Goodnight Snowflake by Kiva

She paints her eyes as black as night now.
Pulls those shades down tight.
Yeah, she gives me a smile when the pain comes.
The pain gonna make everything alright.
Says she talks to angels.
They call her out by her name.
Oh yeah, she talks to angels.
Says they call her out by her name.

The Black Crowe’s

Oh, ’cause I keep diggin’ myself down deeper
I won’t stop ’til I get where you are
I keep running when both my feet hurt
I won’t stop ’til I get where you are
Oh, when you go down all your darkest roads
I would’ve followed all the way to the graveyard

-Halsey

In fifteen minutes, I will walk through the door of this dressing room to fight another woman.  I’ve fought women before. Many times. My last fight was a long time ago – twenty years to be honest. I was a catfighter working for a company that produced and sold DVDs of female fights. Nowadays, the videos are downloaded to paying customers. Not much has changed about this place. Same building. Some of the rooms have been remodeled. The owner of the company has passed away since I last fought.The company is now owned by his son.

My fight tonight is an apartment style wrestling match.That’s slightly more sane than a catfight.  The rules are no punches or kicks to the head. The match will be in a bare room with just four walls and a plush carpet. A few cheap paintings hang on the plain white dry walls. My opponent and I will wear the traditional attire for apartment style matches – bikinis. Or at least we’ll start out in bikinis.

I’m standing in front of the full length mirror staring at my bikini clad body. It’s strange and surreal returning to an activity from my wild and crazy youth. I never imagined I’d be doing this again. I look at my face. Those aren’t really crow’s feet around my eyes I tell myself. They only show up when I laugh. And those creases that run from my nose to the sides of my lips – those were always there, right?  Yes, I do use hair color on the grays, but just a little.

My opponent is a much younger woman – less than half my age. Her name is Tara. She doesn’t know me but I know a lot about her. Tara, I’m sad to say, is a troubled young woman. As a child, she was raised in privilege with the best of everything until the destructive behavior started. It began with truancy.  She was expelled from two private schools and sent to a juvenile detention center. Finally, she dropped out of high school. Since then, she’s had numerous brushes with the law. She’s been charged with shoplifting, stealing credit card numbers, fraud and illegal firearm possession. She’s been an accomplice to burglary and car theft. There are rumors of her involvement in drug dealing, arson, and animal cruelty (in which I will spare the details). And Tara loves to fight. She deliberately provoked fights with random strangers just for the fun of it before she realized a company would pay her to battle other women.

I know Tara’s parents are very heartbroken. They’re wonderful people. I know them. They were the personification of joy and love when Tara came into their lives. You will not find more loving and devoted parents. And I know they blame themselves, constantly wondering what they could have done differently. The answer is nothing. They’re not to blame. All parents can really do is their best to guide their kids and hope. But no parent has complete control. In spite of all efforts, there’s never a guarantee things will turn out like they should.

On one hand, I can relate to Tara. I was a wild child once. My background is much different than hers. I did not come from privilege. My father was a factory worker. My mother left us when I was three years old. My father raised me alone. We were close – until he died when I was fourteen years old. With my only stability gone, I unraveled. I moved in with an aunt, but I soon got into trouble. Later, I dropped out of school, hung around bad influences, made terrible decisions. I went through a string of destructive relationships. I did things I’m ashamed of.  Gradually, I managed to bring sanity and order to my life. I found a stable decent paying job. I settled into normalcy. But to this day, I struggle with regret.

Catfighting was part of my reckless and irresponsible youth. I was good at it. I won more fights than I lost. Like all of the girls, I did it for the money…and the thrill of competing with another woman. Most of the women were struggling financially. Some were aspiring models or actresses who hoped, in some strange way, someone might notice them. Others worked multiple jobs trying to make ends meet, and others were putting themselves through college. I wouldn’t recommend it. It can be exhilarating at first, but for most women, in the end, catfighting may leave you with long term physical and emotional aches. So why am I returning after so many years? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t need the money. But there’s another reason, one that I don’t fully understand. I have this sense from deep inside that I have unfinished business. Some kind of purpose. A chance to right past wrongs. To make something sad and ugly new again.  I don’t believe in karma but I can’t deny that I feel some type of cosmic consciousness compelled me here tonight. I don’t know any other way to explain it.

