The topic of this fiction story is controversial, to say the least. The content, though not explicit nor “shocking for the sake of being shocking”, may be disturbing to some readers. I stand behind the dialogue it creates, and my prayer is that it generates self reflection, deeper thought, genuine discussion, and personal research regardless of where one stands on this subject. That said, read on at your own discretion.
Mature Theme, Brief Violence
This story is copyrighted 2022. Please contact me before posting elsewhere. Photo is courtesy of Savernake Knives on Unsplash.
They hand me the knife and escort me toward a door in the dark end of the room. A mixture of numbness and something else, something more relevant, drips into the base of my stomach. I know this feeling, but I can’t place it. My thoughts swirl and collide, too frenzied to focus. The statistics said that this wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to me, at least.
I guess that’s the dirty little secret with statistics. They may speak about generalities, but they rarely speak about individuals. They give norms and build expectations upon them, but they disguise exceptions and outliers, or even the very things that create averages — the two ends of the spectrum — turning them into fairy tales and impossibilities. Yet, if one did the math, they’d soon realize based on the staggering amount of people alive, millions become “outliers” every single day.
Millions. How could I have been so cavalier?
The woman on the left clears her throat and nods at the door. If emptiness could manifest itself into a human, I doubt it would be as cold as her. My hesitancy is not sitting well, yet she offers no words of encouragement. Only a face void of compassion stares back, wearing upon it an expression that communicates with the subtlety of an online troll that I need to open that door and get moving. They have other appointments, after all. They have others to bring into this room, to give this knife to, to send off into whatever is behind this door, to do heaven only knows what. I’m ultimately nothing more than a number.
How can they do it? How can they possibly stand to be here? I’ve been here for hardly any time at all and everything inside of me wants to run away and never return. This is an awful place. This is an awful knife. This is an awful room. Can I leave? Is that an option anymore?
I look back and forth between the door and the knife. Has it changed since I first held it? Is it heavier? Somehow more angled? More… vicious? Can a knife appear more or less vicious? Aren’t they all essentially for the same purpose?
I know that’s not true. A butter knife, a steak knife, a hunting knife, a Swiss army knife, they’re all different. The shape may be similar, but their purpose ranges. This knife, though, this particular knife in my hand at this very moment? There is only one purpose for it. And I loathe it.
Get it together. Remember, they told me these feelings are normal. They said I’d go through this. This whole mess will be over soon, and it’s not like I’m the only one who’s done it. That should make me more confident, right? Why don’t I feel very confident, then? Why am I holding this knife that gets heavier and larger every time I look at it? Did I always need two hands to carry it? Does the blade have barbed edges now?
Snap to it, girl. You got this.
Both women now look at me. Their eyes refuse to offer anything to go on. No pep-talk. No sympathy. No trace of compassion or reinforcement that this is the right thing to do. Maybe that’s for the best.
I suppose their lack of emotion is a testament to the power of the human brain. Enough exposure to almost anything can change you, even things that should make us distraught. Slowly, it removes your ability to feel, to care, to understand what you’re doing isn’t in a vacuum; that it has ripple effects on you and on other people. Some of those effects may not be good, but push long enough and hard enough, surround yourself with like-minded people, and your conscience will change. You can bend it to your will. It doesn’t have to point towards some alleged higher moral compass, forced onto us by older generations. It can instead bend to what we know now, and what we know now tells us that this is the right thing to do. Yes. This is the right thing to do.
I can hear my grandfather’s voice respond to that last part. I can hear him interjecting. “No matter what situation we face, those who lived before us faced something similar, something with the same core choice at its crux. Science is more helpful than not, but it can also distract us from the heart of the matter. It can get us arguing about all sorts of side points while completely neglecting the primary one.
“Oh, we’ve learned much throughout history. We have a vast amount of knowledge. But the brain’s capacity to observe life, to learn, to understand, to draw from the resources and information around it, and decide between right and wrong? That’s always been there. Don’t let people tell you those who lived before us were intellectually inferior. That’s an ugly mischaracterization.”
All at once, I wish he was here. I wish I could speak to him. I also know why I haven’t. I know what his answer would be. He’d be deeply ashamed to see me with this knife. His heart would break to know I was in this room. He’d beg me not to go through this door.
