force when Edgar found himself conscious once more. The doorbell was ringing while whoever was there was knocking at the same time. Edgar tried to get his mind to focus as he rubbed the lump on the back of his head. He put down his right hand and started to push himself up. A horrid pain filled his hand and rushed up his arm. Edgar held up his right hand and found something unexplainable. It was covered it blood, which had leaked out of a very strange injury on the side of his hand right where it connected to the wrist. The doorbell assault continued. Edgar finally managed to get up and made his way out of the bedroom, closing the door behind him.
"Edgar, what's the story?" Asked Holly. She was holding baby Abby in her arms. Edgar scowled at the infant, putting blame on her and his sister for Audrey's suicide.
"What the hell do you want?" Edgar snapped at her.
"I've been trying to get a hold of you. I called you all day yesterday." Holly replied.
"Why did you feel the need to do that Holly?" Edgar said in almost a growl.
"Look Edgar, I'm so sorry about Monday. My sitter broke her leg and had to go to the hospital. I tried to find a replacement, but it was so last minute. I should have known that having Abby here would upset Audrey, I just didn't have any other options."
"Well you sure did a job on Audrey." Edgar fought back his tears.
"Can I just pop in and tell her how sorry I am? You can hold Abby so she doesn't have to see her." Holly begged.
"You've done enough Holly. Go home." Edgar's voice matched his face in the darkness of its tone. Holly noticed his right hand and reached out for it, shifting Abby into a one-armed hold.
"What happened?" Holly asked with a voice full of genuine concern.
"Just go home Holly." Edgar said as he put his injured hand behind his back.
"Just please tell Audrey how sorry I..." Holly was cut off by Edgar slamming the door in her face. He locked it, and the bolt. He didn't want anyone else dropping by. He just wanted to be alone with his wife. Edgar held up his aching hand and looked at the wound. He made his way into the kitchen and rinsed the blood off his hand. After toweling it off, he was surprised at the shape of the wound. It wasn't a cut, but more like a bite mark. He stared at his hand for a few minutes before grabbing a large bandage from one of the cabinets and covering up his wound. He then made his way over to the couch in the living room. It was the last place he had seen his wife alive. The blanket and pillow he had set up for her were still there. She had come in to the bedroom to share her last moments with her husband, and he had slept right through them. Then the bar caught Edgar's eye. He decided that there was no time like the present to start a drinking habit. So he walked over and knelt down, looking through the stash of dusty bottles. He selected an unopened fifth of Crown Royal and headed back to the couch.
"Bottoms up." He said to himself as he cracked and unscrewed the top. He took a large swig and shuttered. He sat there on the couch, Audrey's blanket underneath him. He gripped the bottle of fine bourbon in both hands and stared at it. He ran his thumbs over the smooth glass and admired the label. He took another swig and shuttered again, only not so violently this time. The warmth of the drink spread through him. He capped the bottle and set it on the coffee table in front of him. He then pulled Audrey's blanket out from under him. He curled up on the couch and wrapped the blanket around himself. He laid his head down on her pillow. With a deep breath he could still smell her shampoo. He thought back on all of the times he had smelled it on her hair. Sweet and soothing, like lilacs and lavender. Edgar stared at the bottle of Crown Royal on the coffee table as his vision blurred a bit. It had been so long since he had touched the sauce. It never impressed him much, but he was beginning to understand why some people relied on it. He closed his eyes and continued to smell the pillow underneath his head as he drifted off into a slightly drunken nap.
Edgar awoke a few hours later. He was in pain, horrible pain. It wasn't his hand this time. The pain was coming from his left thigh. He sat up slowly, noticing the blood around his torn pajama bottoms. The pain was unbearable. He grabbed the bottle of bourbon off of the coffee table, popped it open, and poured a shot into the open wound. He hollered in agony. As the liquid washed away the blood around the wound, Edgar noticed that it was the exact same kind of bite mark he had on his hand. It was tiny, like a bite from a cat or a small dog. He stood up and limped into the kitchen. He soaked a paper towel and cleaned up what blood was left on his leg. He then grabbed another bandage and put it over the new wound. He began to wonder if a raccoon or some other animal had somehow gotten inside of the house. He looked outside through the kitchen window. The sky was clouding over, getting ready to send down some more frozen rain. The afternoon grew dark. Edgar stood in the kitchen with an empty mind and stayed there for a while. He was feeling different, strange. It wasn't from the bourbon, he knew the difference. He knew how he felt after a few drinks. This was very different, like he was fading away slowly, one piece at a time.
