I did a little poll on my Instagram to whether I should post my short stories on my blog, it had a super positive response so I’ve plucked up the courage to post my first finished short story. Any feedback, constructive feedback that is, is very welcome because I am a new writer and seriously need all the help and practice I can get. SO, here it is, it’s very depressing but it was heavily influenced by my mood and other art I was consuming at the time. I hope you enjoy it to some extent!
A Season’s End.
Who knew that two red lines in a plastic stick could tear open a void in the pit of my stomach so completely devouring that I am sure I will die right there on the spot. You would have been a miracle in the life of another but there you were kicking the bucket from beneath me. I sat, my legs agape with piss on my hands. The damp, cold walls rested on my shoulders, the skirting boards pushed at my toes, the air enclosed and left me weightless entirely.
Before long, when my brain began to churn, I had outbursts of resentment for your seed-like existence, that possessed me for days to follow. But occasionally I brushed my hands over your body that I had created in my mind, in these moments I felt you and the hatred subsided for a while. Those were times of peace that I longed for when I was overcome with fear so intense my throat filled with thorns and fire. They will take you, my love, how could I be so stupid they will take you.
“We are sanctioning the legislation under which every woman within our nationwide occupancy will share the custody of current and future children with their designated guardians of each district. We do so with you and your children’s wellbeing as our utmost concern, to help construct a system superior to those before us.”
I find it intriguing that when a swelling urge to be a do-gooder, go-getter finds itself corrupted, and somehow down the line it shifts, becoming a dictating version of ‘peace’ in the society that we live in. I’m not certain when this happened, there wasn’t a beginning so to speak. Slowly, within my twenty-three years of life, my government took partial ownership of my womb. While this may seem like a patriarchal tactic, I don’t believe that was it at all. Our government was matriarchal you could say, a mastermind created with the temperament of who we believed to be the greatest women of our time. A movement we longed for, lead by women, for the welfare of women, a feminist wet dream. Quickly and devastatingly we were sobered with the conclusion that perhaps we place too much faith on the superiority of gender and that all together we are evidently just a bit shit.
We sat there for what felt like hours, on that dirty communal toilet floor. A place where I would have willingly ceased to exist but my instincts told me to get my stupid ass off of the floor, I scooped myself up and attempted to regain feeling in said stupid ass to press on. It occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to remain in the hostel much longer, soon you would have been pressing against my skin and peaking up over my legs for all of Pankhurst Institute to gorge upon and I would have lost you before I could even birth you. I gathered all of my things worth keeping, which at this time amounted to maybe a few pairs of knickers, a couple of outfits and my watch. I left on the first bus to stop, travelling east of Pankhurst. While I knew that I had imagined the sensation of you inside me, I could not ignore the small but distinct weight that you resembled at the centre of me. From then on, I never felt alone, as I had done many years before. The lustful, fleeting moments with men stirred the deepest loneliness I have ever felt, I was longing and therefore used. I guess these useless pricks left something of value behind for once.
We eventually found somewhere to hole up for a while, an abandoned chalet along the coast, it was cold and damp but it sheltered us, gave us a bed and became our first home. Of course, you were only the size of a plum stone then but I spoke to you regardless, for hours on end I would confess everything to you and sob gently into my cradled arms. I tried my best to nurse you and for a while, we were safe in the promising soft summer wind.
I don’t know how but I knew that you were a girl from the beginning, that is why I was so scared. The paranoia from that alone unsettled me. I knew. That was why I left so desperately, a beautiful girl was a treasure and while I resented the fate that you laid out before me, I was responsible for your protection. ”From what?” You might have wondered, the true reason was vague in my mind too, it still would be if no research had gone into the phenomena of Pankhurst. All that I knew was the disappearances of young girls and the odd baby boy. I thought they had shit parents who deserved the removal of their children. It was not my business, why would I shove my nose in? Until, a few weeks before you became a problem, one of the women who had been kind to me since I arrived, became pregnant. Her familiar demeanour crumbled. She became someone completely unrecognisable to me, she begged me to help abort her baby, I was of course mortified and refused. I had no idea why she was acting so deranged and I condemned her in my mind for wanting so eagerly to kill that innocent thing. Her profound dedication moved me when she decided to do it alone, the old fashioned way. She almost died from shock and loss of blood and when we expected the ambulance to come, it was government officials who instead came to take her away. Despite my usual apathy, my heart crept up my throat and I felt a fear that confused me because what it was actually directed at, I had no idea. I sensed that it was something dire and out of my control. I missed the vague ‘something’ that I had with that woman, but like most other instances where a crack presented itself in the wall, I persuaded myself to suppress it. I continued life as it had been.
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After around nine weeks of being at the chalet, I began to notice the toll you were taking on my body. The architecture of my frame is not designed with maternity in mind, I’m awkwardly tall and narrow, there was no foundation for you to rest upon, just my protruding hip bones and thin legs. A bed of spires in other words. Slowly as you began to grow you became a noticeable swelling in my hands, the fragility of you knocked a nerve, I felt an overwhelming urge to be sick, a thick flow of molten seized my chest and circulated my body. I had internal, brutal conflict, fits of rage would inspire hate so strong for you that I would starve us both for as long as it took for my mind to recover and an alien feeling of equally debilitating love returned. A mind-frame facilitated by a pendulum crossing both extremes. When I was calmer I often feared that I would lose you to my bipolar episodes. I could not control this; I was unworthy of your grace. Nevertheless, I was your mother.
