March 24, 2010

Ruth Schiffmann

Whispers and Laughter

Seven days ago I found out I was pregnant; I told Tony and he said he loved me. I said I needed to be alone.

Today, the bell rings and I push my way through a strange tangle of people in the stairwell. The air smells of sweat and Doritos. Hushed voices hiss my name.

My brother's knuckles break against Tony's jaw. His legs crumple beneath him and we all watch to see if he will get up. I am sure this is my punishment: to watch him come undone. The seconds go by mired in whispers and laughter. My brother reaches down and picks Tony up. Draping his arm over a shoulder, he leads him out of the storm we have created.

As they push through the door, Tony looks back and our eyes catch. I'm not laughing at him, but it's not enough.

The onlookers trail away. My eyes linger on the fresh red splattering on the floor and I know, as I knew yesterday when I felt the chill of the cold clinic corridors, he will never forgive me.

All I have inside me today is a diet coke and a heart made of stone.


More than eighty of Ruth Schiffmann's stories and articles have been published, both online and in print.

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