Sting and Bite for #StoryADay May; Day Eighteen

The Prompt:

  • There is a moment in every story where a protagonist has to make a choice: to take up the challenge of the story or to turn away. Everything else flows from that.

  • Today, write a story in which your protagonist makes the other choice.

Sting and Bite

“There’s nothing anyone can do to save this baby’s life, Marilyn.”

The words sting and bite with more force than a needle piercing her skin and penetrating a vein.

“Is it because of me – because of my -?” She couldn’t make herself say the words that would damn her, and the baby she carried.

“The exact causes aren’t known. However, your blood tests shows very low levels of folic acid, which is essential for the proper formation of the neural tube.”

“And what does that mean – for her?” She rubbed the protrusion of her belly, where the baby girl was growing.

“It means you may miscarry. If you carry to term, your daughter has a seventy-five percent chance of being stillborn. If she survives birth, she’ll live no more than a few weeks. There’s no treatment; she has only a residual brain stem. She won’t be conscious, and she’ll feel no pain. She won’t be able to see or hear. She might be able to swallow by reflex, if her brain stem has developed enough. Her spinal cord is exposed; she will be paralyzed from the waist down. All we can do for her is to keep her warm and comfortable until, inevitably, she dies.”

But that can’t be all! It’s not fair! She wanted to scream those things at the doctor, tell her how Brad had died the night he made this baby girl, how she’s the last part of him still alive -but she doesn’t say any of that. “Maybe her brain just hasn’t – I don’t know – caught up with the rest of her.”

“I’m sorry, Marilyn. Your daughter’s birth defect occurred in the third to fourth weeks of your pregnancy. Fetal development is a forward progression; she won’t go backward and catch up.”

The doctor paused, and Marilyn could feel that whatever was coming was even worse than the nightmare she’d already heard.

“She won’t be a person in any sense you can recognize, Marilyn – but there is some good that can still come of it. You could use this as a catalyst. Get into a good rehabilitation program. You’re young and intelligent, and you have your whole life ahead of you. Start taking better care of yourself and your diet – including a folic acid supplement, so that you minimize the chances of a recurrence if you decide to have another child. And, if you’d like to give some personal meaning to your little girl’s life, you could consider organ donation – most of her organs might be healthy enough to enhance or save another child’s life.”

It was all a swift sharp blade that cut through the illusions of her hazy life. She’d been trying to escape into oblivion, but it was no use. Reality had found her. It always did.

In that moment, she knew what she had to do. “Can you recommend a treatment program? I’ll go, right away, and do whatever it takes.”

And she knows that she will.

Will Marilyn actually go to rehab?

Will it be successful?

What happens to this version of Marilyn?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

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