Fiction Friday: The Caul

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By Leslie Lindsay

I’m a getting a good sense of character, Melanie Dunbar (Mel) from my new novel-in-progress, “Zombie Road.”  Here she in the shower just after giving birth to her daughter, Enye. It’s one of those strange postpartum moments of elation and exhaustion, the innate need to protect one’s offspring.

“The warm spray from the shower pelted my back, a strange tingling sensation that somehow made me feel whole, even though I was at my most vulnerable—naked and postpartum.

          Suddenly, as the slick bar of pale-green soap slipped through my fingers, I stepped on Enye, my feet squishing through her tiny body slumped against the shower stall, a contusion of limbs—purple and unmoving.

“My baby!” I shrieked, “Enye!”  The room spun, black and gray, the water cascading down my shoulders, a moment of vertigo. I clutched the soap dish to break my fall. If I fell, I’d be that much closer to my dead baby. I gripped the metal side rail on our double-shower, blood clots running down my puffy legs.  “Ran! Ran, I need you,” I called out over the hum of the shower, hoping, praying he heard me.

I bent down slightly, inspecting baby Enye closer. When—why—had I brought her into the shower with me?  Her delicate body was not moving. My heart raced, tears streamed down my face, milk from my engorged breasts.

“Ran, oh my God!  Ran, get in here. Now!” my voice emanated from my body as if it weren’t really my own, the voice no longer belonged to me, but an animalistic call of the wild.

          He arrived, throwing our bathroom door open, a pink bundle in his arms. Our baby. I looked to the shower floor, the tile muddied with locchia, but not a dead baby. Enye was warm and snug in her daddy’s arms. By now, tears of foolish relief poured from my eyes.

   “Mel. Sweetheart, what happened?” Ran’s voice was concerned, but not in any other way except loving regard.

“I…I…Enye…she was,” I began.

“With me the whole time,” he supplied. My eyes darted back to the small pink bundle of baby in Ran’s arms, he cocked his head and gently tugged the blanket from Enye’s delicate face. My breast milk intermingled with the warm spray of the shower as I caught sight of our baby, her small mouth moving slightly. The shower continued to run, the sound soothing, my body dripping wet and cold as I held the shower door open, my mouth agape.

“Honey, why don’t you finish up and come downstairs,” Ran suggested. “Everything’s okay; you’re probably just overly tired.”

I nodded and slid the shower door closed, ducking my head under the spray as I lathered my hair, carefully avoiding the patch of the shower floor where my dead baby rested.

          She would never drown, she was a caulbearer.

****

[Thanks for reading! Always open to comments & suggestions. Please remember this is an origninal work of fiction and not to be taken or shared as your own. Shower image retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shower on 1.24.14]

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