'I still love him' wasn't a confession I wanted to hear, when I knew the miscarriage was an abortion. You'd think that being pro-choice would make you exempt from being affected by it, but it doesn't. I cried for six hours, and the headaches haven't stopped since. My compassion has all but left me - either everyone deserves their personal suffering, or we're all suffering in relativity and no one can see it.
I had made a list of names and narrowed them down. Boy and girl names, though I made you swear you wouldn't buy any 'It's a GIRL' or 'It's a BOY' clothing. At least you kept that promise. I didn't expect to get so excited in the three days we knew, when your belly suddenly popped out and it wasn't a food-baby. The last thing you ate had been pizza, and nowhere near enough to get bloated on it.
"He-" I would have been happy if my sibling was a boy or a girl or, when they were old enough to decide, agender. I already knew that they wouldn't suffer with ignorance and two years of slow acceptance if they realised their body had never been theirs. But, as you do, I already had a personal prejudice: a brother whose first word would've been 'dad' instead of 'brother'. There would've been no one else to address. "He'll get the nick-name Pizza for the rest of his life now." I found I could suddenly stand it; and then, after, I hated it all the more. Pizza meant nothing as food.
I was too excited to notice your stomach when you came in that night - as you do when you're already used to the existence of something that makes life worth living, and expect it to keep being there.
"I miscarried," you said. "I lost the baby this morning."
Shock - would've been a relief. Instead I drew a blank. And then bitter disbelief swept through.
"A miscarriage or an abortion?"
It was a convenient day to miscarry. You had a doctor's appointment. In the morning.
You didn't answer. And after that I had nothing bar one sentence to say to you. Not until the next night, after you came home from work, just over a whole 24 hours, and that was just to grunt replies. How could I care to be nice to you when you found me, first crying in the front-room ten minutes after you came in the door, and then again in the bath-room, always asking, "What is it, is it about the baby?" as if it was a big fucking surprise to you. It was the first time I really saw that you had never been maternal. Cloying, clingy, obedient in a motherly role and congratulated for not being absent, but never maternal. If you had married a different man the first time around - not an abusive thug of a man - you might've been seen for what you are - an alcoholic and liar - instead of an alcoholic-out-of-necessity (despite the fact I had to see everything sober, and I rarely ever saw you anything but drunk). Now, reluctantly withering into old age and not much farther into sobriety, you're beyond pitying. You're England's answer to white trash.
"I want a bath," I moaned. The cold water tap running, and my head in the crook of my arm. I wanted to die. I wanted your arms away from me, away from your thoughts that said it could be made better by forgetting. My only shame for calling you white trash is that I have to accept being the son of it.
"Well, you can't have a bath in cold water, can you?"
After you'd left and I lapsed into my 24 hour period of total silence, except for grievances that ran themselves down my face, I managed to run a bath. Hot water, and then lots of cold. I felt hot, so hot, as if it would be cooler to tear my skin off. I felt myself aching in ways I hadn't thought possible. When the headaches began I thought it was from the stress of crying - I remembered when I had been a child and I'd cried myself to sleep one night (I don't recall the reason itself; maybe I'd heard you and him arguing again, maybe I'd just watched Mufasa's death scene in The Lion King), the distinctive overwhelming headache that throws itself at you before you lose consciousness. But when I managed to calm myself - not shock, just a blank slate - it persisted. I moaned for two things. The nearest name to winning had been Atticus, but you had picked that from my list in drunkenness. I'm past guessing about your sincerity. But I hadn't really settled on any one name. I'd thought of taking them to school. But that's premature. I'd thought of what their first word might be. I'd thought of the delight I'd feel when they tasted certain foods for the first time and their mouth would pop open in amazement and surprise. I'd thought of the screaming and the late nights and the early mornings and the interrupted sleep, oh believe me, I hadn't thought it would be fun and games and let's skip the first three years of terror (before it became fear at every disease and every predator looming and any girl or boy who might find something to laugh at before an adult compounded the jeer). I certainly hadn't thought of you raising them right. I've held out by the sheer power of a support network of psychosis, and hedging my bets on feeling better after breakdowns.
