The weight of the blow sent Keelee to her knees on the ugly kitchen floor, pain blazing through her head as stars flashed before her eyes.
“Bitch! Where did y’all hide my shine?!” her husband, Joe, screamed over her.
“Worthless cunt!” he bellowed, now punctuating his cursing with kicks.
Rolling into a ball to protect her unborn child, Keelee risked to beg, “Please, Joe! The baby!”
Mercifully, the torment stopped. His son, she thought. He does care about Joe Jr! He won’t hurt me too bad, he’s been dying for the birth of his son.
Since the worst seemed to have passed, she uncurled herself and struggled to somehow put herself to rights, but kept one hand safeguarding her belly.
“Please, baby,” she begged, “Just let me fix you something to eat.” Keelee grasped the counter with her free hand, yet before she could pull herself back to her feet, raw agony engulfed her afresh.
She had time to notice the stars are back, before crumbling to the tattered linoleum, losing herself in sweet, innocent dreams. All I ever wanted was to be was a Momma, she fantasized. Being a Daddy would settle Big Joe down.
Later she awoke, shivering, on the kitchen floor.
Oh, Sweet Jesus, help me everything hurt.…and beyond the pain, Keelee felt an emptiness radiating from her empty womb, echoing through her bones, chilling her very soul. Frenzied, she ran her hands down her belly, between her thighs searching, scouring through the gore of birth matter until there! She found him, Joe Junior. Her sweet sweet little son! Cradling him in her arms, he was cold, so cold, her heart broke, Joe Junior was gone. She had nothing to shine her love on now.
Pulling herself to her feet, she carried him gently to the sink, then lit the small kerosene lantern. Keeley mournfully rinsed his poor wee body lamenting he had been perfect, just so perfect, I would’ve taught him to garden, and look after the animals – he’d a made a proper farmer, just like my daddy did, she imagined, but none of that was to be now. Carefully she dried him off, swaddling him tight in a fresh, clean tea towel. Stepping back, his tiny face lit only by the lantern, Keelie again lost herself in thoughts of what could have been, her heart fit to burst and her mind not far behind.
Enthralled by her dead dreams, Keelie thought she’d imagined it – Joe Jr had moved! Suddenly, his eyes popped open as his mouth widened to issue a dreadful keening. Keelie fell back, hand to her mouth to stop herself from screaming. That fucking prick! This is his doing – he killed my angel and gave me this devil spawn! Lifting the zombie baby, she knew what she would do, what she had to do.
Extinguishing the lamp, led by the siren’s call of Big Joe’s drunken snores, she padded softly into their bedroom. Tenderly unwrapping Joe Junior, she placed him in the center of their bed. Now shivering, Keelee joined her family under the covers. “Sweet dreams, love,” she tenderly sighed, passively falling to unconsciousness, enchanted by the sound of Joe Jr suckling on his daddy.