Jane's Prologue: A Death
“I'm sorry Jane.”
I said this to myself over and over again, the first words in his letter. The rest of the words didn't matter. I held his letter with one hand and my rounded belly with the other. The only thing round on my thin body now was the place that held the baby, his baby, our baby. I lay in bed trying to fight the new barrage of sobs threatening to come through.
“My mama had such big dreams for me,” I explained to the unborn baby. “Then I met him and nothing else mattered. Mama said I was too young. That he was just a slick talker and she'd met the type before. I didn't listen.”
The sobs captured me again as I thought of the bastard. I thought about how I hoped for a little boy that looked just like his handsome daddy. No, Daniel was more that handsome. He was one down right pretty man. Tall with deep deep chocolate skin and jet black silky hair that swept his shoulders. Daniel called his hair a 'gift from my Navaho Grand-mammy' and I use to love to run my fingers through it. His voice was like butter and his kiss was sweeter than sweet. I'd never understood what he saw in the short skinny little cinnamon brown black girl that was me.
My body was suddenly riveted with pain. It had been going on for awhile now, coming sooner each time. I didn't know what I would do when my little one got here. When we moved to this place little Danny was so new inside me that I didn't even know he was there.
“Daniel!,” a strange and angry voice yelled, coming in my front door. “Daniel where you at you bastard!”
“He isn't—” I began, but it was too much trouble to talk. Little Danny seemed to be burning me down there. The lady belonging to the voice came bustling into the room. She was a large woman, powerful and angry. But when she saw me the anger melted into confusion. I lifted a hand and displayed Daniel's ring to her. At that moment a sort of understanding came to her.
“My God!” exclaimed the stranger, but she wasn't looking at my hand anymore. “You bleedin'.”
“I think he's coming,” I told her weakly.
“He?” she asked.
“My little Danny, but I don't know what to do to help him.”
The pains shot sharply through my body again. I swear they were getting worse, but somehow the getting worse is what kept me aware of myself. I was a little afraid even that I would forget why I was living once the pain went away.
“I don't know who you are,” I struggled to say. “But please don't leave me.”
“You be so thin,” she said to me. “Ain't right for a woman to be so far along and be so thin.”
“I didn't know what to do when I found him gone... 'I'm sorry Jane'.”I clenched the piece of paper with what little energy I had. My visitor noticed it. She took the letter from my hand and glanced at it. She looked at it in a way that was all wrong.
“What this say?” she questioned.
“It says he's gone,” I replied with tears falling down my face. “And he isn't coming back.” Now I was sobbing fully, no holding back or fighting it.
“Poor baby,” the stranger said. “Poor babies now I guess.”
“Huh?” I questioned confused.
“Don't you worry, you just rest,” the woman said. “Helen's gonna take good care of you and the baby.”
“My little Danny,” I told her. “My handsome little Danny.”
I felt her around me then, cleaning me up, responding to my little grunts, putting a towel to my head, feeling for his movement inside me. And I felt him too, my little Danny, pushing against me from the inside. I didn't feel strong enough to help only to bear it for his sake. All the strength left in me seemed to have leaked into his strong kicks and firm pressure. Pressure that began to make me feel like my body was being ripped apart. And despite it, despite the worse pain I had ever known, I wanted him here. I wanted to see him alive and handsome and kicking and crying.
It was Helen who made me believe I had the strength to make it through at least that. She was encouraging me to release him from my body and telling me she could save us both. But even with my stranger, my angel, my savior, my Helen telling me it would be alright, I knew it wouldn't be. We both wouldn't make it. There was only enough strength for one of us and I loved little Danny too much not to give it to him. So I did and he came, only...
“Jane, you was wrong. He a she, a mighty handsome she it is too.”
And I saw her, beautiful, worth all of it. Then I saw nothing.