Mary’s stomach breaks and blooms. This is what God intended, says her mother, but she weeps when the pregnancy test returns engraved with a cross: the lines blushing, bloodless.
Mary doesn’t like to think of homecoming night, of her body pinned down to the backseat of a car. The entire time, she stared at the moonlight filtering in from the window, its rays violent and divine.
Mary takes baths instead of showers. Her thighs cling to each other like lovers in the milky water. She fears if she opens her legs her baby will fall out, his body sliding and splashing onto the porcelain, the crown of his skull splintering like thorns.
Mary switches her browser to incognito mode to search for abortions. The nearest clinic is three hours away and Mary isn’t old enough to drive. In church, she prays for contractions at midnight, clots of blood falling onto the bathroom floor like hair. Her mother’s friends gossip between hymns. Our Father who art in Heaven---what a shame her mother let her stay out so late---hallowed be thy name---girls these days don’t know when to say no---lead us not into temptation---I’d disown her if she was my daughter---but deliver us from evil. Amen, Amen.
Mary doesn’t go to school anymore. Joseph visits her three times a week. He is too afraid to touch her. Instead, he watches her braid her hair and helps her through her missing assignments. He doesn’t tell her he’s been searching for a confession in every tall boy’s sex joke, every raucous laugh that follows, muscles tight beneath green letterman jackets. He doesn’t tell her about the note he found taped to her locker: W-H-O-R-E in messy red Sharpie, fluttering on a paper with lines as blue as veins. He buys her carnations and she keeps them in plastic water bottles on her windowsill. He kisses her forehead. He cracks jokes. Like the flowers, Mary’s laugh is pale and thin.
Mary’s been counting the days. She’s been playing piano for her carnations. She’s been watching television at night, falling asleep to the fuzzy canned laughter. On TV, the mothers are warm and forgiving. They wear bluebonnet dresses and never ask for more. If it’s worth anything, Mary whispers to God at the foot of her bed, I wanted to be a surgeon first.
Mary dreams of heaven. Heaven: a flat stomach: Heaven: an empty car. Heaven: at the end of every month, she pulls her hands from between her legs to find blood thick and dark on the tips of her fingers.
Mary laces her fingers above her stomach, her baby’s kicks jabbing into her palms. She christens each of his movements a condemnation: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Song.
Mary’s baby is rearranging her ribs. He’s clearing holy space within her while she convulses on the living room couch. Mary’s mother calls an ambulance as he bites her cherry-shined insides. As he kicks the pink of her lungs. Mary wishes her baby hoisted onto the pixelated cross of the pregnancy test, his tiny body nothing but weak light. Crushed easy by a thumbprint. She digs her nails into the pillow. Amen, Amen.
Grand Oaks High School
Spring, TX 77386
Awards: Flash Fiction
Best in Grade Award, 2020
Gold Medal, 2020