The vessel- a short story by Daisy Willows
“What is this ban on abortion—it is a survival of the veiled face, of the barred window and the locked door, burning, branding, mutilation, stoning, of all the grip of ownership and superstition come down on woman, thousands of years ago.”
“Against abortion? Don’t have one.”
“Every day innocent lives are been taken by war and still there are so many countries where it is illegal to have an Abortion. This does not stop Abortions. It just increases poor health risks to women who then have to have Illegal Abortions. Where is the social justice?” DAISY
‘Miss Sainte!’ the travel consultant’s hands twitch like a bees feelers, ‘let me get your tickets for London.’ and she is off. I’ve always found it amusing how people assume that your life is more exciting than theirs. My life had taken on the acrid taste of bourbon. Hard decisions require liquor. There I was bobbing up and down like a buoy in a sea of bitter. Disconnected from all sources of life. Waves of nausea threatened to bury me, deep, in an unrefined grave. This was my existence until I sobered up.
The hairs on my arms prick up like ears on stalks, straining to confirm what they’ve heard. Shivers rush down my spine. Impulsively my hand goes to feel the smooth outline of the documents in my handbag, confirming that the surgery will go ahead. I look up from the tropical brochure and nearly fall head first into a pair of dung coloured eyes. She’s that close. I quickly murmur my thanks and bolt out the door, the wind slamming the door for me
My life tends to go from one oblivious moment to the next. One ginger bastard is all it takes for the state of my jagged ignorance to be shattered. Now all I can see is my former ignorance smirking everywhere. All of a sudden its: Ginger beer, Ginger bread, Ginger cats, Ginger biscuits, Ginger nuts, Ginger pubes, Ginger! Ginger! Everywhere! I’ve reasoned that it’s not too avaricious to want more than ‘current-girlfriend’ status. Why would a heathen (his -word) such as myself, all tits hanging loose, wild hair and barefoot, want certainty and commitment? Why indeed?! Every time it’s the same watery twaddle:
‘I’m a married man… A Catholic!’ –with a bellyful of 24 hour bargain booze. It’s all driftwood. I’m Odyssey’s ‘Scylla ‘or ‘Charybdis’. If he wants to treat me as a necessary evil then instinctively I will lure him to my grotto and devour him. Men have this habit of changing anything they see as mystifying into the female form
Yesterday his spinal support kicked in and he decides to call me. It went something like this:
‘Babe, things are … complicated. I’m here for you.’ he said.
Then, that familiar feeling, the tightening jerk on my voice chords, taut like a gymnast’s rope. Panic. The struggle to gulp in air. My throat is blitzed with grainy, arid sand. The beat. The beat in my heart starts clanging cacophonously and belches up into my throat. My instincts are shrill. Screeching: Caution! Do Not Proceed. This is what his voice does to me.
‘Babe, we’ve been through so much?’ Smelly feet. All I can smell is pongy feet; His feet! I’d rather go collecting cacti with my teeth than screw you. Yerr screw you: That’s what I should have said.
‘I’m on my way.’ C’mon you don’t wanna be loved? So instead he gets his way and I’m running like an Olympic sprinter to get to my car.
There I am sitting in the car about to gear it up. Panic. With my palms I start slamming the steering wheel. You stupid bitch. SLAM! Greedy stupid bitch. SLAM! Blasted tears form. I look into the rear-view mirror and with a finger nail, I press down hard, scraping my cheek- only satisfied when I see the offensive, black line of soggy mascara tarnishing it .Ugly Bitch! I pound the rear view mirror-over and over.
I can feel the gamut of my emotions and thoughts losing form. So fragile. One knock. One tiny crack is all it takes. When he opens the door all the innards of my mind start to scramble.
‘Neck this’, he says. He plays his part well. He picks me up like I’m a delicate fawn and gently lowers me onto his sofa. He waves a bag of coke in front of my face. My fucking dopamine receptors are giving you a standing ovation, mate! Trust an ex-army cadet to bring out the Bolivian marching powder. Several hours later, we’re both wading deep in over consumption. Billie Holliday is playing, her voice becomes the beat in my heart.
‘Love. Love her voice… so raw….so pure…but damaged like… Know what I mean?’
