Wellington Waterfront is too beautiful a place to be without you: sun glittering white across the sea, mountains in the distance, a bronze statue about to submit to the pull of water. I tried to capture all the shades of winter blue so I could share them with you when I returned to Australia and you. Stood at the harbour, I realised how much I loved seas, rivers, oceans, their peaceful undulations, their depths of mysteries. Inside me was a contained ocean, echoing sounds of a new heart beating—our creation. This was too beautiful a place for me to purposefully forget to tell you about it but I did. It was tainted; the water inside me turned to red clumps.
It turned out there was no water at all, no safety, and no longer a new heartbeat.
The hospital was too bright, too white and far, far too quiet a place to be without you. But you were more than a phone call away. They kept asking ‘Is there someone we can call? Is there someone who can look after you?’ The only water was tears and a saline drip. The tears dribbled from my eyes and the drip itched around its entrance into the back of my hand. There was no mystery, no peace, no returning tide in those waters. I pictured you existing in the two-hour time difference, making coffee, steaming milk, and smiling at customers: innocent and beautiful. At least I could protect you.
It was too battle-like, me too body-bound lying in that hospital bed to bring your ethereal voice here. I wanted to go to my hostel room, listen to the reverb from other people’s music and be annoyed about that. I wanted a cigarette, cigarettes, one lighting of another and another, refilling my body even if it smoke is a transient thing too. There was waiting, waiting with no books, no internet, no music, no words other than ‘are you sure there’s no one we can call?’ Sympathetic faces, pitying faces that had been trained to deal with this, who were used to such things happening. Statistically, maybe it was bound to happen. But to me? I’d believed, always, in fairy tales, in romance novels, in that feeling of something being right. In you appearing and loving me.
It was too strong a place of memories to let you in, to notice details to take to you, like plastic souvenirs that would get swallowed by sea birds and be rediscovered a hundred years later. This memory would not persevere, I would not let it; I would make it fade as quickly as the red dot the IV had made. My flight back to Australia would see this event drop and drown in the ocean. New Zealand became the ugliest place in the world. I should have known; one toxic ex lived there. This country was his lair. His comment returned: ‘You’ll never have kids because you fucked up your eggs from doing coke.’ How could he be right? That wasn’t fair. Maybe this was caused by the earthquake stimulation I’d been on. Maybe it was the shame and embarrassment I’d felt at being accidentally pregnant; at my age, I should’ve known better.
There was no foetal pole. I didn’t even know what that meant. I understood no, none, nothing. I understood the white noise on the screen, blacks and greys, the clots of blood on the sanitary pad. I wanted water, oceans of it, planets of it in my ears, through my pours, in my mouth. I could have drunk oceans dry—walked on the exposed landmass to you. The coldness of the hospital floor was near enough to the coldness of the ocean. That is where they found me. They said I had fainted but I knew differently; it had been a respite from this moment of want. There had been no resetting of the scene, though. I didn’t speak. I let them help me into a wheelchair. I clutched a wet towel to my face like it was your hand and as they wheeled me through the waiting room past mothers-still-to-be I hid my face so I wouldn’t be a curse to them. I was glad you weren’t there because etched on my face was every bad woman from every holy book to ever exist. I saw myself. I saw myself and I scared myself.
The future leeched away as I lay on that bed. The future was no more. I’d become tethered to this moment when I wanted to be gone, gone to a place where no one knew what had happened or what potential I had held so very briefly and clumsily. I found I could stop thinking if I stared at the hospital curtain. Time did not matter. It came and went. It came and went like a lull, like a gap. And I was everything but nothing again.
I never told you any of this. I sent a short simple message ahead of my departure so you’d know the basics. When I arrived at your house, I was smiling, happy and excited to see you, and those emotions made me feel like I’d faked the pregnancy, the hospital, the loss. We didn’t talk about it.
You passed out from weed. I smoked and drank red wine as I sat on your porch sobbing. At some point, your dad returned. Did he see me crying? He never said. You never said. I never said. We broke. At least I think we did. Silence was epic and big when your back was to me. You played me a Youtube song about dead babies, expecting a laugh. I never understood why. You played it to your friends. Slowly, I slipped away as if I’d never been in your room, and you never noticed. How trickster-like love can be.
There will be other chances, people told me. But there never was. I am that memory. You exist only as a memory: stuck, young, beautiful. We were always lost. The second we kissed we were over. Yet, still, I see myself in that dream I told you about when we were lying on your spikey lawn, the grass dried by summer sun and not yet replenished with winter rain. In that dream, my ghost walks up your dusty drive and comes home to you.
Copyright 2023 A Head / Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash
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