ONE LINE | In Nicole Le Marie’s fiction, the lines between a new mother and her baby blur from the intensity of this bond.
by Nicole Le Marie
They are not my feet. I see them in my Nikes. It would appear they belong to me, but they are insensate. I walked in lunar boots once as a child: a toy meant to simulate walking on the moon. They were constructed from layers of magnets. I closed my eyes and saw stars and craters, as I traversed the landscape of our living room until my mother told me the pacing annoyed her. They went into a box for a long time. I don’t need them now. The earth’s gravitational pull does not hold me.
I wiggle my fingers, but they are stuck on someone else’s hands. This body, still bloated and torn from recent birth, is a stranger’s. It belongs to you more than me. These breasts are your food source, heavy, wet and cumbersome; antipodal to those things I once stuffed into lacy bras. These boulders containing fire and daggers, are pulled and twisted at your whim. I obligingly follow your orders. You cry, and this bag of bones, in its fleshy covering, bends and breaks at your will.
I got out today, as she suggested, the woman from the health visiting team. She turns-up clean and fresh with coral lipstick. She suggests solutions from studies. She says I should let you cry, break you into regimented routine; and in the same breath tells me you should be fed on demand. I thought about asking my mother what worked with me, but the space in between our phones seemed too great to bridge with a call.
“I have a sudden sense of what together means; to be bound to someone so tightly that the lines between you blur, and even in our dull reflection distorted by ducks, we are one dark blob.”
You wake every 40 minutes. It is a tease. You let my body sink. I fall into oblivion for just a second before you jolt us back to our cell: to the walls, to the dirty sheets and overflowing nappy bin. I cannot leave you to cry though, it breaks something in me that still survives despite the sleep torture.
It took three hours: re-packing and unpacking the changing bag, a new nappy, the feed, the blanket, the rain cover. I could not face being bus bumped, or the vociferous stares shouting “how dare you bring a crying baby out in commuter time.”
“Look at her,” their eyes say, “with her sour milk smell, and un-brushed hair, not removing the baby from the pram as it cries,” or “look at her brazenly taking the baby out of the pram, it’s not safe.”
So, we walked. We walked for an hour, so that I would not have to endure the shame of the bus, and now we are here on a grey February day staring at a pond, while you snack and I grieve for the body you have snatched. You nibble at me. I stare, looking for something, but there is only grey. You are my captor, but I have Stockholm syndrome. I am irrevocably in love with you, and that is our problem, and our saviour.
I have a sudden sense of what together means; to be bound to someone so tightly that the lines between you blur, and even in our dull reflection distorted by ducks, we are one dark blob. You move, or I move, and the shape moves: it does not acknowledge an end between us. Was it like this with my mother and I once? One line, that if you drew around us you would not need to lift the pencil from the page, and for this first time in years I feel myself bound inside her line once again; lines looping around and around us three endlessly combined despite the space in-between.
Nicole Le Marie | @NicoleLeMarie
Nicole Le Marie is a Scottish writer and journalist based in London, who has written for numerous British newspapers and websites. Her fiction has been published in Salome, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She is working on her first novel.