A Mother Still

When she returned home from the hospital, she locked her doors and lay in the bed alone. She didn’t move; she couldn’t, the pain was too great. She felt as if pieces of her had been ripped out from the inside—they had. She felt she was hemorrhaging enough blood for two persons—She was.

When she bled through her pad, she didn’t attempt to change it. She couldn’t if she wanted. She was too sore to roll over onto her stomach—empty and full at the same time—slide one leg off the edge of the bed, and then the other, crouch onto the floor and then pull herself up, take one step, and then another to the bathroom too far away.

She couldn’t imagine sitting on the toilet, wincing under the ache of the muscles in her thighs and abdomen pulled tight, looking down between her thighs into the bowl of the commode and seeing remnants of a life swirling and blending with urine and water. To see it caught up in the fibers of a maxipad clung to her skin, like a nightmare trapped in the dreamcatcher’s net. To feel drops trickle down her legs when she stood and slowly dragged forever filthy clothing back over her hips.

She curled around the pill bottle clutched in her fist. Prescription pain medicine strong enough for her to become addicted to after the physical pain had left her, but the emotional trauma still remained. She hacked up saliva and mucus from the back of her mouth and used it to push two down her throat. She lay on her back, watching the ceiling spin overhead. When she closed her eyes, she dreamt of drowning, of splashing to the surface gasping for air, and tiny little hands, stubby little fingers, dunking her head back under.

She woke choking, unable to breathe, and when she looked up, she thought she saw eyes, narrowed and burrowing. She sat up. Through the pain, she crawled to the other end of the bed, to her purse hanging over the bedpost, and retrieved a pen from the front pocket. Lying back, she wrote upside down, crooked letters on he stomach, below her navel, against her throbbing womb, in red ink.

Believe me, I loved
you—Before Winter’s smitten
death—And even still.

—Nortina


It is Short Story A Day May, and today’s prompt asks us to write a story in the form of a series of letters. This haibun is the result of how I was inspired by the prompt—my “series of letters” coming together to form the melancholic haiku at the end of the story. 

Haibun Thinking: Scream

Maria called off her wedding when she found her fiancé in bed with the stripper from her bachelorette party—the male stripper. Her maid of honor took her to the bar where she cried tears of alcohol into shot glasses.

A man with curly, red hair and pale skin invited her to dance when her yes’s began to slur. She hung on his arm and leaned into his body. He made no secret that his pants were too tight at the crotch.

Maria’s maid of honor left in a cab, assumed she was safe. The redhead promised to take Maria home—she was too inebriated to recognize street routes.

She blacked out and awoke nude in a strange bed. Above the headboard, posted on the wall, an image of a man against a background of tumultuous red and orange, a look of terror on his face.

The redhead emerged from the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist. Maria saw the smirk on his face and remembered something he whispered to her on the dance floor. “I want to make you scream.”

Screams of passion, pain
indecipherable
voices in one bed.

—Nortina


This is part of Haibun Thinking: write a piece of fiction or a memory finishing with a haiku style poem based on the prompt.

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The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch

Haibun Thinking: The Anchor to His Love

Whitmore loved Jessica. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He wanted to grow old with her. He wanted her to have his children. He knew this two days after meeting her.

Jessica was his anchor. She kept him grounded. Before they met, Whitmore was in a dark place. He had been in love before and had been broken. Women mistook his kindness for weakness, wiped their high heels on his heart as if it were a doormat as they entered the homes of less chivalrous companions. Jessica was different. Her radiant smile brought him back into the light. No longer did he spend his nights with a bottle of sleeping pills by his bedside. He stopped drowning in Jack and Coke while speeding down the highway in search of the woman who claimed to love him. When they first started dating, he was so thrilled that he finally had a woman who answered after the first ring, who jumped into his arms when he bought her gifts, who kissed him, told him she loved him everyday, and always came first when they made love. He only needed one more thing.

It was their three-year anniversary. He had made reservations at BoneFish Restaurant. Her favorite food was salmon and he had heard BoneFish had the best pan-seared salmon in town. He didn’t realize, however, how much it was. Not a single entrée on the menu was under $20. He took his phone out and moved some money around in his account to cover the ticket as Jessica returned from the ladies’ room.

