by Regina McMenamin Lloyd
Violet stewed again in a tub of her own regret. The faucet dripped loud drumbeats of water into the gray water of the white tub. Violet knew. She suffered the familiar sadness. The dull and sharp pains were like a crescendo of orgasmic confusion. Love, lust, hate, death, sickness; all sometimes share the same instruments and quarter notes. As the water clouded pink, Violet watched as big red blood clots formed into the shape of a fish. The congealed blood clot swam away from her. It must have been a baby, she thought. Just another quarter- sized clot of something organic that wouldn’t grow in her. The clots danced around the tub finding each other, like the way an eggshell will cling to its bits long after you crack it and beat the yoke.
This latest bit of nothing was made, like all of the recent bits, from the quick mechanical lovemaking Jack and she had been practicing. He came at her like a piece of rubbery fish flopping in the monger’s hand and she would let him. She liked to think of other things these days, as he pounded at flesh. She would think sometimes of her own childhood bedroom, imagining what it would be like to find the same animal covered lampshade. She would pay bills in her mind. Violet would not think of him, she would close her eyes and not smell him. She would not let her breasts feel the stubble of his shaved chest. She would not let herself enjoy his manicured fingers. She would replay the news; she would mentally make a list of things to do when they were done. When they were done she would lay in her bed thinking always I’m on the wet spot. Jack would pop up immediately and shower. He couldn’t get her off of him fast enough. She would roll over and begin stripping the bed.
She was tart, like a lemon, so black and acidic nothing could grow in her. She was a desert, a wasteland: barren. She imagined her womb like sandpaper, razor sharp cervix, like a plastic bag too weak to hold a gallon of milk. A cancerous black dried out womb filled with jelled up Sambucca.
What had she done? Was it too many hot baths? Not enough fish? Was it too much red meat? Not enough red meat? Had she exercised too little, danced too hard? Was it that one glass of wine before she knew? Were the prenatal vitamins not enough, had she missed one day? Was it because she and Jack had made love last week? Or was it because she had some unknown sick or hidden STD dwelling inside of her from too many, long ago one night stands? That one guy, what was his name? Joe, Jim something, he had a dried crusty patch of something, had it been something that might have soiled her womb? It had to be Omega Acids, it was always Omega Acids. Maybe it was that little slip on the wet bathroom floor, she was always telling Jack to towel up the floor after he showered.
She stuck her belly out as a little girl and imagined she would be pregnant some day. Someday, like a rainbow in a musical of inevitability, where princes come and people push babies in fancy prams. Violet had stared at female reproductive organs in the Encyclopedia Britannica with her sister and imagined herself, without her skin, in layers of sheer velum paper. Producing a baby seemed as easy as watching her turn the page. Velum paper, as thin as onion peel could hold the baby Britannica. Violet– the brute, strong as an ox, once captain of the girl’s field hockey team, couldn’t hold a baby.
Growing up, she felt sorry for women who couldn’t conceive a child. She always believed she would produce beautiful blonde haired children. She always imagined herself pregnant, toting two or three towheaded children wearing coordinating Lands End cable knit sweaters on the beach. Jack was a pop out paper doll in her image of a perfect family. Jack fit into her picture with his blonde curly hair, and great bone structure; he even wore a cable knit sweater on their first date. Violet never bothered to make sure she loved him; she just let him fill the space in her picture frames.
Now, she watched blobs of red and black circle around in the tub. She wouldn’t go to the doctor this time. It was all inconsequential, enough. They endured all of the genetic counseling. No reason, try again in 3-6 months, give your body time to heal, grieve this loss. No, she wouldn’t sit through it all again.
Jack. She wouldn’t tell him, couldn’t tell him. He held her as she cried salty tears, too many times. He had looked pathetically sad. Jack needed to grieve. He’d wear blubbery mucus and pathetic tears on his face with eyes that said “I love you no matter what”. She hated that look. She hated it more than she hated the way he ate broccoli quickly with his front teeth; like he didn’t want her to see, he didn’t like it. She hated it more than the way he clicked his tongue when she wore something revealing. She hated it more than the way he turned his head on a slant and said she looked fine when she needed to hear, “you look good.” She hated it more than the look of frustration in his eyes when he tried to bring her pleasure and couldn’t. She hated him because he possessed all of these looks. She hated him because he could never just pick a place to go to for dinner. She hated him because he wouldn’t admit he was mad at her with her acidic womb. Jack would have written her love letters and painted her toenails again, if she wouldn’t have locked him out. She hardened her spirit and it had calloused and crusted into a leathery Kevlar clamp. She wore her clamp like she once worn her heart, on her sleeve, and it became both her protection and her prison. She knew he was a good man and her hate was her fault. She knew she was caustic.
She sat in the tub, unwilling to drain the gloppy bits of jelly that could have been a baby. Don’t come near me, she silently told the big bits of something organic that would never be a baby. Violet watched as the blobby fish shape shifted into a bird, bloodied and bruised and flying toward her. She knew this bird; it would fly into the glass of the window, time and time again. She pushed the water away- careful not to touch the congealed bird. The water rippled the feathery red wisps off the bird and it became a figure, a baby, crawling and clawing its way to the drain.
Maybe Jack would come in. He would see her. He would comfort her and she wouldn’t need to tell him. He would pull her up from the rusted water. He would pull the big white fluffy towel off the chrome bar. Jack would deal with the tub. Letting the red, blubbered, bits, of never-a-baby drain down the tub leaving a meaty fishy smell of something dead behind. He would get out the Lysol and light a candle. The dead smell would disappear; there wouldn’t be a rusty cranberry stain. Violet could get back in the shower, she could scrub, shave and luffah. There would be no more fishy smell, no more raw steak and meaty bits of cotton candy pouring from her thighs. She would have cleaned every trace of the organic never-going-to-be-baby up.
Jack would have that look. That look would smell like rusty fish and meaty pig’s blood. She would see it, there like rotten germy botulism or salmonella on his face. She would hate him more for that look of shock, pity and disgust. He would pull out the big, yellow, rubber gloves and she would hate him even more. Because he made that bloodied blob of feathery red yoke but couldn’t get his hands dirty with it. He kept planting seeds in her black acidic lemon vodka womb, but he never got his hands dirty. She sat so many times with thighs quivering, shaky knees, and diuretic womb.
Jack never had to feel it alive and dead. He never was obligated to feel something flutter like confetti being thrown in his stomach. He never experienced unexplainable guilty tears when it just stopped fluttering without rhyme or reason. Never, would he feel how special it felt to have life like glitter in your gut or how truly hopeless it felt to watch it drain from you in big globs of crimson guilt. Jack never had to sit knowing he was at the very core a person squalid, dilapidated, barren, and toxic. He wouldn’t look down and see Chernobyl between his thighs. If she could unzip her skin, oozing melted black licorice, paint thinner, Chinese throwing stars and rusty nails would probably spill out.
She should call Jack in and let him take care of her. Instead, she sat in her tub, quiet, legs like frogs, in a tub that was quickly becoming crimson. Sometimes there is just no one to blame. She pulled her knees to her chest, laid her chin on her knees. It would be easier, you know, to have someone to blame, She thought. The tears dripped silently from her eyes, trailing to her knee and down her leg, and dried somewhere along the way.
Regina McMenamin Lloyd is a mother of two young children, and a Writing Arts Major at Rowan University. Regina was an honorable mention winner of the 2012 Denise Gess Literary Awards for poetry. Regina McMenamin Lloyd’s writing has been featured on Smithsonian.com, Linguistic Erosion, Separate Worlds, Mullica Hill Life Magazine and Drunk Monkeys.