Darcy’s Windowby Sadie Bruce (Volume 3)
On the morning of March 6th, a caucasian female, pregnant, windowed, age 22 stepped in front of the eastbound train; injuries were fatal. Entered as evidence into the death of Darcy Morrison, ruled suicide, ruled infanticide–no charges brought against deceased:
Electronic journal dates 12/11–3/5
I assure you, this is what I really want.
That’s that then. I’m going to keep the baby. Do I want the baby? I suppose I do. But who knows what ‘want’ means. What I believe and what I know aren’t the same thing anymore; I’m having a hard time remembering when they were. When those two concepts were anything but salt-and-pepper companions.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I used to believe the worst thing in the world was to be insignificant and unknown, to belong in the minds of only a few people.
But now I think, perhaps, it might be worse to belong to everyone.
Now I think, perhaps, there never was a choice at all.
Her vitals are good. I can’t stop checking. Every time the little flicker of her heartbeat registers a jump or a long pause–I notice. I look down at my belly and I see her through the window and, she looks like a baby now. Like a tiny, boney baby. Her head still swells grotesquely and her eyes are big, bulbous fish-eyes, but she’s a baby.
Out my apartment window, on a clear night, I can see the city's entire skyline. I put in my ear pods to drown out the window’s alerts and I crank up the music, any kind of music, I don’t care anymore. I can’t remember a time I used to care about music. Now it’s just a device to give me a chance at peace.
I feel guilty for the noise. What if I miss a serious alert? I know the law. I know it so well I can recite it backward. Nothing else is known to me but the law. It’s not the law that scares me, anyway. Not anymore.
The whole of the city is right there, out my window. Watching me.
I can’t say I’ve gotten used to everyone’s staring. But it’s easier, I guess. I have two more weeks. And then…
Everyone stares too. Everyone. The window is an invitation.
The only person who didn’t stare was another girl with a window. The only one I’ve seen this entire time. When we walked by each other in the subway, we both froze like prey meeting a predator at the watering hole–rigid, shaky, uncertain–each knowing there was probably something you can do but can’t for the life of Jesus figure out what it is. She got bumped from behind. A rushing commuter who, when turning to snap at the girl, saw her window, gave her the same horrified look I’ve seen a million times and I wanted to junk-punch him but if he was paying attention to the other girl then this was my chance to get away unnoticed and so I took it. I hopped on the train. Didn’t even know where it was going.
This isn’t about her. I don’t want to think about her or if she’s going to through with it. They don’t release those stats. What they say is that the window program is highly effective. I don’t know what that means though. Does it mean fewer women with unwanted pregnancies or does it mean more women are having babies they wouldn’t have had before?
On the train, I saw a mother with three boys. One was tall and lanky. His hair hung in his face. He was ugly. The middle boy had a gap in his teeth but a sweet smile. He stuck the tip of his tongue in the gap and gave me a random thumbs up. The youngest sat on his mother’s lap. He had a shaved head. I thought, Poor kid. Babies shouldn’t have short hair. It doesn’t work for them at all.
I was busy watching the bald headed one, trying to figure out if one of his eyes rolled into his nose permanently or if it was just a quirk of being a toddler. I didn’t realize the mother was talking to me until she repeated herself and I had to go, sorry, what?
A girl. You’re so lucky.
I could tell she was tired and the baby gnawing on her finger couldn’t feel good but she smiled anyway, real sincere and nice. Her other two boys eyed me suspiciously, the older one starting to resemble a memory of a man.
I would love a girl. My husband says no more though. But, those little bows? And boys are nice but no one understands being a girl like a girl, you know?
I didn’t know. The look on her face reminded me of stepping off a plane for your first day of vacation.
Her desire reached out across the train and wrapped itself around me. It was warm and comforting and painful. I was squeezed so tight, I thought, I am drowning. I’m being strangled. I’ll die right here on the train and cause of death will be–
Then it released and I gasped. That lady and her envy, her energy, her attention–she convinced me. I have something precious. She did what the stares, and the monitoring, and the comments couldn’t do. She broke me clean in two. And sure, maybe my resolve had been chipped away so it was easy.
