An individual’s capacity for self-sacrifice in the face of compelling circumstances.
I sit in the secondhand wooden rocking chair I found on the corner of the street, somewhere in a room whose hollow walls seem to personify the woman I’ve become. I am a shell of the aspirations I could have achieved, hidden by a curtain of flesh and bone. There is water dripping from the ceiling, again, even though I’ve asked the landlord over a dozen times to try and fix it. It reminds me of the rain I used to see outside my window as a child, when there was proper heating and I was home and life was a beautiful dream. And there she lies, asleep in the crib I took four days to build because I had never touched a screwdriver before this month. Every couple of minutes, I walk over cautiously to check if she’s still breathing. I’m always afraid she’ll fall asleep and so will I, and when I wake in the morning, she won’t wake up. So, I haven’t been sleeping.
Days go by slowly, and nights are even worse. I have forgotten the foreign concept of time I used to rely on so much. Now, the hands on clocks seem to taunt me. They stand still, reminding me of all the time I lost and all the time that is now devoted to a girl I don’t even know how to take care of. There is a book of 1000 popular baby names resting on the coffee table in front of me. How ironic that I spent years mocking the irresponsible girls getting pregnant at the tender age of sixteen, and here I am, not even twenty, watching a baby I still can’t believe is mine. I had dreams. Everyone told me that if anyone could make it out of this town of broken beer bottles and smoking behind the old diner, it was me. And I believed them. My thoughts are interrupted by crying, the closest thing to another person’s voice I had heard in what seemed like months. I pick her up gently, careful not to crush her tiny fingers or bend her neck in the wrong way. For a moment, her eyes meet mine, and I see myself. She has the same color eyes I do, light brown with specks of hazel and gold embedded in the edges of her irises. Quickly, I turn away, reminding myself that this creature is the reason I had to sacrifice everything – my family, my aspirations, the only man I had ever loved. Still, there was something about those eyes, innocent and not yet tainted by the cruelty of this world that I can’t help but find comfort in.
A baby was not part of the plan. My views on pregnancy at my age had been set in stone from the time I was seven and my parents started whispering about the neighbor’s daughter, Ella, throwing her life away because she refused to “get rid” of her baby. I didn’t think I had the capacity to give up the life I saw ahead of me just for a child. I don’t think I even comprehended what was happening until I felt her kicking. Finally, I understood that there was a living, breathing human being growing inside of me. It was clear that the ability to forgo my needs were shaped by the affection I tried so hard to escape. I didn’t tell anyone about her, and when people started noticing my sudden weight gain, I never dared bring up the possibility of keeping her. The concept of putting myself and my education first had been instilled into me like a set of rules and regulations for how I was to live my life. Everything shifted, and as my stomach grew, so did my love for this unborn child.
She has taken so much of me already, but as soon as her hand wraps around my index finger, I forget this. I am blinded by those big eyes looking up at me. Water drips from the ceiling, my baby cries, and I sit on the wooden rocking chair across from the crib. These are my circumstances, and I have made my sacrifice. I pick up the untouched book of baby names and flip through it while my baby’s chest rises and falls with the dripping of the rain, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.