I bled through my sock and felt it starting to pool in my shoe, squishing slightly when I put weight on it. The pain radiated through my heel, but I was late, so I straightened my back and walked on. I made it to class right on time, sneaking in the door in time to walk straight to the front and then sit closest to the wall.
I’m currently sitting with my feet propped up on the empty chair next to me (this is the front row, after all, space to everywhere) in an attempt to stop the bleeding entirely. Of course, it’s all my fault. Take a guess. No, don’t. I stabbed my foot with a pen while walking around the apartment. It was sticking up out of a bag and I thought I’d stepped over it (I’m incredibly graceful, you know) but I hadn’t. A red pen, of course, what else?
Emily washed my foot in the sink. We tried to find bandages in the apartment, but there were none. We had to go. She was on her way to rehearsal and I was on my way to class, not driving because I’ve been wasting parking money and I’ve got to stem the flow of cash. I’ve got a cotton ball wedged between my heel and a piece of gauze and bloody sock. It’s a nice sight, really. But it’s actually not as bad as I thought it would be, so it’s looking like we’re all good.
Oh okay, that was horrible.
Here’s the prologue to my romance novel::
I must add a small prologue to my prologue: This is for a romance novel. It’s going to be cheesy at moments. Trust me, by the last sentence of this small bit you’ll be wincing.
There is no working title. There will be one eventually. To be passionate, one must be patient.
And thus, I begin:
It took her twelve hours to die. Toward the end, her breathing became labored and sweat glistened on her pale face. Her lip bled from where she had bitten into the pink flesh. The drops of blood dripped down onto her chest, which heaved erratically as she struggled to breathe. Her body had lost the will to fight, but her eyes remained focused on his face. As soon as the midwife told him, his gaze passed over her soon to be still body and never returned. She watched him quietly, her only sounds cries of pain or exhaustion.
At first he had been excited. He’d grasped her small hands in his and held them, whispering words on gentle encouragement in her ear. They’d rode the waves of pain together, smiling at the thought of their child. He’d mopped her brow with cool cloths and distracted her by telling her about the horse he was having delivered just for her. He’d ordered it the week before in London. She was a beauty, he said. Sixteen hands of gentle strength. Gentle strength, she’d whispered. His lips came down to caress her forehead, her nose and finally, her lips.
When they told him she was having a hard time of it, and he told her to buck up and be done with it. Her laugh was music to his ears. It would be her last. She grew tired, closing her eyes as she clenched her teeth against the pain.
The baby was turned, they said. Turn it, he’d ordered. It’s not that simple, they’d replied.
He promised that they’d buy their son a pony as soon as he was old enough to ride and the three of them would wander the fields together on summer afternoons. We’ll pack a basket, he said. We’ll go fishing. We’ll pick flowers. We’ll swim. He spit these lies to her even as he watched her beg for mercy, crying for death before life had left her.
He couldn’t meet her eyes, even though hers searched his face for comfort. He took the small bundle the midwife offered him and went outside, praying silently that there was something to be done. He looked down at the creature he held, rocking it against his chest, softly soothing it. It cried like her, he thought. She should have been holding their tiny miracle to her breast and smiling up at him. She wasn’t. He didn’t know what to do. A wrinkly pink child in exchange for his beautiful wife seemed a terrible bargain.
He knew before they told him. He handed the baby back to the midwife and stalked out of the house. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do. He saddled his horse and rode for the forest. Minutes might have passed, or hours, but eventually he found a small dark clearing and screamed until the birds flew from the trees, flying to heaven with her, a melancholy procession as night fell.
The funeral was held days later. His tears had stopped He stood at her grave long after the other mourners had left, gone back to his house to enjoy his hospitality. He sat next to the freshly turned earth, holding her newly engraved stone, wishing he could see her eyes one last time. He wasn’t prepared. Questions swirled in his mind, flooding him with a nagging sense of guilt. This was his fault, he thought. His fault alone. The midwives were apologetic, upset as expected, but he knew it wasn’t they who had failed.
His mother had died as he’d been born. He should have known better than to sacrifice his wife for a child. She’d reassured him, telling him she’d have an easy birth, over and done before he even had time to worry. He’d believed her. He hadn’t questioned it again, the possibility hadn’t even occurred to him that she might have been wrong. He had killed her with his love, his desire to create the family he’d never known.
He knew then what he must do, and to him, it seemed an easy answer. His soul had just shattered, there would be no repair. He could never love again. He would never love again. He rose from her grave and slowly walked back into the home no longer filled with laughter.