I go through stretching exercises in my dressing room. I can faintly hear the ruckus and the thudding sound of bodies falling to floor from the current match down the hallway. I gently sip some water. I look out the window to the city below. It’s snowing. Hard. A major snowstorm had been predicted. It’s already accumulating in the streets. I’m not sure why this match wasn’t rescheduled. I’m not looking forward to the prospect of spending the night here. I was holed up in a snowstorm once before. How ironic. That was exactly nineteen years from this day. I was in a hospital when a snowstorm shut down the city. That was the day I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. Her name was Snowflake.

I called her Snowflake because she was as beautiful and pure as the snow that fell that day.  Just like no two snowflakes are the same, my precious angel was unique. She was the product of an unplanned pregnancy. My boyfriend left me when I would not abort. No, I wanted my baby to live. I would bring this priceless child to the world. It wouldn’t be easy.  With no man in my life and a job barely above minimum wage, it would be hard. But we’d find a way, I told myself. We’d make it somehow.

The producer taps on my door. My mind is still immersed in my memory of that fateful day nineteen years ago.

“Marci, we’ll start in five minutes.  You OK?”  I tell him I’m fine.

Five minutes.  The contractions are coming every five minutes. And they last at least a minute each time. This hurts so much. I think it’s time. Got to get to the hospital. Oh God, the roads are blocked by the snow. The car is stuck. There’s a tap on the window. “Marci, this is Officer Jenkins.  We’re going to police escort the ambulance to get you to the hospital. You’re going to be fine.”

I look myself over one more time. I’m in my red bikini. The 34D breasts have dropped a little, but not so much you’d notice.  The muscle definition isn’t what it once was, but I’m still strong.  At 5’7” and 140 lbs, I still look good. With my light brown curly hair to my shoulders and green eyes, I can still turn heads. I look at my belly. A surgical scar runs vertically from just below my belly button to my pelvis. That’s from my hysterectomy. There’s no hiding it. Below the bikini line, I hide a second scar.

“Marci, we’ll need to do a Caesarean section. Your baby is in a breech position. We’ll make an incision on your belly. We think this is the safest approach for you and your baby.”

I’m starting to feel the prematch jitters. I resume stretching. Another knock at the door. 

“Marci, it’s Bob.  I’m sorry.  We forgot the waiver forms. You remember those, don’t you.  Would you mind signing on the X.” He hands me forms stating I will not hold his company liable in event of injury or death.

“Marci, we have papers for you to sign. These are the Termination of Parental Rights documents. After you sign them, you will have relinquished all parental claims and responsibilities to the child. And then we can proceed and finalize the adoption.”

Adoption. I tried and I tried to find ways to keep my baby. I told myself we’d make it somehow.  Finally, cold reality and common sense set in. Alone and with no money and no foreseeable future, I painfully accepted I could not give this child the life it needed; the life it deserved. I decided it would be an open adoption in which the birth mother and adoptive parents meet and interact before the birth. After the adoption, I would be kept aware of the events in my child’s life through letters and pictures. And, if all parties were agreeable, personal visits would be permitted. I was given the right to actually choose the birth parents. I poured through dozens of profiles of prospective parents, scrutinizing scores of details about them, looking for the best possible match for my baby. I made my decision. I chose Brian and Annette Welker, a wonderful couple from across town. The Welkers were everything I searched for. They were affluent, highly educated and with professional careers. Most importantly, they were kind, caring, compassionate people. My heart ached for them when I read about their long ordeal with infertility. They deserved to be parents. My baby would be fortunate to have them. 

