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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

80_ym_isabelle_kjhannah.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg 2020

Isabelle

 

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

 

 

In response to Thijs’ complaint, Isabelle had hastily pulled her clothes back on and had taken their dog for a fortnight-long walk. Her side adventure lasted past the morning when Thijs shipped out.

“Dogs make better companions than men,” she cried into King’s fur. Isabelle had merely declared, to her lover of half of a decade, that she was pregnant.

In turn, he had answered, merely, that they might as well enjoy the woo-hoo while their couplehood lasted; he was repelled by the thought of intimacy with a mother.

When Isabelle and King had returned, Thijs’ clothes, smartphone, and other possessions were gone. Isabelle had known when he was due to leave port. What astonished her was that he had taken the babaco fruit, with which he had gifted her, with him.

In consolation, she had eaten an entire bar of spicy chocolate and had given King a new rawhide bone. Isabelle craved sharp tastes, but had limited her consumption of alliums and capsicums since she enjoyed Thijs’ kisses. As for King, although an assemblage of partially chewed rawhide toys littered the floor of Isabelle’s small apartment, Isabelle had felt a need to grant her dog a treat.

That act of grandiosity had taken place a month ago. What’s more, Isabelle had last seen Thijs six weeks ago. Further, he was not due to return until she was days away from labor. He might not be in attendance.

Isabelle had refused his tweets and texts, and had removed herself from his WhatsApp group. Plus, she had closed her Facebook account, had deleted herself from Instagram, and had otherwise rebuffed all of her social media outlets.

If Thijs wanted her attention, he would have to invest effort, meaning, he would have to reach beyond contemporary, instantaneous channels. Sadly, he had not. No letters had been posted to Isabelle’s snail mail box. Additionally, a short span before her sweetheart was due home, she had received a call from him, but since it was collect, she had refused it.

When, at last, her man approached her doorway, King barked excitedly. Isabelle merely peered through the keyhole and then reseated herself on her sofa; Thijs could use his key.

Thijs came home not with flowers, exotic perfumes, a new babaco fruit, or jewelry, but with a duffle bag full of dirty laundry. He reminded Isabelle that it was his mom, not his love, who gave him nightmares and that all could be swell between him and Isabelle.

With great effort, Isabelle threw his duffle bag out her door. Next, she indicated that Thijs ought to follow. She locked and chained her door behind him and then cried, again, into King’s ruff.

Isabelle’s mom accompanied her to the hospital. Had she thought it over, Isabelle might have opted for a home birth. As it was, Charlene arrived in the world mere hours after Isabelle’s labor began. Besides, since Isabelle had had no prenatal care and had taken no birth classes, no licensed midwife would have accepted her as a client.

A stack of babaco fruit caught Isabelle’s eye as her mom was wheeling her, and a well-bunted Charlene, out of the hospital. Bright balloons, too, adorned the hospital’s lobby. Thijs sat among his offerings.

Isabelle asked her mom to wheel her closer to those gifts.

In his palm, Thijs held a pearl ring. He extended that palm to his child’s mother. “My furlough’s only four days. Do you think it’s enough time for me to learn to do diapers?”

“Well, someone has to walk King while my stitches heal.”

“Your mom’s not staying?”

“She only has two days left of vacation. You know, if you can walk King, she could go back to work earlier and then she use her time off for the lake trip she had planned.”

“Your mom deserves a lake trip!”

“You deserve to learn how to change. I don’t know how to put them on since the nurses did them, here.”

“Sleep on the sofa?”

“Until my stitches are out.”

“Maybe, I could get my mind around things. I’ve been working on it. I’ve rethought you as a M. I. L . . .”

“Shhh. Mom’s right here.”

“. . . tuck in bed and watch over. I think, given the circumstances, I could get permission to extend my leave. After all, going to City Hall will take up part of one day.”

“You’ll leave your polka dotted tie behind?”

“I promise.”

 

 

 

KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020