Maundy Thursday

It was nearly noon but she did not feel any hunger. Despite the sweltering heat outside, she remained cool inside her dark studio-type apartment. Face down on her bed, she wondered how long she would have to wait before it was night again.

The phone rang. She knew it was her mother calling from the province but she did not pick up. She can almost hear her mother’s voice on the other end of the line reminding her to take her lunch, to drink her vitamins, to be careful when taking a bath as the floors on her bathroom desperately needed cleaning. She was aware of that hidden in her mother’s chatty voice was a plea not to do anything which will hurt her.

The phone finally stopped ringing. Joan got up from the bed and her head spun a little, the way it usually does when one rises quickly after a long period of lying down. Squinting and fumbling her way out of the dark, she flicked on the light switch, thought against it, and turned it off.

Darkness is better, she thought to herself. A wave of nausea swept over her and she almost did not make it to the bathroom. This was the part she hated most. They told her it would pass after four months but she did not want to wait that long.

She did not want to wait for anything. Not for the tenderness and sense of fulfillment she’d allegedly feel after holding her newborn in her arms. Not for the reconciliation her friends promised would take place between her and Nestor if she would continue the pregnancy. Her thoughts were no longer on salvaging the relationship.

In her hands, she held three hexagonal pills. She hazily recollected what her cousin Sheena told her about taking these pills. Do I need to eat first before taking these meds? she thought then laughed at the silliness of of her question.

She had waited a long time before getting her hands on these pills yet now that they were in her possession, she didn’t know where to get the courage to take them. It felt surreal knowing that these three little objects had the power to change her life.

Then again, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they wouldn’t work and she would be a contented mother like her own mother wanted her to be. But these faint hopes were dashed when she swallowed two pills with a glass of orange juice. It wasn’t so hard. Pushing the pill up her womb was the one she was going to be squeamish about.

Taking off her shorts and underpants, she squatted and pushed the little pill as far as her fingers would allow her. Her internal muscles clenched at the intrusion but she persisted. Putting her clothes back on, she lay in bed and waited.

It was almost 5:00 PM when she felt her lower abdomen harden and finally start contracting. Up until that moment, she thought it wasn’t going to be effective. Maybe a small part of her had hoped that as well. But now, it was too late to turn back.

Nearly crawling to her drawer where she kept her personal effects, she grabbed two sanitary pads and a change of underwear. In the bathroom, she washed herself but the water pooling around her feet got redder and redder. Stumbling back outside, grabbed a chair. Doubling over in pain she sat and cried.

She wept for the debilitating pain she felt with each contraction of her uterus. She wept for her fear of blood and the possibility of her own death. She wept for her relationship with Nestor and what they could have been. She also wept for the emotion she felt welling up within her, one she could not fully recognize – that of saying goodbye to someone she will never get to know.

With each shudder of pain and each spurt of blood that passed her body, she became even more aware of the permanence of her act. It would be over soon, and her knowledge of that brought her even more pain.

In silence, she cried. In silence, she mourned.