Aron was delivered at 13 weeks +5 days by D&C, molar pregnancy, nothing but a piece of meat, but we named him. Then we buried Aron. I wish now I had grieved with Carla, but I thought it was important to be strong.
We worried about history repeating itself, getting a scan at 6 weeks, which proves nothing if you ask me, and another at 12. Baby looked well. Another boy. But Carla was troubled.
“There’s a shadow,” she kept saying, squinting at the ultrasound. “Is it twins?” But the nurse said, No.
“Can’t you see the other one?” she asked me at the 18-week test. I couldn’t, but what can you see in ultrasound anyway? It’s like noticing shapes in clouds. It was easier to play along with Carla’s fantasy about twins.
Then the kicking started. It even woke me in the night.
“It’s the Quickening,” I told her, taking pleasure from the old fashioned word that sounded like something from Harry Potter.
“They’re fighting,” she replied, placing my hand onto her belly, pale white against her creamy brown. “Can’t you tell?”
“Dancing, perhaps,” I joked, faintly disturbed by the sensation of violent activity going on inside my wife’s body.
“Let’s dance too,” she whispered, biting my ear, “these boy hormones make me crazy horny.”
That’s when we discovered the spotting, like sinister fingerprints on the sheets.
The NHS were brilliant, can’t fault them. Carla was whisked away and the doctor talked to me about her cervix shortening, whatever that means, and a stitch to keep the pregnancy in place.
Then it was all hands to the pumps and everybody’s too busy to talk, thin-lipped nurses won’t explain anything and a line of specialists troop in, heart rate monitors beep erratically, and there’s talk about foetal distress and things being “non-reassuring.”
“Is it because it’s twins?” I asked, wondering about Carla’s obsession.
The doctor looked at me like I was crazy and explained, No: a single foetus.
In the theatre, I gripped her hand, blubbering, no strength left. Carla smiled a serene smile.
“It’s natural for boys to fight from time to time,” she said.
The foetal monitor printed a zig-zagging line, an endless snarl of serrated teeth.
She squeezed my hand: “Don’t worry, love. Aron’s just jealous of his little baby brother.”
This was a popular tale from August, winning a readers poll to be made into an audio (here read with great naturalism by Karl McMichael). I like the story's ambiguity: is the wife deluded or is the ghost of the dead twin haunting her womb?
The Daily Ghost
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