I put the baby to my breast. She ate greedily.
So tiny for such a strong suck.
He had not come home yet. He did not know that she was a she and not a he. He would be angry, I knew. Would he let me keep her or would he kill her as he had the other three? Would he beat me as he had before?
Look, she is so beautiful, so perfect! Why can’t you love her?
Why can’t you love me?
The midwife busied herself quietly putting the room back in order.
He would never pay for a doctor or a hospital. Not for me, he said. I was not worth it.
Someday I would leave him. I would run away. Far, far away. But to where? And they would find me, wouldn’t they? They always did. If I was lucky, they would shoot me where they found me. If not, he would be allowed to stone me to death. He’d like that. Then he could take a new wife. Someone who would give him boys. He never listened to the logic of genetics, that the determining X or Y chromosome actually came from him and from not me. My education, my past… it meant nothing to him.
Neither did my future.
No. I will outlive him. I will NOT give him the satisfaction.
The little one scrunched up her tiny baby face and yawned. Enough eating for now, she seemed to say as she looked directly into my eyes and grinned a lopsided baby grin. Then she drifted off into a peaceful slumber.
Born on Independence Day. If I were going to name her I would name her Liberty after the giant statue they tore down decades ago. No woman will stand as a national symbol, they said.
Now she was gone.
Just like my own Liberty.