He just sits there, shakes his head mindlessly, not even one cobweb is disturbed. Great bulging eyes leer out at me. I might as well have a pair of fucking rabbit ears and a hat on with electrodes attached to my head. One eye hanging precariously out of its socket. It is torture what he does to me. I want to scream: Why do you look at my pain? Consider it. Consider me! And then decide this bitch needs sterilizing?
He’s suddenly up and real close. His odour arrests my breath, it’s like taking in a whiff of a Parisian fish market at the end of a hot rough day. The hairs stand up on my body betraying my true feelings. Then he demands me to laugh.
‘Laugh. ‘He roars. Followed by frenzied laughter – Shit what’s he gonna do? He’s just laughing. Standing over me and laughing at me. Kick him in the gonads, quick! He stops. Breathe. He moves up close again, our faces touching.
‘Boo! He whispers, slapping his hands together with glee, he grabs my arse –roughly. I’m smiling. My mind severs itself form my body. It too plays its part well. He then begins to undo his jeans.
A bloated smiling face. The receptionist takes my documents. The ballooned smiling face points us in the direction of the waiting area.
‘Whoa! They must have known we were arriving, all the chairs are set up, ready for a blessed sermon. Wanna do the honours?’ What am I saying? I watch his fat turnip- shaped face go red. Blood red. He is simmering away like a stew but someone forgot to put the meat in. Jesus why the hell did I agree to this? The walls expand and shrink like I’m sucking on a plastic bag. Panic. I’m in Plato’s allegorical cave. His shadow torments me, I’m convinced that Mother Nature has given him rights over oxygen.
‘Hope Sainte?’ a nurse’s voice booms. Jumped up like a leap frog. Crap joke but I got spooked. The nurse looks up at me, she raises her eyebrows which make her glasses slant downwards. He heaves his body upwards. I feel his skulking bristling my nerves. The Nurse ushers me into a cubicle.
‘Change into this then hop on a bed’ she gestures to a bed. I touch the blue gown and put my fingers to my nose. Tainted, I gag. How can I put it? It’s like, I’m inhaling water. Panic has dropped her anchor.
Lying horizontally I turn my head to the left and I look up into a pair of nostrils. It’s the Surgeon. His lips are moving like that singing bass fish that was all the rage in the nineties. I can’t hear jack shit- the porter wheels me into theatre.
I open my eyes. I exhale, the cubicle expands. He enters, drops his head. Doesn’t even bother to look at me. He stands in a corner and folds his arms He just stands in that corner reminding me of a scare crow. All stiff and glacial. Hours slither by, the silence hissing mercilessly. A hug. I want a hug. The silence is pierced. It’s me. I’m screaming. Little critters are scratching away at my insides. The attack is stabbing and sharp. The pain throbs with intent. Panic.
‘What the hell is happening?’ I look over and he’s fiddling with his fucking phone like he’s re-arranging his balls. Strap on cock-face! He turns around to face me. Did I say that out loud? He looks demonical enough.
‘Erm… well derr!’ He slaps my forehead, ‘you’re giving birth to our baby! Look at the state of ya!’ I follow his eyes. They settle on my well-formed bump.
‘You stupid murdering bitch!’ He then spits in my face and turns to leave.
‘Hey, where’re you going- we agreed on this?’ Panic. There’s more screaming.
‘Why? Why? Why?’ Each “why” growing in expectation and volume. Sobbing, through my tears I can just about make out a figure of the porter. Everything starts to slow down. No. Retardation is setting in, slowing me down. Panic. The surgeon appears again. It’s like I’m in a macabre pantomime
‘Now, please, count backward from ten, please.’ he smiles down at me.
‘I can hear you!’ I dribble out. The surgeon smiles and nods his head like one of those Chinese paw-waving cats.
‘Hey! Listen can you hear that?’ they’re playing music! What kind of sick set up is this? Beethoven’s, ‘Moonlight sonata’ is playing in the background. I touch it. The bump. I’m pretty sure this has got to breech my human rights.
A voice punctuates the air. It’s mine.
‘Number one. Gotta look after number one!’ That’s what my Mum always used to say… “If ya can’t put yourself first, you’ll never be able to put ya child first .From now on I swear it. I’ll make each moment in my life count! Maybe one day I will be worthy being called a mum….sorry.’
My eyes close, a tear rolls down my cheek as I’m wheeled into theatre.