By Shannon Eden
The pain comes suddenly. It spears the underside of her swollen stomach and ripples outward in shock waves that rock her to her knees, months too soon in its arrival for the welcome to be a warm one. She cries out, once. The sound is sharp, scraping at the ceilings, walls and windowpanes, but there comes no reply.
She presses her palm to the curve of her abdomen and feels a heartbeat throb against it, twice as fast as her own-until it isn’t. The pulses of life stutter and slow; come once every two seconds, three, four, five?
Not at all.
Blood snakes down her thighs to soak the carpet a dark, angry red. Her hands, trembling and frantic, clutch the juncture between her legs to try to staunch the flow, but the effort is futile; the blood continues to leak from her body until she is empty and sobbing on the floor, curled into herself like an autumn leaf.
Her husband watches on, a curious arch in his brow. “I thought it would be more painful,” he says, and turns away.