A Story by Adriana

I’m bringing the black and white sonogram picture home to show my family and friends. They were all waiting at my mothers house. As Jack pulled out of the parking lot of the hospital, I thought there was a mistake because I couldn’t find any baby in the images. Just blobs of gray and black.

“Jack, I don’t see anything.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t see anything. I don’t see a baby.”

“Let me see it,” my husband said, taking the image from my hands “What do you mean? He’s right there, the head and the little hand. You don’t have to worry this time, Arlene. That was a long time ago.” He hands the picture back to me to focus on the road again. He tightens his grip on the steering wheel, “I promise our baby will be okay.” I concentrate tracing across the shapes on the sonogram with my fingers.

We arrive at my parent’s house where everyone has gathered to see the new images of the baby. I stand in front of the door tugging at my tight curls of brown hair. The door opens and I’m pulled in by my two friends. I hesitate to show them the photograph, but my mother grabs it from me.

“Wait-” I start disconcertedly.

“Oh my, he is so beautiful. He looks just like you Arlene,” she coos. I lean over her shoulder to try and see from her perspective. Her red nails point out what she says is the nose. I still don’t see it. In fact, I’m slightly insulted by the comparison.

“Give it to me, Mom,” my older sister yanks the image away from my mother. “You’re right! He is a dream. He has a head like Jack, unfortunately.”

“Hey now! Watch it Marla, I just hope he doesn’t have a mouth like yours,” Jack teases. Marla wraps her arms around me. It’s a foreign touch. We’ve always had something unspoken between us since we were girls. She didn’t seem to like me. I don’t know where to put my hands so I grip her shoulder.

“I’m so proud of you. You really deserve this,” she whispers.

Everyone seems so proud of me, but I haven’t really done anything. Mom says giving birth is the best thing a woman can do. She didn’t say that before, but now she does. Marla turns away from me with tears in her eyes. I offer a smile then pretend to admire my belly. My friends, Kate and Lisa, have the sonogram now. Kate has three children. She’s a perfect mother. She had her first child when we were in high school. It was a secret and I kept it like she kept all of mine. I’ve only known Lisa a couple of years. She has a son who she teaches at home.

“Arlene, he’s absolutely wonderful. I’m so happy for you. Look,” Kate pushes the photo under my nose. “You see his little toes?”

“No,” I answer.

“What?” Lisa says. Her smile fading. “It’s there.”

“No, I don’t see anything. I think it’s pareidolia.”

“A what?” Marla asks.

“A pareidolia. It’s when there appears to be an important image in something that is vague and actually nothing. People make a huge fuss over it.”

“Oh Arlene, You are so amusing when you’re tired,” my mother begins to laugh and slowly everyone joins her, including me.

“Yes,” I gasp. “I am quite tired from being up all morning and the long drive.”

“Why don’t you go lie down?”


I weave my way through the silence in the room and up the wooden stairs. My parents have lived in this house since I was really young. But my father died a few months ago. Many just saw him as a quiet man who liked the night. My mother refuses to leave the place even though she’s always in this big house alone. Hardly any other people live near here. Since Jack and I visit more often my old room has been opened back up. I hate that room.

I slide out of my shoes and leave them by the door; it’s a habit from childhood. My father put in the carpet himself,only in my room. He worked on it for days, perfectly hiding every inch of the old floor with the white covering. He’d be at it for hours, even when he was tired from work. The carpet is still pure and soft against my bare feet. The dark curtains are drawn and the room is dim like usual.

All my mother’s knitting and tools sit in open boxes in a corner. Her mother forced her to learn knitting and sewing. Mostly, my mom knit when something bothered her. She would knit dozens of sweaters for my sister and I when we were growing up. But she knitted for me the most. Scarves, mittens, socks--everything. I got the best patterns. She offered them as apologies. She’d leave them on my bed, or tuck them in my backpack. A few times, she would hand them to me with an embarrassed smile.

Now Mom does it for recreation. She has already knitted an entire wardrobe for this baby of mine. I went over to the box and pulled out socks and onesies that were still undone. I dig deeper and find some older ones she never finished. I reach deeper still into the box past the scissors and cloth and get pricked by a needle. A red globe appears at my fingertip then collapses and spills over.

I close and lock the door. Walking back to the middle of the room, I strip out of my purple maternity dress with the cheesy images of letter blocks, rattles, and bottles printed all over it. I stuff it to the bottom of the clothes hamper. Stepping in front of the mirror, I notice how quickly my stomach has grown. It’s tight and round with faint lines going across it. My skin couldn’t keep up with the growth. I press my pale hand against it and squeeze. My other hand strikes past my face so quickly that strands of hair blow across my eyes. I shudder and suddenly the baby begins to thrash against my womb like he wants to get out. I remember the first time he moved inside of me. He did it so violently that I vomited down the front of my nightgown.  

“You must have upset him.” Jack said jokingly. I stayed up all night trying to think of what I had done to make him mad. Why didn’t he love me?

I sit on the edge of the bed, gripping the flowered blanket in my hands. He continues to kick angrily around inside of me. I can hear him stomping around. Something must be wrong. I lean back across the bed and close my eyes tight, waiting for the tantrum to pass. It keeps on. The bed creaks beneath me as I am rocked back and forth by the convulsions.

“Jack! Jack! Mom!” I yell.
I lurch up to my feet then trip and fall to my knees. My belly drags against the carpet. Threads get in my mouth like they used to before. Crawling toward the door, I hear Jack knocking.
“Arlene? Are you okay?”
“No! No, it’s him.”
“Arlene! Open the door!” My mother shouts as the footsteps of my proud sister and friends race up the wooden stairs. I begin to laugh.

“Oh Mother, mother. A mother? Me? My womb is a killer? I told you it was only a pareidolia. There is not a child that grows there. Nothing can. Not then and not now. I looked!” I grab the scissors now and begin at the far wall. Jabbing them hard into the corner and ripping at the carpet. A piece comes loose and I peel it back. It is tough and slips from my hands.

“Unlock the door, Arlene” my mother calls. I don’t want her to see what I’ve done to the carpet.

“The carpet, Mom. I didn’t mean to-”

The door bursts open. The lock never kept him out. I look down and see that the carpet is worse than I thought. Jack starts toward me, but I rush under the bed and begin to cut out the one blemish on the carpet. It was such a bother. Mother knit so much for that stain. Pricking her fingers along the way. Adding her blood as apology.

Again my sister is crying. She was always crying. Just offering useless tears. She was jealous. It was nothing to be jealous of. I want to tell her, but I can’t speak. My mouth is full of white fibers.

She must be proud that I figured it out. She must be proud. She’s not proud.

Kate is saying something to me. She knew. Kate has three children. She’s such a good mother. I want to be a mother. I can’t be a mother. I’m barren.

Lisa is screaming into the phone. She’s fading.

Lisa teaches her boy at home. They’re at home. I’m at home.

My mother falls to the floor when she sees me. I knew she would be upset about the carpet. I’ve cut it open and it’s ruined. Force yourself to knit, Mother. Knit me apologies. I’ll knit apologies. I’ll learn to knit apologies. But I’m barren--hollow. I’m not a mother. My mouth is full of fibers. I’m never a mother. I’m tired and amusing. I’m amused. Don’t apologise. I’m empty. It was only pareidolia.  

© 2011 Adriana

Author's Note

What do you think of the imagery?, Does it flow well?, Are there any awkward spots?, How can I polish it up?

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Added on November 8, 2011
Last Updated on November 8, 2011
Tags: images, women, birth, pregnant, baby, death, mental, issues, mother, maternal, abuse, blood, sad



Statesboro, GA