Friday, February 08, 2013
nineteen: mother and daughter
It's been a few hours since Aunt Lucy left with the armed man. She had been so nice and genuinely caring, yet she gave the order to terminate my pregnancy like she was ordering a value meal. No second thought.
Dr. Chatterjee had tried to calm me down. Told me it was for my own good. For the greater good, he had said. It left me wondering what exactly was wrong with my child. If it was still alive. I haven't felt it kick in awhile and even now when my adrenaline rushed, still I felt nothing stirring. I'm alone, contemplating these thoughts over when a soft knock comes at the door. I half-expect the good doctor to walk in with some form of medieval abortion contraption.
I turn over just as my mother walks inside the cabin and closes the door shut behind her. She hadn't changed. Still stiff and punctuated in her movements, not a graceful bone in her body. She turns and realise I am not sleeping, that I am looking right at her.
"Charlotte..." her hand slides in front of her mouth as tears find a nest in the crease of her eyes. She comes towards me but I protest.
"Don't...don't come near me."
"Charlotte..." She stutters, "I'm your mother." She sits down on the swivelling chair that the good doctor uses. I'm surprised that she cut her hair short. Just like I did.
"I'm just...Mom..." I break down. I don't know why but everything I held in for the past months finally come rushing out. And unlike before, my mother actually comes to comfort me. Wraps her arms around me and tells me everything will be okay. And I believe her. I'm warm in her presence and I finally feel safe. I never felt safe in her arms, never felt loved.
"There's so much I have to tell you, Charlotte." My mother whispers in my ear. I can't let her go. I hold on tighter.
"I'm so scared. Tell me..." I hold back the tears, at least long enough for me to ask, "...tell me you didn't really do this, mom. Tell me, please!"
She gently pushes away, keeps me at arms lenght. Her beautiful blue eyes lay down on mine. "I never wanted this to happen, Charlotte. You have to believe me."
"But did you do it?" I manage to ask through sobs.
She takes a deep breath. Never in my life had my mother and I have such a serious discussion. She would ignore me, belittle me, and compare me to the perfect neighbours. She seemed so different now.
"Your father and I were involved in the creation of a powerful weapon, the Tip-Shiziku virus. We were working with the Ministry of Defense, particularly with Robert Scott. Several years ago, before you were born, something fell in the northern valleys of Guam." My mother takes a breath. I can see she is nervous, a tangible tension begins to hover. "We didn't know what it was at first. Governments were trying to harnest it, companies trying to process it. Everyone wanted a piece of this new arrival. Your father and I were sent to investigate the possibilities of extracting source material from the fallen object. We were on the verge of discovery, Charlotte." She says that to re-assure me, she sees the mistrust in my eyes. The fear.
"What we found changed the course of history. What came out of that...meteorite or whatever...what came out of it attacked us. It happened so quickly but whatever it was, it wasn't human. We contained it, tested it, probed it. What we didn't do was quarantine the site. Within days the village was sick. The elderly and children went first. Then gradually everyone but the scientists perished."
She takes a break, gets up from the bed and walks towards the window where she lingers for a few minutes. I've never seen my mother in such a state of reflection before.
"The people didn't stay sick." She turns to face me, her hand formed a fist and it was clenched near her heart. "They came back from the dead. That's when your father realised the importance of that living tissue. The importance of having it in US hands -"
My mother was cutoff by aunt Lucy, who had just entered the cabin. Blood streaked her clothing.
"Sarabeth, they've knocked down the pillars. They're about to come in."
"Start up the engine and get the kids. We leave in 5." My mother's eyes shine bright like fire. Aunt Lucy nods in acknowledgement and then runs out of the cabin. My mother turns to face me.
"We'll have to continue this later. Looks like we've got company."
"Why...why are you guys running away from the dead?" I ask, confused and left wondering. I'm tired and exhausted and can't think straight. The last I heard, aunt Lucy was going out with armed men to fight off the walking dead. I hadn't thought of another scenario.
"It's not the dead," My mother answers, cocking her handgun. She looked so fierce. "We're running away from your father."
My heart tugs inside my chest as my eyes widened with concern.