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This is a story written a long time ago.. Maybe it should have a rewrite MONICA’S WOMB Monica kept her womb in a bottle on a shelf by her bed. Every day she dusted the bottle. She handled it like an urn full of ashes. Every day she tasted her own tears. “Pickled in teardrops.”…
This is a story written a long time ago.. Maybe it should have a rewrite
Monica kept her womb in a bottle on a shelf by her bed. Every day she dusted the bottle. She handled it like an urn full of ashes. Every day she tasted her own tears. “Pickled in teardrops.” She muttered. Every day.
Overlaid on this ritual, sad, guilty thoughts of poor Donald.
Donald snored. Middle aged, a little overweight, still a handsome man to Monica. She was a year older, a little more overweight, but Donald loved…adored her. He was still a passionate man. Big. Strong. So gentle. He never complained, and Monica knew he had not strayed these past five years. Every time she hurt him by her rejection, and every time he stroked her hair until she slept, knowing that her face against the wall was wet with tears.
So EMPTY. Three times. Three little caskets. Poor Donald. Each time she had held him while he wept against her empty belly. He wanted them so much. Such a father he could have been! Stupid womb! Stupid womb…an!
Monica was defective, and the proof floated there. Pickled in teardrops.
For a brief span Monica thought ‘fourth time lucky’. This time! Oh! Please God this time!
But then the pain. Deep, hard pain. White-faced she saw the doctor. Begging him, please don’t let me lose my baby.
Grim-faced, the man who had known her for twenty years, who had treated, advised, counselled her for twenty years said “I’m so sorry my dear.”
Fibroids, and there would be no more.
Donald seemed almost relieved. “Well, we know now eh love? It wasn’t meant to be for us. It’ll just have to be me and thee pet.” And he went to his beloved shed and worked late making a lot of noise with his power tools.
The surgeon acceded to Monica’s request, and duly delivered the organ personally. He was a nice man, but busy. “First one I’ve ever bottled.” He announced with a surgeons lack of tact. His humour was surgeons humour, but to his credit he did try to be gentle with her, explaining this and that.
There followed, a stream of nurses, young and old and they seemed to be fascinated. Briefly Monica enjoyed their attentions. Their empathy.
Donald gave her time. More perhaps than he should have done. She was sore. She was tired. She was…not in the mood. Donald, poor Donald understood that she was grieving. Once, just once, after a decent few months had passed, he tried to make light of it. Monica was quiet now. Placid. Always a little languid. Every day she dusted the bottle, turned it a little. Staring hard as if willing it to do something. She neither laughed, nor cried. She had withdrawn to somewhere Donald could not reach.
It was not so terrible an act. He would never have hurt her by intent.
Donald made trophies. Engraved plaques for the golf club, and the bowls tournaments, that sort of thing. So he did what he did in his gentle way.
‘A WOMB WITH A VIEW’ was the inscription. Monica snapped. What hurt the most was that look…when her lips curled over her teeth drawing her cheekbones back into a snarl of unadulterated hatred.
Donald stood helpless, embarrassed, and frightened while she raged.
Monica stormed, mouthed foulness he had never imagined had ever entered her head. She crucified him until his eyes sprung to wetness, and his face crumpled.
Then, for the first time in his life Donald struck her. Hard. Instantly he clutched, hugged, clasped her to him. Love and gentleness, and the need to be rough and firm all muddled up. “Monica! Stop it! STOP IT!” He slapped her again. “You’re hysterical! Stop it!”
Monica did stop then. Suddenly, and laughed a soft cruel laugh. “Hysterical? Me? Oh Donald don’t be so stupid You are such a cretin!”
She turned on her heel giggling pathetically. “No womb, no womb… Nonsense there’s plenty of womb said Alice!”
Crushed, Donald set about to do what people under stress so often do. He put the kettle on. He clattered and clinked, best to keep busy. Make tea, and make peace.
Monica was running a bath. Donald made tea, Monica had baths. People cope in different ways.
He would take her tea, sit on the side of the bath, and tell her what a beautiful naked body she had, covered in suds. Monica had always loved him for his patience. His stoicism. he was solid.
Monica lifted her wrists. Blood had splashed over the white porcelain, and spattered onto the blue tiles. “I cut down” she said quietly. “Not across. That’s right isn’t it?” She was quiet again. Compliant while Donald applied the pressure bandage. She was strange. Detatched. She giggled. “I don’t think there’s time for a cup of tea darling.”
Donald turned in his sleep. Monica was awake, staring at the bottle full of that floating thing. She shifted her gaze.”Poor lamb” she whispered, and reached out a hand to touch a stray lock of hair. Suddenly greying hair. “You wonderful, wonderful man. I DO love you very much.” These things she was afraid to say when he was not asleep. Perhaps he might take it as…permission.
The tiny ridges on her wrists itched. Six years now. Six years an empty hollowed out sexless thing. A non womb..an. Donald stirred, turned and reached for her. His head rested between her breasts and she felt his breath on his skin. She stroked his hair, and he clung a little tighter. “Just a little boy,” she thought. “My little boy.” Then closed her eyes, and slowly, gradually joined her man in sleep.
