migraines and nightmares

My mother says that she had splitting migraines when she was pregnant with my brother.

A month of bedrest and cabin fever, one moment of a heartbeat fallen too far, a cesarean birth, and her head split open from the inside all the whole while through.

I don’t think she had ever quite forgiven him for that.

It is the same ice rink that is in all my dreams: footsteps a little too loud on the grungy concrete, faded linoleum. There is no goalie, save for me, even though I am no goalie. The team needs me. I lace up the sweat-stained pads, tie my skates. I am split open from the inside all the whole way through with pain, and then translucent yellow salt, nothing, not even bitter, spills out of me like it is my child. Everything I have ever lost comes out of myself: matts of broken hair ties, books, gloves, scarfs. I weep for joy of seeing them again, but they are all still-born. There is no life left in them, though I have been harboring them for years. The instinct that they should have survived this. My friend, who I know in my waking hours, rubs my ankles, murmurs this isn’t your fault. She takes me to the hospital, as she has done in our waking hours.

The nurse wheels me through cold white rooms, where ruined women sit, shaking and silent. She spits at me, calls me whore. Why else would I need an abortion? I try to explain that this is not my child, that it is just everything I have ever lost and then found within myself. The other women laugh to themselves; their faces hang slack, makeup caked and crumbling.

Trying to fall asleep on a friend’s couch the night I cannot sleep by myself for worry.

Fleece and carpet are no comfort.

My head is split open from the inside all the whole way through.

I crawl to the bathroom and spend hours throwing up translucent yellow salt, nothing, not even bitter acid. They find me in the morning, sweating and shaking, a crushed bug twitching, death-throes on the floor. They take me home. I can barely climb up the stairs for swaying. I sleep through the day, and try to forget the pain.

© 2016 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.

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