The bath lasted the whole of ten minutes and I got back into the same clothes wet. The rest of the night was spent ignoring you as much as possible, and looking, defeated, at the telly when you turned it to the news channel: "Kate has just gone into labour." I was sick of the new royal baby before it had even been born; before I even had to remember my communist associations and how much I hated Britain clinging to royalty despite all its efforts to call itself a democracy.
You didn't drink that night - but you'd drank the one before that, two days after conceding pregnancy and realising you looked about four months. You kept right on smoking too, hoping that the doctor's appointment would tell you it was cancer instead. They could've at least have told you that. I could've at least had something to look forward to.
It's not mine I kept telling myself through the night. And to all intents and purposes of that sentence, it wasn't. Not possible, and certainly not desirable. I thought the pain I was feeling was unrealistic: I shouldn't have felt as if my whole world had suddenly been blighted. A sibling, not a son, and my mother's child, not my own. I hadn't eaten much the day before, and I hadn't eaten not much but a chocolate bar all this day. Bad News Day. When you fell asleep on the sofa, I dragged - literally - myself to the kitchen. I didn't want to eat, but my stomach felt as empty as - well, as empty as I suppose your womb must be.
I found I couldn't eat, no matter how much I told myself at least one pain would stop, so I drank three cups of milk instead, and sat on the kitchen floor awhile. I hadn't stopped sobbing, but I hadn't made any noise alongside the tears. And back in my bedroom it was the same. I lay there for about an hour (grief and the people it keeps don't look after time well) wondering what there was left of life. I realised that no matter how kind-hearted I had been willing to be, no matter how - before this had happened - I'd thought you could understand someone's pain and that there was comfort in thinking of how many people had suffered as you had (a masochist through and through, when I'm not totally terrible), I suddenly understood that a grief this deep was personal. How much you could want it to be personal; I didn't even want to share this pain it was something to cling to.
Sleep came at some point. Concentrating on the dull budding points of the headaches somehow made them more sensitive to the host they were harming, and I fell unconscious with this concentration. At three a.m., though, I woke to the sharpest ice-pick headache I had ever felt, except it lasted for more than 30 seconds and I felt that if this was going to become a regular thing than this was officially a tuition in pain.
As well as that there was the first few seconds of ignorance that introduces itself when anyone is grieving - and then it hurriedly saunters away as if telling you, 'sorry, wrong person'. I didn't so much endure, as I did ride, on grief and pain, until falling back to sleep once more thirty minutes or so later. There's no relativity in time when you're suffering - you suffer in one room or another and no matter how many clocks on the wall, they aren't counting anything relevant to you.
The next morning - throughout the whole day - I didn't cry once. I didn't eat anything but a square of cheese. I didn't watch tv. I recall more headaches that felt like points of tension rather than points of pain. I think I read about two pages of a book. I did sing - Il Dolce Suono, 'the mad scene' of Lucia di Lammermoor. It wasn't ironic; I had been near enough singing it for the last two or three weeks, and for those minutes I thought I could feel again, until I realised I was merely ruminating on the grief I was going through.
I became aggressive again - angry, not violent. Life seemed dull again. No child was going to be the same no matter who's it was, no matter if I ever had children by whatever means when I'm older. And it is a very curious thing to understand that a child-not-child that is capable of being aborted will never be a child at all. Indeed, wasn't even a baby. Hadn't even been, realistically, alive to the point of feeling suffering.
And tonight this.
'I think I still love him.'
And I hate you for it, not because I don't want you to love him (indeed, life would've been simpler if we had still been living with him, though I'd neither have a voluntary job nor a potential paying job. Simpler in the ways that there'd be someone else to shoulder a functioning alcoholic), but because it puts a new spin on things. You didn't want what he couldn't have.
Then you sleep. And then you wake up.
And I keep thinking one thing: that even feeling this cold and unresponsive (not indifferent, not dead, merely detached and unable to function with any of the joy that had been shown to me in the wake of a new life), I am still able to prefer the thought of you dead.