I should stop thinking and focus. Take the knife, go in the room, do what I came to do, and then get out. Things will get back to normal before I know it. I never have to think about this again or even remember what it was like. I don’t have to tell anyone. No one will know.
I take a deep breath. For a second, the knife feels lighter. I grasp the handle of the door and slide it open.
What is taking so long? I’ve done like 300 laps in this pathetic excuse for a room. Where is she? Will she see me before we go in? Why am I even here? What do I have to do with this part?
I hate being left alone with nothing to do. Couldn’t they have left me my phone? I don’t want to think about this stuff. Wait, is that why I use my phone? Do I use it to avoid thinking? I’ve heard that people do that, but that’s stupid, right?
One of the two doors in my room slides open, and in lumber two gargantuan men. I thought I was big, but these guys resemble former NFL players. How many rolls of fabric had to die to clothe them? Sheesh.
They hold out a box for me to take. It’s plain, nothing special, with no ornate edges or even a print to adorn its cover. They hadn’t told me about this part, but I know exactly what I’m about to find. My gut twists. I can almost feel what’s inside. It’s instinctual.
As I lift the lid, anger pulses faintly in my core. It reminds me of that rumble you see in movies when a stampede is heading toward people, but they haven’t figured out what it is. Initially, only the vibrations and distant thunder can be sensed. Before they know it, though, it’s upon them. I try to slow my anger. The last thing I want is an explosion. Especially since Giant and Even More Giant would crumple me like a napkin in a barbeque joint — quickly, messily, and repeatedly.
Why hadn’t they mentioned this? Or did they and I wasn’t paying attention? I probably wasn’t. I undoubtedly heard them, but as usual, I was disinterested. When did this happen to me? When did I become so disconnected from the decisions I’m making? I used to dream. I used to have ambition. Now I meander through my days as if I have all the time in the world, going to work, hitting the bar, surfing my phone, maybe playing whatever game is trending when I can squeeze it in. Am I actually happy with that?
I’ve wasted so much time. I should make some changes in my life when I get out of here.
Here. Right. Probably should pay attention. The Giants look ready for me to open this thing.
I pull the knife out and hold it. Much like the box, it’s simple and boring. “What do you want me to do with this?” I ask. They point at the other door in the room. No instructions, just two huge dudes gesturing toward what now appears to be my only way out.
Maybe she’s in there. Will she have a knife, too? Do we have to do this together? That’s messed up. The more I think about this, the more messed up it all is. Why did I even agree to come here? It’s not my problem.
I know that’s not true. I had something to do with it. She couldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for me. I guess that’s not technically true, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely my responsibility either. We did this, not just me. She needs to take ownership and do her part now. There is zero mention of me except before and after, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s about right. This place is creepy.
Do other guys think this much when they’re here? Is there information about situations like this? Probably. I’m sure I wasn’t paying attention when I heard about that either. The pattern of my life, apparently.
None of that explains why I have a knife, but maybe it’s for a backup or something? Sure, we’ll go with that. It’s not true. I know it’s not true. They want me to use this thing, but I’m going to say it’s a backup.
I pace again. The knife refuses to fall out of my hand, even if I am subconsciously trying to drop it. I don’t like it. I don’t like the feeling I get from holding it. I don’t like the responsibility attached. It’s not fair.
I know what my old coworker at the dumb shipping plant I wasted last summer working at would say, though. I know exactly what he would say. He’d call me out; tell me to be a man; tell me to take responsibility for my decisions or some old school junk like that. “It was a choice to start down this path, and if you’re not ready to take it, don’t start it. But if you start it, you absolutely better own it.”
He’s right about one part; it is a choice. It’s a choice to not be in this situation any longer than I want. That’s why we’re here. To get out of it as fast as possible and get back to our lives. To get back to when things were better. To when we didn’t have to worry about all of this death.
I know, I know. They keep telling me it’s not about killing, and it’s not about death at all. It’s about stopping and preventing. Or something like that. Their argument makes no sense, but not thinking of it in terms of death has a much better ring to it. That ring was a lot more plausible before they gave me a knife. Now it feels a lot more like killing.
The two mountains take a step toward me, and I’m not sure if they’ll push me or intimidate me. Regardless, I need to get over whatever this is that’s running through my mind and get on with it. It’s no big deal. Shoot, I’m sure I can even do this faster than anyone before if I try. I’ve heard it’s a good thing, so this will turn me into some sort of hero, right?
