Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What Does It Mean?


She is screaming at him. Through him. She’s pretty sure he isn’t real.

“What does it mean???” She screams again. It doesn’t register.

“What does it mean?” She screams a final third time, leans over and tugs on his dress, or robe, or whatever you call it. This tug finally registers. He looks down at her with his icy blue eyes. His pupils are wide, his skin is milk-white, and at that moment she decides he’s real, just not real in the natural sense. Somewhere, somehow, he exists, but not on her Earth and they definitely don’t share a plane of existence.

“Yes?” He asks, but she knows he knows what she wants from him. His gaze penetrates her worse than anything. Worse than any man ever could.

She is sitting, naked from the waist down, ass mushed on the cold hard rock. Blood leaks from her, flows down and pools three feet away. She contracts again, but right now his gaze is all that worries her.

“What... does... it... mean?” she moans.

He gives her a look she knows too well. A look she loathes. Pity. He pities her.

This is a dream, she decides, but this man is definitely real. Somewhere, somehow, he is definitely real.

“Shh, Margaret. They are listening.”

She contracts again, letting out a moan. “Who?”

“Them. They don’t want it born.”

“But why?”

He looks at her. The stare is angry, and it gives her chills. “What a stupid question, Margaret. What a very stupid question for you to ask.” He looks back out into the woods surrounding the temple.

She contracts again, and she starts to cry.

“Do you want them to find us?”

Tears are streaming down her cheeks. “I just want it out of me,” she moans.

He looks at her again, and bends down. He makes eye contact.

“The child will come out soon enough. Stop complaining.”

“But why me?” she sobs, startling him.

“Why not you? Why are we chosen, Margaret? Why is anyone chosen? If not you, someone else. Doesn’t matter how or why, just that it is. And it did. That’s the problem with you, Margaret, this has been a problem your entire life. Always wondering why and how instead of the all-important ‘What Do I Do Now?’ Let me clue you in, Margaret: that last question is pretty fucking important.” He stands back up, unsheathing his sword.

She contracts again, but she has stopped crying. Tears still roll down her face but she has lost the will to make sound. She just sits, bleeding onto the dirty stone floor, staring up at the ruins, gulping every ninety seconds as another contraction comes and goes. All she can hear is the sound of her own breathing.

Lucius paces around her, eyes darting to and fro. Rustling. His eyes dart. He slides his sword back down and reaches for the bow and arrow on his back. He pulls it around slowly and aims at the woods.

Margaret looks in the direction of his arrow and sees nothing but darkness. Then, a blur. Black rushing forward. A panther? Monster? Ping! The arrow catches it.

There’s more, she thinks, They’re rushing him, we’re fucked! Shadows converge. They swirl around the couple; the half-naked prostitute in labor and her foul-mouthed angel guardian. The shadows rush in. Lucius screaming, his pale skin glowing gold. All she sees is darkness.

And Maggie awakes in a sweat. Her bed is damp, not from piss, but from sweat.

She gets up and walks to the bathroom. Her head thumps. She kicks back two aspirin and hopes they do the trick. She considers her face in the mirror. Her eyes are red, tear-lines streak down her face. “What a fucking mess,” she says, but she doesn’t get mad at herself for saying it. She definitely has to agree.

She lays back down. She stares up at the ceiling. She feels her very pregnant stomach, rubs her hand over the bump, waits for a kick. They come, stronger than ever before. She wonders if the child sees her dreams. She wonders why her dreams don’t fade away anymore. She wonders if she’s normal. She wonders why she didn’t get it fixed when she had the chance.

“How are you going to support the fucking thing?” He asks.

“I don’t know. They have, like, government programs or whatever, I’ll just sign up for some of those probably.”

“I’m not gonna fucking help you.”

“Jesus Christ, Paul, you’ve made that clear.”

“It’s not my kid.”

“You certainly seem to think so.”

He gets mad. Very mad. He turns around and knocks the lamp into the wall. It doesn’t break. He walks over and stomps on it with his boot. It breaks.

“Mature, Paul. Very fucking mature.”

He turns to meet her. “We always use a rubber.”

“Ah-huh.” This response enrages him.

“You were on birth control!”


He punches the wall. “How the fuck could this happen?!

“I don’t know. Immaculate conception?”

He looks at her with hatred in his eyes. “Why the fuck are you so nonchalant?

“Because you’re totally overreacting. You don’t owe me shit, Paul. And it isn’t exactly like you’re the only guy I’ve been with. I happen to fuck guys for a living, if you’ve forgotten. I have a whole list of potential baby-daddies. You just happen to be on top, you know, because we’ve had sex more than once.”

He exhales and leans backward against the wall. “It’s just, you know, really fucking frightening learning your girlfriend is pregnant.”

“Well don’t worry about it.” She says this without the doubt she’s feeling inside. The words flow from her perfectly. All the fear and hatred and doubt are left deep within her, where they belong.

“You sure?”

No, of course she isn’t sure. But she’s going to lose him, she’s certain of that. She doesn’t let herself know she cares deeply about this. She doesn’t let herself realize this bothers her. She needs to be strong for herself now. Strong for her child. Paul doesn’t figure into her future. Paul isn’t the father, she knows that for certain.

“I’m sure.”

“You sure you’re sure?”

“One hundred and ten percent, babe.”

Paul relaxes and slides down the wall, sitting on the floor. He exhales again.

“I’ll pay for the lamp.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

He stares at the shards of porcelain, the cheap wiring tangled inside. He looks back at her. “Are you going to switch professions anytime soon?”

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