The Blood Remains by Sakena Jwan Washington

This powerful and beautiful story includes pregnancy issues that some might find affecting.

The Blood Remains

I pin my knees together like a reflex. The technician in charge tells me to scoot down. “More,” she says, “until you’re right on the edge.” I never do it right. I lie knob-kneed in stirrups, naked from the waist down in a thin gown. She cues me to spread my legs. I feel too open. “When was your last period?” I ramble off a date that I’ve memorized. I’m good at that. “I’m six weeks, five days.” It’s not much, but I already feel occupied. I want them to ask me about all of my pregnancy symptoms, but they don’t. I want to brag about all of the avocado toast I’ve consumed, the Quinoa Bites, Omega 3 capsules. And when they ask me about vitamins, I want them to know that I’ve got four years of folic acid rushing through my veins. But we don’t get that far. The room is dark, but too cold and sterile to be cozy. They make me put a large white wand inside of me before I hand it off. I reach between my legs like a fat cat on its back. I lean back and try to relax. The slick end of the probe enters me further as the woman in charge guides it around. Her pace feels random. I don’t recognize my insides. On the monitor, I see shades I don’t understand. My womb is a wide dark triangle with gray and white sea patterns. I see open circles that look like halos. My eyes focus on a spotlight in my uterus. I reach out to hold my husband’s hand. He runs hot, but I’m so cold I can’t feel my fingertips. My skin thaws against his. My womb offers no clues to me. I’m not surprised; I never did well in science class. The spotlight is blood, she explains. The same blood that stains the gown and the tissue paper beneath me. I shrink at the sight of myself. My legs are dry and streaked with chalk-colored drag marks. I’m ashy – all the way down to my short ankle socks. My knees cower inward. I strain to understand the shadows and the swooshing. Nothing is ever neat in there. It’s always messy on the inside. I drift off. The night before, I’d scoured the internet for stories about bleeding this early. These things happen. I look at my husband for confirmation. Maybe he’s remembering stories he’s read too. I follow his gaze to the student in the room. She’s holding the wand now. She studies me until the absence of something makes her eyes bulge. She’s the first to show emotion, but I pretend not to see it. I’m good at that. The student looks young. Too young to understand the hope of six weeks, five days. She hands the wand back to the woman in charge and steps back. They describe things I do not care about: my kidneys, fibroid, ovaries. A bonus round of anatomy buys them time while they try to find the words to say what’s next. I squint my eyes to see the shape I’ve only seen in movies. The bean-shaped image that exists on other people’s refrigerators. I want my photo too. The woman in charge hovers over an odd shape with no borders. My husband won’t let go of my hand, his brows furrow. “We can’t locate a sac,” they say. We don’t know what that means, but we’re also afraid to ask. The monitor turns dark, as they pull the wand out of me. The well-meaning smiles have faded. They say my doctor wants to see us. I’m already crying because I know it’s bad news. I’m already crying because there’s no praying out of this. You can clean up now, they say. Take as much time as you need. I pull my gown closed and slip off the exam chair. They hand me washcloths to clean up. I try, but the blood remains.

Sakena Jwan Washington is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a communications director in higher education. Her writing has appeared in Brevity, Huffington Post, Rewire.News, and Tor.com. Visit her at sakenajwan.com.

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Art Lucas Samaras CC2.5

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