It doesn’t feel very heroic, though. It feels sleazy. Now that I think about it, I want to take a shower when I get out of here. A long shower. Can some dirt be removed? I don’t know.
All of this thinking is getting me nowhere. I grab the handle, throw open the door, and charge through.
A lonely light snapping on in the center of the vacant room is the only greeting I receive. It illuminates an odd-shaped, barely waste-high table below it. Like a turtle floating alone in a pond, it funnels my attention to what lies on its back. There, a small clump of blankets waits for me. My heart sinks. I know what’s inside. I know what I’ve been told, and they reassured me about what I’d find, but I can sense the truth. Intuition demands that I hear its call. Far more than a pile of blankets sits there.
I breathe deep, close my eyes, and trudge to the table. The clump isn’t moving. It’s dormant, holding its contents quietly and unassumingly. In my mind, I think I hear a whisper. I pause, clutch my heart, and listen.
Nothing. Just my imagination. Wait, did it move? No, I tell myself. It did not move. It can’t have moved, right?
I step to the edge of the table and lay the knife beside the little pile. My hands are sweaty, and I wipe them on the sides of my jeans to remove the dampness. Am I supposed to pull the blankets back? I don’t remember. I can’t recall much of anything they told me. Maybe, that’s not even necessary. Maybe, I can use the knife through the blankets, and then I never have to know anything more. I never have to peer inside, I never have to see what’s underneath the blanket, I never have to…
My thoughts trail off because I realize I have to know. I have to look. I need to see what’s inside this bundle of cloth. I have to understand. I want to understand. I must see it.
I take my hands and place them on the edges of the folds. They shake. The tremble is involuntary. I will myself to suppress it. Tears piled up behind my eyes, and it takes everything to hold them at bay. This is not the time. I cannot think about this. I need to act fast. Pull the blankets back, take the knife, and get this over. Remember, I chose to be here. I had decided if it came to this, this was what I wanted. My friends have gone through with it. Countless others I’ve seen and heard from speak of it like a rite of passage. It’s no big deal. A quick and ultimately harmless decision. In fact, this is the better choice. Not only for me but for everyone. Before I know it, I’ll be at home, on my couch, watching my favorite shows, drinking hot chocolate, and holding my little puppy. Then, I’ll go on with life as usual.
I pull apart the blankets, gently removing each layer. I move cautiously at first before my eagerness gets the best of me. There are more layers than I think, but when I finally pull them all back, my breath flees. I’m not sure my heart will ever beat again.
I come through the door and I see her standing over a small table in the center of the room. She’s studying a pile of blankets. There’s apparently something inside them, but I can’t make it out from here. Her reaction to whatever it is gives me a reason to pause, though. What does she think she sees? They told us what to expect, so why does her expression not match what we were told? If I didn’t know better, I’d think there’s something alive in that blanket after all. That would be super messed up.
Anger whispers at me again. Why do I keep feeling that? Why does her looking at it the way she is, with eyes that long for more, with compassion, make me want to get mad? Probably because it makes me feel guilty, like I’m the bad guy here. Like this is my fault. Like I’m the one who made us do this. We both said we wanted this. It’s not my choice alone. Don’t be putting this on me with those eyes.
I squeeze the knife in my hand. Maybe that’s why I have it. Maybe they know she’ll hesitate, and I’ll need to start the process. I move toward her. As I do, she glances up and our eyes meet. Together we peer down and for the first time, I see it.
It’s actually really cool looking. I’m not sure that’s an appropriate word, but I didn’t know it developed so fast. I’m fascinated by it. I reach for my phone, instinctively wanting to take a picture. It’s not on me. I’m aware once more that all I’m holding in my possession is the knife.
This stupid knife.
I hear him come in. I don’t look up at first. I can’t take my eyes away from it. It’s so much more than I thought, yet not much of anything all at once. It’s unmistakable, and still so raw. How is that possible? How can it both be and not be the very thing I was told it wasn’t? The only thing that’s fully certain is the potential. Its potential is screaming at me.
I want to hold it. Is that even allowed? That would be bad. I know it would be bad. I don’t want to get attached. This part of me needs to be shut down. We’ve made the right decision.
