Another Writers Carnival challenge. This week; You’re proud parents of a newborn who grows at an accelerated rate, in fact, overnight she has aged three months. You know no one has swapped the child. So what happens next? Where do you go and what’s going on? Use no more than 1,500 words.
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I opened my eyes and stared at the bedroom ceiling. The pearl grey light suggested it was the early hours of the morning. The mewling sound drifting through the house, originating from the crib down the hall, demanded my attention and pulled at my gut. I loved her, this baby, even though she was my death warrant.
Swinging my legs over the side of the bed, I took a moment to absorb the ‘normal’ feelings. The soft pile of the carpet beneath my feet, and the breeze from the window cooling my skin. I left Aiden sleeping and went to the nursery. Even though I expected it, I inhaled sharply at her appearance.
Her rounded, soft limbs carried the rosy-tinted healthy flush of a three month old baby, even though my body still ached from the birthing of this child a mere twenty four hours ago. Leaning over the crib, a flood of warmth surprised me. Her smile, the kind that shone in eyes which captured every shade of blue in the spectrum, defied description. A cooing breath completed the spell, like an arrow piercing my heart. I love this child.
It felt weird, when I knew would never see her grow to adulthood. That had been the deal. A human lifespan of health, happiness and shining good fortune, and He gets a child.
Instinctively, I had known the time was coming, and that He would demand the bargain be sealed. The shadow of his presence had been thicker these last few weeks. Aiden suffered three accidents. Near misses, really, of the ‘you could have been killed’ variety. I knew they were warnings shots across the bow. Reminders that He could take away my ‘happiness’ in one stroke.
“I’ve given you a queen. Can’t I keep the rest? Still live?” I stared into Lilith’s eyes, and seeing the blue hue turn to flint took my breath away. The answer was no. Reaching into the crib, I picked up the child. Her soft body fit into mine. My stomach cramped and my breasts ached as the primal bond of mother and child swept through my body. Sitting in the armchair, I settled Lilith into my lap and held her to my breast.
The cramps in my belly became stronger with each hard pull of her suckling mouth. Her tiny fingers moved over my soft skin in a clutching action, all part of Mother Nature’s design to make a baby’s needs undeniable. Looking down at the determined jaw moving in rhythmic demanding strokes, the feeling of having my life drained from me was real, I knew. It was not just milk Lilith took from me.
As her eyes drifted closed, I stared out of the window over the pink dawn streaking across the sky. How many of these would I get to see? I didn’t know if Aiden truly understood that I would be leaving him to be a lone parent. I only ever told him what I needed to. He had a lot to get his head around in the last three weeks. Telling him his wife carried a child which could not be his had shocked him. He adjusted very quickly. He knew his life of plenty had a darker underbelly. The unwritten pact between us to not ask questions came to an end, and now he knew everything.
The house and grounds had been my prison for three weeks. My skin still hurt from the accelerated growth of the baby, where the lower layers of the derma tore, leaving blood-red stretch marks. I smiled. My stomach looked as though the Devil’s claws had dragged over my flesh. In a way, they had.
I awoke on the morning of Lilith’s conception, feeling violated. The vivid dream of being stalked and forced to succumb to His attentions became reality. I buried the shame that I could not label it ‘rape’. I enjoyed it, His attentions. The bruised feeling between my thighs mocked me, and I suspected evidence stained the sheets deliberately, just in case I was in doubt.
I never had any doubt. Twenty years passed too quickly, in the end. The sixteen year old girl He liberated from a prison cell certainly made the most of those years. My ‘john’s’ blood still stained my soul, and maybe that’s why accepting death felt right. The guy earned a lifetime in Hell when he beat Jess to death. He should’ve been my trick, not hers, but shit, I did too much coke that afternoon and dragging my ass out of bed felt like crawling out from under a bear’s carcass. And that’s what the guy looked like too, after I buried a knife in his back. A bear carcass, crushing the bloody pulp that had been Jess. It should have been me. I would’ve gutted him with switch blade I kept under the pillow.
But, when I was gone, Lilith would still have Aiden. That thought chilled my flesh. I pushed away the sudden scene of seduction He put in my head. They were not related by blood, after all.
In a blinding moment of clarity, I realized I’d been used. Tricked. The trappings of a bountiful life had always been overshadowed by the price I would have to pay. That feeling of waiting for the debt collector to come banging on the door haunted me. I found a strong, healthy mate with whom I could never have children — another part of the bargain — I built an affluent lifestyle, and my career as a lawyer rose quickly to glittering heights. All His doing, I knew.
Aiden turned out to be my match in every way. He enjoyed limitless power as a CEO of a bank. He sat on the board of many companies, including a heavy hitting pharmaceutical research facility. Everything he touched turned to gold. Were Aiden’s gifts a coincidence? I didn’t think so. And now, having given birth to His daughter, my death would leave Lilith with a father and formidable protector who would be molded to her will.
I laughed. Yes. I’d been used. I was nothing more than a pack mule. He must have found me pathetic and amusing.
I looked down into Lilith’s drowsy features. She was fully fed and relaxed, her soft rosebud lips still pursed, but no longer latched on. Cradling her in my arms it took more effort than I expected rising to my feet. The newborn of yesterday morning was15lbs heavier and much more solid. Settling her in the crib, I padded through the dark house in bare feet.
Will I get to choose how to die? The gossamer fine net drapes billowed as a breeze wafted through the house. My skin prickled at the sudden chill. I fancied I heard the word ‘No’ drifting on the air.
“No.” I smiled, tasting the bile churning in my stomach. “Of course not.”