I have something of a talent.
I guess it’s not really a talent as most people think of the word. It’s not like being a writer or a singer, or being particularly good at sewing, or baking a perfect soufflé.
I discovered it when I was eight years old.
My aunt was pregnant. She was always a little strange, I guess you would call her neurotic, so towards the end of her pregnancy she was staying at our house with her husband so that my parents could help take care of her. One day she saw me eyeing the round bulge of her stomach and asked if I wanted to touch it. Maybe the baby would kick for me, she said. Shy and tentative, I slipped forward and touched my fingertips to her stretched skin.
She screamed as though she’d been lanced through with a red-hot poker. She doubled over as my mother and her husband ran towards her, her body shuddering in pain. As I watched, tracks of blood began to run down her thighs, staining our carpet indefinitely.
She lost the baby.
It was traumatizing for me, and it would have been surprising if I’d blamed myself. However, my aunt decided to drive the point home when I came to see her in the hospital with my mother.
“YOU DID THIS!” she screamed, trying to crawl out of the bed as her husband held her back.“YOU KILLED MY BABY, YOU SON OF A BITCH!”
My mother was horrified. That was the very last time I saw my aunt, who disowned our side of the family after the incident. My mother tried to explain to me that my aunt had certain mental issues and that it wasn’t my fault, of course not.
But… that wasn’t quite true.
See, after the incident, I began to notice something different about myself. I could see it whenever I looked in the mirror. My eyes were a little brighter, a little bigger. My hair was softer and so was my skin. I had always been a pretty child, but I realized that I had somehow become even more beautiful.
About a week after my aunt had lost the baby, I had a dream. In it, I was naked, wading in a stream. The water was deep and clear and beautiful. But then my vision shook and the colors began to shift. The sky turned a smoky black and the water thickened into blood. Still, I wasn’t alarmed. I emerged from the stream, the blood streaming off my body in crimson rivulets, leaving me feeling strong, powerful.
That was when I knew I had my own secret talent.
Of course, I had to test the theory a few times.
When I was thirteen, a girl got knocked up in my high school, Mary Ella. She was only fifteen and the father was a twenty-five year old. It was a pretty miserable situation, full of legal pitfalls as she didn’t want to press charges but her parents did.It was common knowledge in our school that she didn’t want the baby, but we lived in a Christian town and, well, abortion wasn’t exactly an option.
I cornered her in the hall during lunch one day. It must have seemed odd to her, as I’d never spoken to her before, but I had to know.
“Can I try something?” I asked her.
“Um… what do you want to do?” She asked, her discomfort painfully apparent.
“I… think I can solve your… problem. I just want to touch your belly. Is that okay?”
I could tell she was about to refuse, the disgust and annoyance evident on her face with just a hint of shame, so I thrust my hand out and touched her before she could protest. As soon as my hand made contact, I swiveled my head and made sure that no one had seen us. We were alone.
Her face contorted, a little crinkle appearing between her eyebrows as her blonde hair fell in front of her face. Her mouth opened as she clutched at her stomach. I wasn’t really surprised to see the dark red stain forming in the front of her white pants.
A teacher came by at that point and saw the panting, moaning girl in the hallway. He rushed her to the nurse’s office, half-carrying, half-dragging her, resolutely staring away from her bloody crotch. I stood there in what he must have assumed was shock but was actually bliss as I felt the power surge into me. Eventually, I made my way down to the girl’s bathroom and took a look at myself in the full-length mirror. My hair was thicker, my thighs were skinnier, and the fringe of my lashes was a thick coal black.
A few days later, Mary Ella came back to school, pale but happy. I thought she would ignore me, but instead she sought me out. I wondered if maybe she’d be angry at my presumption, but I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
“How did you do it?” she asked, a happy light in her eyes.
“Could you do it… again?”
I must have looked either horrified or confused – probably both – because she continued immediately, “Not for me. But if there was… say there was another girl who needed… something resolved… could you…?”
A gleam came into my eyes as I realized what she was asking.
“Oh, yes, I could definitely do that.”
And so began my own little abortion clinic.
If you think that abstinence-only sex education is effective, I have got some damn sad news for you.
After I cured one girl of her baby, countless others followed. Our school no doubt thought its sex education program was excellent as there were barely any babies born of high school students after Mary Ella lost hers. They didn’t realize that I was their real savior.
Oh, sure, there were a few girls who chose to keep them. But not many. You would be surprised how many teenage girls would take any way out of that particular predicament – most of them in other small towns don’t simply because they have no options.
Well, I gave them a choice. And I don’t regret it, even now.
Of course, the arrangement held benefits for me, too. With each miscarriage, I became more beautiful, until I was the most coveted girl in school. I was strong, too, and ended up joining the school’s weightlifting team, out-lifting everyone, much to the chagrin of the boys who sought to impress me with their muscles.
All in all, my services made everyone happy. I was a hero to the girls, and enigma to the boys. I was content.
I should have known there would be consequences.
It’s sort of ironic, I guess, that I ended up unexpectedly pregnant about ten years later.
I’m twenty-four now and have always been stringent on using protection. I’ve never really wanted a baby, but I wasn’t necessarily unhappy when I ended up with one. I thought about getting an abortion – turns out I can’t do it on myself and would have had to go get the procedure done – but I decided against it. Actually, I found myself looking forward to having a baby.
The pregnancy was grueling and exhausting. It made my mother sick with worry, as she was the one taking care of me, and she thought it was taking too hard a toll on my body. I wasn’t worried. I was very strong, after all, a little baby would be nothing.
I should have suspected.
By the time she was born, I was drained. All the power, beauty, and strength that I’d enjoyed for so much of my life were depleted. I could tell something was wrong, even as the doctors placed her in my arms, their faces a little too pale, their arms shaking.
It seems that I’m not the only one with special powers.
My little girl takes, just as I do, but she doesn’t get it from a hapless fetus. No, she drains life from the already living.
Since she was born a few weeks ago, my life has been hell. If she touches my bare skin, I can feel the life drain out of me. It’s aging and weakening me, making me forgetful, making me frail.
I love her… but it’s not worth it.
Anyone she touches for any length of time will be doomed. Who knows how many people she will drain empty by accident before she is able to control herself?
I know that I have to take care of this. I know that I have to stop her from becoming a danger to everyone else. Even as I stare into her crib, her little fingers opening and closing as she coos in her sleep, I know that she can’t continue to live.
The one baby I should have aborted, and I gave her life.
God help me to end this suffering.
God forgive me…