I look up and catch him watching me, yet also not? His focus is elsewhere, like his mind is running. Probably on something about work or anything but here. His expression makes me think he’s angry, though. And maybe that’s it, maybe he’s mad that I haven’t taken care of it. That I’m too weak to do this. That I’m blaming him, or something like that, for being here at all. He wanted this, though. It wasn’t just me. We both decided this was the right thing to do.
He moves closer to me, and we stare at the table together. I glance back up, and his expression has changed. He seems almost excited, a slight bit of awe on his face. He wasn’t expecting this either. I wonder if he still wants to do this.
Suddenly, to the right of us, an entire wall creaks and groans. We both move back, startled, and I notice him grip his knife and raise it. I should grab my knife too, so I do, and then we wait as the wall crawls upward.
When it reaches the top, lights flicker on and a room full of men and women are peering out at us. Wait, not at us, but at the table? There’s a deep desire in their eyes, but not one of envy, one of compassion and longing. One that immediately communicates their hearts as if they were written out for me to read. They want one of their own. They’ve tried so hard, so very, very hard to have one. No matter what they’ve done, they could not. So, here they are, salivating over mine, ready and willing to take it, to cherish it, to love it, to give it a home, to make it their own.
But it’s not their own. This one is mine. Mine. I can do with it as I please. It’s not even a baby yet, remember? It’s just a… thing. Maybe someday it will be a baby, but for right now, it’s this thing in a bunch of blankets. That’s all.
I look back at it. It’s so helpless, lying there, oblivious to what’s about to happen. And it never will know what happened, I tell myself. It can’t. It literally can’t. It doesn’t know. It never will know. So why does this bug me so much?
I wonder what it would grow up to be. A boy? A girl? What would our life be like together? Terrible? Hard? Isn’t that why I’m here? Things aren’t good right now. He doesn’t want it. I don’t want it. We can’t raise it. We don’t have time for it. It’ll hold us back. Or at least me back. I don’t know what he wants to do. He doesn’t want to do much of anything anymore. Even here and now, he appears almost unable to do anything. I guess this is on me.
I move toward it, putting myself slightly between it and the room of people. My face hardens as my determination takes hold. I’m doing this now. This is taking way too much time and energy. It’s not a big deal. I’m not sure why those people are here, or why they would let me see them, but they should leave and let us finish what we came here to do.
The clicking and whirring of gears snaps me out of my thoughts. Arching upward, the wall to my left disappears, revealing a room full of people. Why are they all staring? Are they crying? What are they even doing here? This is seriously messed up. Who thought this was a good idea? Is it even legal?
I check on her, and her expression changes to anger. She steps between the pile and them, and I realize what’s happening. These people want it. They can’t have their own. We’re literally standing in the middle of one of life’s most tragic ironies. So much for pregnancy being a choice. A lot of the components may be choices, but certainly not the conception part. Otherwise, not a single person in this room would be here, I can guarantee you that.
I hadn’t considered adoption. Having a kid out there I won’t raise, though, is not just strange, but like a total jerk move. What if I ran into him someday? That’d be weird. I don’t think I could stand that. It’d be a constant reminder that either I didn’t want him or her, or didn’t think I could raise a baby, and that’s not something I want on my head. No way. This has to end now. I don’t want to walk around consuming that level of guilt whenever I spot a kid who might be the right age. Forget that.
Their faces, though. They let me know they’d love it as their own. Some part of me knows it would even be an answer to their deepest desire. Could this be the best-case scenario for all involved?
Then again, I’ve had a lot of friends who’ve miscarried, so there’s no guarantee it would even make it on its own if we didn’t intervene. And what if it has problems, some disability, or health issues? What kind of life would that be? This is better. If we ever decide to have one, we can be healthier and take vitamins and all that stuff, and then the baby will be fine. Right now, I bet it’s a wreck, burdened, with only an awful life awaiting. This is a far better option.
How am I supposed to make sense of this? Whose idea was it to let these people in here? This is way too much pressure.
From behind us, more whirring and clicking begins. As soon as the wall starts to rise, noise rips through the room. It’s nearly deafening. Chanting and screaming flow around us like a river of sound. There must be thousands of people on the other side of this wall.
Sure enough, as it keeps rising, a cathedral of onlookers lurches into view. It’s like a stadium of amped-up concert-goers, and we’re the main act. They’re hollering and cheering, and their excitement is palpable. It draws me in, and it makes me want to be a part of it. It also feels… off. Something about this is wrong.
