SAINT VALENTINA by Marion Bright

The latest  Slush Pile  fiction at Dig Boston:

YOU WERE BORN the day the IRA kidnapped Shergar. The radio reported it, and the t.v. did, too. The midwife suspected that the Russians had taken him. Only the most evil doers could harm a prize winner, we thought. It didn’t matter the crime was committed thousands of miles away; where we came from, we took better care of our horses than we did ourselves, and we expected the same of others, especially if they were Irish.

We had the ease to speculate on the news after your mother went into labor. We expected a smooth delivery: the midwife was there, all her tools were prepared. But it didn’t take long for your mother’s breathing to quicken, her face to writhe. The midwife, twisting a compress into a tight wad, instructed we go to the hospital. I tried to convince the woman that we had faith in her to take care of us, that we couldn’t afford the hospital.

“There’s only so much I can do,” she snapped. “This baby’s breech.”

In the hospital’s delivery room, I watched as your mother bled enough blood that when the nurse escorted me to the hallway, she imprinted a red smear on my arm. I couldn’t help but to avert my gaze and regret leaving you with masked strangers. As I left, your mother’s voice, calling my name, ricocheted in my head. When I returned, when you were in her arms, in a blanket wrapped so tightly you seemed immobile, we wept, your mother and I, long streams down our faces. She was tired, and I was scared.

I shouldn’t have cried. But it was too much– you were too much– and I was so saddled, then, with debt and guilt that one thought alone fueled me: escape.

We left the hospital that evening. At the apartment, your mother retreated to our bed, and I put you beside her. Then I stayed up until three in the morning packing. The t.v. flickered enough light to guide me around the bedroom while I shoved shoes and diapers into duffel bags. When I heard the early morning news, I welcomed the distracting reports of Shergar.

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