An unbelievable sight caught Edgar's attention as he walked back toward the couch. Tiny bloodspots on the carpet had appeared. Edgar looked at the trail and found it disturbing. The spots came right up to the couch, spread out in such a way that they looked like tiny footprints. Looking at the path that they created, Edgar found that they had come out from the bedroom, up to where he had been passed out on the couch, and went right back into the bedroom. He kneeled down over one of them and touched it. As he looked over several of the tiny spots, he found that each had a shape. They were tiny footprints, tiny human footprints. They were too small to belong to a baby. They were too impossible to exist. Yet there they were, right before his very eyes. Edgar followed them back into the bedroom. He remembered very distinctly shutting the door when Holly had shown up, but the bedroom door was now ever-so-slightly ajar.
"Audrey?" Edgar said out of habit as he pushed the bedroom door open. His wife's body was still in bed, still in the same position. The pill bottle in her right hand with her arm extended. The note was still held to her chest with her left hand; ‘His name would have been Toby'. Edgar moved closer to the bed, following the tiny footprints. They stopped at the foot of Audrey's side of the bed. The covers were still drawn over her cold body. Edgar looked his wife over, then back at the tiny bloody footprints on the carpet. "I'm just seeing things." Edgar told himself. He walked over and gave his wife a kiss on the cheek. "I love you Audrey." He said. Suddenly, there was some movement underneath the covers, right were her belly was. Edgar slowly reached under the covers, his hand sliding onto Audrey's stomach. He waited for a few minutes, but nothing else happened. "I'm losing it Audrey." Edgar said aloud. "I am truly losing my mind."
Edgar spent the next few hours on the couch. He sat there, feeling the pain of his twin wounds and sipping from his Crown Royal bottle. The sunlight faded away and darkness set in. The house grew cold. The frozen rain still fell outside. Edgar remained seated on the couch, trying to be cautious with his drinking. He didn't want to pass out again, or get drunk. He simply wanted the warmth of the liquid to stay with him. Whenever it began to fade, he would take another sip of his bourbon. It was around nine o'clock when he heard Audrey's voice again. She called to him from the bedroom. "Edgar, please come to bed. I'm so cold." Edgar ignored this at first, but then she called to him once more. "Please come to bed Edgar. I'm so alone." Audrey's voice was recognizable as being hers, but it was off somehow. Monotone and lacking whatever it was that had made his wife the loving and generous person she was when she was alive.
"Audrey, are you in here?" Edgar asked as he entered the pitch black bedroom. He did not manage to get a response. "I heard you Audrey. I heard you talking to me just now." He waited a few moments. "Please Audrey, please talk to me some more." Edgar waited, but again heard nothing. The room, like Audrey, was cold and empty. Edgar felt his way around until he was at his side of the bed. He slipped in and over to Audrey. She did not smell sweet anymore. The smell of flowers was gone from her hair. A stench was emanating from the body, but Edgar didn't care. He curled up next to her and pulled his half of the covers over himself. "Goodnight my love." Edgar said with a strange warmth in his voice. It was almost as if he felt that things were somehow going to get better.
The darkness still held control of the bedroom as Edgar awoke. He had another pain, this one was coming from his right love handle. This time it was different though. This time he had awakened during the assault on his body. He could feel the sharp teeth digging into his flesh. He could feel the wetness of the tiny mouth and hear the sounds of suckling as this unseen little creature fed upon Edgar's blood. He looked down toward the offender and could barely make out a small form at his side as it fed. Edgar slowly and carefully reached down and laid his right hand upon the round head of this thing, which hissed at him and immediately retreated. It dove under the covers between Audrey's legs and disappeared. Edgar rubbed his thumb against his fingers, feeling the sticky goop that this little creature's head was covered in. He tossed the covers off of Audrey and himself, reached across her body and turned on her lamp. He felt a new kind of horror at what he saw.