I listen harder, trying to discern some of their chants. Some want us to do it. They’re hungry for us to do it. They’re energized by the fact that we’re here. If they have any idea what it’s like to be in this room, to consider the bundle of blankets and what’s inside it, they give no indication. Maybe they have been here, but right now, all they care about is us taking our knives and doing what we came to do.
Others want us to stop. They want us to flee. Threats rain down, warning us not to proceed. They yell awful things about her, and horrific things about me for being in this position.
How dare they.
Who are they to tell me what to do with my child? Who are they to encourage me to end its life or to keep it? It could be my boy lying there, on that table, waiting for his dad to play a game with him. It could be my little girl, waiting for me to take her on a date to catch some new Disney movie with a song that will get stuck in my head for days on end. I don’t know. All I know is who are they to be so callous toward my kid? What did it do to them? Who gives them the right to weigh in?
I move between the table and them. I hold my knife up. Their screams grow feverish. I’m not sure if they’re ready to storm this room and kill me, or if they’re excited because they think I’m getting ready to do the deed. This is messed up. This is sick. Did they tell us this is what it’s like? There’s no way I missed all of this in those videos.
I glance at the bundle. My brain keeps switching back and forth as to what it sees and what it wants to see. Is it a boy? Is it a little girl? Definitely too early to tell. Regardless, I can’t take care of it. My job’s not good enough, she doesn’t make enough, we’re not married, we have no plans for the future. There is no way this is happening. No way. We need to wait. Maybe the idea of kids isn’t so bad after all, but not right now. Not like this, not in this way.
Besides, do I even want kids with her? She’s the one who let this happen. We took precautions, but it should never have gotten this far. I just wanted sex, really, and she goes and gets pregnant? That shouldn’t surprise me. She wants me marry her. This is probably some deep-level manipulation. She’s always dropping hints. What if I’m not ready? What if I never want to be ready? Or what if someday I tire of her and need someone new, someone more exciting?
That storm inside is coming back, and with part of the crowd cheering us on, I give in to their energy. They’re right. This is the right thing to do. We shouldn’t have kids. I should never have let this happen. I should’ve been more intentional with my time and energy. Why am I such a waste in everything I do? My job is awful. I have no career path. I have no money. She keeps us afloat half of the time. I’ve made so many mistakes. Why am I such an idiot? Why am I so lazy?
No. This isn’t my fault. I work hard; They haven’t given me an opportunity to move up. She should’ve said no. She didn’t have to give me sex. I didn’t make her do anything. She was pushier about it than me at first. Once it started, who can stop a guy when it comes to sex? This is the way I’m wired, right? A raging bus of hormones until I get old and need to take pills or something. If she didn’t want any of this, she should have been stronger.
The chorus of chaotic fervor coming from the crowd makes it hard to think. All of my thoughts are blending together. I want out of here. I want to end this. I grip my knife and back closer to the table.
I can hear another wall being lifted. The flood of cheering and screaming coming from the other side is brimming with opinions. Thankfully, at least some of these people, whoever they are, are here to encourage us. They want us to do this and think it’s the best thing to do. I feel relieved that they’re here to some extent. I need help to do this. I can’t do this on my own.
As the door rises, I can see it’s not people who could almost reach out and touch me, though. They’re in stadium seating, and they’re wild. They’re energized, but there’s this weird disconnect of intimacy. Why is that? I’m sure many of them have been through this. I’m sure they can help, but I’m having trouble making out anyone specific who can come here and guide me through this. And why do they look angry? Both those for and against us sound outright enraged.
He moves between the crowd and us. He raises his knife as if he’s ready to fight them all for us. I’m so confused. Why would he do that? Some of them want us to go through with this. They’re cheering us on, but now you want to keep it? You want to defend it? Or is this some weird macho-pride thing where you don’t like to be told what to do?
He’s standing with such determination, though. Maybe he wants to protect us. Maybe he wants to take us away from here. Maybe he wants to grab the blankets and go. Maybe he wants to raise it, and we can get married, and we can get that cute house we keep talking about over on the south side of the city. Maybe, all he needed was a little push in the right direction and now things will finally turn around.
