by Moiya Gooden
Mona sat on the floor collecting her small stash of freshly washed baby blankets and arranging them into neatly folded, color-coded stacks beside her. She looked at the little black trunk, gifted to her by her grandmother at her baby shower a week earlier, and opened it and placed the stacks inside.
It was an odd maternity gift. Mona had thought so herself, but she hadn’t had the wherewithal to say so. The old century trunk, marked in modernized tastes – perception fit for the time it was prepared – and laced with ornamental metals and charms all along the braces, was a sight to refine, something that was definitely worth a decent price on any black market or vintage material site. So instead of declining the odd treasure, Mona had accepted the monolith décor with a framed surprise and a hug.
Mandating her time to stretch and maintain an adequate posture, Mona stood up from the beige woolen carpet and looked around. She found it funny how astounded she was by her own home. Most women in her position, pregnant, posture-less, and seemingly living high on wealth, would have had some sort of man at home with them, but Mona was divorced and living alone; her ex-husband lying alongside some other woman in a house just a nice but much bigger in size, two states away, in a bed they once shared, and even conceived their first child in.
Mona folded the last of the blankets and closed the lid on the trunk and pushed it in the corner next to the fireplace. She didn’t like how it looked in the nursery, so she kept it in the den instead. The wooden, metal mashed exterior blended well with the marble tiles and plaid furniture setting, but in genuine, Mona just liked the way the fireplace lit up the sides. The orange-fern ombre gave the appeal of fantasy; a princess cozied away in her keep or locked away in her tower; awaiting her prince either way.
Just then as Mona was sitting on the floor, staring into her surroundings, the phone rang; the device signaling loudly over the Alexa overhead and alerting her attention to the kitchen.
Mona went to pick up the phone. Then answered it. “Hello,” she said.
Raspy air gargled on the other end before words started to flow. “Steady breathes holding one womb in contact with the other. Your child is moving.”, the voice said.
Clasping the phone, Mona held her chest as a sharp and sudden pain echoed in the bowels of her lungs and sprang upward into her throat. Mona’s baby was kicking. The little pellets prickled the beneath her skin and made indents everywhere they pressed. She held her hand to her stomach, welcoming the pressures as a kind gesture for her time and effort given to them.
“Who is this?”, she asked.
The called ended and static began to sound on the other end.
Mona placed the phone back down on the receiver and stood quietly. There were certain parts of her looking inward for some sort of answer for the phenomenon. When none came, and her brain’s only way of consoling her wildling thoughts was to push them all away, Mona threw herself into the un-occupied space of her surroundings.
Picking up a lonesome piece of silverware off the counter, she proceeded to re-organize the dishes on space behind her. Mona never looked too much into decency when it came to that area of her kitchen. She knew that it would all be in shambles once her baby arrived, so the frenzy was either now or later in her opinion.
“Better,” Mona said, sighing. She placed her hand on her lower back and admired her work.
Just then, the phone rang again. Mona answered it. She looked at the time on the electric clock that sat furthest from her.
“Who could be calling me this time of night?” She picked up the phone.
“Time, down and wary. Your baby is tired. Squeamish.” The voice said.
Soon after, Mona felt nauseous, and the guy hung up as hefty radiations of a back-and-forth pull gripped her stomach.
She ran to the trash, pinching the hem of her jeans, as she dumped her head in a lunge unable to stop the urine that flowed with every rush of fluid that leapt from her upper half.
She held her hand to her head. “What the hell?”, she abashed.
Mona tried not to let her thoughts get to her. She tried to make sense of the moment, but no conclusion came that didn’t lead to another unconcluded thought process. She padded through the roll of paper towels and wiped her mouth, then rushed off to her bathroom to change.
There, the air changed. It was flushed with the tinge of a simmering aerosol wick that she used to keep the room from smelling too much like the constant change in bowel habits she had been experiencing since becoming pregnant.
She hadn’t had time to keep the bathroom as she would have liked, so the fine-framed air refreshers and the constantly in-stock rolls of toilet paper made the effort a little bit less of hassle. Slipping out of her wet clothes, Mona began to run some bathwater in the tub and wait for it to fill.
She stood at the edge of the porcelain clawfoot tub and gazed at her enlarged figure in the mirror. Her stretch marks and all the physical memorabilia she had gained from this pregnancy would last her a lifetime, and she relished every minute of its beginning. It wasn’t too often she ever would have thought she would be here; pregnant and sitting in her third trimester. Her uterine fibroids had always made conceiving a child a problem for her, and her doctor had told her since the beginning of this one that it was a high-risk situation. Though, the risk didn’t matter.
She had always wanted to be a mother and she was going to carry this one all the way through to the end. Mona turned odd the water, poured in a cup of bath salts, and a few drops of essential oil and sat down in the water.
She hadn’t intended on taking a bath just yet, but it seemed better than a shower at the moment. She rested her arms over the sides of the tub and slid back into the water and rested her head on the back rim. Everything was peace. Everything was quiet. Just for a moment.
Then the phone rang.
Mona’s eyes shot open as she raised herself from her relaxed stance. She looked at the phone sitting out beside her on the wooden side table she had taken from room. She wasn’t expecting a call from anyone.
It was too late in the evening, and deep down in the back her mind, she already knew who it was. She picked up the phone.
“Up then down. They’ve switched positions.”
Suddenly, Mona felt a knot twist in her upper pelvis as brisk, circular indents formulated on the inside. She sat the phone down on the table and pressed her hands to her upper and lower belly and took deep breaths until the movement passed.
Then, she looked back up at the phone again; her eyes steady in contemplation of whether or not to pick it back up. Mona picked up the phone slowly and held it to her ear. Static notes caved the suspense.
“But how does it end?” The voice hung up the phone.
Mona placed the phone to her chest and looked down with a swollen frown at her partially un-submerged belly. How was this going to end? She desperately wanted to know. Mona grabbed a towel off the rack behind her and got out of the tub and wrapped it around herself and walked out to her bedroom where she dried and changed into new clothes.
She paced across her rug, grabbling at her chin as she waited for another phone call. That hadn’t been but a few minutes apart each time, so she felt her anticipation wouldn’t be in vain. No phone call came.
Mona restlessly scrabbled through her house for the next two hours, dusting rearranging, or moving inches from its original place anything that seemed even remotely fixable. All the while, she pleaded with her unborn child to make a sudden movement, anything that would signal, or give even a gesture of how it would end.
After hour three, her phone call finally came. She rushed to pick it up.
“What’s he doing now!?”, she asked, concerned.
Small breaths entranced the rows of ever-flowing static. “I’m resting mommy.”
Moiya Gooden is a Creative Writing major at Belhaven University. In 2019, she was honored with a Gold Key Award in the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition for a short story titled “The Time Between Us, and in October of 2022, she self-published her first novel, “The Divide: Part One,”. After graduation, Moiya plans to go to law school and go on to become a criminal defense attorney.