It had started raining on the drive down to Delaware. We were an exit before the bridge. I was about six months pregnant, and just shy of twenty, but his mother didn’t care. We were going to visit her in his hometown, one of those empty rural hellholes where the roads run parallel then perpendicular to each other. She wanted to rub my stomach and feed me pills for a few days.
The rain started slowly, then came down quicker, blanketing the car. The windshield had a crack shaped like a firework and water had started dripping through it onto the dashboard. He pulled off the exit, sliding across the lanes. He had seen a Comfort Inn, he explained. It was right there, as soon as we pulled off, like it was waiting just for us.
In our room, he undressed me and massaged my shoulders and underneath my breasts. My stomach was the size of a beach ball. I wondered what might happen if I pricked it with a pin.
His mother was planning on driving up when the baby arrived. She had bought toys, clothes, and a crib for it. It was a girl. She was naming it after her mother.
“This is the best plan,” she had said to us. “You can still see your child this way.”
I did not want to see it. He and I first bonded over our love for the woods. We wanted to build a house in the forest for the two of us, no one else. We talked about dying on its rocky terrain, decaying into the Earth like animals. The pregnancy had changed him. He wanted to get married now. I wanted a procedure. His mother was a compromise.
He turned on the TV. A newswoman was standing in the storm, shouting into a microphone. Her jacket was so wet it was shining. She looked shriveled up and scared. Did a man make her do this?
After a few minutes he turned the TV off. The rain sounded like a stranger obsessively tapping at our window. He helped me up and unmade the bed, then helped me under the covers and tucked me in. I felt like I was being stuffed into a garbage bag. He got into bed next to be and turned off the lamp on the chestnut nightstand. My eyes got used to the darkness.
“Do you love me?” I asked him. I was never sure.
“Yes,” he said. His voice cracked. “Do you love me?”
“Yes,” I said. I was never sure.
He turned away from me. I looked at his arched shoulders. The blades were wings protruding from his back. I think he might have said something, but I didn’t hear him. I was so in my own head I couldn’t even hear him breathing anymore.
Ceara Hennessey is a fiction writer based in Northern New Jersey. She holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Seton Hall University. She currently works as a waitress. When she is not writing or working, she is either reading or watching movies.
Artwork by: Thomas Hawk