Fragment #004: Dragon (3/3)
From the memoirs of Carl Rogan, written in years 7-9 A.C; collected Year 24.
I can see the edge of her tattoo poking out below the hem of the hospital gown, the green-yellow-blue snout of the dragon shaking under a wave of sickly teal polka dots. The doctor tells her to push again and she groans horribly, straining, her body flushed and wet with the effort. The tattoo is stretched - all of her is stretched - but despite the distortion it’s still the same living picture from five years ago. It spasms again and the image suddenly enters my mind’s eye of the dragon vomiting forth our child, red and glistening, half-digested, across her thighs. That dragon is a demon today, I can feel its eyes dilating, feel its rapt attention on my son’s imminent birth. Is it threatened? Two parents in the Army and a violent birth - a born warrior.
Jean gives an earth-shattering shriek - a sound I didn’t think she had left in her after the hours of labor - and arches back against the bed. The shriek trails off into a low groan, the veins popping out on her forehead as she clenches her jaw. A nurse wipes her face with a towel, softly telling her just to breathe, breathe, breathe, relax your jaw, breathe, until finally she takes a ragged gasp. And then a push, push, her hands clenched into claws against the metal rails around her and finally, finally she parts and the baby crowns.
I stare transfixed at this gruesome sight, watching her spread farther and farther to let himit out. The baby is impossibly big. And still she stretches, until the doctor can take hold of it and gently pulls it, writhing and steaming, into the light. She closes with a shudder behind it, a wet red mass hanging out of her like a smashed can of tomatoes. I look at the squalling baby, back at my wife, trying not to see the blood, trying to see the beauty of the moment. But her stomach looks collapsed in on itself, the dragon is shaking, there is red everywhere at the bottom of the bed. It was a difficult birth, a difficult baby.
I will never be able to fill her like that. And the dragon will still be here, long after I’ve been pushed out.