The Book

Finally, the baby is asleep.

I make my way into my closet, closing the door behind me. Then kneeling before my makeshift Alter, I begin to pray. No – beg!

Please… It isn’t fair. Please! Heal my baby. Make him well. I will give anything – do anything.

Wiping tears from my eyes, I pull out the book – the one they gave me. The one they said would work. Carefully, I follow the instructions, piling various herbs into a small bowl and crushing them up until they’re well blended. Then, I grab the knife, take the sharp edge to my palm, and wince in pain.

This will heal my baby, I think as I squeeze a few drops of blood into the mixture.

“This will heal my baby.”

Carefully, I wrap my hand with a bit of cotton and some gauze. Then, I light the match and I drop it into the bowl before setting it down on the Alter.

He will heal my baby.”

I lay myself down on the floor in the closet and I watch the smoke as it dances up into the air around me. The smell is earthy and slightly sweet. I know this must mean it’s working. It must be. It must.

I drift off to sleep.

~

“What are you doing?” He shouts. “What are you doing?”

He grabs me by the arm and pulls me out of the closet before getting a look at what I was up to.

“What is this?” He says, tears filling his eyes. “Ginny… what is this?”

~

They’ve come to visit me today – my husband and the baby. The baby is looking well. Quite well indeed.

“H-how are you holding up?” He says.

“I wish you would take me home.”

“I can’t do that, Ginny. Not yet. The doctors, they –“

“What doctors?” I say. “You mean these mad men who keep torturing me? Who keep telling me I can’t go home? That I must stay if I want to get better. I am better!”

“Ginny, they say you haven’t been taking your medicine. They say you’ve been fighting them. Please, won’t you at least try? For me, and… for the baby.”

“I don’t need medicine. I’m perfectly fine.” I look away from him. I don’t want to see him. I wish he would leave.

Then I hear the baby — my sweet little baby boy.

“The baby looks well.” I say. “He’s seems to be getting better. That means,” I take a moment to think, collecting my foggy, shattered thoughts. “It must have worked.” I feel my heart swelling. My chest lifting with uncontrollable happiness. “You see? I’m not crazy! Just look at him. It really did work.”

“Ginny,“ my husband says, head hanging heavy. “It didn’t work.”

Then, just before standing to leave, he says, “there was never anything wrong with him.”

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