Sarah Clayville

Pedestal Sink
Photo Credit: Boyd/rb3wreath

You will never hear this message. This message is for me. I’ll erase it before you listen, slip my finger along the blinking red button and leave you snoring in your bed. Nothing ever wakes you. Not the monstrosity of a garbage truck rumbling down our alley. Not the clatter of dishes when my hands are unsteady from the latest miracle drug the doctor you recommended prescribes for me. I used to think these drugs were meant to make my body whole again. Instead they’re there to make me forget what I’m missing.

My voice echoes in our bathroom from where I’m calling, crouched between the sink and the wall. It sounds like there are ten of me, so you might think that I’m at a nightclub or more likely surrounded by the women from the support group who sit on ratty sofas and advise me to leave you between uttering words like barren and infertile. You sleep through everything, and now you’re sleeping through my exit strategy.

You only wake for silence. The absence of a baby’s cry, the silence of my womb no more capable of speaking up to you than I am. The toilet is running. You ought to fix that before the next woman falls for you and finds herself trapped in this rigid apartment packed wall to wall with expectations and not an inch of sympathy when life doesn’t act politely with its legs neatly crossed at the ankles. Life is messy, and the next woman here may not be so patient with things that don’t work.

I don’t care if you miss me or forget me or torch our collective belongings in a bonfire in the barbecue pit just to prove that something can be born from the disaster of us. But I do need to say two very tiny essential words and at least let the machine hear their rhythm.

I tried.

I tried with syringes, charms, test tubes, red wine, white wine, midwives, nearly upside-down sex, pills, potions, embracing God, cursing God, herbs, yoga, lunar cycles, thongs, granny panties, acupuncture, jealousy, humility, hunger…

I tried.

You slept through it all, and now I’ll fix the toilet before I leave you. I’ll reach my hand in the tank of cool, surprisingly clean water and fidget with the dangling rubber loop until it catches and the toilet is silenced from its restless growl. I am fully capable of doing things, of making them right.

See? There is no reason for you to hear this message. Nothing is broken anymore.


Sarah Clayville’s fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review, StoryChord, Central PA Magazine, and Toasted Cheese. She is a high school teacher, mother of two adorable offspring, and she tends to write about characters in crisis just as they’re finding their ways. She is currently at work on a young adult novel as well as a collection of short fiction entitled Women in Jeopardy. Email: sarah.clayville[at]gmail.com

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