By: Isabella Melians
content warning : abortion
She won’t let me sleep. She has been standing at the foot of my bed for five nights now, sixty hours, three hundred minutes, two hundred and sixteen thousand seconds. When I close my eyes I swear I can smell her honey breath, her whispered chant of why, why, why. Lukewarm tears trace their way down my cheeks, finding their home in my threadbare satin pillowcase. My ragged breaths falter across eggshell sheets, breaking her rhythmic mantra. I want to explain to her that it wasn’t supposed to end this way, she should have been born, he should be here, I shouldn’t feel so guilty. But my mouth is glued shut, reducing my remorse and apologies to flutter against my hollow chest.
It’s 1 am, any sane person would be asleep by now, but I feel like anything but. The muted world outside does nothing to silence her probing question, leaving just my rambling mind and her pulsing inquiries. He left us without a second thought. Why, why, why. I couldn’t raise her alone, it should have been both of us. Why, why, why. It would have been perfect: married at 24, pregnant at 25. Grace for a girl, Orion for a boy. Why, why, why. I should have told someone, I should have considered keeping her. Why, why, why. I shouldn’t have gone to the clinic alone. Why.
Amber hair cascades over the left side of her face, leaving a single cerulean iris to peer out. She would have had her father’s eyes. Her hair is frizzy and her eyebrows are unplucked, she seems almost feral. I see myself in each untamable fiber running rampant across the side of her head. My fingers prickle with the slightest urge to smooth her wild strands. Her nose scrunches in perplexity, the freckles dotted across its bridge compressing in a single fold of skin. Scarlet lips frown in puzzlement, uncertainty falling across tan features. Her intrusive interrogation is currently inaudible, chapped lips channeling the ghost of her supercilious question. Why, why, why. My mother always said you could tell who was a Flores by their heavy upper lip. The orange lamp outside flickers in irregularity. In between flashes her tear-stained cheeks gain a new streak.
Now it’s 2:45 am. Rain is pummeling against my bedroom window, but neither of us move. Her hands fidget with a sole strand of hair, twirling and untwirling it around her finger. A familiar expression crosses her face, eyes turning sorrowful. I wore the same expression when I swallowed the first pill. My shaking hands had fumbled before reaching my mouth, the chalky pill burning as I swallowed. Images flash across my mind. A dazed person staring in a mirror, white pill in hand. Surely that person couldn’t have been me? Legs gave out beneath me, I didn’t try to stop the fall. My hand was bleeding, how did it get cut? Cold tile comforted me as I lay alone. Her sorrowful eyes mirrored my own tearful own.
It’s 3 am. Her form now flickering in between ages indecisively. At first a tiny baby squirms in her crib, entranced in the dance of stars and birds above her head. She is dressed in a white onesie rimmed in pink, cotton socks warming otherwise bare feet. Grace is embroidered along the side. Toothless gums release frantic whimpers before being comforted by a striped pacifier.
The next second generates a wobbling toddler trotting towards an ice cream cone, vanilla sliding down its sides. Sandy feet eagerly fumble across the earth, a salty wind tousling blonde hair. The sunlight catches her eyes as she reaches the cone, pure joy lighting up pudgy cheeks. Sticky fingers leave traces of the desert across a checkered dress.
She changes again, a teenager now, sporting purple hair that falls short at her arms. A burgundy dress hangs off of her shoulders, satin circling beneath her knees. Shimmering lip gloss paints her face, her hair curled and tied back in a sapphire pin. When the doorbell rings she jumps nervously to her feet, hesitant steps echoing across the tile hall.
By 3:30 am she has become harrowed, a ruffled yellow dress contrasting the dark circles beneath her eyes. She carries a Starbucks cup in her right hand, handbag in her left, as she trudges towards a stone building. A white coat is draped across her shoulders, reading “Dr. Flores.” A sigh escapes her, turning the air in front of her a hazy white.
A flush in her cheeks the next instant, a baby gently tugs at hair reaching down her back. The microwave beeps and she pulls out a bottle of warmed milk, testing its warmth on the back of her hand. A framed photo rests on a shelf adjacent to the fridge. In a white dress, she kisses a dark haired gentleman.
But then she turns withered, once vibrant skin sagging at the joints. She lays in her bed, surrounded by flowers and cards. An automated machine steadies her breathing, chest falling in cadence. Her eyes are unmoving beneath her lids, stuck in an everlasting dream.
At 3:45 am she materializes in her original appearance. She just stands there, in her own silent vigil. Her hands lie still at her sides. The only sound in the room is our breathing. The silence surrounds us, encompassing the slightest creak of wood or flutter of branches scratching at the window. It extends its velvet hands until they circle around my heart and squeeze. It becomes hard to breath, I know I am inhaling yet the oxygen never seems to actually enter my lungs. I’m left gasping for air. It takes 15 minutes to steady my breathing, frigid air soothing my clenched lungs. My eyes dart around the room, skimming over wilted roses and stacked vintage books. Widened pupils glide across my mother’s jade necklace, turtleneck sweaters piled on wooden chair hangers littered on mosaic tile, and across my daughter herself. Despite being smothered beneath three downy blankets, my skin turns icy. Heartbeats strum against my chest, skin trembling with each passing pulse. The ceiling trembles beneath heavy drops of rain, creaks threatening to cave in and surrender to the storm. Sweat beads across my forehead, trails of salt falling across my icy cheeks. She knows I deserve this.
Isabella Melians (she/her) is a 16-year-old sophomore attending school in south Florida. She is the vice president of her school’s writing club, “The Writer’s Circle”, and has been acknowledged by publications including Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine, Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The Weight Journal, Same Faces Collective, The Raindrop Magazine, Ice Lolly Review, and other reviewers. In her free time, she enjoys playing the cello, watercolor painting, and fostering with a local pet rescue.
Find Isabella @isabellam_04 on Instagram.