He turns back towards me. His face displays almost hatred. Is it for me? For it? The crowd? I can’t tell. He keeps flexing his grip on that knife, and I can see he wants to finish this. Whatever had been on his mind is gone, and his resolve to get this over is rising. He starts toward us. He’s shutting down. Wherever it is he puts his emotions, he has signed, sealed, and delivered the ones he was feeling to that same place.
I want to leave. I wish none of this had ever happened. Why couldn’t I have been smarter? What I wouldn’t give to go back and do things differently. This is all a big mistake. Nothing more.
I can hear my grandpa again. “A mistake?” he’d ask. “People are so rabid about their children, they’ll storm the gates of hell to protect them. We hold rallies for them, we challenge any system that dares to oppress them, we create laws to give them the best future and defend their rights at every turn.
“We all understand their value, their joy, their innocence, and we long for their safety. Yet, what won’t we do? Where does our loyalty and passion to care for them end? What won’t we refrain from in order to protect them? We won’t refrain from the very process that brings them into this world. That’s too much to ask. That’s where we draw our lines. That, it seems, is the one thing we won’t give up in the name of protecting our kids.
“To call a baby, a child, so precious and beautiful, so amazing and worthy of love and protection, a mistake, an inconvenience, an unwanted consequence, is a slap in the face of all we claim to stand for. It mocks any level of sincerity we say we have. No child should ever be referred to as a mistake.
“And may God forgive us for treating them as such.”
I partially collapse. The knife drops, and I cover my face as I slump to the floor. My emotions are overcoming me, and my tears flow. I can’t stay like this, but I can’t help it either. I must stand up. I need to finish.
The crowd cheers louder as I go down, both encouraging me to get up, and screaming at me to not do this. Why do they care so much? Why are any of these people here? This can’t possibly be the normal procedure.
Before I reach the table, she goes down to the floor. My heart tears in two as I see her cry. I want to take her in my arms and protect her. I want to take her from this place and get her out of here. I feel like it’s my fault we’re here, but that’s not right. We talked about this, and we both agreed that this is what we wanted. Why is she getting so emotional? Why is she being so weak? Why can’t she be tough and stand up and do this?
The anger is overwhelming. I don’t know what to do. Me doing anything is the fundamental problem if you think about it. I don’t have to do any of it. I can leave. This is for her to do, not me. All those signs on TV, all those people in the streets, they constantly tell me I don’t have a say in this matter. It’s not up to me. This is all about her.
Deciding to leave makes me even angrier. The shame sets my guts on fire. I know this is a cowardly thing to do, but I decide I don’t care. I don’t want to feel the guilt; I don’t want to feel the shame; I don’t want to feel anything anymore. I just want to scream.
So I do.
I scream, and I scream, and I scream. I throw the knife into a nearby wall. I want nothing to do with the stupid knife, either.
I run to the crowd, hoping to jump in and disappear into the massive group of gawkers. Then, I realize there’s a chasm between us and them. I can’t even see the bottom and there’s no way I can leap across. Once more, I can’t discern if they’re excited by my choices or angered, or both. I’m tired of listening to them. I’m tired of all of this. Should I jump anyway? End it? There’d be no more shame or guilt, no more regret, no more pain.
I can’t. It’s tempting, but that’s rash, even for me. Knowing my mom, she’d find me and kill me again. I better find another way out.
I refuse to take in the other room. I don’t want to see their faces. I don’t want to feel their judgment. I can tell they’re judging me right now. Everything I’ve done since I came into this room, they sit there judging me about. Yeah, well, I bet you have jacked-up lives, too. I bet you have mistakes like the rest of us.
Even as I think that, I know I’m lying to myself. Some of them may only want the baby and couldn’t care less about us. Others, though? Others stand for something more, something deeper. They’d help us out later, even if we killed it, and that only fuels my rage.
I try the door I came in. It’s locked. I glance at the door she came in and it’s not open either. I’m guessing it’s locked, too. How do I get out of here?
Then I see it. Another door. How did I miss that? It’s open, and I can make out an endless sky of gray clouds that stretches over sandy terrain. I head for it. I don’t know if this is some weird atrium, or my mind is losing it, but I don’t care. I can go through, so I’m gone.
I don’t look at her. I don’t look at it. I leave. She can keep it, she can kill it, I don’t care. I’m not going to be around to find out. I never want to feel this way again. I don’t want to think about this ever again. If you ask me, it never happened.
This is her problem.
