A Girl or A Boy

A Girl or A Boy

I lie next to Chris. Despite the dimness, I’ve managed to locate my panties. Where the rest of my clothes are, is beyond me. 

“It wasn’t a thing.” My voice is soft and I twist away, but my arm catches on a blanket. Not that it matters. Wedged between him and the back of the sofa there is no place to go. “It was a boy, or maybe a girl,” I say, “It was a baby.”

He is plastered against me, but hooks me with his leg, like he needs to anchor me in place. “No. Not a girl.” His breath tickles my ear as he whispers, “I want a son.”

The fact, that is beyond his control doesn’t seem to enter his brain. Or that we’re seventeen, broke, and in his parent’s basement. None of those had quelled his determination to, put another one in me, and he was stronger than any resistance I mustered up.

“Do you realize what we just did?” His smile is crooked as he pats my stomach. “What’s going on inside you right now?”

I cringe but his face lights up, and he hugs me. “Let’s do it again.”

Memories of my recent hospital visit kick my heart rate up. The disgust of the nurses, removing my nail polish, and my cousin’s supportive smile as I made my wheeled trek down the corridor to death row, all flash before me like scenes from a movie. We passed other rooms filled with crying infants,

There would be no baby for me.

It hurt to kill it, but we had broken up and my options were limited. Let me push you down the stairs. My mother had suggested, upon discovery. You’ll not stay here if you keep it.

I took a few steps away then, from the top of those stairs, my hand across my belly, protecting that pea. Not that it mattered. Whatever maternal instincts that had been turned on with the formation of that tiny soul, lost out to my mother’s will and my own selfish desire to survive.

Staring down those steps, into our basement, I had pondered. What type of mother would I be?

The baby’s mother… me. It still sounds weird. Me and the baby’s daddy. My baby. Mine and Chris’s. God. Our son or daughter. 

We’ll never know, now.

“Come on,Holly” His voice breaks my thoughts. “Let’s do it again.”

This time I am allowed to refuse. He gets up, restless and finds some underwear, then a pair of jeans. In front of me again, he takes my hand. 

“I love you,” he says. “I won’t leave you this time.”

He lies back down and kisses me, and though I don’t plan it, tears come.

“It’s all right.” he soothes. “I mean it.”

I’m not the only one in pain. Chris had cried when I told him–claiming I didn’t love him or love the baby. He forced me upstairs to tell his mom. Oh, Chrissy, she had said, giving me a sympathetic side glance while I stood awkward and alone in their kitchen.

Later he would chant, Baby Killer, violence seeping out of him like sewage. Nothing unusual. He had hurt me before. After he would hug me and claim he was sorry.

His grip tightens on my present body. “Don’t ever go away.”

I say I won’t, but can tell he doesn’t believe me.

“I’ll kill anyone who even looks at you.” He rolls on top of me and kisses my nose. “Nobody better touch you.”

He gets back up and puts on his denim vest and my red bandana. Sensing the tornado of emotion whirling inside him, I sneak to the stairs, stopping only to pick up his t-shirt.

I sit statue-still, on the wooden bend in the staircase, as he fiddles around with the cigarette machine, feeding it tobacco. The machine whirs every time he pulls the lever, and a tiny stack of smokes evolve on the coffee table.

Eventually, he lays back down. Sunlight peaks through the windows, a reminder that school starts soon. Something I must attend regardless of how much or how little sleep last night delivered.

Cool, dampness settles across the cement floor. Even with my knees tucked into the cotton of the shirt, I’m cold. Intent on stealing a blanket, I creep toward the sofa. Chris looks young, sleeping on his back, blond hair soft on the pillow. His eyes flutter open.

“Come here,” he says and tugs me down on top of him.

His hands rest on my back and his heat removes the stiffness from my body. I drift asleep.

The bright room alerts me to the day. In a quiet panic, I find my jeans and my coat. My shoes are more of a problem. One is under the chair, another under the sofa. 

Chris is still asleep. I steal a kiss and smoke and hitchhike to school.

It’s the last time I’m with him.

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