Restrained—‘Fuck,’ under my breath, dropping the knife and a peeled onion rolling off the board.
    Even people who write are not interested in reading the torture of being unable to write. Whatever interest presents itself is usually only due to the hope that the tormented reveals what it is that drove them back to the keyboard (pen & paper, notes application). Often such information is not forthcoming. So I withhold, saving us all the hassle.
    In and out of the hospital, put on various drips, weighed, measured, scanned. My sister-in-law will not eat, and so the embryo starves with her. Saturday’s doctor said six weeks; she said nine. Monday’s doctor said seven weeks; she said nine. It means the difference between a graduation party, embryo to foetus. She stands an inch shorter than me, seven-stone-eleven, too light. Cannot stomach the sight nor smell of food. She forces three pieces of fusilli between her lips, chews hard and swallows harder. Saturday’s doctor—‘There aren’t enough beds,’ puts her on a drip. What is in the drip? The chemical nutrient make-up intrigues me. A limp strawberry jam sandwich is set in front of her on a blunt, watermarked plate. ‘Eat this and we’ll discharge you.’ She eats half the strawberry jam sandwich and is discharged. The girls stay over our house, not understanding what we mean when we discuss the size of the embryo (grain of rice?) or the formation of the sac, the concept that matter cannot be created, or that whatever is not given will be stolen. The weather is the worst weather, mood weather, rubs off on you and drags you down with it: cold windy rain. The cold wind works its way into everything. Monday’s doctor administers a drip and then reduces it – nutrient make-up – until she is ready to be discharged again. ‘There’s a covid outbreak in here, it’s better for you to go home, safer.’ No longer chewing, all intravenous ingestions directed straight to the embryo. The foetus. After eight weeks, it stops being an embryo and becomes a foetus. It is a good word, still, rooted in latin; that oe sound charms the hell out of me, although that strong t in the middle belies its definition’s fragility. Embryo, too, is a wonderful word. It will be years before the subject learns these words that marked its journey from orgasm to birth.
    Saturday was the darkest I had felt for a while. At 22:48 she sent me a video of her sharing a bag of crisps with her cat. She had removed her makeup and her chipped red nail varnish. The crisps were snapped in half between her teeth and the cat took the other piece, until one was dropped into the blanket and both pairs of wide eyes set about searching for it. Both ate with the decorum of best friends returned home from the pub, drunkenly seizing upon anything edible to soak up the beer and rum. ‘I thought the rum would warm me up.’ That red nail varnish, the colour of it, was made for her fingers. Deep red nail varnish that she pushed into short black hair, massaging the skin there until it chipped and she removed it on her day off work.
    The amount of coffee I drank Sunday morning caused my hands to tremble more than usual, and as I was finely chopping a medium onion I pushed the blade into my thumb. ‘Fuck,’ and I rushed to the sink. I ran it under the cold tap. The water pressure opened it up a sliver. Turning, I inspected from afar the edge of the white onion and sharpened knife. My hand grew numb. The blood ran out. It dripped down my wrist. Somehow it made it from one hand to another, and then it made it round the tap in pretty red blooms. I watched the blood run down the plughole. There seemed to be a lot of it. Never had bad circulation, and, despite a very low heart rate, my extremities are well supplied. I remembered my sixth form biology teacher, Mr. Penny, explaining how water may, by osmosis, interrupt a red blood cell, causing it to rupture and burst. The bleeding would stop soon, I thought, but it did not. My hand became numb. The blood was thick and a beautiful colour, thick like soup; why, only seconds before it had been swimming around concealed but now it was free, and ran like it, as though it had only ever dreamt of departing the darkness of my arteries. The caffeine that had caused me to shake was in there, so was the cheese on toast I had eaten an hour prior. Both of them soaked my blood, and the cold tap soaked my blood and all of it ran down the plughole. Afterwards I cleaned the blood and there was an eyebrow-shaped incision on my thumb. A plaster wrapped tightly to stem the red, and to keep things in place, and returning to the medium onion with a great deal more caution.