Sunlight slowly crawled along the ceiling, then went down on the whiteness of the wall until it caressed a head, abandoned on a pillow. A soothed but parched body welcomed that sweet nectar of heat that it was given for free. In the unconsciousness of her sleep, another little unconsciousness thrilled in her womb, throbbing with new life, still unaware to the body that feeded it for free, just because that tiny being, no bigger than a hand palm, was there, existed. Existing seems the easiest thing in the whole world. You consider yourself powerful and invincible like a sculpture built out of sand, but if you turn your look back, you may see some waves licking your unwaveringness. But now, tenderly, a dream cradled her in her drowsiness and made her feel like being back in the warm embrace of a mother’s lap.
Some knocks abruptly echoed in the silence. Sharp, frightening. That dreamlike mother’s lap disintegrated and she opened her black eyes wide with a fearful yell, having a dazed look around.
“Come on! Hurry up! It’s late!”.
She snorted: it’s just the guard. Like every single morning since a month, a graceful woman in uniform “ringed the alarm” against cells’ bars to wake up the convicts. What a good service. From the railing window she tried to look down over the courtyard, but she could only take a glimpse of her imagination carrying her beyond those walls. Slowly she took her pajamas off (she could do it because she was alone in the cell, how lucky am I!) and she put on the same clothes she wore the day before and the one before that.
She had bought some cookies at the extra food stock, so she heated up some milk she used to keep fresh into a basin full of cold water. While she was staring at the little pot and trembling flame of the ring under it, that annoying, sudden knock stroke the air again.
“Calling me by my name, instead of all this mess?”.
“O princess… don’t piss me off. Take this, comes from the doctor”. The gentlewoman passed a white envelope through the tiny window in the iron door. A writing on it said “cell 312, female department II”.
She picked it up and opened it, after switching off the ring and gas cylinder. It was her blood and urine exams result, very kindly ordered by the prison director a few weeks before, when she got degraded from “woman” to “host”.
Under the numbers column, two handwritten lines by an anonymous doctor with an incomprehensible signature: “the analysis of the hormones present in the material handed to her reports an ongoing pregnancy. Please carry out immediate inspection by ultrasound findings. Sincerely”.
Pregnancy? Me? Me pregnant? Me with a stuff in my belly? Since… o my God… since… two months?
Instinctively (and maternally) her right hand settled on her navel. And, all of a sudden, another thought: here?
When her breath became regular again, she stood up and first washed her face many times. Not to wake up from a dream, rinse out paleness from her cheeks or get used to the unbelievable surprise. Just to purify herself. To make her former life flow down the drainpipe and end it in the most suitable place ever.
She wished she was brand new for her creature. Mine? That thought increased until it included another person, its father (“father”… what a difficult term to say!), that lad who… loved her. Did he love me? The last of a long series of men, the first of a new era. “Love”, a really absent and dressed up word in her life, locked up in the most secret jail in her heart, whose cell mate was “Trust”. In that moment, when the word “father” overlooked her mind, she deeply understood that feelings’ dance, that harmonically perfect ballet which a curtain displayed every time they were together alone. She never understood it, or wanted to, because Fear held her heart’s cell’s keys and guarded its gate extremely well.
“Guard!”, she cried impulsively, “guard! Can you come here for a second?”.
“What the hell you want? Don’t you know I am plenty of stuff to do?”.
“Can you give me an application form? I would like to phone, if it’s possible. I know it’s not the right time, but I need this phone call, can you ask the director to approve it immediately? It’s a matter… of life”.
“Or death?”, the Grand Duchess in uniform ironically completed.
Her heart ran fast. She dialled the number and checked it out twice, tasting every single heartbeat which escaped quickly from her veins. The unengaged tone seemed to last forever. Than he answered. Hello.
“Don’t hold your breath, you know I would have called you sooner or later. You are the only one that’s left to me in this world”.
Her speech unexpectedly was so sweet because she gave up the fact she was in love with him. He had been hurt so much by her hidden feelings, but he himself healed his scars with his own love as a good surgeon would do. She managed to admit her loneliness in the end, for she had always been surrounded by unscrupulous people who he unsuccessfully tried to move her away from. A joy he never felt before exploded inside. His heart was beating hard in his chest, it was going up his throat and around all his body. It was crazy, but alive and free!
Words knotted up the way from her lungs to her lips. For a second she lost control and got paralyzed, as she was drunk from happiness, and both stayed silent for some time.
“I wandered if you want to marry me. I would like my child to be carried by a father with a ring on his finger”.
“Can you… repeat?”. Okay, turns of phrases did not work.
“You know what, no, who is there in my womb? Our child. Consequently, I want to be your wife”.
“How can I ask for a visit to you?”.
“But… you don’t say anything? I thought you… would be happy…”.
“I don’t have to say a word. I have to hug you!”.
Mrs Pinkerton in uniform and truncheon knocked the 312 cell’s door with usual delicacy.
“It’s time, the jeep has arrived. Hurry up”.
While getting on it with about ten other women, she held her belly as if its weight could throw her off balance and make her stumble down, even if it actually grew only few centimetres more.
What does pregnant women fancy about when they are in their cars with their partners going to the hospital for the first ultrasound exam?, she was wondering, maybe they think about what sort of pushchair they’ll buy, or brush up how to knit as their grannies taught them, or are anxious to know if it’s going to be a baby-girl or a baby-boy. All she could think of was, instead, where she would have grown up her child. She would have really liked not to make her child pay the bitter price for her own mistakes… his father already payed for that; he chose to increase his shifts at work and to look for an extra job in the weekends.
“And when are you going to visit me if you work 24 hours a day?”, she asked him laughing.
“Well, I come visit you every time I close my eyes and think about the three of us, together”.
She liked so much to be cuddled by his speeches, so truly and naturally dictated by love, and listen to his reassuring voice depicting a life she would have desired to live since she was a child. The life I want to give to my baby.
Copyright 2006 Eleonora Pizzi