His scream forces my eyes open. He screams and screams. Torment pours out of his soul. He throws his knife, and it sinks deep into the wall. He runs to the crowd, and I wonder if he may jump. His eyes dart everywhere. He’s frantic, desperate to get out, but unsure of how to do it. He acts like he’s caged but bent on leaving.
He doesn’t jump. He turns and heads for the door he came in. It’s locked. He glances at my door. He won’t face the room full of people behind us. I don’t want to see them ever again, either. It’s too hard.
He doesn’t look at me, or it. He heads right past us as if we don’t exist. I want to yell at him to come back, but I doubt he could hear me over all the noise anyway.
I turn to see where he’s going and notice a new door is open. He passes through it and soon disappears into a desert landscape. I don’t even try to wrap my mind around it. This whole scenario is ludicrous. I’m convinced this has to be a nightmare. There’s no way this is real. There’s no way this is what it’s like. This is too much for anyone to handle. Taking life into your own hands like this? I’m not cut out for that. Leave that for others, let me be me.
Speaking of, it is just me now. Me and the… the pile. And the Screaming crowds. And the weeping moms and dads. It’s too much. This is all too much. This is insane. This is crazy. Why does no one explain it like this? Why don’t they tell you how it really is? If they try to tell you, why don’t they force you to listen?
Why did I make these choices? Why didn’t I think more before I got into all of this? Why did I have to get pregnant? Why couldn’t the people over there get pregnant, so I don’t have to see their sad faces and stupid tears? Give a baby to them, but leave me alone! I can’t stand this. I’m over it. This wasn’t how my life was supposed to go. This isn’t how it was supposed to happen. Why did you have to come along? Why did you make everything so complicated? Why did you come between me and him?
I hate this, I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.
I stand, and I close my eyes. I move to the table, take the knife, and bring it down as hard as I can. I want it over. I want it done. I want it gone. I never want to think about this, and I absolutely with every fiber of my body never want to feel like this again. Sex and relationships aren’t worth this. If this is the outcome, I don’t want it. They can keep it. They can keep it all. My anger and fear rush out. I bring the knife down once more.
I collapse for a second time.
If possible, the cheers from the crowd sound louder. Some are commending me. Some even try to convince me that the baby would’ve only held me back.
Others hate me. They yell despicable things at me. They want to put me on the table and end my life the same way I did to the baby.
Meanwhile, I can sense the despair from the other room. It feels as if I’ve killed their child.
And where is he? Gone. Nowhere to be found.
The walls on both sides groan for a moment and then slam shut. The thunder from their shocking collapse jars my eyes open. I look around.
I’m all alone. No him. No crowds. No room full of mourners. It’s only me and silence.
The pain is here, though, hideous and growing. They lied to me. They lied about how this would make me feel; about how it would solve my problem; about how I could come here, take care of it, and get on with life. “No big deal,” they said. “I could handle it,” they said.
And I believed them.
I scramble to get up. The bundle. Where’s the bundle? Maybe I missed. Maybe I didn’t hit anything. Even before I’m fully up, my arms are flailing at the top of the table, grasping desperately for the blankets. I can’t feel anything, and so I yank myself to my feet. It has to be here. It has to be okay. I messed up. Being here was not the right decision, but I can make it right. I can take it home. Even if I wounded it, I can do the right thing. I can —
My thoughts are cut off as I take in the table. The bundle is gone. The table is empty. Only a tiny scar, scratched deep into the surface, remains.
Heat swarms my face. I go to scream but I find no voice. A sorrow swallows my heart that’s so deep and so endless it takes my breath hostage. Is this how it feels when you watch the sunset for the last time in life? When you know you will never see it rise again and only darkness will cover you for the rest of your time on earth?
How can I recover from this? How can there be hope again? How does anyone move on with life knowing what you’ve done? How can you ever forget?
I can’t undo it. I can’t make it better.
I am alone with only this haunting memory to keep me company.
Nothing is worth this.
After I wrote this story, I was (and still am) not sure what to do with it. I believe it’s worth sharing, but I also understand the passion people have around this topic, which makes it difficult to have open, authentic dialogue. If you have ideas on what would be a beneficial use for it, or would like to hear how it came about, I’d be happy to discuss that with you.
I appreciate you making time to read this. Hopefully it will be of use to you or someone you know if you decide to pass it along.