Red Bloom [Short Story]

A pregnant woman is reflecting on her decision to give birth.
[Short Story, 5 pages, 1141 words]

Red Bloom

She was waiting for the cashier, and her back started to hurt again.

“Why did I decide to carry this parasite around me again?” she jokingly thought.

In her last month of pregnancy, she was not supposed to be out here, hunting for last minutes sales in the supermarket. Now her feet were hurting more than usual, her back was sore, and she looked like she had just finished a marathon. She might as well get a bottle of water while she was at it. She wondered if the cashier did not show up because of this greasy, slimy, sweating, angry-looking monster waiting for him.

The older woman in front of her had become angry and was looking for an employee. She had even less patience, even though she has had many more decades to practice it.

The cashier showed up shortly after the granny started to complain loudly and smack her cane around. The young boy was very uncomfortable with the situation. He must have been new to this job.

She grabbed the few things she had bought and started her one-block journey back home. A few months ago, it had been no problem for her to walk to the store several times a day. Now, it felt like she would fall over at any moment and die.

She made it to the apartment and took the elevator up to the first floor. Once she got inside, she washed herself, grabbed some new clothes, and laid down on the couch in the living room. She was exhausted. She looked at her belly and started to massage it with the big bottle of lotion standing on the table.

She always wanted to care for somebody but getting a child had never been her first option. She had never really thought it through. While getting a child sounds like something responsible and mature people do, she had never given the nine months of pregnancy and several years of nurturing a thought. Her body was being pushed to its limits, and soon, her wallet would be as well. She heard both scream out in pain every day a bit more.

She got herself some ice cream from the freezer and dropped back on the couch.

Luckily, she was a self-employed artist. Nobody could fire her for being pregnant, and she could still work throughout pregnancy and after. She wondered if Steve had thought it through before getting her pregnant. They were both puzzled and confused when they found out that she was pregnant. They always used at least a condom during sex. She had tried birth control pills, but all of the drugs on the market made her dizzy and irritated. She could neither enjoy the relationship nor properly work on her projects while being on them. And people were praising the pills as a miracle of medicine. She rolled her eyes. One day something would come around that could switch fertility on and off like a light switch, but it seemed to be something from the distant future.

She had thought about abortion many times during the early days of her pregnancy. She had been confused about the whole situation and was not sure what she wanted. She had wandered around life, and getting a child would at least give her a life purpose. Or so society had taught her.

In a few decades, she could at least look back and say: “See this weird human being that kinda looks like me but has a completely different personality and only visits me once every other month? I made that.”

While it was somewhat sarcastic, it had a truth to it that she could not deny. If her parent were unsarcastically thinking this way? They had been religious all their lives and raised her that way as well. Once she had gotten to university, she had slowly distanced herself from it, but it was still a part of her. Maybe it was why she decided to carry on the pregnancy. Would she have chosen otherwise if her parent had not known? Probably. She could not know for sure, but she did not look forward to another pregnancy after these nine months.

It was turning late afternoon while she had been sleeping on the couch. A honking car outside woke her up. She had dreamed of couples who would get their baby from a store. They would order one and deposit their DNA, then pick it up nine months later. It sounded pretty nice.

Her phone reminder went off. It was time for the late afternoon stretch. Shortly after she had finished, Steve came home. He looked stressed and exhausted from work. She pitied him. He was doing mindless, soulless work in an office of a mid-sized company. He had never been artistic or found his passion, but she was sure he had never really tried. She could not fault him for it. He had just finished university when she got pregnant, so he needed to come up with something quickly. Having a child was a serious investment and required lots of money and time. Or even more money if you don’t have the time.

His parents pushed him into a comfortable office job, and he had not seen another choice. It was a good income, but she hoped that it would not bring him all the side effects of an unfulfilling job. Depression, burnout, carving out his soul.

She hugged him and kissed his cheek and his mood was lighting up. He tried; they both tried to make it work. It surely would not always be easy, but they were both committed to giving it their best.

Thinking about it now, it was a bonding experience. They learned a lot about and from each other over the past nine months. Was it worth the months of pain and the upcoming years of sleepless nights? She could not say. But she hoped for a future in which the downsides of physical and emotional distress were not mandatory.

Everybody should have the option to experience going through a pregnancy, but it should not be necessary for the relationship. Even if society promotes it this way, it does not mean that it can’t or won’t change.

They both sat down on the couch, hugged each other, and continued watching a show they had found a few days ago. At the end of the episode, they were both asleep.