When Bobby and I got married, I quit my job so we could get pregnant and have a house full of kids. We had constant sex, and when it was over, I laid in bed with my ass propped up on three pillows trying to guide his sperm into the right places in my body. Every night I sat on my front porch and stared into the dark woods waiting for an owl’s screech. They are said to be a sign of fertility. Every morning I woke up and ran to the bathroom to piss on a stick. Two lines meant you were pregnant. But I always only got one. It was like the stick was giving me the middle finger.
When we started In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), they gave me a box of needles and Bobby a private room filled with titty magazines to jerk off in.
We had success with this method. Several times, actually. But with each ultrasound we were told, “I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat.”
I had several operations where the doctors surgically sucked the dead baby out of my uterus. I never saw what was removed with that vacuum, but I took their tiny faces, as I imagined them, home with me and buried them in plotted rows in my backyard. They always seemed to say, “Why would I ever want to be with you?”
I never went back to work because I kept thinking that each month would be the one that gave us a baby. This will be the one who will love me, I’d think. Bobby knows how I spend my days, but he never asks about them. He knows I go for walks and usually end up on a park bench at the playground. A mother will sit down next to me, eventually complaining about how hard her life is. I smile and listen, and after a while she might ask, “So which one is yours?”
I lie and answer, “Oh, she’s with a babysitter now. I’m just taking a break.”
“God, I’d kill for an afternoon to myself. You should be getting a manicure!”
We eat dinner at a silent kitchen table every night. I don’t ask him about his work at the glass factory anymore because nothing ever changes.
“I’m tired. I’m going to bed,” he’ll say before plodding upstairs in his work boots. There is no need to be quiet. There is no one to wake up. He makes no effort to kiss me goodnight or even touch my shoulder. With the absence of procreation he has no interest in intimacy.
I retreat to my porch to sit with my ghost children and wait for the owls.
Finally, one cries in the distance. It sounds like, “Not you. Not ever you.”
Kristin Grimes is the mother of three children. A graduate of Roger Williams University with a communications degree, she spends time with her children, one of whom has a rare stage IV form of Neuroblastoma cancer. You can follow her blog at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/christophergrimes.
Cróna Gallagher’s fiction and poetry have been featured in publications such as the Dublin Quarterly, The Moth, Popshot and Drunken Boat. She has contributed both poetry and illustration to PB3, and further illustrations have appeared in Confetti and Prudence magazines. Her volume of poetry, The Doves of the Forest Night, was published in 2005 through Lapwing Press. She has lived and traveled throughout Europe and the south pacific and currently lives in Co. Leitrim, Ireland with her husband and daughter.