Without My Child

She woke with a lurch, sitting bolt-upright. She immediately thought of her son. Where was he? Surely in bed, and fine. But why the panic, then?

She shook her head sadly, shedding the nightmare she'd just had. Even now, it faded, but she clung to the remnants.

Unable to find little Ernest. She could hear him crying, knew he was in trouble, but also knew she couldn't get to him. And the Lion King soundtrack played in the background.

But that dream was gone now, and she was left with the fresh realization that Ernest was gone, a victim to cancer. Bitterness threatened to overwhelm her again as the pain washed over her.

She looked at the clock. 3AM. She already knew how this night would play out: five-minute increments, seeming to stretch into infinity as her dreams taunted her impotence.

She decided to stay up. Maybe have a glass of wine. Maybe have more than that. It wasn't as if she had anyone or anything to get up for in the morning.

Her marriage hadn't lasted -- Ernest had seemed like the miracle child that would keep her together with Richie -- but her ex-husband was always timely with his alimony payments, so she hadn't had to go out and get a job. And she hadn't, because, fuck it. Oblivion awaited.

The Lion King soundtrack, which she'd put on repeat to remind her of better times, started over, a companion to her misery.

She woke up. She realized she'd been crying. The one thing that they never really show when they describe crying, either in books, or in movies, when they talk about sobbing uncontrollably, or the dramatic moment when the heroine collapses to the floor in sorrow, or the hero, just before the dramatic "NOOOOOO!" levelled at the camera, what they never show is just how much the nose runs.

She reached for the Kleenex on the bed-stand and contemplated this clinically. She still had to stifle a sob now and again. It had been a powerful dream, losing the son that she carried now; losing Richie. It was anxiety, plain and simple, but she would get through it.

From the other room, she could hear Richie's snores. He'd moved into the other room to help her get more sleep, but she suspected that more than a little of his willingness came from the desire for a solid eight for himself. He had work in the morning, and she just had more of the same, of letting the baby grow, so she didn't hold it against him. She rolled over and set the Kleenex on the stand. Richie would no doubt take care of it when he left for work in the morning. She looked at the clock. 3AM. Still lots of sleep to be had. She rolled back over, rustling until she found a comfortable position, and went back to sleep.

She leapt out of bed, not even sure she was all the way awake. Another fucking pregnancy dream. They'd used protection, no question. She had even taken the pee test after the last dream. Knowing there was no baby in her had been such a relief, but it hadn't helped. Instead, this was some dream that felt a little too much like acceptance. Not that she wouldn't ever want kids. Maybe some time. But she didn't want to be like some special episode of DeGrassi. She wanted to finish school. She wanted to have a career. Maybe she didn't know exactly what, just yet, but something. Something just for her. And a baby would maybe end that dream. She paced for a couple of minutes, just trying to shake off the rest of the dream. She didn't want that one following her back into sleep and keeping her up and down all night. Up and down. Ugh. She was never having sex again.

She looked at the clock. Three in the morning. Too early to get up, so she got back into bed and did her best to fall asleep. She had class in five hours.

She woke up. She wasn't scared. Not much. Even if it was really dark. But she'd had a bad dream. Something about a boy. Something? She didn't remember. She thought about yelling for her mom. It was really dark. But she didn't. Instead, she went back to sleep.

She woke up. It was dark. She had a dream where it was dark and she was alone. She was scared. She screamed. She cried. Her mom ran in and scooped her out of bed. She fell asleep, safe and secure, knowing she was loved.