"Audrey, what's happening?" Edgar asked. His breathing became heavy and his heart nearly pounded its way out of his chest. He looked at Audrey's lower body. Her bathrobe was pulled apart below the belt with fresh blood setting into the fuzzy white material. Audrey's pajama bottoms were ripped open between her legs, providing an opening just the right size for the little creature that Edgar had caught suckling at his side. Edgar undid the belt to his wife's robe and opened it up. He then ripped open her pajama top. He watched in horror as her belly moved and rippled. Discolored and stiff as her skin was, it held together as this dark little dance took place within her. Edgar got out of bed and rushed out of the bedroom. He slammed the door behind him and rushed into the kitchen. There he emptied the contents of his stomach into the sink, then rinsed out the basin and his mouth. He grabbed the Crown Royal bottle from the living room and poured a generous amount into the fresh bite wound on his side. He then drank a few swigs before finishing his cleaning of the wound and slapping a large bandage on it.
"What is all of this?" He asked to the empty kitchen. Outside the window, the sleet still fell from the cloudy sky. It was an especially dark night, as each night had been since that fateful Tuesday morning when he woke up to find Audrey dead. "What do I do now?" Edgar asked himself. He stood in the kitchen just thinking for a very long time. Then, he heard some noises coming from the bedroom. It was scratching, very small hands scratching at the door from inside the bedroom. Then came the hissing sounds. Edgar rushed into the guest bathroom and locked the door. He got into the bathtub and curled up into a fetal position. Edgar sat there and waited until the noises ceased. He heard a creaking as the bedroom door opened up a crack. Then he heard little footprints crossing the kitchen floor. The creature arrived outside the door to the guest bathroom. It started scratching on the door. Edgar covered his ears, but he could not get the noises out of his head. He couldn't get the image of the little beast gnawing into his side and suckling his blood. Finally, Edgar turned the bathtub on. He turned the water up to near-scalding heat. The sound of the raging water seemed to either mask the scratching at the door, or scare off the little creature on the other side.
It became a soothing moment. Edgar and Audrey were together at the pool in Las Vegas. Edgar teased Audrey at her shyness to take off the silk robe covering her bikini-clad body. He begged her to take off the robe and join him in the water. The entire pool was empty aside from them. The entire world around them was empty. It was just Edgar and Audrey. "Nobody will see." He told her. Audrey smiled with embarrassment and a touch of freedom as she dropped the robe, revealing her dark blue bikini. "Let's have a look at our fabulous contestant from the mid-west, Miss Colorado!" Edgar clapped, splashing water in his own face that he had to spit out bits of. Audrey smiled and struck a sexy pose. "Now, the award winning walk down the runway!" Edgar yelled and attempted to whistle. Audrey did her best pageant walk toward the pool. "Now it's time to get your feet wet." Edgar said. He got out of the pool, lifted Audrey up, and as she squealed and giggled, kicking her legs about, he dove into the pool with his wife in his arms. The two surfaced and Edgar got thoroughly splashed in the face.
"You're a jerk." Audrey said jokingly.
"So, what are you going to do about it?" Edgar taunted.
"Come here." Audrey said in a very sensual voice. Edgar swam over with thoughts of romance in his mind and lips. He was cut down with another barrage of splashes. He fought his way through them. As he drew closer to Audrey, she playfully screamed. Edgar wrapped his arms around her and waited for her to calm down, looking deeply into her eyes. The two leaned in for a long passionate kiss, which ended with Edgar pulling Audrey underwater with him suddenly. The two resurfaced and giggled.
"How much do you love me?" Audrey asked, spitting some pool water from her mouth. Edgar chuckled.
"I love you more than life itself." Edgar replied. Audrey looked down and curled into herself a bit.
"Would you give your life for me?" She asked softly. Edgar looked at her with an incredible sincerity in his eyes.
"Without thought or hesitation." He said before kissing her hand.