Either way, I inhaled her madness and now I can’t shake it.
A girl, a baby girl.
A precious, precious baby girl.
So, it’s a girl.
I found out at the doctor’s this morning. I’ve gotten used to the wait times and the milky smell of newborns. I’ve settled into my weekly routine of being a windowed woman in a sea of round bellies or sad, wide eyes. The sad ones used to bother me because I could feel their pain. I could sense their anger and frustration. Several even came right out and said it:
How could you even think? Do you know how hard it is for some of us? How we would kill to be in your shoes?
And I would think?
Go to hell. You wouldn’t kill for these shoes. I’m not you and you’re not me.
But I didn’t know if they would kill to be in my place. Maybe they would. Maybe those ladies with the sharp tongues really would slit my throat if it meant carrying a baby.
And god, my heart breaks for them.
Why won’t you give it up for adoption? I could love that baby. I could give it a good home. I could pay you.
I gave up even trying to answer that one. Now I just put my ear pods in and I shake my head, like can’t hear you, can’t understand you, sorry.
The money is a little tempting.
The doctor’s office is very nice. The walls are painted a calming, clean cream and the exam rooms all have fresh towels instead of paper. Nurses introduce themselves and guide you by the arm.
And there are no men.
Except the guy at reception but he’s so sweet, you wouldn’t notice.
The nurse helped me up onto the table.
I noted, We’re in a different room than usual. I like the duck pond painting but miss the painting of the woman dying while her children wiped her brow.
The nurse laughed and said that other painting wasn’t a dying woman at all. But this room is special because this is where you get find out if your baby is a boy or a girl.
My doctor came in next. She turned on a big flat screen I hadn’t noticed until it lit up. She then ran a wand over the window. The babyfetus floated into view and the doctor said, do you see?
And I was all, see what?
It’s a girl.
I laid back into the pillow. I didn’t know what to say. The moment, it felt, just…big, you know? It felt big and I felt big and special and heady right along with it. A baby girl bundled and red faced from her journey to meet me.
The fleeing idea of happy motherhood it felt as if it had come from somewhere else, from someone else. They can’t read minds, can they? I fought panic. No of course not. Not yet anyway. And they can’t pipe thoughts directly into minds. The idea had to come from some twisted place inside me. Some growing part of me wanted to have this baby, a part I had no control of. Right then? That was probably the most terrified I’d ever been in my entire life. Imagine losing control of your thoughts. I?m not talking about weighing the options and changing your mind, but instead having a foreign voice in your head fighting to tell you what to do. It’s insane.
My doctor patted my arm and wouldn’t look me in the face. She looked at her chart instead. Are you secure in your decision?
Are people always this nervous?
The doctor flicked to the second page, nodding. Usually. It’s a big scan.
Do people change their minds in this room?
She lowered the chart. Are you changing your mind?
The catch in her voice sounded like worry. I sat up. She turned her back to me, going for the door. Already in motion to leave she told me, Back in one week. We’ll add the coding this afternoon and you should see a little pink heart show up at the top right of the window.
When? I asked.
About an hour.
She paused. If I doesn’t show up by tonight, call right away. You need to document you had the gender code for at least two weeks. If you let it go a few days before calling, that’s a few more days added time. Do you understand?
I nodded, nodded, nodded.
But I’m not sure I really heard her. Now her words echo across the empty apartment. Two more weeks left. I can last two weeks. Not one day longer. Right around 6 p.m. the tiny red heart at the top right of the window turned a cotton candy pink. I can do this. Just two more weeks.
I just want it to be over. I just want it to stop.
Each day is more exhausting than the last. I’m getting barrages of baby gear advertisements. Sometimes I delete them immediately. Other times I search the ads for signs of myself?if I could be the woman putting together the swing or if my boyfriend could be the father by the crib. And who are the people in the windows? Peering in at the family?
But no, that’s not real. My eyes are playing tricks on me. There’s no one peeking in. That would be crazy. The family is alone.
The mother and her baby are alone.
I’m the one who’s not. Me. Flesh and blood and window me.
I can stop it of course. All it takes is a trip to the clinic and the right decision and then the window goes and my belly grows…people would still look and still talk.
