©THE SIN OF NATIONS
Mimi Wolske-Mona Arizona™
All Rights Reserved
If you are reading this, I'm probably dead...
It felt like dying.
Not that I know what dying feels like, but this is how I've always imagined it —surreal.
Two Days Earlier
Our names could be interchangeable because, like me, he wants someone to be the big, blank, dark sky.
He doesn't want to fuck my ideas or me. Well, that's what he says.
I'm like shattered cut crystal under his watchful eyes. I was on a pedestal once —placed there by him. He grabbed and dropped me.
He is Bradford Bennington. An investigative reporter for a top-name paper, three years younger than I, and about ten years ahead of me in income. He's a warrior, feared by men who wish they were like him.
Feared by me.
My driver's license reads Selena Irene Nations but everyone call me SIN. I'm a goddess in my daydreams, a crime writing nerd in reality, twenty-nine years old and counting.
He looks up, sees me, and frowns. "Hi Selena."
Well, that certainly isn't a greeting. I must have interrupted something important. Good. "What? Not calling me SIN anymore?"
Oh, that cold shoulder hurts.
I'm really not supposed to be around him. His employer has some sort of an order stating "not within twenty-five yards" all because I managed to get hold of his camera card and got the news scope of the decade. Hey; a girl has to do whatever it takes to make it in this journaling business.
I pull a crumpled paper from the pocket of my lambskin jacket, open it, and hold it to my abdomen to try and smooth it out with my hand. He reaches for it as I hold it out, his fingers awkwardly wrapping around my thumb, enveloping it —my mind flashes back to that feeling and instantly shake my head to release that erotic trance of me enveloping him. I push his hand away half-heartedly and shove the paper at him.
His eyes fill with a question when he glances up at me; he takes it and does a quick study as he turns it this way and that. "What's this?"
There's a slight threat of danger in the air.
My mind wanders. Is it becoming anti-sex, my preoccupation with sex with two men at the same time? Is it making sex unsexy? I definitely have more on my mind than titillating him...
I'm sexy; at least the men I have been with tell me I am. I'm just not all that titillating. Not like my sister. Not like the majority of females who are endowed with some share of beauty at any rate.
I'm evenly proportioned but I'm short and branded by names that make people laugh and tell jokes about people like me. I have only myself to thank for my incredible endurance at their jests and my considerable intellectual powers. I am so short that normal people, since high school and all through college did not care to be seen talking to me or walking next to me. You probably wouldn't be surprised if I said I was sullen and misanthropic. I'm not. I don't brood —well, not often. But, I have no real friends and I choose to work at home from my computer.
Then came Bradford Bennington who was proud of my feats of endurance and physical prowess and he talked to me and walked with me and we went to dinners and the theater and concerts until he finally moved in with me. Not my parents or my sister wanted anyone to know I was related to them. Nature cast me out to live alone and draw comfort from myself. My mother hated the sight of me. My sister learned that hatred from her. The girls I could have been friends with learned that same hatred from my sister...and from society.
I wasn't long before kids were calling me names; monster hurt the most. No one bothered to make sure I was out of earshot. Some still don't. Brad was the first man who really seemed to care for me. I thought the others did. Maybe I was so hungry for love I didn't know they just wanted sex with a monster so they could say they survived.
I force a smile. "Beanie's coming for a visit. You remember her, don't you?"
He frowns. Good God, he's so damn gorgeous, my stomach aches. "Of course. Why? I thought you said you'd never have her stay at your house again."
To fuck you again, my mind says; to take you away from me for good because I have all these anti-sexy thoughts going on. "She's here for me." I point at the paper. "Because of that."
"This?" He holds it above his head when I try to grab it away. "You never said what this is? Looks like something from a doctor's office. Do you have something wrong with you?"
I stop jumping and frowning back at him. It smells like rain. I take a different tact. "Do you have some water with you? I'm thirsty."
"You know I do. Yes, go take a bottle from my pack; it's in the back seat of my car. I've never known you to carry water with you —ever."
As I head toward his pack at the far end of a shallow grave, I see him from the corner of my eye. He's looking at the picture now. He won't understand everything, for example how a three-and-one-half-foot girl could possibly be pregnant.
I take a bottled water and turn back to him. I don't have time to answer before he continues.
"Who's is it?"
I throw the bottle with all my might. He lowers one hand and catches it with ease. I picture him living thousands of years ago doing Herculean tasks and all the human women and the goddesses sighing as though he were a god.
"You know it's yours!" I charge him.
Bradford chuckles and stoops to catch me in his arms. I pummel his chest, that magnificent, young, muscular chest, with my fists.
"We haven't been together in months, SIN. Shouldn't you be showing?"
Palms flat on his chest, I pat it and look up. "Two. You left two months ago and we were together for almost a year before that."
He releases me and my world becomes shrouded in fog. I want his arms around me again. I wonder what I can promise God if he will only make Bradford fall so deeply in love with me he'd die if I left him.
"How far along are you?"
How far along? I fell out of time...or it fell out of me. How do you measure nonexistence in time? "I was almost nine weeks."
He takes my hand and walks me to the pile of rubble. We are at the site of the latest murder. It's a young girl, maybe in her twenties I hear the police say, who has a some of the demolition refuse covering her. The city had the old apartment building imploded yesterday to make room for new government offices. That means she was buried here after all the workmen left yesterday.
"She was pregnant, too. She told me a few days ago. God, SIN; we were so happy."
I gulp. That is his new girlfriend in that grave? She was pregnant? I imagine her a regal height of, oh, say five feet seven inches in her bare feet and I'm envious of every inch.
"I didn't know you were seeing anyone else. Who is it? What's her name? Do I know her? How far along in the pregnancy was she? "
We were both pregnant —by the same man —at the same time. How long had he been seeing Mystery Girl?
"Heather; she was three months. We were planning our wedding, SIN..." He chokes.
I swallow my tears. Three months? He got her pregnant while we were still together and then fucked me and got me pregnant?
"What kind of a prick are you?!"
Two of San Antonio's finest walk up. One speaks while the other stares hard at me. I'm used to being stared at...or, at least given a quick glance as if I have some gorgonizing capabilities. "We're going to need you to come downtown, Mr. Bennington."
Bradford nods as if he knew they were going to want to take him away.
Did he kill her?
"You want me to come with you?" I flush with embarrassment. Brad loves double entendres and innuendoes.
"That'd be nice, but maybe you'd like to ride along? You never did say. Is it a boy or a girl?"
I gave him a look. "It's dead." I rethink my offer.
The cop who'd been glaring at me was suddenly vocal. "Who's dead?"
"Our baby." It is all I can say. It was dead and Bradford is being taken away by the police because this other girl, who was also pregnant, was dead and the police had questions for him. Well, so do I!
"Sorry, miss; no one in the squad car except for the three of us."
"I'm sorry, SIN."
That actually sounds like he means it. I nod, sigh —decide I'll drive my own little car. "Which building are you taking him to exactly?"
I knew I smelled rain. It's slanting pings on the window sound more like hail by the time the police release him from interrogation...or, questioning as they call it trying to make it sound polite. It's sort of like the police around the world; they don't only deal with corruption, they deal corruptly.
And that is rather like the story from the Island of Bordeaux a few thousand years ago. Seems there was this tyrant of an emperor whom everyone feared. One of his subjects was a bird watcher who especially loved watching the crows because they were ever so intelligent. One day he noticed something odd. Happy, he shared his observance and his plan secretly with the other natives. They were in awe but every single one of them agreed to the plan. They worked at night fashioning masks of the tyrant's face. When they were completed, they wore them as a second skin any time the emperor was not around. Whenever they saw a crow and they had on the disguise of their tyrant, they would raise their hands and laugh and then throw the sharp objects they held at the crows, and then yell and wave their arms madly to scare them from food or nests or from high places where they perched and stared. This went on for several weeks and, on the agreed date, the subjects put away their masks. It was the day the emperor was going to have one of the young, female virgins sacrificed on a high mount under the Tree of the Crows. The young girl cried and screamed and struggled for her freedom as the emperor's henchmen dragged her to the altar and tied her down. When the emperor came to the altar and lifted his knife with a roar of laughter, the crows descended en masse and attacked him —he became the bloody sacrifice. Seems that while the natives could never identify individual crows, the crows could all recognize individual humans.
I checked that fact once —it's a true fact about crows. Probably true about humans, too; I mean, I can't tell one crow from the other...they're all big, black birds, aren't' they? Well, anyway, there are way too many cops to be making masks of and they're always around. When could any citizen wear them?
Gossip paparazzi, waiting for anything they can scoop, snap candid shots with their digital cameras as Brad exits and I silently vow to pick up a copy of each one for my iconographic file on him. When he reaches me, the scandal photographers smirk and snap more photos, making me feel like the reverse of the Snow White tale —I am one of the dwarfs without a gold mine and Brad's the handsome, dark-haired, muscular —and tall —Snow White equivalent. Hi-Ho!
With blood reddening his lips, expletives spill over those fleshy folds and almost guarantee the press will be crowning him with pumped-up flattery and lies about his vanity. Well, he does look at himself in every mirror he passes and that could de-canonize him from any legitimate literary fairytale. He looks down at me and I know the lack of any physical evidence of my pregnancy is what's really gleaming like an apple in my ex-lover's eyes.
He flashes a smile for them; it's reflected in the glass that separates the room from hallway. I catch a glimpse of myself and swear I could pass for a chubby queen of circus freaks. I want to flee.
"You wanted too much, SIN."
What? Was he reading my mind now? "Huh?" We head out the door and into the downpour.
"You wanted all of me. All of my time. All of my love. I felt like I was losing myself and I didn't like it."
"What you really mean is it scared you. You were afraid of my love."
"I guess I was. You scared me and I wanted to be as far away as possible. Hey, just how far away did you park?"
"So, you decided to fuck me one more time for the road? You're Sick, Brad!"
"Maybe we're both sick when we're together!"
"Is it too much to want everything when you love someone?" Why was he totally smashing my bubble? Wasn't it bad enough he got this murdered chic pregnant and then impregnated me? It's not like he didn't know my happiness has always come from food, a good wine, and being taken by him.
"I thought you had to get your sister."
Bean! Crap! I forgot about her. I press the keypad and unlock the car doors. We both hurry in.
"Crap! I forgot about her! You'll have to come with me, Brad. She won't kill me if you come."
An hour later, four hours after her plane landed, we find her sitting in the bar upstairs. Brad certainly has a prince's understanding of how to deal with women his size. She's like slobbering mush in his hands. At the car, in the parking garage, Brad opens the shotgun door and throws in her bag, then he opens the door for her and crawls in beside her. What the...
"What are you doing?"
"Wha-at?" comes the defensive argument in unison.
"What do you think I am? A taxi driver?" I look at them in my rearview mirror. Beanie's wasted. Brad is throwing me little kisses of appeasement. Wait! Maybe he's kissing his own reflection! I'll never know. I don't ask.
Why is this wonderful feeling called love more happy than enduring? And why is it I discovered the fires of desire from only a few men that not only warmed me but consumed me more than the average female and yet all the lovely, normal height women could easily arouse that fire in all men and have no raging want of their own? Raging passion took hold of my mind with a fire I never felt before Brad took me to bed.
Bean snuggles against him. "Come home with me, Baby. I have a happy surprise for you."
He plants a wet one on her forehead. "It's up to SIN."
Up to me? I settle that by driving straight to Bradford's apartment. Bean's already in a drunken stupor of sleep when he climbs out of my car and says good night.
"You call me selfish! me?! I have no life without him. I have no child an no proof I was ever pregnant since this operation. And you have the gall to stand there pointing that gun at me and criticizing every word I say? Are you going to steal my life away from me like you stole Brad?"
She stands there, in my semi-private room in the hospital the following day, glaring at me as I lie half-sedated in my bed. "You're avoiding my question!"
"You are avoiding life, Bean. You're never satisfied with what you have. You always want whatever someone else has that you do not. You want Brad because your husband divorced you. But look at you. You're beautiful and you are intelligent and you have the most wonderful voice in all of Texas, in all of the U.S...."
"In all the world!"
"Yes; in the whole fricking world." I laugh. She laughs. Then she gets serious.
I could feel my jaw drop. "You're what?"
She nods. The gun waves from side to side in her hand. At that moment, I remember the crows are back in town... they're just outside the window of my room —are they watching her? I want to find something similar to skin and make a mask that looks like Beanie.
"Damn! Damn! Double damn, Bean! You slept with him? You slept with my Brad? You can quit nodding."
I turn my head into the pillow and away from her. I hear her move. I twist in this bed that has to be narrower than a twin size bed. "You really did? When? Just how pregnant are you?"
It is only then I see the swell of her belly and how much larger her breasts have grown.
"I'm five months, Selena."
There are times when your world turns not just upside down, but it turns inside out, too. Everything is twisted. Here I ie, the one person in this surreal mess who seems to be the only one who honestly values life and it is dying all around me. Maybe Bradford had killed Heather and her unborn baby. He never said he didn't. He didn't value life.
He willingly created life...with just about everyone I could name at this insane moment...me, Heather, Beanie.
My sister is going to take my life, there is no doubt that's her intention.
My own baby never made it to the point of life. That was why Bean was here...to be with me at the hospital so the doctors could rid my small body of the dead being it wouldn't expel on its own.
Then it hits me.
Heather was with Bradford and she was pregnant by him while he was with me. And Heather. Blast him! He was also with Beanie and she was pregnant.
"You did it! You murdered her!"
She looks regal standing there, like royalty, like a pregnant queen who just made a decision. Her voice quivers. She smirks. "I really arrived yesterday morning and went to Brad's. When that whore opened the door, I couldn't handle it. I told her who I was and that I was pregnant with his child. She said the same. She should have kept her mouth shut. I shut it for her."
"You're sick in the head, Bean. You killed her? Just because Brad got her pregnant?"
She closes her eyes. I manage to get out of that super high bed without falling. Hey, for a girl as short as I, it's a long way to the floor.
I rush her and we struggle.
It's really an unfair fight since Bean is a gorgeous blonde of five feet eight inches with a body men crave and I not even close to four feet tall. Her arms seem longer than my entire height, so I'm surprised when the gun fires and it's Bean with the shocked expression.
I release my grip.
Well, hell! I didn't mean to shoot her.
The gun fires again. I fall forward.
This is death. It's the death of Beanie —my hateful sister. Heather and her baby are gone. My unborn child is gone. It's the death of mine and Bradford's love. It's my death.
Sometimes the things I think that matter don't really matter at all.
I was looking right into the face of life and seeing it for the first time, knowing what it is as I had never known before, loving every part of it every day for what it is. Now, facing the end of life, I had only to put it away.
Life doesn't matter when death is so peaceful.
One of Bradford's hands grips the nape of my neck; the other is fisted through my hair, pulling my head back, forcing me to look up into his dark eyes. "You will do as I say!"
I slap the side of his face with all my might. "Like hell!"
He blinks. Pulls my head back further totally exposing my long neck.
Then all color blends and flows like music.
This feels like dying.
Not that I know what dying feels like, but this is how I've always imagined it —surreal.