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Monday, November 21, 2011

too small


His hands shook violently. Then he calmed himself, his breath threatened to overwhelm him then he slowed it. That small box held so much that he couldn't comprehend the fullness of it. So small, why did it have to be so small? It reminded him of her small hands, her small nose, the look of determination on her small face as she held on with her small grip to the world. What was that they always said about children who passed on too soon? They were too good for this world. A comforting thought but right now he didn't want comfort, anger and rage would help. Hopelessness and desperation would be welcome. Emptiness and despair were all he had.

He clutched the sand in his hand and let go ever so limply. The grains made their way to the box. He couldn't think of it as a coffin yet. You put dead things in a coffin, how could somebody be dead if she hadn't had a chance to live. Lilah he would have called her short for Delilah the name that now graced two documents in an unreasonably short period of time. A birth certificate and a death certificate.

Lilah. It was a good name, a beauty. Her mother was a beauty but that hadn't gone too well. It hadn't gone well at all. Now he mourned her too, not as the love of his life as he had once thought her but as the mother of his child. The screams still crept into his dreams silent burglars waiting for vulnerability before they laid claim to his sleeping moments. In the daytime they were more brazen, he heard them everywhere. He heard them when he was at the place they called home, he saw them in the funeral arrangements when he bought a box for Lilah. A small box. A box that was too small. It could fit a picture he thought. One of those  family pictures they would have taken if the world wasn't “too good” for his Lilah. He caught himself wishing his daughter was just a small bit badder so that she could fit into the world. The touch of a little devil was so much more comforting than the memory of a little angel. But now all his thoughts seemed strange and wrong.

Black tie. Black shoes. Black coat. Black trousers.

In the morning he had bent to tie his laces and frozen there. He put one lace over the other. He crossed them and crissed them back. His breath failed him as he looked at his knuckles, the one he could see. They were strange, not the knuckles he had once known, not the knuckles of a man and a husband, a father to be, a protector, a provider, now they were the knuckles of a ghost. Bloody and bruised but you should see the other guy. He had punched the wall so hard one of his fingers broke and now he wasn't in all black. He regretted that. Black was sombre. White wasn't. he was cast.

He had been rushed to the same hospital that his daughter had died in that his wife had gone to when she committed the ultimate betrayal. The smell of antiseptic made him howl louder than any setting of a bone could. They had thought him crazy then. Everyone except the doctor who had delivered his wife delivered but not saved. He had looked at him with eyes full of compassion. Only compassion, no understanding and he was glad of that, glad that the doctor knew that he would never understand what this man was going through. After his cast had been set the doctor came and gave him a bottle of vodka.

He had been angry at this man once, he still was, he had anger enough for everyone but there was a special place for one being. He thought of something he had read once, he couldn't remember where, his eyes were bleary and his head foggy, his heart had sank to the pits of hell but the passage came shining through “...like medical missionaries with little patience for theology, each concentrating hard on the one baby before them, knowing and not saying that God wouldn't do a god-damned thing to help. That for fifty thousand Ibo infant lives he wouldn't bother to send rain.”*

He had never really believed before. Not before that pain and scream soaked day. Not before he had that ambiguous word that nobody wants to before their child is delivered. Complications. That word was too small. It couldn't capture the magnitude of what it meant. It meant death. He had known it then when the doctor came out with that grim look on his face and said complications. He didn't need to be told what would happen. He knew it was over. He said goodbye to Lilah then. He left and walked, wondering who to be angry at and then he prayed. He shouldn't have. He should never have.

Religion lives on hope. It feeds on it like some junkie. Without hope there is no faith and for one faulty moment he hoped. He knelt and his heart screamed out its anguish. He felt the presence of God in that moment. He felt something move inside him and he thought that meant it would be OK. Then he felt something else and he knew, in that moment he knew. He had prayed and received an answer immediately. He cursed like it was his job. Like Job should have. God's only excuse is that he doesn't exist said Stendhal. The guards came to see what was wrong. Then they saw his face. They looked in his eyes and there was only despair there. They feared him. The three of them who had guns and sticks. They were scared of looking too long in his face.

In a little while too small a while he went to his wife's bedside. She looked sick. She was suffering and he could see it. But she didn't know and he couldn't bring himself to wake her and tell her. The doctor came in and didn't have to say a word. He had been working here too long to question the mystical connection blood seemed to carry; he didn't ask him how he knew he just nodded and left. He knew he wasn't welcome.

The clothes, the clothes they had bought in moments of love, the small clothes. The small shoes, the small socks, the small bonnet, the small... he couldn't think of its name that pullover thing babies wear that has no zips. That too. He would have to put it over Lilah's small body and cover her with it, prepare her for death. He thought about that. He thought about funerals and arrangements, about the difficulties in finding a small coffin, he thought about having to send out invites to all the people who had given him love. Small tasks occupied his mind. He had to tell his wife that her child was dead and he couldn’t think of that. He would have to break her heart he thought. He didn't want to break her heart, he wanted to preserve it, but her eyes fluttered open.

Through the haze of drugs she saw her husband and saw his tears. Misunderstanding  She was filled with love, the love  of a newborn mother who  sees that the father of her child loves the child just as much. She wanted to hold her baby and she whispered “where's Delilah?” tears of joy look just like tears of sorrow but the sounds can never confuse, not when its real anguish.

“she's...”

Was all he could choke out. Then she was glad she had the drugs in her. She was glad she had screamed with pain before and that all that morphine was in her. She was glad of this one small thing. She closed her eyes but this kind of pain breaks down the strongest of walls. It tears them down and makes a mockery of all kind of defences. She had nightmares that night. Strange nightmares. She saw her daughter speak her first word. Saw her first step. Took her to school, listened in on their first real argument the one that shook the walls of the house. She saw her first boyfriend and hated him, she saw the heartbreak her child would have endured and then she saw the smile of happiness as Delilah told her about the man she would marry. She dreamt a life and when she saw Delilah give birth she woke up screaming. Screaming and screaming and she wouldn't stop.

She was a ghost from then on. For 2 days she walked the earth no longer pregnant. She sat down in Delilah's things and cried. She walked to the hospital, she went to her room on the tenth floor and then she went to see her daughter. She had too much to teach her. And as she jumped out and the ground rushed up to reach her the tears streamed up her face, falling up her chin.

Next to her body they found the white and black picture of Delilah still in her mummy's stomach, the blood had flowed onto it so that it looked like she was drowning in blood.

When her husband was called by the hospital the last bit of him broke. He took it out on the wall, he took it out on himself. He took it out on her. His love withered and died just like him. He refused to be involved in her death. He didn't want to know about the funeral arrangements there. He couldn’t bring himself too. He was alone and he knew it. Everyone leaves and turns into leaves.

He buried his daughter. He buried his sorrow. He buried his humanity and then he went to see her. Just one small thing he thought as he swallowed the pill. Just one small thing.

Too small, he couldn't feel it go down his throat, too small he couldn't believe she was gone, too small. She was so small was the last thought he had before he went to join his family.

Too small…



* From Hannibal by Thomas Harris(i could remembere where i read it.)