Evelyn by Delia Pring

I have perfected the art of detachment. Allowing my body to go through whatever trial it was subjected to while my mind took itself away to safety and birdsong.

I would picture the sky, duck egg blue, curved and dimpled, awash with swathing clouds. Listen for the sounds of fast flowing water tripping over stones and the far-off monotonous burr of tractors.

There is always birdsong.

The body is an amazing machine and mine, horribly flawed, still recognised the mechanics of childbirth. Artificially created and early. Induced hypodermically and accompanied by invasive explorations that terminated and butchered the abnormal foetus swaddled within my defective womb.

Convulsions swept my body. Numb and automatic.

A white sheet cut me in two, a barrier against what was happening. Figures in white with masks and judgemental eyes went about their business.

Alone and ashamed, encased in this private facility, I learnt the reality that I would not become a parent. Here was the consequence of my inability, and the decision that I couldn’t bear carrying a child that would not live. To become attached, form an emotional bond that couldn’t blossom. To watch my belly grow. To undulate with weirdness as my little parasite became real, proving life was there.

I lay, prodded and poked. Unfeeling. Invaded and emptied.

 They left me to get dressed.

The tiny body I had expelled was nowhere. I knew it had tiny fingers and a face. I saw it on the pre-procedure scan in a blurry monochrome bubble. An erratic heartbeat, a disfigured form, multiple abnormalities. But she was mine.

I waited in the shiny off-white box. Artificial lights. Wipe clean furnishings. Waiting for them to bring it back. This child I would live without. However invalid, it had been real. Just waiting to say I was sorry. That I had let it down, I couldn’t perform the function women were meant to fulfil.

After forty minutes I crept to reception. A huge sanitary towel a cumbersome brick in my jeans. To the woman, also in white, with a fake smile and customer service voice. The painkillers wearing off.

The foetus had been disposed of as medical waste.

She confirmed my billing address.

She called me a taxi.

About the contributor

Delia Pring enjoys experimentation, toying with the malleable form of the essay to produce work that cannot comfortably reside within a specific category. She contributes regularly to The Write Life and The Blue Nib. She completed her MA in 2019 and lives in Devon.

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