And She Would Live

Dark Short Story

Her whole body ached. The skin on her stomach felt taught, a strange heaviness shift inside of her. She felt nauseous, overwhelmed with anxiety. Her eyes fell shut.

She could just see Elon covered in blood, his face stunned. The air had been thick with hot dust and the iron taste of blood as he had fallen to the pavement. He had looked up at her, choking, as the screaming boy was pulled away from his torso. Paramedics and soldiers had rushed in as she cradled his head in her hands, begging him to hold on for a few more seconds, for her, for his mother. She was too numb to hate, too still to want revenge. The numbness continued. And now, it was ripe in her stomach-

They had rushed her to hospital as soon as she had arrived at Heathrow. Everything blurred. No one had to say it. She knew what had happened, what had been ripped from her. Grief had stolen Elon’s child. Her child. The blur of ambulance lights and the coolness of the nurse’s hand in hers. The pain was now excruitiating, her legs wet with blood. The iron taste again overwhelmed her. Everyone looked at her blankly, overwhelmed with the horror of such a late miscarriage.

She would live. Blessed, or perhaps cursed, she would live. It seemed strange that a life would end where hers had began, on the outskirts of the concrete carcass that was London. The hospital was sparse, save from the few bright lumps of paint hanging in A4 on the notice boards. ‘Get well soon’ was scrawled in infant handwriting. An act of kindness that at this moment seemed torturious. They’d given her some painkillers, some weak tea, some kind words. Then silence. It was best, the red-faced nurse had said uncomfortably, that the foetus was removed. Septic shock, infection and all that. Sorry dear. So sorry. She lay there in the dark, until dawn, watching the cracks of grey light seep into the blue blinds. A woman in a pink hijab wept opposite her, rocking backwards and forward over her empty stomach. Perhaps God takes no sides, she thought silently. We are all mourning our beloveds. Time moved on, but the grief was just beginning.

“Do you have any questions?”

“What?” Her head was spinning. She looked up at the gentle face of the doctor. Was he Polish? He looked Polish. Same pale complexion and long, strong features.

“You can ask me anything. Any questions you have, about the operation, or-”

“How did it happen?”

He stopped, creasing the corner of his mouth in empathy. “Sometimes, Mrs Schulman, these things happen. No one is to blame, nothing could be done; sometimes a baby simply just doesn’t make it. Sometimes it’s genetic, sometimes it’s a mystery. There’s nothing you could have done. Nothing. This is simply a very sad, very unfortunate time for you and-”

“He’s dead, Dr Weber.” She heard herself say. “My husband’s dead.”

Hesitantly, he put his hand over hers. “I’m so sorry.”

“Murdered for wearing a kippah.” Her throat was tight and hard, the words spitting out faster than she could think them. “Call it freedom fighting all you want, he was fucking murdered. By a little kid.”

There was a short silence. She felt ashamed for her outburst. It wasn’t what Elon would have wanted. He wasn’t the sort of man who wanted hate. He knew, perhaps more than most, what the teenage boy who killed him had been through, what had been poured into his head day and night. Elon wouldn’t have wanted that hatred in his name.

“I’m so sorry, Dr Weber.” She said softly. “I haven’t had the time to process what happened yet.” He nodded, clearly unsure of what to say. “I can’t get over how young that boy’s face was,” she whispered, surprised at how much she was confiding in a stranger. “He can’t have been more than thirteen. A little kid. Just someone’s little boy-”

And for the first time, she cried. Hot, hard and screaming, she let the tears run down her face and through her hair, heaving inside her, burning up every last moment of silence that she had endured. And the doctor held her hand, firmly, throughout. Eventually, it subsided, and she leant against him, exhausted.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologise. Grief is an important step for you and it is essential that I am here for you, as a doctor, in this difficult time. What happened was -is- awful.”

“You’re very kind.”

“As your surgeon this afternoon, it’s important I go through the procedure-”

“Please don’t. I know you’ll take him out. Just- I don’t want to know. I can’t know. Not yet. But I trust you to do it properly. Really.”

He nodded. His eyes were a very pale blue, almost grey.

“But thank you. Thank you for everything.”

The surgery took place in a large green tiled room on the south side of the hospital. She had brushed her hair before fastening the gown, more out of a sense of tidiness than appearance. She would live. She would cope. She would go back to Israel after she’d seen her parents, she decided, and sort through Elon’s things. She’d keep his study as it was. Yes. He’d alway liked that room, just as it was. With the little yellow lamp on the bookshelf-

They gave her a tube into her wrist in the corridor, the anethesist holding her palm open as her father had done when she was small. Slowly, things began to blur, the voices slurring, and she was pushed into the large green room. It was avacado green, old fashioned, ripe with disinfectant, the nurses clattering around with dishes and equipment. Dr Weber smiled at her from above, his face partially obscured by the blue mask. His eyes were so blue, she thought again, as her eyes started to close.

“Don’t worry Mrs Schulman,” He said calmly, putting his hand over her shoulder.

There was a swastika tattooed above his glove.

“Everything will be fine.”



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