Saturday, November 20, 2010

Illumination Part 2

Jurd is escorted, strapped to a hospital gurney within Boggo Road prison en route to the infirmary. The cancer in his testicles spreads with terminal tentacles into his spleen and liver. His skin is yellow, the whites of his eyes now sallow, his breathing shallow and sympathy for his palliative condition felt by no-one. Once a large and forceful man, his frame is wasted, diminished. His hair tainted with silver and his face lined and hardened. He did it. Oh yes, he did it but the hussy deserved it.

There was a time when he loved her. She was the child he never had. The waif and stray he'd taken in. The lover in his arms despite her protestations, he knew that she liked it. He cared for her, he fed her and she darned his socks and made his supper. In actual fact, he'd been her saving grace although that's not how she saw it. She'd been his 'gift' a ward of the State, a foster child, a slave. He'd touched her tiny body where no man had been before. He'd lunged at her, mauled her, tied her to the bed. He made her put his dirty penis in her mouth and call him 'baby'. He'd grunted as he came inside her and called her his 'little girl'. He'd fuck her sideways before whispering, "Shhh . ." . He'd coo, sweat dripping from his brow onto hers, his smoke stenched hand across her mouth. "You must never tell, they'll send you back to places worse than this." She knew it to be true and tolerated his perversion.

How sweet she was, her slim tanned legs, her dancing arms, her flowing hair. He barely noticed the sun dress growing tighter round her waist. He barely noticed that she was ashen in the mornings. He barely noticed her enlarging breasts and the miasma that appeared across her forehead. He barely noticed at all until she told him she was pregnant.

This eventuality he had not anticipated. She was too young. He'd been told he could never sire children of his own. How could she? Unfaithful wench, spoiled child, slurry, slag, whore!

Jurd's rage, guilt, suspicion suspended all rationality as he tried to bludgeon the truth from her. He dragged her from the house by the hair. She kicking, screaming, crying, pleading her innocence but nobody voice remained unheard amid 10 acres of hinterland by Avocado trees, Macadamia and a neat row of Banana Palms with heavily laden fruit. Nobody heard the shed door slam, the shrieks, the yells. Nobody heard the cries as he bound her wrists to iron rings on posts. Nobody heard the thud of his fist connecting to her belly. Nobody heard her sob as blood oozed from between her thighs forming a maroon puddle on the red dirt floor. She denied an affair, there was no-one else, he was mistaken, he was the only man to have violated her body, the only one snuffing the life within. Nobody heard the mattock connect with the side of her head or the sound of her falling to her knees with angelic grace as her world went black and silent.

He's out of it. His body has given up. Morphine courses through his veins deluding him that he feels no pain. Oh he feels pain but is too weak to complain and he's hallucinating. A shadowy figure hovers over his groin wearing a bloodied and torn sundress. Face smashed and congealed with blood. It grins a grimace so threatening that he know the end is near. "I'm sorry" . . his false contriteness seen transparent by his long past victim. She hovers and flickers, screaming revenge in noises only he can hear. His face is grimaced with terror when she spits a metaphysical spit and plunges an icy hand hard around his painfully engorged testicles. He screams, a scream of agony as she had done, before fading into oblivion. Jurd flatlines. It's over.


***


Today, the sun streams as it often does, beams patterning the floor and the corner beckons. Today however, her baby does not move. Without so much as a sideways glance she hears the familiar whisper, closer, louder "You saved me, now save her . ." The shed is empty and the blood drains from her face. The left hand corner is now covered, no sign of blue or bones but the child is here, ever present. It is not yet over.

Afraid that she's imagining things nothing is said to Adam at dinner. They eat, they talk, they make love and sleep but she is troubled. The drone of cicadas is not enough to drown out the pleading voice. It's 3am and she is roused from intermittent sleep and wanders towards the kitchen for a glass of water.

Passing the baby-ready nursery she peaks inside at the infant's room, painted white and lemon, a wooden cot against the window. Sheer buttercup patterned curtains are drawn and cast flower shadows on the polished floor. A pretty mobile of dancing butterflies hangs silent and still in the heat of this moonlit night. She smiles at her decorative handiwork and scans the room before her glance settles on the rocking chair in the corner. She screams a silent scream. The scream you scream within a dream, no noise emanates from her parted lips.


