Existed Literary Journal, Fall 2014
Your baby’s dead, the doctor says. About a week now.
Of course, Melissa knew. Tiny ghost-flutter kicks inside her for weeks, then one day stilled. Nothing. Her baby had left her.
Two days into the stillness she’d called Hector: I’m scared, she said. I need you. Come home.
Then: My fight’s in a month, baby. You worry too much.
Drone of speed-bags, staccato thumps, whisk and slap of rope on hardwood, drowning out her heartbeat.
Melissa called her mother next.
Now her mother’s fingers tighten around her own. The doctor scribbles, rips the sheet from the prescription pad, hands it to Melissa. Tendrils of blue ink swim beneath her tears. She thinks of her baby, its milky form floating—alone—in the deep felted darkness inside her. She thinks of her husband, Hector “Bambino” Muranda, slamming the heavy bag.
Take one tonight and another in the morning, the doctor says. You’re scheduled for 11:00 a.m.
The rest of his words drub against her skin, taut across her belly. Baby bump intact.
The cab pulls up to the medical office and Melissa lets herself be tucked inside. She cries and cries through midtown traffic. At Melissa and Hector’s apartment, mother and daughter ride the elevator to the penthouse. The drug fails at first, but then takes hold. In the king-sized bed— where Melissa and Hector sleep whenever he’s back from the coast—Melissa’s mother cradles her all night.
In the morning she delivers her dead baby boy.
A beautiful woman like you, the doctor says. You’ll have another soon.
At the fight, front row, Melissa perches, her white cleavage bared. Cameras flash. Paparazzi flap and scrabble like vultures. In Round Three, Winky Jones bleeds from a cut above his right eye. Hector’s chest glistens, chaste, as yet unharmed.