Cries in the Dark

 “Yes…I’ll confirm it,” Victoria hesitantly answered, sighing between her words. She clutched the telephone with one hand and gripped the spiraling cord with the other.
“Don’t worry, Miss Tollan,” the nurse on the other end tried to comfort her. “We handle these procedures on a daily basis with hundreds of women just like you. And we send each one home in perfect condition. We’ll see you Thursday, okay?”
“Alright,” Victoria nodded her head, trying to reassure herself. “I’ll see you then.” As she hung up the phone, she dared to lay her hand—ever so gently—on her stomach; but she pulled it away. I have to do this. It isn’t a baby yet. The shimmering hope of marriage and a family with Reid after college sparkled in the distance. And this was a bump in the road. It had to be dealt with. Besides, she trusted him. Yet, heading towards the bathroom, she stopped in front of the full-length mirror. She turned to face herself, softly moving her hands across her womb. “It’s not a baby yet,” she forcefully whispered again. She brushed her teeth and flipped the lights off before crawling into bed—exhausted, but more mentally than physically. The war in her mind wouldn’t end. Her indecision introduced battle after battle. Thursday will come and go and everything will be fine. I just have to make it through. Hugging her pillow tightly, she closed her eyes.
Victoria gasped, awaking with a start. Her heart thumped against her chest, seeming desperate to escape her, and her hands were sweaty. But the room, the air around her, was chilled. She shivered. She was standing in a large, seemingly empty room. Complete darkness and silence encased her. For several seconds, she wasn’t sure what to do. A light breeze moved through the room, stroking her face and caressing her arms. “I…need to get out of here,” she whispered, afraid that someone should hear her voice. Afraid of hearing her own voice. But her words echoed around her, bouncing off the invisible walls. Her hands flew to her mouth, wishing she hadn’t spoken. “This place, I need to—I have to get out,” her thoughts ran together. Suddenly, she was startled by the sound of a light being turned on. A glow crept from behind her and she turned around. It illuminated a small table several yards away from her. Something tiny lay on the cold, unwelcoming metal. She took a step towards it, then another. The curiosity mounted as she drew closer. Then distress consumed her. It was a child, a tiny baby. Its petite hand groped upward, blood dripping down its fingers and arms; the baby tossed its head from side to side, letting out desperate cries for help. For air. For comfort.
She didn’t move. She couldn’t. Another soon light flashed on, its spotlight on another table. A puddle of blood was quickly accumulating where this baby’s hand had been. A bucket waited beside the table, the baby’s hand inside. Victoria shut her eyes and turned away. Her stomach turned. She was shaking. “What is this place?” she wanted to scream. Tears welled in her eyes as the horror that surrounded her sunk in. Then another light switched on. And another. She looked up. All around lights were revealing more tables. Her mind was spinning. Babies’ cries and screams filled the space. “Stop! Stop!” she screamed.
Victoria’s panicked screams turned to distressed cries. She fell to the ground, face in her hands, and sobbed. The faces of the two dying babies persisted to haunt her mind. They were alone, unable to be helped or comforted.
“No!” Victoria finally screamed, fighting sleep to sit up in bed. Her eyes, wet from tears, opened to the morning’s first rays of sunlight. She was still breathing heavily. Tears still escaped her eyes. She was still sweating, gripping the blanket in front of her. But the sun’s beams stole through the blinds to gently stroke her face with warmth. “I can’t do this,” she cried softly. She moved both hands to her stomach, cradling the tiny, growing child inside. “You won’t be alone like that. I won’t leave you. I can’t.”