Together we witnessed the sinking of the last bloom and the trees dropping their assets in unison. Noticing the change of each season as easy passing of time gave me hope that perhaps we would survive this exile and we could have lived there as if observing from a foreign planet. But soon enough, it was to be expected, women started to appear around the abandoned site, developers were my guess, deciding which ugly structure to erect from the mud next, crushing the blossoms that are lost but destined to soon return. We had collected so many trinkets and pieces connecting us to our land and home that we inhabited for the last season, all of which were to remain, they could not help us to survive. I wish I could have allowed myself some sentiment for just one moment and have pocketed the mini figurines I had begun stitching with old materials and clothes we found left behind, perhaps then I could still breathe the essence of you.
Our luck ran out there, I desperately wandered the landscape of the coast, unprotected from the winds barrelling off of the sea and the sheer brutality of rainfall and the chill of autumn crept in as if it were a cruel toxin. My thoughts became blurred and at times I believed I could hear you singing to me, if not singing, then cooing in that mindless, calm way babies often do. Wrapping myself in layers upon layers of fabrics salvaged from our previous home, I managed to keep us warm, but this was not enough. My delirium rendered me almost useless, I could not feed us, rest us, keep us sound of mind.
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My memory is distorted in this area of our timeline but it re-emerges when I awoke, laying on the softest, most heavenly and sweet-smelling bed in a room that was as if glowing embers reflected from its dark mahogany and leather. Drifting in and out of consciousness as I was, I failed to recognise the potential danger that I was in, we hadn’t encountered another human being in months and if we had, they were half dead homeless people, mainly men in the many alcoves and caves of the coast. Eventually, I was able to hold my wake long enough to ease myself into the world of the living. I must have slept for days as I could feel the bed rest fatigue in my muscles and weightlessness in my head as I tried to sit up. I felt pressure on my shoulder, I looked up and I saw my mother. Her soft, sad eyes searching my face, matched with her pencil lips with smokers’ lines like canals running from her mouth. Except it couldn’t have been her because she died when I had been a girl, at that moment I was in pieces. We were either dead also or I had truly gone insane. I threw her hand from my shoulder and scrambled my way out of the bed that I long for even now. I didn’t get far before my legs gave way beneath me and I laid there cradling you in my arms sobbing, you were so big now, I wish I could have felt you moving, shouldn’t you have been moving? I dropped back into a deep sleep, only this time I could appreciate the rest.
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As it turns out, she, of course, wasn’t my mother. But someone old and equally as damaged. Her name was Melanie and as far as I can tell she escaped the first culling and resided in this house, in exile of our city. I warmed to her rather quickly, if she conformed to Pankhurst’s laws then we would have known already. We lived around each other, we had both a heavy weight of trauma on our hearts and could not bear to see it in each other. So, we kept it to simple talk which made us both comfortable enough. She was even frailer than I realised in our first meeting, I worried for her when she could not gather the strength to even crawl out of bed. I was in no fit state to nurse her, you and me all at once, not since I began experiencing a sharp and throbbing pain somewhere around you, I made myself believe it was a natural pain as you were soon going to spring into a full-term baby, any added stress was something I avoided at all costs, my mind was healing well and the thought of you no longer ignited hate and fear, I was ready, excited even to cherish the life I had so eagerly protected.
The cold had well and truly set in, our fire hardly heated the small nook where it was placed, let alone the room that we slept in, so again I covered us in the same wraps and stayed as close to the fire as possible. An intense throb disturbed our slumber in front of the fire, I contracted into a ball guarding you against the stabbing sensation in my front and sides. When I had come to my senses for a moment I noticed it was snowing outside and the draft was like knives from under the doors. I called out for Melanie who herself was deteriorating more rapidly these days. She limped into the room in her decrepit, casual way until her eyes fixed wide on the floor at my thighs, her mouth agape. My body ran cold and I reached around between my legs and sure enough, there was a puddle of blood, thick and rich. I did not know the extent of complications in pregnancy but I knew that this was a dangerous sign. Melanie had walked over to me and dropped down at my side, she combed my hair with her arthritic fingers, for a moment I felt young and even now I am grateful for the maternal love she extended unto me. Her eyes read pity and I knew from the hopelessness of her gaze and stillness that there was nothing I could do but lay and wait for you to settle or for everything to crumble.
The silence was amplified by the harsh pulse in my ears, I begged for your small, small body to move, to scream, to cry the house down. You just laid there so terribly small and yet peaceful and untouched. But no breath left your lips and no hand grasped for my breast. My lungs, throat, and mouth tightened, my heart sank to the floor. I scooped you up into my hands, rubbing your chest, your arms, and your heart as if they were as tight as mine. My efforts were useless, you were gone although I guess you had never been there.
We buried you by the bed of snowdrops in our dishevelled patch of garden. As I sat at the window by Melanie to wither along with winter, I felt your weight fade.
For who you would have been.
With all of the love, a mother could muster,