posted on Jul, 13 2009 @ 12:34 PM
Wrapped in a wet, transparent, membranous bloody shawl, a newly born baby hung from the light fitting directly above, a telephone cord coiled and
wrapped around its tiny neck like a restricting snake. Lying paralysed on his bed, powerless to fight it, David looked on as the baby screamed and
kicked its podgy legs, as it struggled only inches away from his face. The cries increased to a crescendo of cacophonous terror, echoing like the
howls of a lonely wolf.
David's eyes snapped open and a dark room greeted him. His heart raced, beat so hard that he could feel its pulse in his fingertips. Rolling over,
aware that he had just suffered his recurring nightmare, David wasn't at all surprised to find his wife's side of the bed empty. He pulled back the
duvet, wiping away the sweat from his face with the corner as he shifted himself upright. These nights were hard on him, were really wearing him thin;
as if it was just his wife suffering a loss and not him.
Climbing out of bed, he ambled towards the hallway, listening for any movement that was a clue to his wife's state of mind. Gina was either quiet,
sleepwalking, living out her fantasy in the nursery or, awake, likely to be hostile and upset, crying and clutching at a yellow teddy bear, which was
to have been baby Liam's first toy.
It was silent except for a muted whisper, a gentle breeze that teased the window frames, and the occasional creaks from the old oak beams as they
shifted with the ever changing temperature of the house.
David pulled on an old jumper and headed downstairs to pour a brandy to help him sleep. The same old routine: brandy, cigarette, help his manically
depressed wife back to bed after which she would either try and return to the nursery, or just cry herself to sleep.
Approaching the top of the stairs he paused, looked to the room at the end of the landing and listened again. Still quiet, a sure sign Gina was in one
of her nightly trances. He never tried to interfere with her when she was in this state. Holding his breath to hear with more clarity, he could just
make out the faint whispers Gina made, whispers that a mother would use to comfort an agitated child. He could now hear his heart thump in his ears,
could see his jumper twitching as it pounded away in his chest. If he was lucky, by the time he had finished his nightcap and returned, she might well
be in a deep sleep on the nursery floor. That would be too easy, just to be able to carry her back to bed without any conflict.
It tore his heart to see her this way. He wanted so desperately to eradicate her pain, banish the hurt that had changed her; let her sleep, rest,
regain some mental stability. The sleepwalking chilled him; finding her sitting up in bed, staring at him with soulless eyes frightened him. She was
such a colourful, lively girl before their son's birth; always laughing, teasing, and challenging everything life had to throw at her. Apart from
this; this had stolen a part of Gina, the part that shone, a multicoloured aura that danced within her hazel eyes, beamed as she smiled, radiated from
her skin in an abundance of joyous emotion.
Having taken a large swig from the tumbler, David eased back into a chair and lit a cigarette. The brandy felt hot inside his empty stomach; the
nicotine gave a brief reprieve from the trauma of having to face the woman who now scared him witless. The house felt empty, the massive presence that
was once the girl he adored now extinct, gone, leaving an ominous hole in the ambience of their home. He listened to wind, whispers straight from the
mouth of Mother Nature, her words sweeping through the tall ferns outside. Upstairs remained silent, Gina most likely in the nursery feigning her
son's presence, pretending he was in her arms and not laying in a tiny white coffin buried in the cemetery. In his mind's eye he could see her
cooped up in the darkness sitting beside the cot, her arms empty but rocking to and fro; her gentle words an incomprehensible slur.
Exhaling a cloud of smoke, David thought back to when they had both decorated the little room upstairs. Gina was so excited, so overwhelmingly happy,
it was like nine months of Christmas to her. When choosing the nursery's décor, she had literally danced around the shop, picking out fittings and
wallpapers, lampshades and curtains, mobiles and finally the cot, the last piece that now seemed to dominate all that was left of her life. When
decorating the room, Gina had insisted that she do it herself, mocking his abilities at D.I.Y, showing the side of her that he now missed the most.
The poignant memories felt as though they were feeding from his heart. Parasitic leeches, supping and gorging on everything that was beautiful. He
grasped at the brandy and drained it, causing a deep burning in the centre of his trachea. It felt good and he enhanced the flash of calmness by
inhaling a large drag from his cigarette. Closing his eyes, he slowly exhaled, savouring the moment.
Stubbing out the cigarette with trembling fingers, preparing to face the empty shell that was once his happy girl, he heard a soft moan sound down
from upstairs. David froze, the thought of Gina walking around in a sleeper's trance causing his lower extremities to shrivel, to shrink as though
they sought a place to hide inside. The weak cry echoed down again, and he was sure it was just the breeze outside testing the old window frames,
whistling through the weathered cracks.
The sound injected a chilling concoction of ice and acid into his chest and bladder. It made his skin feel as though a mild dose of electricity ran
through it, a tingling that ran over his scalp. It took him back to the night of Liam's birth. Everything had gone so well, the doctors predicting a
swift and successful delivery. Although Gina felt pain, through her tears she was smiling; laughing ecstatically when told the top of their baby's
head had appeared. It had happened so damn fast. He looked on in total awe of human creation, the birth of another being, something they had both
created together. Through all the chaos of the doctors and nurses going about their business, the mid-wife encouraging Gina to push and the feelings
he never thought existed, he didn't at first register when all started to go terribly wrong. He watched his wife pushing, panting with a new
determination, a new pain faltering her smile. Instead of their son's head completely emerging, it slowly disappeared back inside. At this point Gina
was crying out, her shrieks sending the nurses into frenzy. The baby had turned inside; was now trying to come out feet first.
Leaning forward, his head in his hands, and his elbows resting on the kitchen table, David struggled with the memory, the night of their son's birth
draining his energy. He couldn't shake the images in his head; even with his eyes open, staring through his fingers at the table, he could see his
wife's contorted, agonised features as the nurses manipulated the baby to take the correct course. Their son had eventually come out the correct way
and there was a moment of relief, a break in the horrifying chaos that was the not knowing. As baby Liam was finally given the gift of life, it was
cruelly stolen from him. He lay silent, motionless in the nurses' arms, the twisted, umbilical cord wrapped around his face and neck. The mid-wife
started to wail as the nurse pried at the bloody cord. The sound reminded him of a whining dog. Gina was still unaware of the problem. Her face was a
picture of relief; her arms held out to receive the son that she had so desperately and patiently waited for.