Love for a Child
There was a beautiful young woman who married a beautiful young man. They were both very happy and very much in love even though they were struggling to make ends meet. The young woman worked early morning shifts at a grocery store while her husband worked in a low paying job at a law firm. After being married for quite a few years, they decided to have a child since they calculated that they’d have enough money to raise one. They tried getting pregnant for three years but to no avail. The frustration and stress of both their jobs as well as the fact that they couldn’t get pregnant was tearing them apart. While they were once a happy, young couple they became old and grumpy and hardly saw each other. They had desperately gone from one doctor to another but they all said the same thing: both parents were healthy and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. The more time went by the more they were getting fed up with each other, they began to fight over the most frivolous things and the arguments got so heated that at one point the husband threw his empty mug at his wife’s direction. Se didn’t get hurt, but the look on his face was more painful than any physical injury. His eyes were as empty as hers and his face was lined with worry. It looked as though they weren’t going to last long and they had stopped trying for weeks. There were nights when her husband wouldn’t come home and the wife would lay in bed and soaked her pillows right through with tears wondering where he was.
One day the young woman realized that her cycle hadn’t come that month. She became excited and cheeks flushed she grabbed her coat and ran to the doctor’s office to see if what she was thinking was true, if she was really pregnant. The wait at the doctor’s office was long and hard. She waited for an hour but it felt like weeks and months had passed as she sat in a tiny, uncomfortable chair staring at the wall clock opposite her. Her heart was beating louder than it had ever beaten before, she wondered if it was really the sound of two hearts beating within her and if that was why it was so loud. She put her hand over her stomach but couldn’t really tell. The nurse called her name and she practically leapt to the doctor’s room. After running some tests the doctor confirmed, beaming, that she was pregnant. She could have thrown her arms around him and kissed him but she wanted to run home and tell her husband as soon as possible.
When she got home she found her husband sitting at the table with the ever present dead look in his eyes. She sat down opposite him and told him the news she had just received. At first his face was unchanged, as if he didn’t really register what she said. Then slowly, it was as if a fire was being lit behind his eyes and the deadness and emptiness was gone and it was replaced by something she had missed, something she hadn’t seen for a long time; love. He jumped up and cried in joy! He lifted her up and twirled her around talking about nurseries and baby names. She wasn’t really listening, there were tears in her eyes and her mind was bloated with happiness.
It was almost as if they’d gone back to being newlyweds. The husband was working twice as hard at his job and had gotten a promotion and the wife was able to change her early morning shifts to the afternoon because she was pregnant and kept getting sick in the store’s toilet. They were happy and ate dinner together every evening and slept in the same bed at night. They went out dancing on some nights and sightseeing on others. It was as if all the horrors of the years before had faded away and they were dancing upon a cloud, a dream, a fairytale that would never end. They had finally gotten their happily-ever-after.
Months into her pregnancy the young woman could feel her child within her. She could not explain what the feeling was, it was like a hug from the inside. She couldn’t stop rubbing her stomach and looking down at it lovingly. Her husband’s hands were always on it waiting to see if the baby would kick or bump against it. It was the most fulfilled and happy she’d ever felt in her life.
The baby was born on a Saturday morning, it was an easy birth and there wasn’t much screaming, fussing or crying. The moment the nurse pressed the child’s into its mothers arms was almost magical. The mother looked down and saw her child, her own baby, a labor of love. The baby was washed and dressed when the father arrived, worried and confused for no one had told him his wife was giving birth. As soon as he stepped into the room his eyes fell on a little bundle in his wife’s arms, it was bright pink and it’s eyes were closed but it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He gingerly lifted it up and cradled it. His eyes filled with tears as he smiled down and kissed its tiny little forehead.
Another chapter of their life began; a life of mother, father and child. They would have done anything for their child. The father spent most of his month’s earnings buying toys, books and clothes and the mother was never away from her baby. Even when it cried and kept them up all night they would sit up together and sing lullabies until it falls asleep. It was a different kind of bliss from before, it was more satisfying.
On a beautiful morning on one of the first days of summer the young mother rose early to feed her baby. She sang softly as she walked, an old nursery rhyme that her grandmother used to sing to her. She peered over the edge of the cot and whispered ‘good morning baby’, but there was something wrong. The child’s skin was blue and its lips were black. A trail of drool ran from its mouth down the side of its face and its eyes were open in horror. It wasn’t her baby. It wasn’t her child. It wasn’t her angel. This was a demon. She screeched and started shaking the baby, trying to resuscitate it but it wouldn’t wake up. She kept screaming, pleading, cursing but nothing happened. She clutched her baby to her bosom. At that moment her husband burst in the door and asked what had happened. He knew as soon as he saw his wife wearing a look of utter madness and carrying their limp child in her arms. He reached for the baby but she screamed at him and told him to go away, to leave her with her child. He told her that he would call an ambulance and maybe they could help her but she screamed even louder saying that they would only take her baby away. He had never seen his wife like this, even at her worst she was calm and collected, but while in that room she had transformed into a different person. Her eyes were wide and a steady stream of tears failed to veil the madness within, her cheeks were hot and flushed and her hair was wild. She clutched the baby so tightly to her chest that had it not already been dead it would have died in her arms. The husband could see her slowly descending into insanity and, stricken with grief for his newborn child and fear for his wife, ran to the kitchen to call and ambulance. The wife, as soon as she realized what he was going to do, set down the baby and ran behind him screaming. She ripped the phone from the wall as he was dialing from it and grabbed a knife from the kitchen table. The husband tried to talk calmly to her, he tried to tell her that everything would be fine, that the baby could be helped, that even if it was dead they still had each other, they could have more babies, but she just stood there in front of him shivering and shaking her head violently, with a surge of power that was surprising for a small woman like her she lunged at him with the knife outstretched. He held his hand up in self defense but she just kept stabbing at him not caring which parts of his body she hit and all the time screaming that he would never take her baby. After that deed was done she calmly washed the knife and her hands, went back to the nursery, locked the door and threw the key out the window. She picked up her baby and laughed. “Someone has a smelly diaper!” she cried. She changed the baby’s soiled diapers and read it a story then laid it down in its cot for a nap. She paced the room singing lullabies until the next morning when she suddenly stopped, picked the baby up, tickled its belly and said, “time for baby to drink its milk!” and fed it. She didn’t eat or drink a thing, she soiled herself in her clothes and didn’t bother to change them and she nibbled at her fingers until they were raw and bloody and she was chewing on her own flesh. And so this went on for days without anybody noticing until her manager at the store filed a report that she hadn’t showed up for work in days and her home number was disconnected. When the police finally arrived at the house and broke down the door they found the corpse of a man with face twisted in torture lying in the dry waste of his own blood. They walked further into the house and broke down the door of the nursery. What they saw inside was far more disturbing than anything they had ever experienced in their lives. They were hit by a strong smell of decaying flesh and feces, the smell was so strong that the officers keeled over and some had to run out to find a bucket. The once cheery yellow walls had nursery rhymed scribbled all over in blood, there was human waste lying all over the floor – a feast for the rats and other vermin that flitted about. But the most horrifying sight was that of a beautiful emaciated young woman with her breast out, feeding a baby that was indistinguishable from the rats that fed on it. Mother and child, dead.
P.S. I welcome any suggestions for a new title, frankly Love for a Child sounds like a bad gospel song.