"Adam! Adam! . . . for Christ's sakes there's a kid in the nursery."

"What the . . are you crazy . . . Angie? You look like you've seen a . . "
She is white and breathless, incredulous and embarrassed.


"Jesus . . I think I have! There's a girl in the baby's nursery, in the rocking chair smiling . . shimmering!"

Swathed in disbelief, Adam races towards the baby's room. Nothing. Flicks on the light. Nothing. He turns and holds his trembling girl. "Baby, it's just the hormones, your imagination, this old house. Seriously, come back to bed, it's nothing." She says nothing as he embraces her but sees the chair, over his shoulder, in the corner, empty . . . still rocking.

Convinced that these last few weeks of her third trimester were causing delusions and doubts, Angelique slides beneath the sheets and lies awake until the butcher birds begin to call and morning is heralded by yet another sunny day. She knows. It's all about the bones.

Angelique is panicked, the baby hasn't moved in hours and the voice is still reverberating in her head. He's never seen her like this, terrified and flustered, pale and short of breath. An ambulance is called and she's rushed to emergency. Within minutes a foetal monitor confirms the baby's falling, failing, dying. "She told me!" Angelique's sobs and delusions are now out of control, "Adam, that girl, she told me, she knew, she TOLD me, save the baby!" Adam smooths her hair and kisses her forehead tenderly, "It'll be OK, you're in good hands" but he's hiding his own hysteria. A needle pierces the cephalic vein and she barely notices before she sinks into oblivion and her world too, goes black.

Angelique wakes, groggy and confused, her belly tight and sore. Drips connected with both saline and morphine for the pain. Adam sits by her side and slowly comes into focus. "The baby?" she whispers, mouth still dry from the anaesthetic and throat sore from the intimating tube. "She's fine"  he tenderly strokes her face, "She's beautiful and big, and bright. You had a Caesar but you'll be OK and she's just gorgeous." The remnants of anaesthetic still making her swoon, she closes her eyes and sleeps.

Sun streams once more through the slats as Angelique returns to a shed she feels compelled to visit for the last time. Her baby is alive because of battered bones she had uncovered. Her gratefulness overcomes her fear. Tomorrow, bulldozers will level the scene and it's sordid past will be forgotten. There is someone she needs to thank. Try as she might, no icy hand pushes firmly on her back. No whispers surround her. No flickering figure appears in the sunbeams. The girl has gone, left, she is at peace.

Angelique, lays her sleeping princess in the cot. Crickets chirp and the curtain moves ever so slightly in the evening zephyr. She strokes the tiny head covered with velveteen strands and walks towards the door. So amazed with her little miracle she's loathe to leave but is suddenly halted in her tracks as a chill swirls upwards from the floor, enveloping her body.

She glances backwards over her shoulder. Instinct tells her something is wrong, terribly wrong. Moving with speed towards the cot, the child is blue. The baby has stopped breathing. Enveloping the tiny fading body in her arms she turns towards the rocking chair. Resuscitation is useless. As she cradles her own dead child, there sits the apparition, baby suckling at a ghostly breast.


Angelique, her face incredulous, terrified and resigned falls gracefully to her knees and her world turns black.

9 comments:

  1. oh feck...what a last image to leave us with...shivers...i guess i may sleep tonight...

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  2. oh and i am back...posted the first part of mine tonight on the main blog...will finish it monday and put both parts up together at 10dom...

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  3. How fitting that tbe comments are from 'babykillers!

    What a write, Helen. Woven together in a masterly way.

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  4. what a gritty read, a roller coaster. And a nasty nasty ending. Love the story in a story...great work

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  5. I like the premise a lot. I had some problems with things like some of the adjectives, sentence structure, spelling and punctuation, though. And I wished that the story had developed to the ending a little more.

    It's a good story, but with some editing, I think it would be much better. I got the feeling you might have been in a hurry.

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  6. Oh what tragedy. Having lost three babies to miscarriage, this was a painful read for me. Regardless, this is good stuff. I did get confused though when Adam became Jim...maybe it's me, maybe I missed something...

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