As the pregnancy came closer to term, I repeatedly questioned my adoption decision. A bond between a mother and developing fetus inevitably develops. I felt her kick. I played music for her. I sang to her. I battled depression. I knitted an Afghan blanket for my little one. I bought her gifts; a teddy bear and a toy kitty. Meeting the Welkers face to face helped put me at ease.  Their kindness and sensitivity toward me touched me deeply. 

“Marci,” said Brian, “you’re making the most difficult and courageous decision a human being can make. We want you to stay a part of our lives.”

I woke up from the C section to a beautiful baby girl; five pounds of pure innocence. Because she was a bit premature, the Welkers were out of town when the snowstorm cancelled flights into the city. I needed to stay in the hospital for three days recovering from the surgery.  Snowflake would stay with me for three days until the the adoptive parents arrived.

For three days, Snowflake was all mine and I was her only mother. The snowstorm enclosed us in our room like a protective fortress. It was if God created the storm only for us, shutting down the city so Snowflake and I could have these three days together. I held her, I kissed her, I fed her, I changed her. As we go through life, there are certain moments that become immortalized in our memories, priceless wisps of time that are part of who we are. For me, it was one afternoon in the hospital. Snowflake was fussy. The nurse handed her to me as I sat down in the rocking chair. I held her to my breast, looked at the big blue eyes, large innocent saucers of azure peering from the Afghan, and I gently rocked her. The nurse handed me a book, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I read the words to my baby.

In the great green room, there was a telephone and a red balloon
And a picture of a cow jumping over the moon
And there were three little bears sitting in chairs
And two little kittens and a pair of mittens
And a little toy house and a young mouse
And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush
And a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”
Goodnight room, Goodnight moon
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon
Goodnight light and the red balloon
Goodnight bears, Goodnight chairs
Goodnight kittens, Goodnight mittens
Goodnight…….

The eyelids droop, she’s fading. She’s asleep….Goodnight Snowflake….your Momma’s here.

“Marci, we’re ready to start now. Tara is all set.” I pull back my hair into a ponytail, step out of my dressing room, walk down the hall to the fight room. I feel the familiar plush carpet with my bare feet. The producer and camera man are there.  And so is Tara. As I caught sight of her, I immediately froze in my tracks. I knew she had been altering her appearance in recent months, but I am totally unprepared by what I see.

Tara’s natural blonde hair is dyed raven black and pulled back. She stands in the center of the room adorned in a black leather string bikini. Dark eye liner around her blue eyes dominate her face. The liner appears to be tattooed. Her eyes are gray, apparently from contact lenses. Her lips are black and I wonder if it’s permanent. Her body is covered in tattoos. There are skulls, snakes, and swords. There is an anatomically correct human heart with a knife through it. There are names of death metal bands. A long dagger runs down the middle of her back. On the right shoulder blade is a grim reaper with a sickle. On the left is a garish image of a goat’s head on a human body. Her right flank bear the words, “Do what thou wilt.” Her body is a canvas for images of death and decay. Funeral dirge music emanates from her Bluetooth. She has the most supercilious expression on her face as I have ever seen. Arrogance and narcissism oozes from her face and body. A complete picture of self-absorption. She eyes me up and down.

“What the fuck is this?” she sneers. “You said you’d get me an easy tune up before the championship fight. But I wasn’t expecting an old hag.”

“Marci has a lot of fight experience, Tara. She can handle herself,” Bob responded. “And Marci specifically requested you as her opponent.”

“Are you kidding me?”, Tara scorns. “This old bitch challenged me? Well then, I can’t be responsible for what I’m going to do to her. How the fuck old are you?  And what the fuck is that?,” she grumbles, pointing at my surgical scar.

“Didn’t they tell you?” I retorted. “I also do knife fights.”

“OK ladies, fight ends by submission or when one woman cannot continue. Let the fight BEGIN!”

