Babes at Night 1985

The dirt crunched under their heavy feet. The men had taken her here, her nightdress was still bloody. The branches of the trees scraped her face, she’d brought this on herself, that’s what they’d shouted. Her sullen blue eyes sunk into her pale freckled face, reflecting the moonlight. The girl sobbed as the first shovel pierced the ground.

            They’d made her carry it, broken and bloody, although she had not been the one to break it. She’d carried it within her womb for as long as she was able, protecting, keeping it safe.

            Thirteen.

            That’s how many times the shovel dove into the ground. That’s how many years she’d spent living in this hell. That’s how many hours she’d labored to bring this thing into the world for its brief existence.

            She dare not look at its tiny broken body.

            But she must.

            She looked at her tiny daughter.

            She held her close, her matted blonde hair pressed up against the small body wrapped in a bedsheet. Sweat soaked through her white gown the ruffle trim, portraying an innocence that had been taken from her many months ago by a man who was much older than her. She’d been raped at a time before she knew what rape was. What she had known was her body was changing in ways she only heard of before. And today she’d made this life come into the world.

            She’d handed it over to her parents. Only to watch in horror as the snuffed the light out of her daughter.

            She’d heard the crying.

            Then she’d heard the crying stop.

            It was almost time, the others chanted, their blank faces swaying around her. Calling on Satan himself to take the life they’d sacrificed in his name.

            This wasn’t what she wanted.

            She wanted her baby.

            One more time, before they dropped her into this unmarked grave. How cold she would feel, so far from a mother’s loving embrace.

            The only thing to keep her warm now is her name. Whispered in the dark there that night, by the girl who’d given birth to her. Aribella.