“The presence of the baby had changed things. It had cleared Ria’s mind. Old fears had disappeared… The old voices in her had faded. Ria felt the peace of their absence. She wanted only to prolong the quiet, to allow this strange easy distancing from her life before… A whole other world had sprung into being inside her. That was enough for now. A world begun from the time of that first scan and seeing the baby swimming inside her, its thin legs kicking furiously, then a moment later floating on its back, its tiny tongue shooting out to lick the placenta –
‘It’s finding ways to amuse itself,” the consultant had told her and Rob. “You have a little character in there!’
The doctor had laughed with a gentle affectionate pleasure in their creation. Could happiness really be so unwilled? So accidental?
Rob, inexplicably, was in tears and smiling blissfully and she too had welled with a fearful excitement. She had clutched Rob’s hand while he kissed her and decided in that instant to ride this new challenge and to enjoy it the way she imagined other women did. She would rid herself of regrets, the longing for a life missed, thwarted and the fury in her at being denied– all this she let sink down in her without remedy. Perhaps it had passed out dissolved in urine, the new urine, with the baby’s mixed in with hers. She had expelled it from her and she was revived and pure; new for the baby.”
…an extract from LANTERN EVENING.
Winner Gatehouse Press new Fictions Prize 2016. Buy it here!