We circle each other.  My opponent and I are perfectly matched in height and weight. She looks at me with utter derision.

“You have no idea what you got yourself into, old bitch,” she snarls. I am appalled by what this once beautiful girl has done to her appearance but I try to block it from my mind.

We lock up in a classic collar and elbow, pushing against each other for control. Immediately, I can tell she is strong as I find i am the one backing up. I dig my feet into the carpet to avoid being pinned against the wall and push back slowing her progress. Quickly, she lets go and loops her right arm around the back of my neck. I see it coming and duck under it, then maneuver behind her back. I was always good at defensive grappling. The dyed coal black haired woman quickly turns around looking a bit surprised.

“This old bitch still knows some tricks,” I gibe back.

The two of us face off in a neutral position. Tara fakes a collar and elbow lock, then shoots low at my knees. She misses as I sprawl back once again returning us a neutral standoff. This time, the juvenile criminal has no patience as she bull rushes me. I try to sidestep her but she catches my waist with her left arm pulling my body into hers. With both her arms around my waist, she lifts me onto my toes.  I feel the force of her youthful power and I now know I’m at a big disadvantage. The troubled nineteen year old runs with my hoisted body and I know I am doomed to what’s about to happen next. I brace myself and tuck my chin as I am driven into the dry wall, my upper back and shoulder blades taking most of the blow as I crash into the plaster. I begin to slump down the wall but she pulls me up by lifting under my arm pits, her sharp nails digging into the plexus of nerves. Tara takes me back a few steps then drives me forward into the wall again, this time my back cracking the plaster. I slump all the way to the floor in a seated position held up by the wall. A hand with black painted fingernails pull me up and again I am lifted up by the waist by Tara who is behind my back. She shakes me back and forth like a dog with prey in its mouth before preparing to slam me into the wall a third time. Fortunately, I extend my leg in time to break my collision with the wall. Tara, having enough of throwing me into the wall, carries me to the center of the room, swings me around and uses her leg to take out my feet, slamming me to the carpet. I hardly regain my bearings when I sense her gripping my ankles, pulling me, dragging me on my belly. They said the newer carpets don’t cause the brush burns like they did in the old days but I’m not feeling that. My young opponent drops my feet, then a blunt electrical type of pain jolts my back as she plants her knee on my spine. My head is yanked off the carpet by hands clutching my chin. The pain sears through my neck and back as she digs in with the knee while pulling back with the chin lock.

“Give up?”, she growls.

“No”, I barely manage to squeak out.

“Dumb old bitch. What did you think you were getting into asking to fight me?”

She pulls back harder and I can barely withstand the tension. My fingers claw at the hairs of the carpet and my teeth grind as I try to hang on.

“Come on, give up.”

“No,” I answer defiantly.

I have no escape for this hold, I try prying Tara’s fingers off my with no success. Finally, I resort to an old trick. I dig my nail into the nail bed of Tara’s thumb until she lets go, my face flopping onto the carpet.

“Ow…Fuck!” she yells out. “Alright bitch, you’re just making things worse for yourself.”

Incensed, the gothic youth digs in straddling by back with increased resolve, pulling my arms to rest on her thighs, as she again yanks up on my chin, executing an excruciating camel clutch. Spasms of agony torch my back as the woman rocks back with her body.

“Enough yet, Granny?”

My teeth clenched by her hands gripping my lower jaw, I could only manage to voice out, “Nnnn…nnn.” She rocks back harder.

“Maybe this will persuade you.” Tara again releases my chin but keeps my head up by yanking back my hair.

