Where Are All The Children
: Earth-Shattering News by Mistydawn
The sun is shining brightly in the clear mid-afternoon sky. The air is so thick, so still, that it's difficult to breathe. We were hoping the rain would cool things down, but the morning shower made the humidity worse. Isabella and I are tending to the garden while others pick peaches or work in the cotton fields. A typical hot July day, so I thought.
I was pulling weeds one minute and in the makeshift hospital the next. I'd passed out; Isabella insisted I see the doc. I told them I was alright, but the physician decided to run a few tests to be sure.
I look at the door for the umpteenth time. Why is this taking so long, I think. The longer I wait, the more nervous I become. The rhythmic ticking of the clock, and my imagination didn't help my anxiety a bit.
After what seems like an eternity, the doctor steps into the room, his faithful nurse is by his side. I try to judge the seriousness of my situation by the expression on their faces. This only makes things worse. I gulp back the tears threatening to escape and blurt out, "What... What's wrong with me, doc?"
Shuffling across the hardwood floor, he takes my hand in his. I notice a sadness in his eyes, something I hadn't seen before. A lump forms in my throat. My stomach twists into a hard knot. I'm going to die, I think. Moisture streams down my dirt-streaked cheeks as I wait for his reply.
A heavy stillness falls over the room like it's preparing for the heartbreaking news. He pats my hand, smiles, and says, "Congratulations, Anna."
I glance between the doc and the nurse, gulp back my emotions, and ask, "Congratulations, for what, I... I don't understand."
"You're going to have a baby."
I pull away from his hold. "No, it can't be. It just can't." I picture Alejandro and me making love how careful we always are. I look over at the doc and ask, "How... How did this happen?"
He chuckles and says, "It's a little late for the talk, don't you think?"
Frustrated, I toss my hands by my side. "That's not what I mean. Alejandro and I've been taking precautions. We use double protection most of the time." He said he wanted to have kids someday, just not here, in this situation. He believes it wouldn't be right to bring a baby into this modern-day slavery we call life. I agree.
He gazes up at the ceiling, smiles, and says, "I guess the Lord has other plans."
It amazes me to find so many have held onto their faith, despite their life. Most claim it's the only thing that keeps them going, gives them hope. I strayed from my religious upbringing long ago; after I begged for help, and none came. "You won't tell anyone, will you?"
"Your secret is safe with me for a few months anyway."
I must've had a perplexed look on my face because he laughs, pats my stomach, and says, "You'll be showing soon."
My thoughts are going a mile a minute as I race through the compound. I run to my cabin and toss myself down on the bed. "Why now? Why did this have to happen now?" I cry.
The doctor says I should be happy about the blessed event, that the child is a gift from God. He went on to say the Lord will provide for us somehow. How can I possibly believe him? Believe that it'll work out when I know the horrid fate the poor child will be forced to endure. Rolling onto my back, I lay my hand on my belly and say, "I'm so sorry I did this to you. And I'm sorry for what you'll be forced to face. If there were any way to change it, I would. I promise to protect you from the horrid men the best I can, even if it means sacrificing my own life for yours."
I must've cried myself to sleep because I wake up to find Alejandro asleep beside me. I then remember the situation I'm in. "Oh, what am I going to do?" I sob.
The weeks drag by, my morning sickness subsides, but I still haven't told anyone. I'm still trying to digest the news myself; all the while, guilt eats away at my soul. I didn't want to destroy this precious being growing inside of me, a creature conceived in love, but I didn't want it to live the life I had either.
I often daydream about the precious moments the three of us will share when I'm in the field, how I'll cherish every second, every coo, every smile, every sigh. The way the baby and I will gaze into each other's eyes as it suckles at my breast.
I then remember what kind of life the baby is bound to have. How can I possibly justify sacrificing the life of an innocent child for my own happiness? I argue with myself. This stirs up a lot of old emotions, the worthlessness, the self-hate, the blame. My inner voices telling me what a horrible mother I'll be.
Wiping the tears streaming down her cheek, Anna glances at the picture of her on the big screen. She faces the audience and says,
"Night-terrors became a frequent occurrence. Dreams manifested from personal experiences. I'd sometimes imagine a man ripping the baby out of my arms, claiming I'll never see my child again. Other times I pictured my little girl being sold for sex the way I'd been. The worst nightmare was the one of me chained to the damp basement wall. My little girl was on her hands and knees in front of me, being beaten by a cold, heartless man. Alejandro's battered corpse is a few feet away. I kept telling myself they're only dreams, but deep in my heart, I knew my nightmares could come true. As much as my conclusion killed me, I finally decided that I couldn't ask a child to live the life I had."
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