"What about Toby?" Audrey asked. She closed her eyes and ran her fingers through the water. Edgar became confused.
"Honey, Toby..." Suddenly, Edgar awoke. The bathtub had been overflowing and water was all over the floor. He quickly turned off the nozzle and stood up in his soaking wet pajamas. He took off his top and pants, dropping them on the floor. He opened the closet in the guest bathroom and grabbed a towel. He dried himself off as best he could. He took his boxers off and strained the water out of them, then put them back on. He collected his thoughts and found himself back in the real world. He kneeled by the door and listened for a few minutes. He didn't hear anything. He unlocked and opened the door to the guest bathroom. The water had spread all over the floors, soaking into the living room carpet and even going as far as the main bedroom. Edgar stood there in his boxers and looked at the damage. He heard a loud hiss.
"Is that you, you little shit?" Edgar yelled. He heard another hiss. He saw a small red bulb of a scalp sticking up from the couch. Edgar watched intently as the little beast slowly revealed itself. It had a head too large for its body. The sockets where its eyes should be were empty black holes. Its entire body was covered in goop. Edgar couldn't tell if it was the stuff it was covered in or the actual color of the thing's skin, but it was an odd shade of red. The little thing made its way off the couch, landing with a light thump on the water-soaked floor. Edgar looked into its empty eye sockets, looking for something though he didn't know what. Suddenly, the little creature took off running for the master bedroom. Edgar followed in chase, slipping in the water and falling onto his face. He looked up just in time to see the little creature crawl back inside of Audrey's body.
Edgar got up and looked into the bedroom. The creature was now back inside of Audrey's body. It was monstrous and disgusting.Edgar thought of this thing defiling his wife's womb. He thought of the sight of the thing, the creature that had been feeding off of him. It was using Edgar, using Audrey. It was an evil abomination and it had to be stopped. Edgar marched into the kitchen, a man on a mission that he was not sure he could bring himself to complete, but he knew he had to do it. He had to put an end to all of this madness. He tore through the knife drawer, knowing exactly what he was looking for. Then, he found it. A small brand new knife, the blade covered in a cardboard sheath; a paring knife, the sharpest thing in the entire kitchen. He removed it from the cardboard and read the etchings on the blade. ‘Never Dull', it stated proudly, ‘crafted from surgical stainless steel'. Edgar ran his finger gently along the blade, cutting himself rather deeply. He grinned as the blood dripped from his fingertip. He walked with his bare feet splashing upon the floor toward the main bedroom.
"Are you going to come out, or do I have to get you out?" Edgar asked loudly as he stood over the bed. His wife's body lay there with legs spread, a bloody mess covering her pajamas from the creature entering and exiting. Her stomach moved as the creature inside of her wriggled around. "Have it your way." Edgar said with anger and a strange sense of confidence in his voice. He stuck the knife between his teeth and crawled onto the bed, straddling his wife's body. He tried not to look at her face, which now barely looked like Audrey at all. "Forgive me darling." He said. With that, Edgar stuck the knife into her belly at the top. He pushed it all the way into her flesh and began to slide it down. He felt as if he was giving a bizarre c-section as he continued to cut his wife open. "I'm so sorry Audrey." Edgar said as he finished slicing her open. He slid the knife handle under Audrey's left hand, just above the note she still held onto. "Hold this for me honey. I'm going to need it again in a second." Hissing and growling sounds shot out of the new opening in Audrey's stomach as Edgar stuck his hands inside her. The little creature bit Edgar's hands. He was used to the pain and ignored it. Nothing else mattered when it came to destroying this monster that was hiding inside his wife's body.
"Edgar..." Audrey's voice came to him once more. Edgar ignored it. He knew it was just his mind playing tricks on him. Perhaps it was the little creature, messing with him, trying to control him. "Edgar, what are you doing?" Audrey asked in a soft voice.
"Stop it! I know it's not real! Audrey is dead!" Edgar yelled at the creature as he continued his struggle to extract the beast.
"Edgar, my love, look at me." Audrey said. This time, the voice seemed too real. Edgar withdrew his hands from inside her body and looked up at her face. It was full of color. She looked upon him with loving eyes and smiled.
"Audrey?" Edgar said in a bewildered voice.
"Yes Edgar, I am with you. I've always been with you." Audrey said.
"It can't be." Edgar began to cry. "You died. You overdosed on pills and died."
"Edgar, do I look dead?" Audrey asked. He looked her over and aside from the opening he had created with the paring knife, his wife suddenly looked very much alive again. "What a silly thing to say."
"Audrey, I missed you so much." Edgar sobbed.
"Come here honey." Audrey gave him a come-hither smile. Edgar crawled up a bit and moved in for a kiss. It was so real, it felt so amazing. Edgar didn't want it to ever end. Audrey tilted her head aside. "What were you planning on doing with this?" She asked. Edgar sat back up. Audrey took hold of the paring knife and looked it over.
"Audrey, listen to me carefully. There is something inside of you; something unnatural. I have to put a stop to it."
"What do you mean by that Edgar?" Her voice had an angelic echo to it. It was hypnotic, and Edgar fell quickly under its spell. With tears in his eyes, Edgar reached for the knife. Audrey let him take it. He sniffled and took a deep breath.
"I have to kill it."
"Edgar, don't be silly." Audrey said, her enchanting voice taking full control of him. "That's not an ‘it'. That's our son." Audrey smiled. A glow surrounded her, lighting up her natural beauty.
"What?" Edgar asked in a voice that sounded nearly defeated.
"Just look for yourself Edgar." Audrey said, looking down at the opening in her abdomen. Edgar looked. What he saw changed his tears from sorrow to sudden joy. A tiny pink hand emerged from inside Audrey. Attached to it was a chubby little arm. "Take his hand Edgar." Edgar looked up at Audrey, then back to the little arm protruding from her. He slowly reached his hand down and offered a finger. The tiny hand grabbed hold, wrapping his tiny digits around Edgar's index finger. Edgar smiled and sniffled. His soul lit up as he felt the soft touch of his very own baby boy. He tossed the knife aside and slowly pulled the baby out of Audrey. He cradled the tiny human in his arms and laughed out loud. In this child's face he saw Audrey's eyes. "Say hello to your son Edgar." Audrey said.
"Hello." Edgar said with a sniffle. The family sat there in bed, sharing a moment that could never be described. It was a moment of beauty, of love, of a new beginning. In that moment, the world revolved around the Greenes; Edgar, Audrey, and their brand new baby boy. "What should we name him?" Edgar asked. He looked up at Audrey. To his horror, she had lost her beauty, her glow, the life that had just a moment earlier filled her. Her skin was purple and grey. Her pupils seemed to fill out her entire eyes, leaving them a glossy black. Her cracked lips formed into a twisted smile.
"His name is Toby." Audrey said in a low almost demonic voice. Edgar looked down at the baby in his arms, baby Toby. He had changed back into the little sticky red beast that had tormented Edgar for the past few days. Edgar looked into Toby's empty eye sockets and gave into an involuntary frown. His lower lip began to quiver, and tears started to drip from his already swollen eyes.
"Oh please God no." Edgar begged. With that, Toby lunged upwards and sunk his sharp little fangs into Edgar's jugular. Blood squirted out all over the bed, Audrey, and Toby. Edgar gargled and twitched as the life flowed out of him. Toby suckled the blood from Edgar's neck, squeezing the sides of his father's unshaven face with his sticky little hands as he fed. Edgar looked at Audrey as this all occurred.
"Your son loves you so much Edgar." Audrey said with a smile. "I love you too my darling. You've given me a baby to take care of." Audrey watched happily as her son fed on her dying husband's lifeblood. "Yes you love your daddy, don't you Toby? Yes you do, and your daddy loves you too."
Toby stopped suckling at Edgar's neck for a moment. He looked up into his father's terrified eyes, smiled and giggled at him. Edgar watched Toby go back to suckling his blood. The world began to seem fuzzy. The lights all around him went dim. With Audrey's smiling face his final sight, Edgar's vision faded to black, as did Edgar.
© Copyright 2016 Alan Dale Dalby. All rights reserved.