The Dumpster

There’s a dumpster in the alley behind the building where her life was sucked away. Cold, green, hulking slabs of metal; MEDICAL WASTE stenciled on its side in big, white letters.

She was warm and cozy before her world was ripped out beneath her. Her tiny, developing Earth-suit dissolved into bloody remains. Her life was seen as an inconvenience, a mistake, a reason to commit murder.

So small, so young, yet she was a miniature, perfect specimen of a human being; she could have been so great, and she was so capable of bringing joy into the lives of anyone fortunate enough to raise her, but she was so easy to kill.

Not much larger than a peanut, she nevertheless gave them a good fight. Settled in the midst of a healthy pregnancy, she struggled against the sharp equipment as it ripped at her tiny arms and legs.

She would have had her mother’s blonde hair and gray-blue eyes. The siblings to come after her would all be beautiful, talented girls, but she would have been the best one. If only her mother hadn’t been so afraid — afraid of how this precious little creature would have changed her own young life.

Barren once again, her mother waited back in the alley by the dumpster for her ride to come, so no one would see her. The young woman stared blankly at the words: MEDICAL WASTE.

It was a sunny September day, but the shadows from the buildings made it dark in that alley. The former mother-to-be suddenly imagined that she heard crying – baby-crying – it was a sound of mournful misery that seemed to waft upwards from within the dumpster. And then her thoughts turned to what was in that dumpster, and she heaved a horrific sigh, felt the blood gush out of her womb in a burst of sudden recognition.

Her child’s life flashed before her eyes; a life that would never happen so she could go back to being a 19-year-old and finish college and find a husband and start a family. But her first baby would have to wait… in the dumpster until the big garbage truck came.

The garbage man would pull out shiny, white garbage bags containing others, just like her. Their Earth-suits have been smashed into bits of blood and minuscule, flexible bones. Legs and arms that would never learn to jump and hug have been left to rot in a white plastic bag, MEDICAL WASTE stenciled on its side, bound for the city dump, soon to be stashed away in a landfill.

Tiny eyes that would never see; the remains of one who would never be. The lifeless fetus would become a bad memory for the few who knew about her brief existence. But, most of all, she would haunt her mother into holding her future sisters tight. It was the worst decision the young woman ever made, but it was her decision to make. Just as it was her decision to have sex without a condom. She thought that abortion would be for the best – women did it all the time –and she considered herself lucky to be able to make this choice by herself. And then she saw the dumpster. Rationalizations stripped away, she cried for hours on her baby’s due date, knowing that two wrongs never make a right — even if the government says it’s okay to kill your baby, as long as you do it quickly. But the pain will last forever, and it will affect you and your family; whether you know it or not.

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

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