But the looks would be different. They would be filled with adoration. The day would get gentler.
I would kill for a gentle day.
One single gentle day.
Dakota and I are friends again. Not that she ever knew we weren’t. But now we are sincerely.
She lets me vent. Lets me throw things. Let’s me admit I have dreams at night about how I want to find the men who did this to me and murder them in their beds. I don’t know all their names. She found a picture of the committee who signed it into law for me.
They are smiling. There are women there. Two middle aged women who look like a donkey and a crab and when I related this observation, she frowned at me, Darcy, let’s not make it mean and personal. Commenting on looks?
I replied that I would murder them both and replace their heads with a donkey and a crab and then it would be literal, and would that be OK to express in a moment of distress? Would it?
She told me I could benefit from therapy.
And I’m sure she’s right. But I refuse to let anyone profit off my condition. I’ll go it alone or with Dakota when she’s being a decent friend and not a recovering debutante.
I was angry today and it felt great.
Dakota and I spent the afternoon in. I can’t drink wine or the hospital will be alerted, but there’s no detection for second hand smoke (somehow) so she smoked her boyfriend’s pot and I inhaled as she exhaled and it reminded me of sex.
The afternoon stretched before me in a haze of rants and her beating the cushions, jumping from couch to couch like a wailing crazy woman, encouraging me to be mad.
They can’t handle someone, a woman especially, having her cake and eating it too. They can’t stand that they do everything right and still aren’t happy. That’s what this is ultimately about. People being let down by life. Don’t let them win, Darce. Simple psychological torture. You can handle that.
Could I? Could she? Her robe twirled around her as she slung her arms, gesturing to the ceiling, the floor, my belly, the kitchen, telling me to go get more wine.
Now she’s sleeping and midnight is settling over the city. I’m alone. And high.
Reading an article sent to me by them. I shouldn’t have clicked but I did.
It’s about the effect of marijuana on an unborn fetus.
I don’t want to feel guilty; I feel like I shouldn’t feel guilty.
But I do.
January 1st – Happy New Year
I felt kinda bad for not telling Ethan until today. Kinda guilty. But it’s not like he’s been around. Our busy lives, our busy minds, our important creativity?we agreed early on these things required space. I put on my best-girlfriend face layered with a determined we-got-this attitude. The trick to layering emotions is to know which to suppress and which to let through at just the right time. I used to be really good at it. All my acting teachers said so.
I told Ethan it was the Year of the Window, but he wasn’t amused. More like annoyed, pointing out it was a play on the Chinese New Year, which isn’t even in January, and that a window is not an animal. None of which I didn’t already know or needed to be told but I didn’t argue. My Ethan is very literal and straightforward. He’s intense and pretty. He’s got these green eyes and I wonder…how do recessive traits work again?
He took the window rough. Rough enough I’ve decided to maintain what slight bit of privacy I have and keep it from my mother. She’s far enough away. It might be possible. If I shut down my accounts and don’t send pictures.
For everyone else, I’m laid wide open like a fish gutted for the fire. And the fisherman are all too eager to gloat.
That’s called a simile Ethan, you smug little bitch. I love you. I think.
I haven’t done any kind of formal study, but it does seem like most of the people stopping me on the street are men. Women prefer whispers, bent over shoulders with coffee cups poised, arched eyebrows, and quick darting glances. Men are bold, god bless ‘em. Men walk up to me and offer to shake my hand while telling me what a piece of garbage I am. Some appeal with pity, how could a lovely girl like me get into this situation?
Others invoke the word of God and I imagine His name tastes like the sweetest bite of chocolate in their mouths. It must be delicious. They repeat it over and over. My God.
One asked me, Don’t you have a mother? That’s a weird question, and I wanted to say, no. I sprung out of foam like the mighty Aphrodite… except I’m not sure if that’s how she was born and I’m a bad liar. I mean, of course I have a mother but I can’t see what she has to do with any of this.
The outside world has become an ocean of noise, loud and incomprehensible. And sometimes, I rage. I want to roar in their faces and make them afraid, tell them all about how I can’t wait to rip out this thing inside me, how I am their worst nightmare and I’ll sleep with all of their sons and them too, because I can see they can’t fight their own desire. That’s my job. As the whore.