“This place is pretty expensive. I hope you’re not expecting me to pay for my meal,” she said as she sat down.

“It’s our anniversary,” he said.

“Well, yesterday you made me pay for lunch at Zaxby’s. And then in the parking lot you told me I had to pay for myself from now on because you can’t afford to take me out all the time. I didn’t ask to come here.”

I didn’t say that.”

“I’m paraphrasing.”

Whitmore sighed. Lately, He and Jessica had been having money troubles. It had put a strain on their relationship. He just had a lot of bills to pay, and sometimes he couldn’t spoil Jessica the way that a queen should be spoiled. But that was all going to change tonight.

“As you know, it’s our anniversary, and I love you so much. If I didn’t have you in my life, I don’t know, I’d probably be dead.”

Jessica curled her lips.

“You’ve just brought me so much peace. I can’t lose you. I refused to be consumed by darkness again.”

“Stop,” Jessica interrupted.

“Stop what?”

“Stop saying that. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m the reason you’re still alive? So if I leave, you’ll go all suicidal on me?”

“You know how I was when I found out Leslie cheated on me.”

“But it’s like you’re forcing me to stay with you. To save you. I can’t save you, Whitmore. I’m only a woman.”

“You’re my woman. And you have saved me, time and time again, as I’ve saved you. Why would you leave? Don’t I make you happy?”

Jessica opened her mouth to speak, but Whitmore put his fingers to her lips.

“I was going to wait until after dinner, but this seems like the perfect time.” He pulled a small giftbag from under the table and handed it to her.

“Whitmore I—”

“Hush. Just see what’s inside.”

Jessica pulled the strings to open the bag. She peaked inside and retrieved a silver key. She snapped her head toward Whitmore and gave him a puzzled look.

“We’ve been together for three years, and for the last two, I’ve wondered why you don’t live with me.”

Jessica laid the key on the table and began to dig into her forehead. She scratched when she was anxious. Whitmore took her hand, cupped his hand at the back of her head, and pulled her forward to kiss her forehead. “I know your lease is almost up. It’s time we take our relationship to the next level.”

When the sun sets, I
still have light because your moon
brightens my nights. 

Nortina


This is part of Haibun Thinking. Write a piece of fiction finishing with a Haiku style poem. Below is the photo prompt.

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This is also part of a bigger work of fiction I am exploring with Whitmore and Jessica, so stay tuned for more!

Haibun Thinking: “I never did mind the little things . . .”

I never did mind the little things, which is why I don’t understand why my boyfriend is so angry with me. He’s pacing around our apartment throwing glasses, plates, punching walls. He says I don’t appreciate what he does for me—weekend getaways to small towns with very little to see but a nice hotel, dinner at expensive restaurants that serve half-sized entrées, random gifts of jewelry I’ve never worn. I don’t remember asking for these things.

“I just want to make you happy!” he screams.

“What is happy?”

He punches the wall again. It is an uncomfortable substitute for my face. He plants his teeth into his bottom lip, stares at me with slanted eyes.

“You want a jerk? An asshole? That’s what you’re used to, right?”

When have I ever said that, I wonder. My ex-boyfriend was sweet. He took me to Barnes and Noble, let me pick one book, and read the first chapter to me while we sipped on lattes in the coffee shop. Was I happy then or did I just enjoy being with him? Loved his smell, his touch, how the words dripped from his lips like honey as he read?

“You’ve been abused so much, you can’t even see when someone actually cares.”

“Those holes came from your fists,” I say, pointing at the walls.

He doesn’t answer, continues pacing. I watch his feet as he stomps across the carpet. I don’t want to look at his face—the puffed out cheeks, the flared nostrils, brows so furrowed, his eyes are practically closed. What have I done to make him so angry? Why can’t he see the girl he wants to pamper isn’t me?

He’s standing by the door now. “Don’t ask me for nothing else.” He leaves, slams the door behind me.

I never wanted
silver, gold; just a poem blooming
on a tree in Spring.

Nortina


This is part of Haibun Thinking — A weekly challenge asking you to write a Haibun, a Japanese literary form that combines  a narrative (prose) and a short poem or haiku at the end. This is my first time trying this, and apparently it hasn’t been getting a lot of participation because the hosts are thinking about closing it, so please click the link below and add your stories! 

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