Monday, 4 August 2014

Echoes - Friday Flash





The sure handed technician swished the probe across my abdomen like an air hockey disc. She was sketching my child for me, drawing her from noiseless sound waves and silent rebounds. Bouncing sonar off her budding tissue, having the echoes pulse back through the swell of me and into the machine’s imaging stick. Pixels of my little pixie as her head is fully rendered. The outline of her arms expertly plotted by passage through the shallow fathoms. Even her fingers floating like sargassum in the void are charted through the sink and swim of the sonic undulations. The topography of my daughter. That slowly burgeoning coral reef cropping out from my amniotic sea bed.

The minute motions of her heart are as yet too tiny to be picked out in electrical motes. This being only the first draft for the overlay of more detailed pentimento compositions to come. But even without a monitor I could see, feel and most significantly, hear, my own heartstrings go ping as her image became limned in light emerging from the shadows of me. The technician squeezes some more jelly on my belly. It felt similar to when you used to pull out of me on to my stomach, terrified that we might launch new life. But her reproduction up there on screen suggests you got your timing wrong. That we were arrhythmic, out of step with one another. And when I relayed my suspicions of generation within me, you were off like a torpedo. There were no returning echoes from my plaintive pleas launched in the direction of your retreating back. Even though you were a complete dog, my entreaties appeared to be shrill beyond any audible frequency. But that’s okay, I have someone real close now who is held rapt by the softly lapping waves of my body and the song they make. Our call and response established here will be for all time. 

It was the same sonographer, but this time her piloting seemed less assured. There was a sense of choppy urgency to her sweeping over my distended stomach. And I scoped on the monitor that some of the pulses were not receiving the requisite echoes back.  Her rudimentary tissues were too weak to bat them gently round. The heart was now visible, but barely fluttering. They took me from lying prone under the ultrasound and folded me in half in front of a consultant. He was speaking to me, but I couldn’t hear his words. Wrong frequency for my brain to hold I guess. A siren only I could hear was reverberating in my head. 

They depth charged her with medical bombs. And when those didn’t find their target, they brought in an abominable bombardier with a suction duct to scuttle her little half-built vessel while she was still in harbour. 
And everyday now I rub my hand over my belly, the trenches and the depressions. Yet the seabed there is still. No echoes are ever returned  to me. 

taken from the new flash fiction collection "Extra-Curricular" out now



9 comments:

Helen A. Howell said...

Aw sad - I loved the descriptiveness of the ultra sound - " Even her fingers floating like sargassum in the void are charted through the sink and swim of the sonic undulations."

Icy Sedgwick said...

This started off with a sense of positivity but then became one of the saddest stories I think I've read.

Roslyn Fain said...

I was thinking just what Icy said, it's so sad. There's a lyricism to it that, in a way, sort of cradles the poignancy. Beautifully written Marc.

ganymeder said...

I really liked the idea of sketching the child with the ultrasound. Beautifully told but so sad.

Sonia Lal said...

Beautifully written. But the sad ending was so, well, sad. Sucks for her.

Steve Green said...

I too echo Icy's comment.

Beautifully written marc.

Katherine Hajer said...

The mindfulness of the narrator really gives this a punch. Beautiful stuff.

Jon Jefferson said...

The use of naval warfare terms gives this an odd dimension, torpedoed, depth-charged.

Stephen said...

I found myself laughing at: "But her reproduction up there on screen suggests you got your timing wrong." But then my heart sank. What an incredible roller coaster ride.

By the way, I am now reading Under The Skin based upon your recommendation. It is truly an excellent read thus far.