“Why?” “Never mind,” I said. “All of this,” Gid said, “is illusion.” Across the room, Jessica stood with the baby in her arms. The Dance Team girls swirled around her like dust in a wind. “I have to feed her,” Jessica said. “Jesus,” Tayla said. “Come on.” She pulled at my hand. “This is so fucked,” she said. I couldn´t move. “Tell her,” Gid said. “End it.” I couldn’t. The words were too heavy. They sat in my belly with the baby, growing bit by bit, a light hazing the lines of everything in my life.
Closet Water stains made dark masks on the cinder block walls. Fluorescents flickered under old tiles. I stood in the corner counting the holes in the ceiling. Someone told me once, if you hit yourself hard enough, you can knock a baby right out of your belly. No one knew I was here. No one ever came here. Mops and buckets stood around waiting for someone to put them to work. Old ducts ran rusted in the corners. I didn’t really know what I was going to do, but I knew I was going to do something. I lay on the floor and lifted a spare cinder block over my chest. It was too heavy, too sharp at the corners. I benched it. One. Two. Three times. I benched and then tossed it at the ceiling. It went up and it came down. Right on my belly, crushing the wind out of me, pushing lunch back up to my mouth. Pain shot clean through me. My kidneys jumped, and my innards danced. I curled and cried. When I could swallow a mouthful of air, I checked my middle. Scrapes and bruises, small bloody beads. It hurt, but it didn’t hurt the way I thought it should. I was hoping for something deep, something substantial, not this tearing, electric shock. Over and over, I lifted and dropped the brick myself. Blood and sweat mixed. My hands and arms got weak. They trembled, and I had to stop. Aching and sad, I washed my hands in the big metal sink. The water hissed, and bit and I chewed my lip. I scrubbed the blood from my belly and started building the lie I would tell Tayla. I fell, I’d say. I tripped and sprawled in the street. It was a weak lie but plausible. Tayla might suspect something but suspecting was not knowing.