My life has always been filled with monsters. Some were gentle, some passionate, some quiet and unsuspecting, some men, some women, and some bone-chilling terrifying. I've never known a world without them. I'm my own monster, too, I suppose. Bred and attached—a menagerie of parts from both my parents—idealistic, revered, hated, and admonished.
As I etch these words into my journal, I feel the infant in my lap grow colder. Its eyes are mercifully closed, but I can’t help remembering them when they were wide—alive and blue like Percy’s. She is our little creation—a piece of us, stitched together by horrific circumstances. An abandoned marriage and forsaken families, and a taboo romance that probably should have never been but couldn’t be resisted.
Percy has already made his peace with our loss, already dreaming up new poetry and visions of our future together. But something deep within my soul whispers softly: Cursed. Holding our nameless monster, I wonder if it was a mercy to her that she not know the pains of having outlaw parents or a world that would surely reject and spit curses on her beautiful spirit. I caress her cheek. The faint light from the chamberstick grows even dimmer as I try to push back my wonderings about where Percy is at this early morning hour. I want to be present with her—only her—her cheek pressed to my chest, her lips—his lips—pursed as if she is sending me sweet air kisses.
My heart feels numb as if it’s missing, and I no longer sense its beat beneath my shift and skin.
"Will I ever be able to breathe again?" The words fall from my mouth into the small, dark room. Filling the corners with my own shadows, releasing what haunts me into the space. I lay the child in bed, our beautiful monster, and my arms hang limp at my sides as I force myself to create distance from what Percy and I created. My feet stumble across the planked floor, grit and dust sullying them. The sun has yet to come up outside. The city is quiet. It's almost as if it's mourning too, a still silence that's stretched further than my own heart.
The thick gray skies morph into something ominous. The clouds darken, despite the nearness of dawn, and suddenly a strike of lightning lights the sky, stretching its illuminated branch-like arms across the city and to my window. I jump back, temporarily blinded by the burst of light in the room. When my eyes adjust, I watch helplessly as the electric arm slithers like a snake across the ceiling, then down the cracked plaster walls, and into the bed with my baby. Another surge of light erupts in the space, and I cover my eyes instinctively but force them open when a boom of thunder shakes the floor beneath me. The arm is gone.
I watch the baby lift her hands in the air; her tiny fingers stretch into the darkness. I gasp and nearly fall as I rush to her side. Her bright, cool eyes stare up at me, and she smiles. My heart begins to thump in my chest again.
Someone walks down the hall, heavy footsteps echoing. The boots on wood grow louder, stopping at our door. The screech of hinges catches my attention, and I open my eyes. It's Percy.
“She’s awake,” I tell him, hot tears streaming down my cheeks. His eyes widen, but he doesn’t say anything. He crawls into the bed with us. I study his face, anticipating his gleeful response, but when his eyes meet her, a shadow drifts across him. He quickly jerks out of bed. He’s pulling the door open again, and my heart falls away once more.
“It was only a dream, Mary,” he says in a voice so soft I can hardly make out the words.
Moments later, I’m barely able to scrawl in my journal what happened. “Dreamed that my baby came to life again…Awake and find no baby.”
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