I have expanded this vignette into a short story. Here is a preview of the short story, Baby Mother.
Thanks for Marsha-Gay, for asking for a short story after liking the vignette. I must acknowledge my appreciation for my “critical thinker” who pushed me to rewrite and to never hold back.
By Chantel DaCosta
She was tired, from all the cook-clean-wash-tidy-up-opening-up that she did each day. She decided to sit and rest her feet for a few minutes but then she fell asleep. She didn’t want to sleep for long, if at all, she planned to make up for earlier that morning when he was displeased by her offerings of eggs and bread. He wanted a real breakfast of food and meat; a man’s breakfast. He was angry when he left for work. She could not bear it when he was upset. She planned to prepare his favourite for lunch ― ackee and corned pork with roasted breadfruit. But she fell asleep.
The thing growing in her was stealing from her. Sucking all her energy. Just three weeks in and not quite yet human, the thing that could become baby number four, the potentiality of the son that he desperately wanted, that thing was taking too much out of her. She felt sick, her stomach queasy. She had a hard time staying awake. It was pass midday when she awoke, too late to set up the coal stove to roast the breadfruit. He would arrive soon. Frantically, she looked around the kitchen, opening up cupboards and the refrigerator for something to appease the gastrolater.
She missed her mid-morning tea and quickly put on the unripened papaya with the papaya leaves to brew. She grabbed some chicken breasts from the freezer, when her phone beeped inside the pocket of her apron, the text message from him read:
Can’t come for lunch. Have off site meeting.
Relief flowed through her. She could just cook dinner instead. Breathing easier, she relaxed and sipped her tea. The bitter liquid slid down her throat and she savoured the sensation. Eyes closed and breathing deep she imagined the papain enzymes breaking the membranes bit by bit, the tiny cells slowly disassociating into nothingness. Reinvigorated, she grabbed the bag of coal and rushed down the back steps, taking them two at a time, when left foot over right became no feet touching the ground, she tumbled and rolled. Crumpled at the bottom of the steps, the bag of coal still in her hand, she smiled when she felt the cramping.
“Am I pregnant?”
The question woke Zahra. Turning unto her side, she inhaled deep, struggling to breathe as a wave of nausea engulfed her. Hungry and nauseous, that was the state she had been in for three days. Beside her, with his back turned, Ben snored deep and loud. She had felt this before, the twins kept her starved and dehydrated throughout the nine months and with Baby Bree, she had to stay in bed for the last four months. After the hollowness of the last birth, she promised herself that she would not suffer through another pregnancy.