It was four thirty when Helen knocked on the door. It was an urgent rapping. No pause between raps. The sound started quickly, then hard, fist banging. Then both hands flat against the door. By the time Donald had stumbled out of bed, found his robe, and hurried downstairs, Helen was on her knees, cheek against the wood. One hand flapping feebly against the bottom of the door.
Monica had the gas lit, and the kettle on even before Donald entered the living room, arms full of Helen. She was a tiny thing against Donald’s bulk.
Everyone knew Helen. Difficult at nine, problem child at eleven, impossible at fifteen. That was the view. She was pretty, and blonde, and blue-eyed and well made. And horribly malnourished. “Mum kicked me out” She said. Her face was puffed and purple.
The only thing to do at this time was drink tea, find a suitable nightdress, and make up the divan. The rest could wait until late morning.
Helen stayed. She did not seem so impossible to Monica and Donald. She was bright, and clean. She washed clothes, and dishes, and she was thoughtful. Monica enjoyed her company, and even laughed a little at times.
On her sixteenth birthday they had a party. Just the three of them. Helen had filled out. She was getting big-breasted, and her blonde hair full and feathered. Her blue eyes sparkled with fun and mischief. She loved to wear full skirts, tight around the hips and buttocks. Donald’s eyes rested just a second or two longer when she twirled around, lifting the skirt to expose her calves. He no longer looked her full in the face when she spoke, but dropped his eyes to her chest for fleeting moments. And they skylarked. Always chasing, teasing. Sometimes when they skylarked, Donald got flustered. Monica noticed, and said nothing. After all, she was little enough use to him.
But for those tiny nuances Donald was just the same. Gentle, stoic, strong, and as attentive as ever.
In the night, staring at the bottle with Donald shifting in his sleep beside her, Monica noticed other changes too. A yearning, unmasked in his slumber.
Helen was laughing. After two glasses of dry white, her face was flushed, and animated.
“I’m going to have a baby” She announced, and leaned back in her chair and giggled.
Monica’s mind tripped. All sound ceased, and she saw the three of them as though from the ceiling looking down. Three grotesquely animated wax dummies in silent parody of celebration. The plump, middle-aged woman carefully set down her glass, stood, brushed down the wrinkles from the back of her new black dress, and turned towards her bedroom.
Donald remained seated, embarrassed. Helen sighed, bowed her head into her hands and said “Ohhhhh! SHIT!” Then she stood up, and walked around the table to Donald’s Lay Z Boy. She stood behind him, bent her head so that her cheek was aginst his, and put her arms tightly around his shoulders. Her soft perfumed hair against his face stirred him. Absently he brought up a hand and stroked it. “Oh DADDY!” Helen hugged him fiercely. Then she was gone. Donald heard the bedroom door slam.
Monica stared at her womb. Helen stared at Monica. “Don’t mum!” She whispered. “Please don’t!” Monica sat. Warm stone. Nothing moved.
Helen knelt and put her hands on Monica’s knees, looking up into the vacant face.
Donald washed the dishes, and set out the tea tray. Keep busy.
No sound came from the bedroom until the crash that sent him running. Monica was standing over the mess, arms limp at her sides. Helen, tight-lipped and defiant was sitting rigid on the bed. Donald gave her a cold look of anger and disgust.
“Get out!” His voice soft, but full of pent up violence “Get out!”
Helen threw Monica a resigned look, stood swiftly, and hurried from the room.
“Pet?” Donald folded her into his arms, and she let him hold her without reciprocation. She mumbled as he stroked her hair. “What’s that pet?” He moved his hands to either side of her face, and gently held her cheeks.
“I did it.” Monica said. “I did it myself. We were… we were talking.” Her face sprang alive with tears. “She called me mum.” Monica began to sob. A little. Then a lot. And then a flood of hard racking gasps.
Donald crooned, cooed, stroked. “Oh pet! Oh my love! Don’t take on so.” But Monica could not stop for a long time. Until she was all cried out. Until she was as empty as…..
And then they were laying side by side on the bed, consoling, and being consoled together.
“Donald?” She said quietly.
“Love me? Will you love me… now please?”
Donald kissed her face, her eyes, tasting the salt. Fingers found her buttons, and he undressed her like a new lover. They made love with a quiet passion. Once, Monica cried out. “Ohh how I’ve MISSED you! You wonderful, wonderful man!”
And Donald surprised even himself.
It was dark when they woke. Helen brought them tea on a tray. And boiled eggs, and toast. She was dressed for leaving, in a beige sweater, and pleated black skirt.
“Well.” She shrugged uncomfortably. “I’ll be off then.” She looked at Donald, leaned quickly to give him a peck on the cheek. “Mum’ll tell you about it when I’m gone dad.” Then to Monica. “Be patient mum. You will, won’t you.”
Helen turned and left the room, closed the door, but opened it again quickly. Her blue eyes flashed and her pretty face lit up in a wide grin.
“Hey mum! Dad! I love you!”
They heard the front door close, and Donald sensed a sudden emptiness. As empty as if something had been cut out of him, hard and cold.
Monica rolled over and put her head on his chest. “She’s coming back dear. Don’t worry yourself about that. Not about our Helen. She’s not pregnant you know. Not yet anyway. You know it’s something isn’t it? I think we’re going to have a baby.”