You were always too intoxicated to notice it was my subconscious actions and speech that orchestrated your departure. And that there never was a chance of having a baby. We made that decision together – though I didn’t have to. Let’s get that straight.
In the wake of your sibling’s offspring and in the recent rough aftermath of your new apathetic friend’s unplanned pregnancy, I see you rewrote your account of our abortion, near our relationships’ grisly grand finale. That isn’t fair.
Don’t wash out the afternoon we trekked down to the eroding bank of the Slave River, past where those three houses went down in the 1968 landslide, and clasped both our hands around the string of a fuchsia balloon, held our breaths, and let it go.
Don’t fall into victimhood when there was so much relief in those tears we kissed off each other in that Yellowknife hotel room.
Don’t simplify and pretend to understand parenthood when your own mother abandoned you two days after your first birthday and your father was so busy seducing neighbours and growing marijuana that he forgot to love you.
Don’t forget our empty bank accounts, the empty booze bottles and cigarette butts, blue smoke winding out into the frost. Don’t forget the winter nights you stumbled to bed and left the back door wide open. Don’t forget what you knew long before I did: I am a silver wolf and you are a seagull. There cannot be offspring between the two.
That being said, despite it all, this is a love letter and I will try to keep my anger gentle in its crashing death. No tidal waves.
It was June’s rising. You were in love with me and I was in love with that. And the sex. You were the first partner who kept up with my constant desires. All I had time for was my work as a reporter and entwining with you every night. It worked. I was full and you were safe for the first time in your life.
And yet, of course, we conceived.
We found out 24 days later. I checked the ovulation calendar I’ve forgotten to check when it mattered.
I travelled back into the universe where the gravitational pull recognized my already changing body. I burrowed into moss and bones. No neon.
I didn’t notice you came with me. Did I leave crumbs of steel and flesh?
My memory of that time is an animal. Everything is trampled and raw. It was survival. I simply hear desperation. Then a piercing clarity.
I see a woman at the top of the stairs, pondering. I see you at the bottom, coming up singing Brooks and Dunn to soothe my ghost because you didn’t know what else to do.
I see a handful of fresh parsley falling out of shaking hands and you breaking down the bathroom door.
I see a hospital wristband—my first one—and a hole in your bedroom drywall.
You tried your best. You will never understand what two pink lines mean for a person who has no desire for motherhood, no wish to be pregnant. I do not deserve to be punished for sex. Rosaries break, love.
That’s why your groundless “we could keep it,” whispered under green sheets hissed around my feet and evaporated. You were standing in shallow, stagnant pond water. I was always in the river and I could see the ocean’s opaque cover. The wideness. A grey whale’s mouth poised to cradle my crouched form. You are no fisherman and you don’t come from mermen.
“I support you and this,” you said after I explained (and didn’t have to) and kissed you with all my animal energy. “It’s right.”
Thank god we lived where we did. Un-red swathe of land.
Thank god the Purvi Patels are safe in Canada. (So I believe, anyways.)
I will never forget the certainty in my movement those two days at the hospital. The silence and calmness of my mind. The thundering of my autonomy.
There was such peace in the surgery. I talked of you to the nurse practitioner the whole time. And of growing tomatoes north of 60. So much greenness, you see. It was quick, painless. Then I could breathe. And sleep.
I will also never forget waking up and creeping to the edge of the doorway and seeing you walking towards me down that sterilized aisle in your turquoise denim shorts, black and red sneakers and plaid shirt. A comedy. I made a home out of you from that moment on and for that I am sorry.
There was no baby, love; just an angry ball of cells that didn’t belong. I would know.
My uterus transcends your sugar-coated, hollow fantasies. You can’t even see through the forest but you’d skin it raw in the name of resources you’d unintentionally let rot.
My claim on my body trumps your love for it, your emotions tied to a legacy of simply ‘making do.’
I refuse to drag myself through life on Lipton chicken noodle soup and economically efficient babysitters I don’t half know with a drunk, too-fragile vagrant for the sperm donor in a house we’d never own.
This love we carefully constructed in this town of jack pines, wild dogs and purging forest fires is not from our days in the Amazon, in the Colosseum. It doesn’t smell of Stonehenge or the fresh kill of mammoth.
We are not timeless.
Our abortion saved my life. It was our weighty, financially crushing breakup over a year later that nearly did me in. Of course it didn’t. I’m standing on too many strong shoulders, the moon my breastplate. My hair is too long for that.
I don’t know where you are anymore or who you decided to be; you had so many different stones in your palm to pave too many different roads all leading you back to the Okanagan to face your demons.
But, see; it saved yours too.