The nightmares had begun coming fast and hard since she lost the second baby. After that night of bloody sheets and prickling frenetic sweat, they would come like waves. Heavy washes of suffocating heat. She had dreams of lost teeth. Stress. Dreams of flying. Escape. Dreams of falling.
But now she was in a public outhouse. She did not remember having arrived, but had the vague sense of the great world breathing freely outside. Inside here, her warped reflection scaled the steel walls—four times over she leered down at her own body, huddled on the black plastic seat. She was curled around herself and whatever small thing lived inside, heartbeats filling her ears and booming in her belly. The thumping. And beneath her she felt the heat. Pouring out of her womb and trickling sticky down her bare legs. The sweet tinny smell as ruby pooled up, ankle-deep. The space beneath her tangled arms deflated. No amount of grappling with the soft fold of flesh or the air or blood around her would raise a tiny body from the muck. And slowly, the resounding beats of the quicker heart slackened and drifted. The clock sounds slipped away from her searching hands like hot blood.
She woke to only her heavy beating heart. And only more sweat on the sheets.
(A prose fiction, dedicated to waiting mothers.)