FICTION: Body

You’re walking along the high street and it’s a grey day and you’re wearing your coat but you’ve unbuttoned it because you’re always too warm now. Perhaps you’re dreaming about getting away, a bit of sunshine, maybe you’ll even leave your husband behind, leave everything here. 

Suddenly, you’re falling.  For a second you think you’ve tripped but then you feel the tingling on the edges. Now you’re not so sure. This is not what it’s like to trip on a curbing stone, instead you are falling, crumbling, breaking until your lying on the pavement. Your clothes are soaking from the left over rain from the night before. Everything around you looks different, jaunty angles you’ve never seen before, blurred vision and a terrible, painful ringing in your ears. People come rushing over, they bend over you, keeping a slight distance as they vocalise their concern. Their faces contort and twist above you and you hear someone calling an ambulance.

You’re not unwell. This is something else. Your eyes grow heavy and when you look through your eyelids the street and the people that fill it blurs with another image. Somewhere else completely. Someone else completely.

Someone is asking how far gone you are and you reach down and when you look there’s blood. Red, sticking, fingerprints across the pavement. Leaving evidence that you were here, that they were gone so they were once here too. You think for a second that at least there’s that. Evidence. So that when it’s all done with and over with somewhere on this pavement there’ll be evidence. If some forensics looked closely, they would find it. Little parts of what was and you feel relieved. Relief trickles through the exhaustion as clammy fingers grip your hands and pull you up and get you sat down and wait for the paramedic who can’t really do anything anyway. 

“Is this the first time?” Someone asks and you feel a bite of irritation. The fainting or the bleeding or the loss?

Someone asks if you’ve eaten today and you want to shout How Dare You? How Fucking Dare You?

You don’t do this, but you’ll already feel guilty and you don’t need anyone to make you feel worse so you push them away, leaving little bloody fingerprints on the ladies coat which is a pristine camel colour and you know later she’ll be disgusted but you don’t care because the pain has started again and you just need to get off the street, to do this in private, to shout and scream and cry in private without all these people asking if you tripped, is that it, did you have a drink, is that it, have you not done this or done that, is that why. They clearly haven’t done this before, but you have. There’s no stopping the slipping and falling. It won’t stop. Not until it’s over.

Suddenly you’re sitting up in bed, panting and sweating, hand cupping over your belly, trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not.

“It’s ok.” He says, his hand cupping over your shoulder, squeezing tight. “You’re ok, just a dream, darling.”

You nod and breathe and lie back in your pillows, staring up at the chipped plaster and wondering if it’s an omen or just a memory. You push your fingers into the side of your belly and hold your breath until the baby inside kicks and you can mercifully fall back to sleep.

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