Madonna of the Damned
He speaks to me
now. Oh sure, it's mostly sentence fragments said in dream-talk, but still. He
tosses and kicks, stretches his arms occasionally. Turns fitfully, wrapped,
trapped, in those soft fleshy sheets. And so hungry! Always complaining,
mewling, for sustenance. I hear him, even if no one else does.
I read to him;
anything and everything I can get my hands on. Books of fiction, collections
of poetry, news articles. Not only so he recognizes the sound of
my voice, but also to inform him, to educate him on the world at large. So when
he wakes up, when he finally comes out, he'll be prepared to face what's
waiting on the outside.
It's what a loving
mother should do.
I go out at dusk,
when it's cooler, to do my shopping. The streets of this city are always
crowded, no matter the time. So many anonymous faces! No one knows me, and I
know no one.
I carry my shopping
bag in one hand, keep the other hand protectively on my swollen belly.
Sometimes, a stranger glances at my stomach. Sometimes they smile, sometimes
they scowl. Either way, I grin and nod.
The proprietor of the
little market by my apartment recognizes me. She now looks puzzled though, when
I come through her doors. In broken English, she asks how I'm doing, nodding
towards my belly. I say fine, just late, but any day now! I've been
saying this for weeks.
my basket with five pounds of red meat, plus a half dozen oranges. It's always
the same. The proprietor, Ms. Kim, offers prenatal vitamins or suggests fresh
veggies. I thank her but say, gotta eat what I crave! Her answer is a
smile is full of concern, bordering on dread.
I may have to find
a new market.
Walking home in the
dark, I drop my shopping bag. On purpose. My groceries spill out on the dirty
concrete like seeds from a broken pod. A kind-hearted passer-by stops to help
me gather my things. Even in such a big city as this, there will be one person
who, fancying themselves a hero, stops to assist me, a hugely pregnant woman,
all alone at night.
He will walk into
the dank alley to collect my oranges, which have rolled away into darkness. I
follow. As he bends to pick up a stray orange, I place my hand on his upper
back. I'm much stronger than people imagine. I push him down behind a dumpster.
I work fast, especially when I'm hungry.
hungry, I mean.
in the apartment, I draw the shades and lock up tight. I put the meat in the
fridge; I can always squeeze the juice out of it, if I wake up hungry, and have
no other immediate options. I left the oranges in the alley.
We're both full and
sluggish now. I crawl into bed, too sleepy to read. He protests. Bored now, he
caws. His voice knocks about inside my head, relentlessly, until I get up and
grab a book, any book. I open it up. A classic work of high fantasy. Large
paragraphs detailing a gorgeous, fanciful world fraught with cruel intrigue,
dark magic, and mortal danger for the good guys. My stomach flexes with
percussive movement; he kicks with joy. It's a very good book.
Listening to me
read, his thoughts coalesce into coherence. His vocabulary increases
exponentially. He has found his purpose. His fire.
One day soon, he
tells me, he will erupt, sword in hand, into the desperate, decadent world at
large. Slay metaphorical ogres and feast on the flesh of monsters. Rule the weak
without mercy. He will provide me with entertaining tales of his adventures, so
that I might write the book of his life.
He will do for me,
as I have done for him. He promises.
What more could a mother ask?
Hillary Lyon is
an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and
pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor
for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA
Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such
as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s
Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous
anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently
in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens
Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among
others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such
as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big Easy, Thuggish
Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise
& Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited
"all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007
Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France,
Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern