By Serita Stevens
Watery warmth surrounded me as I wriggled my toes, my fingers, and allowed my eyelids to flutter open. The gentle motion of the
rocking chair combined with the vibratory hum of my mother's singing lulled me into a peaceful mood. I didn't even feel like kicking
I think my first awareness was of mother -- of her heartbeat, her humming, and her happiness. I was glad to be a part of her.
But the blissful existence didn't last long. I was in my sixth month of uterine life when Eddie stormed into our presence. He had
known my mother briefly before he had gone off to Desert Storm, a war in the Middle East. Now he had been discharged. I didn’t
think it had been honorable.
Even before he yelled, I sensed the anger and heard the heaviness of his footsteps thumping on the wooden floor.
"You whore! Why the hell didn't you tell me the baby wasn't mine!?"
Mom jerked her body upright, forcing me into a sitting position. I could hear the shocked surprise in her voice.
"But it is yours, Eddie. I swear it. You're the only one I've slept with. The only one I love."
"Liar! I saw the way you looked at McGregor. The way you smiled at him. Tell me who the father is.”
Mom didn’t answer.
He slapped us then. I cringed with the pain almost as much as she did.
It didn't take me long to understand that Eddie was the creep who'd fathered me -- and that he wasn't too excited about my existence,
despite the fact he had moved in with us. His temper made it pretty obvious why he had left the military.
I knew Mom loved me. She'd told me so often and I believed her. She continued to repeat it every time she talked to me. I wanted
to believe that everything would be okay for the two of us. The trouble was, she loved Eddie and she really wanted to believe that the
three of us could make a real family.
I think it was because she'd been beaten by her father. I tried to tell her that didn’t make it love, but she didn’t hear me.
Once Eddie moved in with us, nothing seemed the same after that.
Oh, sure, he could be nice. He'd take us to the park and buy us ice cream, but when he'd drink, he was horrid. He'd get to talking
about his folks and how his mother had betrayed his father. He’d say that Mom was the same. Just like his mother.
I’d never know what would set him off. It didn’t seem to matter. If he was in the mood for an argument, any excuse would do.
After he beat us, he'd always ask, "You okay, babe?” Solicitous. Sweet. I wanted to barf.
Mom would nod.
They'd make up and she’d forgive him, but I felt my tiny heart harden against him.
When she wasn't feeling well, he'd coddle her, ask what he could do for her, but I never felt he really meant it
She would tell him she was okay and smile-- as if she believed him.
“Well then if you’re okay…” He’d put his feet up and tell her to bring him a beer. It never changed.
She’d get what he asked and then she retreat to the kitchen with a cup of tea and talk to me.
I loved to feel her smile. She would rub her stomach. I yearned to have her hold me.
"The baby moved today. You want to touch?" Mom asked him one night.
"Can I?" Eddie put his hand out. He’d been in a good mood that day. He never bothered asking me so I didn't usually oblige him.
Sometimes I'd kick -- but not often because that hurt Mom, too.
"Gonna be a football player that kid." Eddie bragged after one of my more vicious kicks in his direction. “Maybe he'll come out with
a wrench in his hand."
Mom didn’t usually stand up to him, but this time she did. "Eddie, please," Mom pleaded. "If anything, she'll come out with a book in
"No kid of mine's a patsy—or a girl." His snarl startled me. "Sounds like you're trying to prepare me -- so I won't be suspicious, huh.
I know damn well my kid's a boy." He slapped us.
I winced feeling my mother's pain. "Tell me who the hell was you with while I was gone. Come on, tell me!" He pulled her arm
Mom was crying. "Eddie, I swear. It's you I love. Boy or girl, this baby's yours. It can't be anyone else's."
"Yeah, well, we’ll see. You better believe I'm gonna make sure."
He stormed out of the house and stayed away for several days. It wasn't a nice thought, but I hoped he'd drink himself to death and
get out of our lives. Mom and me needed only each other.
Both Mom and I were glad when he was gone. Then she could play her music. Mozart she told me -- and would hum to me. It was
times like these when I really wanted to be born, to let her cuddle me in her arms.
* * *
Eddie came back. He and Mom made up, but he continued to become more and more irrational in his behavior. I pleaded with
Mom to get away from him. Maybe I had a premonition. I don’t know if she really heard me. I tried to tell her that I didn't like
Sometimes she and I would take a walk at night. She’d whisper to me. She’d tell me how much she loved me and assured me that as
soon as I came out, Eddie would love me, too.
I wasn’t so sure. Sometimes she said other things, too. Things she probably wouldn't have said if she knew I really listened to her.
I was reaching the end of my seventh month. Only two more to go and then Mom and I would really be together. Then I could take
care of her, but I feared for her and I was afraid of Eddie.
* * *
"Did you have to look at that guy like that?" he asked, slamming the door as we came home one night from a party.
"Eddie that guy is my doctor!" She paused. "And I wasn't looking at him."
"Don't lie to me!"
He hit her again and again. I felt my own anger growing as I clenched my fist. If I could have cried I would have. But my tear ducts
weren't yet formed.
The doctor had told her that pregnant women were often at risk for domestic violence because the men were jealous of anything that
took attention away from them. The doctor wanted her to leave, too, but Mom refused. “My kid is going to have her father.” Mom
already knew I was a girl, but hadn’t had the courage to tell Eddie yet.
Eddie was beating us almost daily now. I hated him more and more. Now when we were alone, she didn't play her music. She just
cried. I tried to reach up and comfort her. I tried to tell her how it hurt me when she was sad. But she wouldn't listen to me and she
wouldn't leave him.
My anger grew within me.
This man wasn't worthy of being my father. I knew I was going to have to take matters into my own hands.
When I was eight and a half months, he hit us again. Eddie slammed the door as they had walked in from church. “You whore! Big
as a house and making eyes at everyone in sight, including Father Joseph!”
"Eddie, please. I love you. The baby loves you."
No, I don't! She knew I didn't, but she had to say it. She was so scared of him she would lie about anything.
He continued beating at her. I tried covering my head and fending off the blows that were coming to me. I yearned to protect my
mother, but I couldn't. I was too helpless.
The punches continued until I could barely breathe -- and suddenly there was silence. Not even a heart beat from above.
I found myself gasping for air.
In the distance I heard him crying, "Oh, Janey! My God, Janey!"
The sound of the ambulance siren was the last thing I heard as I vowed that I would survive and I'd make him pay.
I'm not sure exactly what happened after that.
I heard noises again. I knew that I hadn't died.
Then I saw the brilliant white lights. Rubber gloved hands lifted me out and away from Mom. They cut the cord, which had bound us
all those months.
"Apgar 5," a voice said. "I think we might have saved her. Get her into the incubator. Start the oxygen. Run a bilirubin."
They righted me. I looked back at the table.
My mother lay there --unmoving. I knew she was dead and I let out a shriek as the air expanded my lungs.
The nurse rolled my crib out past two men standing in the hall and paused.
I didn't have to ask which one was Eddie. His nervous pacing and blood shot eyes gave him away. God, he looked hideous with his
military short hair, low bushy brows and huge nose. I hoped I hadn't inherited anything from him. Hatred curled my fist, which I
stuffed in my mouth, vowing my revenge.
As I was driven past, the guy in the white coat put on a hand on Eddie's shoulder.
"I'm sorry Mr. Hutchins. We tried to save her but--"
"Oh, my God! No! No, Janey isn't dead. I loved her. I swear, I did."
The doctor’s voice was smooth. "Of course, you did, but we reached her too late. Quite a fall she had. I’m sure the coroner will rule
it an accident.” He paused. “However, we did save your baby. You have a marvelous baby girl. Quite a stubborn little fighter
considering her prematurity. Do you want to see her?"
Eddie's mouth dropped open. "Her! You saved the kid and you didn't save Janey!" He grabbed the doctor's collar and began to
"Please, Mr. -- Hutchins --" The doctor paused, trying to catch his breath. "We performed an emergency c-section. I thought -- you'd
Eddie released the doctor nearly throwing him against the wall. "Yeah. I'm pleased," he said, scowling. "How d'ya suppose I'm gonna
raise a brat by myself."
"Mr. Hutchins, I realize your situation is difficult, but it's not unique. I'm sure once you’ve recovered a bit, and once you’ve seen her--
" He loosened the knot on his tie. "You do want to see your daughter?"
"Yeah. Yeah. Sure."
He motioned for the nurse to bring me up to the window where they stood.
I knew I must look a sight with all these tubes and things they'd stuck in me, but no matter what it took, I was going to live. It was all I
could do for now but somehow I would make him pay for murdering my mother.
His mouth gapped open as he stared at me. "My God, she looks like -- Janey." As he looked down at the crib, I hated him even more
than before. I would have my revenge.
Weak as I was from the delivery and everything that had happened already, I managed to summon all my powers as I stared directly at
him and forced my brain to project the message. "YOU KILLED HER. I HATE YOU."
I saw the horror in his eyes and knew he'd heard me. The doctor looked at me. I cooed and smiled as I kicked off my blanket.
"I gotta get me a drink." He turned and left the nursery.
* * *
It was several days before he came back. He didn’t show up again until the day he was supposed to take me home.
I didn't want to go with him, but I was still helpless in this new body. I tried to tell the nurses what Eddie really was, but none of them
seemed to understand that he'd murdered my mother. But I knew and I would not forget.
It was after five when he came into the nursery to fetch me. I waited until he stood over the crib and I could smell his whiskey breath.
"I'm gonna kill you, Eddie."
Once more I saw the reaction as his eyes glazed over. He probably drunk too much. I gurgled and gave my cute baby act for the
"This kid's not normal. She can talk." Eddie's voice cracked.
"Oh, Mr. Hutchins," the older nurse, the one I called Granny, laughed, clucking her tongue. "Of course, she's normal."
"You don't understand. The kid talked to me."
Granny laughed. "Oh, Mr. Hutchins. All new parents think their baby's special. But I assure you, little Jane won't be talking for
several month's yet."
"Her name ain't Jane." Eddie looked like he was going to swing at the nurse. "Her name's Jennifer."
Granny shook her head, putting me down as she opened the chart. "You wrote the name yourself." She showed him a copy of my
I cooed and smiled.
Granny picked me up again, wrapping me in the blanket. She handed me to him.
"I'm going to kill you, Eddie. Just like you murdered her." I stared directly at him and knew he -- and only he-- could hear me.
"Jeez! I need a drink."
"Careful, Mr. Hutchins," Granny warned. "You'll drop her." She paused, taking me away from him. "Are you sure you can take care
He squared his shoulders and picked me up gingerly. I stared without blinking at him and thought how much I hated him.
Weeks turned into months.
Eddie hired a nurse to take care of me so that he wouldn't have to bother. I was happy that he didn't come near me, didn't try to
Once and a while he would come in, sit and stare at me. Sometimes I'd laugh and smile. Sometimes I'd pretend to be his loving
daughter. But other times, when he'd drunk enough so he wouldn’t be sure what he was hearing, I’d talk to him.
"I'm gonna kill you, Eddie. Just like you killed my mother." He would blanch and then I'd take it a step further, drawing Mommy's
voice from memory.
"Eddie, I swear. This baby is yours. I love you, Eddie. I loved you."
Eddie would grow pale and drop whatever was in his hand -- usually a drink. He'd flee my room and not return for several days.
As I got older and began to talk, it seemed wisest to bide my time.
Gradually, Eddie forgot about my threat. Probably, he thought it was just the alcohol talking. But I didn't forget.
I waited and waited. One day, my chance would come.
"D'ya always gotta have a book in hand, kid?" he asked, irritably as I grew older.
I'd just shrug. I’d smile because I knew it irked him. "But I like to read, Daddy. I’m just like my mother. You’ve said so yourself."
Other times, when I knew he was around, I would listen to classical music from mother’s collection. I couldn’t find the Mozart
mother had loved. He had destroyed that during one of their arguments. Instead I found other things. Things she had loved; things
he hated. Usually I would hear him standing outside the room when I played the records….wanting to come in and afraid.
Finally, unnerved, he'd head off for the nearest bar. I wasn't strong enough yet, but the time was coming closer. I would get my
revenge. Only I didn't know how.
* * *
I knew people were talking about him and me as I grew older.
That poor Jane Hutchins, they would say. No mother to care for her and a father who hardly knows what’s happening. It’s a wonder
she manages as well as she does.
The older I got the more I looked like my mother. I grew my hair long, like she had.
Eddie never said anything, but I knew my resemblance to her unbalanced him.
It was on my 16th birthday that I finally found the trunk of old clothes and other things – photographs, records and diaries -- stuffed
in the back closet. Mother’s. I held them close and inhaled her scent.
Other kids had parties for their sixteenth birthdays, but then other kids didn't have a father who'd killed their mother.
It didn't take long for me to find the flowery print dress Mom had worn on the day she died. It billowed out about my waist because,
of course, she'd been pregnant with me then.
I knew Eddie would be home soon. Finding a Mozart record, I sat down on the rocking chair and waited.
Twilight turned to darkness and I continued to sit and rock.
It was after midnight when I heard the sound of his steps in the hall.
Waiting in the bedroom. I let the motion of the rocker soothe me as the outer door opened and closed.
"Where the hell you get that record, kid?"
He was drunk -- just like before. I didn't answer but allowed the spirit of my mother to enter me and then I stood, silhouetted by the
moonlight as he opened the door.
"Eddie, I love you. Eddie --" It was her voice I spoke in and her face I took on as I walked slowly toward him, pleased with the
shocked look on his face.
"Eddie, why'd you have to be so cruel? Why'd you hit me? Why’d you kill me? I loved you, Eddie."
With each step I took toward him, he took several back. I don't even think he realized how near the window was to him. The look of
horror on his face was worth every moment of my life on this earth plane with him.
He took yet another step backward -- falling through the open window that I had had waiting for him.
I walked to the window and looked down five floors below at the twisted remains of the body, which had been my father.
The police and doctor who came with my call were as nice as could be. Everyone in town had known about Eddie's drinking problem
-- and no one suspected anything.
"I'll report this as an accident, Miss Hutchins," the doctor said.
I looked up at him and realized he was the same one who had delivered me.
"Thank you, doctor." I paused a moment as the words sunk in. "You know, he was never the same after my mother died. You could
almost say his life ended that day.”
The doctor turned to me, startled.
I smiled sweetly at him.