My Infection by Mark Matthews for Flash Fiction Friday
TODAY’S BREW: Hazelnut times a zillion
At Books of the Dead Press, I met some great people. Mark Matthews and I hit it off fast and have become really good friends. He also happens to be a fantastic author, and the world is finally figuring it out. His latest creation, On the Lips of Children just hit the top 100 in horror on Amazon. If you haven’t read this uniquely disturbing novel, trust me, do so. You won’t be the same after. Get this book. NOW. http://t.co/mFzbjq8rNL.
NOW GET EXCITED BECAUSE I MADE MARK WRITE THIS CREEPY ASS STORY FOR FLASH FICTION FRDAY. Enjoy.
By Mark Matthews
Puddles of mud.
After she confessed her eyes became puddles of mud, like tears had fallen upon dirty eye sockets and left a muddy mess. “Okay, yes, we had sex,” she squeaked. “Three times only. I didn’t meant to. Will you still take care of us?”
Latrice only confessed because she was caught. The paternity test showed 99 percent chance I wasn’t the father. She held the child of Puckett in her womb.
“Will you take care of us?” she asked again. It wasn’t a question, she was giving me a challenge.
“I will take care of things,” I answered, but I didn’t say the rest that I wanted to, which was “because the day I fucked you I caught an infection and now I have it for life.”
“What about Puckett? Will you take care of him like you usually do?”
“Yes, I will.”
I had to. Because now Puckeet has the infection too, and I can’t have him talking smack about me taking care of his baby.
Puckeett spent 3 more days alive before I found him. Suffocation by choking has always been my choice when I want others to think for a moment on whose hands is killing them. Later, they shall swim deep. The Detroit River doesn’t give up its dead easy. And my Latrice loved it when I killed for her.
The birthing room was lit like a spaceship and reminded me of Vegas. No windows. I couldn’t tell if it was day or night only that that hours passed. New kinds of liquid flowed from between Latrice’s propped up legs. She sweat and spasmed, and when the head crowned, I felt both nauseous bile and warm shivers of hope.
There was a one percent chance that the baby would have my ebony flesh. But she did not. In fact, her flesh was so white it was see through. Nearly blue and fucking see through.
A heart condition kept the child in intensive care for days, in an incubater, looking like a frog ready to be dissected. I peeked at her, tried to make eye contact, did make eye contact. This infant seemed to be my very own heart beating in front of me, shriveled with doctors prodding it to keep her alive.
“She’s going to die,” Latrice repeated again and again. “I can’t take this, I can’t see her. You do it, you take care of her.”
I did, and stayed in the hospital and put my finger in the sterile glove and touched an index finger to her forehead.
Where’s my mother? she asked with tiny motions of her incubated arms.
“Soon you will see her. I am here. This is how it is,” I answered.
Days later I brought the child home to Latrice. Life had grown stronger in the nameless infant, but she was still barely bigger than the palm of my hand. At home the child shrieked and wailed as if she held the pain from a thousands past lives.
“This is not how it’s supposed to be,” Latrice said, watching me hold the child at 3:36 a:m: in the rocker on a Tuesday.
“This is how its going to be.”
I slept with the week old flesh on mine. It was skin so thin you could see her insides, like she was made of rubbery glass. I put her on my chest, rocked her until 4:25 a:m: and she beat with my heart.
The rocker was to be where the baby fed, yet it refused to take the breast of her mother.
Medications the baby did take. I injected them into an IV port in her neck. Warnings from doctors rang in my ears. Too large of an injection can lead to affixiation. Failure to administer will do the same.
Latrice curled up into a ball much of the time, like a fetus afraid to be born into her new life. Her hair, unwashed for days, became stringy like a broom. Pill bottles with the prescription label rubbed off sat on the counter. Oxy’s or Xanax or both.
The infant tears came at night, sometimes causing trips to the hospital wrapping ourselves in jackets gainst the cold, only to be sent back home again. Sleeplessness weighed us down like soaking wet clothes.
“This isn’t how its supposed to be,” she said.
“This is how it is,” I answered.
“No. You can take care of this. Take care of her like you do. Make it like it was before. She’s not meant to be alive.” Her eyes become the muddy puddles of tears and dirt. They pleaded to me. The infection bubbled in my veins.
Killing again would be easy. The pillow held down with my weight covered her whole face. Things were fragile, and it was just tiny breaths to take away this time.
The body fit easily in the trunk. The night felt cold. The car seats were frigid leather. Soon the car would heat up, and things would be better. I whispered my middle of the night words to my passenger in the back seat.
“We’re taking mommy to the river. Then we’ll be home, and I will give you a name, and I will take care of you”.
My infection was gone.