Remembrance of An Early Termination
By Christine Rose
Sister, it’s Easter! Carla must take four blown eggs to school tomorrow for decoration. I sit at the kitchen table with my tools of steady destruction: large safety pin, hammer, cocktail stick, straw; plastic bowl for unwanted contents. This is my first time. I have no idea how to force the inside of the egg out into the world without smashing the entire egg.
It’s Autumn. I am twenty-two, a Finalist. Hovering on the cusp of the wide world. The University Clinic pays for it, sorts it all out. At just five weeks I can be blown awake. No need for an anaesthetic. Recovery will be quicker that way and I can return to my dissertation without too much interruption. Reality vs The Ideal in Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.
The clinic sits pleasantly on Richmond river, large and inviting like an established Swiss eaterie. Customers always leave satisfied. I am told to change into a white gown and shown to a cream-carpeted room with six beds. A girls’ dorm. A living space for women undone. Such comfort!
A congenial Doctor walks around the beds, talking to us and inserting pessaries into our bodies. To explode us from within. After a while we will feel pain; we can have pain relief if we want.
I lay back and wait. What’s the point in being terrified now? There’s no going back. We are, all six of us, in this room, waiting to cross over the red line, to be transformed. I focus on a woman across from me, smiling, and reading The Radio Times. Her mother holds her hand. When it comes, the pain lurchs me, retching over the side of the bed, a high speed train screaming across my stomach. A nurse comes and injects me in my thigh with Pethidine. We are handled so beautifully. Such a smooth operation.
O bliss, sister! Soon, I am adrift on the ocean. Kneeling, I hold my hands up and surrender entirely to the onset of violence.
O how it falls out of me in pieces! How persistently I bleed over a card-board pan in the toilet so that the contents of me can be inspected for life lost. (I clingfilm the yolks of Carla’s eggs in a plastic bowl to avoid waste). Black blood pools and will not stop pooling. Then, yes! The grisly lump tumbles. I am vacuumed. The thing that must be stopped, the red planet that is just daring to attach and form, has come away. Before it’s too late. Before the heart is too robust. Before it has any chance. I gasp as the centre of the earth pulls out of me, then more black chocolate blood.
I moan, emptied, sweating, back to my bed. Hoisted by cooing nurses who’ve seen it all. Every day they help droves of refugee women navigate this bridge from captivity to liberation; this silent guilt-soaked land-mine territory of which we must not speak. My friend, Rachel, reads The Great Gatsby to me; its her voice I need, I can’t follow the story. My body adjusts back to a state of non-pregnancy; like a weeping child told off. The pan, still warm and filled with fresh life substance, is taken and sieved by a nurse who knows what she was looking for. Success! It has all gone. There is nothing left that can cause lasting damage. The murky satellite has detached entirely from its mother ship. What could have been - this vast unthinkable possibility – gets the message and doesn’t cause a fuss.
How far, far this bizarre procedure is from mothering. Hiroshima in my womb. I am a weak cow now, spindling white after a nasty bleed. A blown and brittle egg; blasted with gusto; weightless. No centre of gravity. Joy, almost. Space.
The father, the giver of life, was a moon-headed boy called Declan. We’d gone through middle school together, from nine to thirteen years old, crossed into puberty from either side of the fence. He’d been fun, but there’d never been fire between us. At the end of that summer there had been something of a reunion. Now grown up and dispersed, we’d danced and drunk at Cinderellas nightclub in town. O Dunstable! Didn’t I always go back there to get fucked up; to get slain. Wasn’t it always a crucifixion?
In his darkened bedroom, standing next to his bed, we’d swum in and out of each other with our mouths and hands. Truly sister, this was immaculate conception for there was no intercourse! Just the tip of him; the edge of me. We’d been careful that way. We’d shown restraint! How hungry for life my body was; always was. How it sucked the Very Beginning into itself. How sick and green I felt so soon after our swaying embrace.
Declan never knew the drama his moist kissing body left behind; the pain, the worry, the panic, the blood, the trauma, the required organisation, the renewed life afterwards. How strange life is, sister, that glorious life should be made standing up in a Dunstable bedroom between Adam and Eve! And how Adam dances away, knowing nothing. And how Eve is stuck; fucked; dealing with a multiplying red planet that won’t go away. Isn’t it funny how something so shared isn’t shared at all? And how, from that second, it grows and theatens to grow evermore into life and limb until something must be done.
I am given tea and toast with jam. My friend Mark picks me up in his MG Midget; I slump, cramped in the back. At his place, I shower and sob. Born anew, unstuck, strings cut, I flap my wings and we go for a beer. Sitting up on bar-stools in the Student Union I feel incredibly happy. Haven’t I come through a tiny private, little bloody war in Richmond; a seedy, white-gowned act of self-slaughter? Yet here I am sipping beer in a bar with music and lights. How vigorously life can make good. How blessed it is to be free!
O my sister, weren’t we always blown eggs! Weren’t we dear delicate eggs, pierced top and bottom and blown with violent fury, on and on until we fell out of ourselves, the outer bits first but then the yolk of us, in blobs and bits, trying so hard to stay in, where we belonged, to stop up the gap, to defy the force of that persistent lie. O but didn’t they blow and blow, our ancestors, our mothers, our sisters and brothers, until we could only relent and fall, fall entirely out until there was only a gleaming white space and hidden smears of what could have been, and bubbles.
Christine Rose is a Health Worker & Writer based in Forest Row.
Blown is an extract from her memoir (in progress) I Dreamt I Was An Apple, Cored, a requiem to her sister, Sally, who committed suicide at the age of nineteen, when Christine was sixteen. The memoir is in the form of an extended love letter; a story of impossible loss, blood, resurrection and miracles.
Lizzy Humber would like to invite you to help her create a platform of stories and artistic responses to invisible aspects of motherhood. This can live on the Mothers Who Make website as a resource and to support visibility for motherhood experiences . If you would like to share something or start a conversation about something you would like to make please get in touch lizzy[at]motherswhomake.org