And then, first one black talon, then the other reaches below my chin, down to my chest, pulling up on the cups of my bikini top. I could feel my breasts fall free as she drags the top toward my neck, finally breaking the clasp, tearing at the strap around my neck until the top is completely off. I feel each hand gripping my breasts, the claws closing around each orb like an owl clenching a mouse. I howl in anguish as the gothic nails penetrate the skin on the underside of my udders, then rake upwards across the sensitive areolae toward my collarbone.
I should have known this monster would be sadistic. I feel foolish for not knowing what to expect. Once again, I’m face down on the carpet, my opponent still mounted on my back, pain searing through my back, neck. My breasts are cut and scraped raw, their wounds further insulted by the fuzzy carpet. I feel very weakened, my energy dissipating away.

A pair of arms snake beneath my armpits, their hands clasp together pushing down on the back of my head. Trapped in a full nelson, my face is buried and ground into the carpet. My breathing is labored. Tara makes a strange low pitch growling noise as she continues her torture. She rolls to the side, taking me with her. She is on her back but in complete control, as she keeps me locked in front of her, as if she’s showing off my shredded breasts to the cameraman. She’s trying to wrap her legs around my waist for a body scissors, which combined with the full nelson would surely end the match. I do my best to block her scissors attempt by kicking at her legs. The pain and pressure in my neck is just about at my limit. Despite that, I try to twist and roll the best I can while blocking Tara’s scissor attempt. I manage to actually scissor one of her legs.

“Stupid shit,” she gripes, “Don’t you see there’s no point in you fighting anymore?”

When I was young, I had a reputation for being difficult to submit. I didn’t always win but I could usually find a way out of trouble and I had high pain tolerance. Unlike me, Tara’s breathing is not labored but I feel her hot breath on the back of my neck as she has me tied back to belly on top of her. Her growls with each exhalation become louder.

After another furious attempt at twisting, I reach back with my hand and manage to get a fistful of the former blonde’s black hair, yanking it the best I can. Frustrated, Tara rolls me back face down as she is now on my back. I can feel the tension on my neck lessen somewhat as I cling to her hair. Finally, she releases me, rolls to my side, and drives a knee to my ribs, then stands at my head. I see the black toenail polished feet in front of my face as she pulls on my hair.

“Get up,” she barks “Get up, you dried up old cxnt.”

I struggle to stand as she pulls upward on my head. I cannot defend against the heavily tattooed arm that wraps around my neck, pulling my head down to her hip, entrapping me in a side headlock. The stronger younger woman swings her hips drives me to the carpet, my body striking the floor with a thud. I groan as pain racks through my ribs from the impact. I cannot move and I struggle to breath as my nose is pressed into the macabre images emblazoned in her side.

“Now do you give?” she repeats. “Fine if you don’t. This is fun. I like giving out pain.”

My legs scramble across the carpet, trying to find traction. There is very little. I try to get up on one knee with no success. I reach around and find her shoulder, then her left breast. I work my fingers between her breasts, finding the front clasp between the cups of her bikini top. I pull hard breaking the clasp as the cups come apart. I cannot see them but I know her tits have spilled out.

I hear Tara laugh as she releases the headlock, then pushes my face into the carpet as she starts to stand. I see her legs walking away, allowing me to rise on my own. She knows I’m hurt, exhausted and weakened but the arrogant goth girl does not take advantage. It’s clear she believes I’m no threat.

As she walks around the room stretching, I do my best to regroup. My back and neck are achy and stiff, my ribs hurt when I breathe, droplets of blood bead on my raw scratched breasts. I’m on my feet as Tara stands still staring at me. The sight of her bare breasts bring another shock. Her areolae and nipples are tattooed black in stark contrast to her light skin. I can only imagine the pain involved in such a procedure. On each breast is an inked image of an upside down cross. I’m not religious but even I know these are blasphemous symbols.

Tara studies me with a strange look of bemusement as if she’s deciding the best method to pull the legs off an insect. The gray eyes seem strangely detached. I feel sick knowing there was so much hope and promise for this girl. I so badly want to find the pretty blonde little child. I think of her parents’ despair.

