Photograph - Benz Xedric Puig

Sinister Kisses of Crimson

Ma. Danica M. Campos

The pandemic lockdown unleashed a beast; being drunk and home causes him trouble, and his solution is to share the wealth. "How many times have I expressed my displeasure with that nonsense?" He would have yelled no matter what nonsense it was. And then, just before he attacked with his fists, he said, "I want to talk to you, honey."

There has never been pain like this, not since she was twelve when she swerved her bike to avoid a ditch and wiped out, bouncing her head off the asphalt, and opening up a cut that turned out to be precisely ten stitches long. What she remembered was a silvery jolt of pain, followed by starry dark surprise, but that pain had not been this agony. This dreadful agony. Her hand on her belly registers flesh that isn't flesh at all; it's as if she's been unzipped and her living baby has been replaced with a hot rock.

Oh, please, she begs. Please allow the baby to be okay.

But now, as her breath finally begins to slow, she realizes that the baby is not okay, and he has made that clear. When you're sixteen weeks pregnant, the baby is still more a part of you than it is of itself, and when you're sitting in a corner with your hair in strings to your sweaty cheeks and it feels like you've swallowed a hot stone—

Something is putting sinister, slick little kisses on the insides of her thighs. 'No,' she whispers, 'no.

Let it be sweat... or perhaps I peed myself. Yes, that's most likely it. After he hit me for the fourth time, I peed myself and didn't even realize it. That's all. Except it is not sweating, and it's not pee. It's crimson. She's sitting in the corner of the bedroom,

gaping in front of a vase reduced to shards, and her womb is preparing to vomit up the baby it's been carrying without complaint or problem.

'No, God, please say no,' she sobs.

Her fingers make their way beneath her dress and up her thigh to the soaked, hot cotton of her underwear.

Please, she begs. How many times has that word crossed her mind since he snatched and hurled the vase from her grasp? She has no idea, but here it is again. Please let the liquid on my fingers be clear. God, please. Please make it clear. But when she takes her hand out from under her dress, the tips of her fingers are bloody. A monstrous cramp rips through her like a hacksaw blade as she looks at them. She has to slam her teeth together to keep a scream from coming out.

Boundless darkness engulfed her consciousness.

After an unknown amount of time had passed, a light slowly flashed out from within the fathomless darkness. That speck of light slowly spread out as her vision gradually became clearer.

In her hands is a smoking gun.

Her perpetrator is lying in a pool of blood.

There was a crime. But there is also a sense of freedom.

Published: April 25, 2022