I’d like to thank Adele Evershed for her micro-story submission ‘All the Better to Save You’, a touching and emotionally raw story based on true events.
Adele tells us that she is a native of Wales transplanted to Connecticut, and is teacher and mother of four. When her daughter left for college she was left with her three soccer mad sons and husband and so she started to dabble with storytelling as a way to maintain her sanity. Adele has had work or will be having work published in ‘Reflex Fiction’, ‘Everyday Fiction’, ‘FlashFiction Journal’ and ‘Three Drops from a Cauldron’. She was a recent semi-finalist in the London Independent Story Prize Competition for her story about the challenges of aging.
*TRIGGER WARNING: This story mentions miscarriage.
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All the Better to Save You
She sat on the too small chair and pressed her knees into the dough of her stomach. With her acrylic nails she chipped away at the dry drops of red paint like fallen petals strewn over the tabletop. The kids had been copying an amaryllis; it’s long lines and limited palette made it perfect for a three year old to attempt. The paintings hung gaily above her head in direct contradiction to her mood.
Lorna tipped her head forward so her long wavy hair could act like a curtain as a squall of tears engulfed her. It didn’t seem fair having to spend her days coddling other people’s children when she seemed unable to have any of her own. She had spent the weekend before last with her legs pressed together, reaching towards heaven in a gross approximation of prayer to try and keep hold of the life inside her. It hadn’t worked and when she got to the hospital she was told her pregnancy had been a blighted ovum. It almost sounded like poetry. This time she had got to eleven weeks before she miscarried and so she had been starting to feel tendrils of hope that this was the one. Now those had been yanked up by the root.
Lorna uncurled from the chair and went to wash her face at the too small sink. Moving around her classroom she always felt like a giant, in the outside world. Being only five foot she was more like Thumbelina. Lorna had always loved fairy tales and it was this desire to linger passed childhood in the stories of the Brothers Grimm that drew her into teaching in the first place. As she looked in the tiny mirror, her face was distorted and she felt like one of the coffee-filter snowflakes that were stuck to the window. She was made up of all that was not there. The diamond or triangular holes-babies she never held or even named, the white paper remnants-the scraps of herself left behind after each disappointment.
Lorna caught up her hair and twisted it into a tight bun on top of her head; she liked the way it added inches to her height. She practiced her yoga breathing, in through the nose, out through the mouth and for good measure threw in the mantra from the last class she had gone to, “I change my thoughts; I change my world!”
As she peeled off the glitter-heavy snowflakes and posted them into cubbies she imagined herself keeping the next baby. She would hide him under the arch of her eyebrow and nurse his heart with her own. She would fix him to the roots of her hair and let it grow until it touched the ground, she would weave him into the lifeline on her hands and fill her mouth with his name. And she thought, “Because this is my fairy-tale we will both live happily ever after!”
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