A reborn story. I wanted it to be up here by itself, rather than submerge it within another. Give it its own legs to walk on, so to speak.
She had just given birth and he released he didn’t love her. He shifted his stance from one foot to another, dancing in spot to try to stop the blood from clumping at his toes. He was diagnosed with varicose veins just two weeks ago. Something to do with faulty valves in his veins. Not enough pressure, the doctor said. He didn’t really understand it at the time, but he nodded and nodded, and thanked the doctor. He’d have to wear these black, tight socks now. A quick research on the Internet revealed it was an issue that occurred primarily in older men. He was twenty-three.
There were some stores nearby, he could see them through a window that coughed out light, and he might be able to get to them after this. It was taking longer than expected, though. Most things do. But he was here long enough to let the blood settle and his toes to numb and he was getting restless and tired and swaying side to side didn’t help the condition –
“Mr. Mahony, congrats.”
A hand patted his back and the blood trickled to his heart. He stopped moving his feet. He smiled. A weak thank you escaped him, though with all the noise around, it was hard to hear. He could barely tell himself if he had said it, and too much time had past between then and now to repeat the message.
He tried to move his feet again but it felt like they were stuck to the floor. Probably something to do with the room. It seemed dirty. A thick moisture coated the walls. Hard pushes and yells had birthed such a mess. So many different tools had been used. Different fluids had poured on the floor too. They probably had mazed from the spill to his feet and then glued him to the ground one foot at a time. Or if not the room, maybe his recent stagnation was a result of the viscous blood congealing in his veins. Maybe the red liquid wasn’t like water but oatmeal, and it was choking up his insides. Maybe his inner body had become so solid that if he moved, he’d break into a million pieces. Like Medusa and the stone men she created, he thought. Then he remembered that varicose veins weren’t known to cause such immediate death, but then again, people weren’t supposed to get it so young.
He attempted to lift his feet again. They felt heavy. Was he wearing his steel-toe boots? He couldn’t remember.
“Come here, honey.”
The blood began to circulate again, and he could smell and see and move suddenly. The air was soaked in sweat. Most of it seemed to be concentrated urea that left a smell of piss that had been sitting unstirred for days.
The soft parade of shuffling met his ears. Muffled moans from outside beat their way into the room. A cry of a baby, or perhaps a cat dying, could also be heard.
He moved his stiff neck freely now with the momentary passage of blood into his skeletal tissues. The violence of bones groaned against one another. He looked at her.
Water or sweat or both covered any visible portion of her skin. Her gown was drenched too. In the weak light of the room, she glistened like a piece of mud does after a storm.
Her hair was damp and untamed. Curls of it snaked down her face, blocking her left eye. Her right was swollen shut, a pattern that defined most of her face. Even her lips were plump. She could barely breathe without them flailing about.
Some of her stomach seeped through the gown. It was stretched and flabby; the remnants of a balloon that had recently been popped. What looked like her belly button dangled off the edge of the metallic frame. From afar, it looked like a pepperoni that was left to rot.
“Look at our son.”
Her nostrils were huge, unexplored caves. They flapped around as she inhaled.
He took a step.
Her hands rested on the bed. They were bloated sausages.
He took another.
Her feet stuck out from the blanket. A worn tattoo of a butterfly looked like a bruise.
He was there.
The smell. The smell. The smell.
“Isn’t he beautiful?”
Trying not to breath the piss-filled air, he moved his neck slowly and carefully, an attempt to save the blood that he knew he’d need with these damn varicose veins that make it so hard to move in a room like this, to the bundle of blankets and the pound of flesh. His eyes were tired, but in the dim sunlight that died in the corners of the room, he noticed that the baby looked like her.