Twenty some years ago on a late summer night the lightning zipped open the sky. It rained heavy great lines. Thunder soundtrack. Flash after flash after crash and boom. I was stoned.
She lay there on a bed in a private room. We were teenagers. Her mouth was smiling but her eyes were scared. They’d given her an injection and some other shit an hour or so ago. Now the process was beginning to kick in. Her stomach hurt. Soon, an unborn baby was going to see the bright artificial light in here, then die silently, unseen by her; just a coven of Nurses taking things down to where the Care-Plan route was already in motion now. NO turning back.
I’d bought in a teddy bear for her. She said thanks, but it was a stupid idea. The maternity ward – down from the room via a short connecting corridor – was full of soft toys, gaudy balloons, and flowers. In her stark room, serving only one purpose, there had probably never been a flower or a teddy at any point, ever. I sat by the bed and held her hand. She was trying not to cry. I told her everything would be ok. In truth, I had no idea. Lying to yourself is all you can do when you are about to be complicit in the killing of a baby.
When she’d found out she was pregnant I told her the whole thing was not a mess, and that I’d stay with any decision she made. If we kept the baby then I’d find work and do my part. I didn’t have the sway over her and her body and the responsibilities that she’d face if she gave birth to our child. She was three months gone when she made the final choice. I can’t admit to feeling relief or disgust, I was still numb from the whole thing. We told nobody. This was our cross to bear. No-one had noticed as she started to get puppy fat on her face and tummy. We’d sat in summer meadows and talked about the future. But the bottom line was we didn’t have one. It was never going to work when dicks were getting waved at her every five minutes by every guy for twenty miles around. No amount of acid or weed or booze makes watching your girl flirting with some leather-clad prick any easier. That’s what I’d found, anyhow. We were young and choices were meant to be something which weren’t forced on us. We were getting high, partying, living life. And now we were killing life for all three of us.
A Nurse came into the room and looked me up and down before telling me to go. Visiting was over. I kissed my girlfriend’s head, went and stood outside the hospital entrance and lit a smoke in the pouring rain, then cried. My friend turned up late in his car to pick me up. We didn’t speak until we got back to the Isle. He didn’t know what to say either.
I picked her up in the afternoon the next day. She was pale and quiet. I took her home. She fell into bed and pulled the covers over her face. We lay like that until it got dark, not even touching.
We split up not long after. It was angry and messy. I threatened the new boyfriend, banging on his door once, drunk, in the early hours, forcing her to quickly dress and come downstairs pretending nothing was going on. I laughed at them both, wished them luck, then went and got high. No grave for what I’d lost, no memorial, just a pathetic teenager with a head full of acid sitting in a summer dawn questioning everything that’d happened. Adrift, alone, and with blood on his hands: his own this time, smeared all down one arm, broken bottle laying there in the grass like an answer.