In the beginning
Misery was born at 2pm in the afternoon, on a bright sunny day in October. In fact it was Halloween. While the streets outside were filled with pumpkins, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and monsters of all sorts she was making her big entrance into the world. It should have been a joyous occasion for her parents. And it would have been too. If they didn’t hate each other’s guts. In fact, they argued throughout the whole birth. Just general yelling mainly, about the drive there, what they should have done, had they left the stove on. The doctor and nurses tried to make the father wait outside, but he refused, threatening to punch the doctor if he was made to leave. It was the birth of his daughter after all, he said.
The father was your typical suburban type. Beige and aggressive. He believed the world revolved around his Sunday roast, and that the household would literally fall apart if he didn’t keep control of the finances, despite that fact that he was for the most part monetarily inept. His wife, our mother to be, was similarly beige-minded. Anything outside her sphere of normality was cause for disdain. She had seen being pregnant as proof of her status in the realm of the everyday. What could be more “natural” than having a child, forming a family, living happily ever after? If only she knew how malignant her ideals actually were. How far from the truth they would take her.
The doctor was both concerned, and scared shitless, deciding that he could handle the parental screaming match if it meant he kept his face intact. After all he had other patients that day. While her father was keeping the volume turned up to eleven, Misery’s mother was switching between screaming, psychotic episode, and death-stare-gritted-teeth-seething-with-rage calm. However, she was not only angry with Misery’s father, but with herself for thinking that having a baby could save their unsalvageable marriage in the first place. Now she was tied to this despicable man for the rest of this child’s life. Their DNA forever intertwined in this offspring. She knew she shouldn’t resent this child, who at this point was still only half-way into the world, but she did. She hated her. Hated herself. Hated her husband. Letting out a bellow filled with pain and rage, she pushed again and Misery finally came sliding out of her gaping vagina. Blood and mucus covering the child, as the doctor smacked the baby gently on the bottom causing it to cry out. A cry that was at once outrage at being forced to leave the safety of the womb, and anguish at the loneliness and need this new tiny being felt. The doctor smiled sadly, but tried to feign enthusiasm.
‘There you go, a healthy baby girl,’ he said as the nurse took the baby from him and handed the girl to the mother.
The doctor tensed awkwardly, inwardly. Hoping that perhaps now the birth of their child might calm this insane couple down when they finally saw the life they had created. Perhaps they could sort out their differences. It was painfully obvious to everyone in that room that these two should never have been married let alone been allowed to breed.
The mother looked down at the little girl, whose tiny fingers were clutching at the air, looking for something. Love. Comfort. Reassurance that she would be OK, this helpless little ball of flesh. The mother felt nothing. The father felt nothing. They were spent. Empty. There was simply nothing left and now they had created this horrid situation, and they were going to have to live with it. Sensing all the eyes on them, as if suddenly realising where they were, the parents put on their masks. Smiling, showing the people what they wanted to see. A happy couple with their first born child.
‘Have you thought of a name yet?’ asked a hopeful nurse, feeling that these sad people needed a focus, something to spur them on.
‘We have a couple in mind,’ said the woman, ‘but we want to see who she is over the next few days before we decide.’
‘Of course,’ smiled the nurse, slightly relieved. At least they had thought about it.
‘We need to take the baby back now, so we can clean her up,’ explained the nurse, reaching out for the child.
‘Of course,’ smiled the exhausted mother, while the father stood in sullen silence.
‘We’ll bring her up to your room when we’re done, you could probably do with a rest yourself,’ added the nurse.
‘Yes, yes we’re both exhausted,’ explained the father, finally calm and far less yell’y than he was earlier, which was quite frankly a relief to everyone.
As one of the nurses took the child, another wheeled the mother back to her room, with the father following close behind.
‘What about me?’ asked the mother, realising finally that she was covered in birth goop herself.
‘Don’t worry dear, I’ll help you wash yourself off, and we’ll be putting you in a fresh bed in your room,’ explained the nurse.
‘Well, sounds like you have everything under control, so I’ll be off home then,’ said the father awkwardly.
‘You can stay a bit longer if you’d like,’ hinted the nurse, ‘visiting hours don’t finish until 8 o’clock?’
‘Yes, well…. I think I better leave Jane… my wife to rest, and I have to get home to feed the dog,’ lied the father. He just wanted to go.
‘Yes, well, you can come back tomorrow from 8am,’ said the nurse, curtly. She knew he was lying and she didn’t approve. In fact this whole situation stunk, and she felt incredibly sad and sorry for the poor little girl who was going to have to grow up into this. Why didn’t they just get divorced!
‘I’ll do just that then,’ smiled the husband, feeling slightly guilty as he should. His wife had just given birth to their first child and here he was, scampering away into the late afternoon sun.
‘I’ll see you tomorrow Kevin,’ sighed the mother, caught somewhere between disappointment and acceptance.
She had never expected him to stay. Not really. When they had jumped on the baby wagon 9 months ago they had been filled with hope that this child, this new adventure, would fill the large cracks in their marriage. And it had. For the first few months. Then it was a slippery slope into resentment and eventually cool, unspoken hatred, with the window for a termination passing them by before they realised that this is probably what they should have done. As horrible as it sounds. Some people are just not meant to be part of a family.
Even their friends and own families had known, really, deep down that this was not going to turn out for the best, with the announcement that they were expecting met with sad but hopeful smiles, slightly exaggerated congratulations, and promises that this was the best thing that could happen to them. And they were locked in. Just like that. No turning back.
The mother, Jane, felt numb as the nurse cleaned her up and put her to bed in fresh sheets. Not long after another nurse appeared with her child in hand, wrapped in a pale pink blanket and looking for all the world as a new life should. The nurse handed the baby to Jane, and explained how to get the baby to feed. Jane sighed again. So this was her life now. Milk machine to a baby that had no hope in hell of fixing her marriage. Divorce was sure to follow in the next few weeks. Division of the assets. Moving on to new life. Except now…. Well. There was always adoption.
‘Are you alright if we leave you dear?’ asked the nurse, smiling at her new mummy.
‘Yes, yes, thank you,’ said Jane, hoping she was putting on a brave face.
‘We’ll come back to put her to sleep for you in about an hour, we’ll leave a cot by the bed so you can feed her if she wakes up.’
‘That sounds fine,’ said Jane, as the nurses turned and left her, pulling the curtain around her bed.
‘Well,’ she said looking down at the little girl feeding happily at her breast, ‘looks like it’s just you and me now Misery.’