Cradling his warm scrawny softness between her knees, Marissa’s heart left her body and entered that of her newborn son. Watching his fists and face fight the weightlessness of the air, she was terrified of hurting him. “Hold it” said the woman known as The Chinese, reaching into a flowery washbag. Marissa wondered where it had come from. It wasn’t kept with the tampons, first aid kit, painkillers and dust covered condoms needed for running a brothel.
The baby let out a hiccup, a gasp and a long thin wail that ricocheted off Marissa’s breasts, making them ache; instantly filling with milk. “HOLD IT!” ordered The Chinese, selecting some scissors from her bag. With a muscly crunch, the cord was cut and Marissa lay the baby down, then screamed out in pretend pain and folded forward.
Lying within reach, the scissors were small and sharp and smiling. Marissa had been a brilliant pick pocket as a child – deft and quick. As a teenager, she’d dealt drugs and fallen in love with a gang boss who chose her to take a shipment to London. After bringing the heroin to this ever-curtained house she had never left.
“Placenta coming now” The Chinese said. Shielding her son with a tent made only of her knees, Marissa curled her fingers around the scissors, brought up her hand and punched the pointed blades into The Chinese’s neck. The side of her fingers and fist slid sank against soft flesh.
Marissa was already floating as she heard the panicked, urgent gurgle and scream. She dragged the metal sideways, opening the wound before digging the point in again. Marissa’s hands were filthy with thick blood – she needed them clean to tend to her son. She needed the stupid kneeling pile of flesh to topple and still. Again, she jabbed – this time taking care, leaning in low like a lover before ripping the ugly flesh a final time. Then all she could hear was the pure single noted cry of her son and she could wash them both clean.
(Yasmin Khan is a writer who is half Pakistani and half Irish. Having worked as a TV and Radio Journalist for 17 years, she is now exploring her love of writing fiction. She has an MA in Anthropology and is fascinated by stories and how they transcend physical settings.)