But, other times, I’m right there by the hook going, if I bite, will you let me go? Will you show me mercy? If I concede your power, will you respect me for it?
Aren’t you supposed to leave it exposed?
Ethan rolled his emerald eyes but honestly, I think it was a fair question. I had, stupid me, forgotten for one tiny second what my situation was.
The window. He gestured at my belly.
Oh, well yeah but who’s going to care if I’m inside? I don’t think we’re at the point where they spy on me here yet.
I meant it as a joke, but he didn’t laugh.
Do you want to see?
He nodded. I pulled my sweatshirt off and stood, half-naked, vulnerable, the window right at his eye level.
He shuddered and scooted away. Jesus Christ. Gross.
Straight up, I have always felt luke-warm towards Dakota. I think part of it’s her name. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps that’s where she was conceived and she’s just carrying around this stamp of parental sex for the rest of her life. A living breathing push pin. Once when I was drunk I got up the guts to ask her and she laughed and said no she was named after a cousin. Which is worse, because it’s a passed down push pin. Sloppy seconds.
Or maybe I’m not being fair because she pissed me off today.
She’s always pissing me off and making me change my mind when I don’t want to. When secretly I agree with her but argue out loud just because she’s so insufferable. Like the way she ties her hair up in the mirror, winding the long, carefully cultivated blond dreads that she’s spent hours at the beauty salon with, and the whole time she’s doing this she’s ranting to me about how Nestle went into some poor country and gave them water while also discouraging breastfeeding and planting the seed for the government to buy and provide formula. And that’s truly fucked up?if it’s true and I believe it is?but when she’s tying a choker around her neck and bugging her eyes out at me like the way to solve the problem is for the two of us to go for an expensive cocktail, and suddenly, I’m down with Nestle. I go out and buy like four Nestle waters. Just because. Just out of spite.
That’s the kind of feeling Dakota inspires.
But she’s also sweet and funny. We have the same ideas and passions, deep down where it counts. I think she’s a good person. She knows where to get weed and she’s not afraid to tell her boyfriend to fuck right on off if he’s being a jerk.
She seemed like the perfect person to tell. I had to tell someone. Eventually I would get caught wearing the big sweaters covering my window. I’d passed the legal date. I received four free long sleeved shirts with the cut outs. There was no excuse to have on a baggy hoodie.
Want to know a secret?
She looked up from her anatomy book. Dakota was an pre-med major with a host of ridiculous minors.
You’re not. Her mouth fell open and her eyes went wide then her face twisted, tongue out, little smile at the edges. She didn’t believe me.
She set her book down and sat up on the bed. She frowned.
You can’t get a window. That’s just evil.
It’s too late. I lifted my hoodie to show her.
She put her hand to her mouth and looked at me with such pity. I crossed my fingers to keep from poking her up her pug nose. She crept closer, moving along the bed like a leopard. Dakota is pretty and thin. She claims those things don?t matter but she works hard at them anyway. She came close and peered at the window.
That’s so fucked up. Oh honey.
I dropped the hoodie. She pulled away, she took out her phone and went to work, her brow knotted in concentration and the air practically vibrating with revolution.
But all I felt was sick. I couldn’t tell if it was stale burnt college dorm heater or the hormones. I went to my side of the room and laid down. Two seconds into a desperate nap, my phone started buzzing on the desk.
Notification. Notification. Notification.
Dakota had gone big. Posted everywhere.
[I have a friend forced to get a window. You guys, she’s desperate. This is Not ok. Our rights as women—cut into, exposed, traumatized and it’s happening to someone I care about soooooo much.]
Followed by a zillion excited, agitated, curious, dramatic responses. I’m not sure why she thought everyone she knew had to know.
I tossed the phone aside. Four weeks ago I would have loved the attention. I can admit it. That’s every actress’s secret desire?even the ones who pretend attention is the devil. Being the star of the show is the point. But I wasn’t the star of this show. I was a fucking prop.
