I was pregnant recently but I lost it, I had shouted through the thumping beats of music to someone, a distant acquaintance, while we were standing overlooking the dance floor at a party. She had not seen it coming, and frankly neither had I. Something had come over me, then and there. The music was so loud that it was pretty much impossible to have a conversation of any kind. I was sweating from the dancing, I had not moved like this in a long time, and now I had had the first drops of alcohol, two to three glasses of white wine, in months. It was about a week after my abortion that was given to me, yes given, when they learnt, from the scan, that whatever was inside me had already stopped growing. The nurse had scanned me from the inside, and I had told her that I did not really feel it in me anymore, but then again, I did not know how I was supposed to feel, but I am probably you know pregnant, I said and laughed, and she smiled, and I lay there with my legs spread in the spotlight of the halogen lamp, on the examination couch, staring at the ceiling, and with her instrument inside me, and she touched the monitor, and she frowned, I saw it, and she wanted to turn it, the screen, but stopped herself, and she said, forcefully almost, spewing the words, as if she had to say them, and she did not want to, and she knew this situation, it was her job, and then she said, it does not look good. I said, oh yeah? No, it does not. And then I knew, there was nothing, it was not to be, and she went to fetch the doctor, an older woman who touched my knee to comfort, when she said, yes you probably thought you would not have children, and then it happened and now you don’t know if it ever will again, at your age I mean, and I nodded while I teared up, and she passed me tissues from the container that she placed on my stomach. They said how do you want to do it and when, we need to get it out you see, your body still acts as if it’s alive. And I said, I want it out now, and she gave me the first pill, and the next day, I was lying in my old bed in my mother’s house, because I happened to be visiting, and I had spread black garbage bags across it under the sheets, it was my mother’s suggestion, and I was waiting for it to come out, and I lay there and watched the whole first season of The Killing, to take my mind off it, and it did, it really did, and I was anticipating the pain, and it did come, but not like I had feared, and my mother ran back and forth and asked me how I was doing, and the plastic under me rustled every time I turned and moved from the cramps. They had asked me if someone could be with me, and I said that I would have to tell my mother, she was the only one around, and I told her that same day, although I did not want to, but I was relieved when I did, and I told her immediately when I saw her, in the car in front of the cemetery where they’d buried my grandfather, I had walked from the doctor’s office to meet her, I told her I needed to tell her something, and then I cried in front of her, really cried, something I had not done for twenty-odd years, since a dog bit me in my face, and she comforted me and said, this is normal, this is normal, and she did what she always did, did not make a fuss of it, and we stopped at the pharmacy to get menstrual pads and pain killers, and she came home early from work the next day, although she was not sure she could, now that she had taken so much time off recently because of her failing health. And I knew then and there that I might never carry her grandchild inside of me or see her holding it. He had wanted to be there and offered to fly in, but I told him not to, it was okay, I would be okay, I wanted to do this without a fuss, and he told his parents, I don’t know why, because he wanted to tell someone, because he was sad, because I had told my mother, and they emailed me, right then and there, when I was on top of the plastic in the middle of one of the killings in The Killing, and they offered to visit me on a Sunday, have a coffee or something, they said they were sorry, and they hoped we would keep trying, and I realized how many had something invested in this relationship and in my uterus and all the possible actions that might take place down there, and I wanted to go to the forest, dig a hole and place myself there in the cold ground and feel the earth under me, and lie there and look up at the sky with the birds hovering and wind unable to touch me. And I thought good riddance. Good riddance, and I wanted to be alone, and I said please don’t come, please don’t, I need peace and quiet and want absolutely no attention, and they never wrote me back, and I felt guilty about not letting them at least feel like they could do something, but they could not. There was nothing they could do. And then I found myself at a party with some colleagues, it had only been a week, and I was still wearing my menstrual pads from the bleeding that by now was almost over, and I could not stop sweating, and I think I reeked a foul odor that I could not get rid of, the remnants were seeping through my skin and into everything. She had just given birth and this was her first time out in a long time, and she looked tired but happy. Happy but tired, no she looked good, and I knew her very little but somehow trusted her and this was her second child, and she was younger than me, although I always felt she was older. I never caught up, I was never quite there, but now I was not there, I was beyond it almost as if the age I had anticipated had already happened, though I never entered it. Recently I had met a lot of women who regretted not having children when they could, with anyone (they would say anyone at all!) because now they could not, they just couldn’t, and this regret had brought them into a certain state, it was the dryness of their voice that scared me. This kind of grief, yes this kind particularly, scared me more than any, it was really worse than those who tried and tried and then lost it, who did all they could, when they could. There was nothing scarier than those who dared not enter into life, and yes I was one of them. I did not want to pretend otherwise, I really did not. I have to say, I find it to be exceptionally difficult, this age, and I want to say it, and I want to say that I find life so difficult and everything it involves, all of it, I am terribly afraid.
I want to say it.
She had turned her head and her eyes had met mine.
I had started to cry, just a little.
And I could tell she had tears in her eyes. I don’t know why I am telling you, not many people know, I said. I wanted to tell her, I knew she would understand. I also knew it would be difficult for her to say anything. I had to say it; there I said it, perhaps I should not have said it. It had been a tough week, I was not sure I would make it here, I said. And there we were weeping. I am so sorry, she said. I could tell my message had shaken her, but she smiled and thanked me for sharing. Her face reddened, and I did not know if I wanted to cry because of her eyes on me, or if it came from myself. I am okay, I am okay, I said. I am just being emotional. I am so happy for you, I said. I am.
Line Kallmayer is a Danish writer and visual artist whose essayistic work combines text with lens-based media and performance. Her work has been exhibited and published in England, Italy, Denmark, Japan, Greece, Morocco, and the U.S. She is also the author, in English, of the art publications Ten Days with an Exorcist (Green Is Gold, Copenhagen, 2013) and and Bird (2017, Catalyst Press). (updated 11/2018)