by Marie Anderson
Drastic, but it’s the only way to sever ourselves from them. They’re stubborn, volatile, but sometimes as bright and desirable as diamonds. Exhausting to endure. Impossible to evict for long. The demons always return through the fissures that meds and talk-therapy can’t fill.
So we’re in the tunnel to separate us from them. Permanently.
I feel lonely surrounded by clueless commuters, eyes on their phones, ignorant of the demons who alternately and endlessly gloom me into numbness, then galvanize me into frenzy. My mother suffered the same way. Her mother, too. Who knows how many before?
You will not suffer these torments, my vulnerable little daughter. For you, I’m doing this.
I reach into my pocket for the ultrasound photo of you. It’s gone! Then I remember. I’d kissed it and placed it on the kitchen table, removed my wedding ring and laid it on top. Your father will see it when he returns from work tonight.
Contractions tighten my belly. “Braxton Hicks contractions,” is what my doctor called them during my last checkup. “Perfectly normal,” she said. “Nothing to worry about. They’re practice contractions, your body’s way of getting ready for your real labor.”
Real labor. My real labor would be to see you suffer the way I do, sweet girl.
Far down the tunnel, the train’s golden eye appears.
This train will not stop. It’s an express. It will roar past, quick and merciful. I know because I’ve been coming to this station, getting ready. We’ve been together 37 weeks. I can’t wait any longer.
I step close to the edge. Turn around, my back to the tracks.
“It’s okay, sweet girl.”
You answer with another kick. Hard.
Something flutters in my stomach. You? And then I feel an enormous snap in my belly, hear a pop. A warm wetness is suddenly gushing down my thighs, puddling the concrete at my feet.
Roar and metallic screeching. Air vibrates. I lean back. Press my palms on my belly, stay with me, sweet girl, but you kick my hands away, and I am teetering, seeing phones drop, arms lift, and hands fluttering, fluttering at us like butterflies.
Sobs boil from my throat, you are pushing down hard, my arms rise, my hands stretch.
For you, I catch the butterflies.