Darce. Dakota hurried around the half wall separating my reality from hers, Someone sent me a message.
She turned to the phone to me but turned it back before I could get a look. In spite of myself, I began to feel hope. I sat up, swung my legs around the side of the bed and waited.
There’s a protest. Next week. Sometimes they have people at these protests who can help windowed women. They can like, I don’t know, fake the window for you? She scrunched her nose up. Or something?
A protest? For what?
Against…this whole thing and for, for women. Like you.
Yeah and pay and modesty laws.
Of all the things to be angry about, Dakota was most upset about the laws which dictated what women could and couldn’t wear out of the house.
Will you come with me?
She frowned. Oh honey, I wish I could but I have a test that day. It would be…unethical for me to miss it. And I can’t get arrested. I mean, that could get me kicked out of school. If I don’t graduate then I can’t help women like you, right?
Unethical my ass. My window was her inconvenience.
She left for a party. She said I could come and wear the hoodie. Even if people found out they wouldn’t turn me in or nothing. This was a liberal campus.
And it is. But I’m staying in the room, covered head to toe.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a princess.
Then a ballet dancer.
Then an actress.
Then a forensic scientist And a ballet dancer And an actress.
At college I just forgot about wanting anything. I still think that’s a good thing. There are times you need to lose yourself and just be. Just find a boy, find the nightlife, find the strange, alluring fantasy of theory and long, drawn-out conversations.
The flicker on the screen kept time with the sound in the room, a steady, muffled drum beaten underwater.
Is that the heart?
The doctor peeked up from between my legs. What? Oh, yes, for our purposes we’ll call it a heartbeat.
I watched the screen while she moved below my knees, a mat of brown hair whose roots needing touching up. She didn’t look old enough to have gray hair, but I guess it could be said I didn’t look old enough to be pregnant. She pointed out some other features on the blotchy screen, and I nodded to show I understood.
She pulled the ultrasound wand out and peeled the condom off. I kept myself from commenting on the irony of the condom on a wand used to inspect a woman who should have used a condom. I thought it was clever but I had a feeling she wouldn’t. I had a feeling she was sick of having to listen to girls like me self-deprecate with their feet in stirrups and their hearts in pieces. The best thing to do was just keep our thoughts to ourselves.
She glanced to the ceiling’s corner. A camera, perhaps. She tossed her gloves, tissues, and the wand’s condom into the trash before dragging a rolling stool over to the side of the examine table and sitting down.
I understand you want a window.
I didn’t want a window. What a stupid thing to say. No one wanted a window. It was the law. You had to get a one.
Yes. I cleared my throat. I had practiced saying ‘yes’ in the mirror. I had said it fifty times on the car ride over, but it still slipped out in a voice an octave above my regular tone.
I’m going to explain how the window works. A thin piece of clear plastic appeared in front of my vision, like magic. She flicked the back to show me how sturdy it was. The window’s incredibly flexible and resilient. There’s no chance it will break.
That line was delivered pointedly. The window will not break so don’t even try it. She wheeled over to a drawer.
The window will be installed in your uterus. Don’t worry, there’s no pain involved.
From the drawer, she pulled a scalpel, a needle, a vial, some gauze, and a wide, flat wooden stick. She continued rambling, listing out the procedure and discussing keeping the window clean.
The law requires you to display the window for a minimum of twelve weeks. You may have up to twenty weeks should you need it.
Does anyone go that long?
What you will see on the window is a projection of…your baby. In medical terms, I can say fetus. You however, must say baby. Understood?
It’s a projection and here, she tapped the top right. Is a projection of the fetus’s vitals. Do you understand all the other requirements? The gender appointment, the clothes?
There will pamphlet at the end of your appointment explaining all of this in clear terms.
Clear like a window.
She smiled like I’d pinched her ass, uncomfortable.
Are you ready?
I leaned back, trying to breathe even. On the ceiling someone, probably a nurse, had pinned up a butterfly print fabric. Is that supposed to be calming?
I pointed skyward.
Oh, gosh, I never even noticed that. It’s hideous. The doctor grimaced. Let’s get started.
So that’s that.
Today, I wanted an abortion and got a window.
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