A lump forms in my throat as we prepare to lock up. Ignoring my pain and fatigue, I find a new infusion of energy. I lower my shoulders beneath Tara’s arms and hook her underneath the armpits. Powering off with my legs, I lift her up, twist and throw her to the floor. For a brief moment, she is on her back with me on top of her. However, her arms are wrapped around me. The momentum of the tumble allows her to roll, reversing our positions. She is on top of me, growling and blowing her hot breath.

The troubled young woman has my arms pinned over my head and her legs hooking my hips. I squirm, buck, and kick but cannot dislodge her off of me. She shifts her body forward, then lowers her head. Holding on to my arms, we are forehead to forehead. She breathes into my face, the growling becoming deeper and guttural, The gray eyes line up with my green ones, our noses touch, the black nipples press down on my pink ones. For a minute she seems content keeping me trapped.

I see the nineteen year old’s head shift above mine. The blackened breasts come into view before she lowers them onto my face. The gothic tits press onto my nose and mouth, hampering my breathing. The breast smother is not complete as I can turn my head enough to acquire some air but the position is very uncomfortable and again, I feel my renewed energy draining.

Her guttural noises take on a higher pitch as Tara rises, looking down on me with disdain. A stomp to the belly sends me into a fetal position. I see her walking away daring me to get up as she continues her sadistic game of cat and mouse. My chest heaves as my body struggles to replenish oxygen. I cannot get up as the cruel youth approaches.

With a quick display of agility, she takes hold of my legs, hooking them under her arms, keeping me on my back. I’m dragged several yards across the carpet. I had no time to avoid her black polished hands lifting up my hips. By the time I sensed my bikini bottom was pulled, it was down to my knees. My kicks were useless as my only remaining garment disappeared beyond my toes.

The high pitched noises she made with her throat became louder as she beckoned me with her hands to get up. I managed to pull my nude body to my feet but I’m not prepared as Tara quickly paces toward me for the next onslaught. I try to push her away with my arms, but I’m easily overpowered. The tormenter moves in on me, pushing down my head and tucking it in her arm pit as her fingers interlock, trapping me in a front face lock. Again, pain shoots through my neck as she cranks down. My hands vainly try to pry her hands apart. The tattooed arm bearing skulls and demons presses on my nose. I know I cannot escape. I am completely at her mercy and she seems intent only in torturing me.

Tara walks me around the room, pulling me by the neck and head. I try digging my own fingernails into her arms but to no avail. As she walks me, my dangling hands come to rest on her hips. My fingers find the side tie strap of her leather bikini bottom on the right side. With a tug, I felt the strap come undone. I sense her disdain, as she swings me by neck, sending me stumbling across the room, then down to the floor. I know Tara is not aggressively in pursuit as I pull myself up to my knees.

About ten feet away, Tara stands as if admiring the brutal beating she is giving me. The black straight hair is clumped into thick strands from sweat. The gray eyes lined in black seem more detached. The black fingers rest on tattooed hips bearing messages of death. Her bikini bottom is half off. Nonchalantly, she unfastens the other side, removing her bottom completely before pitching it away.

On my knees, I cannot bear to look at her. Her bottom stripped, another tattoo comes into view. Across her pubic bone below the bikini line is an inscription in Old English lettering. That inscription sits above an arrow pointing to her bush. The words are “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter.” I start to sob.

Tara looks at me with contempt. “It’s over old bitch,” her voice now guttural and raspy. “Your time is up.”

“Marci, it’s time,…they’re here,” the nurse tells me as she lifts Snowflake from my arms. Brian and Annette stand in the doorway, their faces unable to conceal the war of emotions raging within them. There are smiles.There are tears. The three of us hug. Three souls, one from a very different background, drawn together by life’s circumstances. We cry some more. Finally, the nurse turns to the couple and gently places Snowflake into Annette’s arms. Annette’s eyes widen, her lips quiver as she gazes into the baby’s face. I can no longer look.

Brian, out of sensitivity to me, directs his wife and baby back out to the hallway. But I can still hear every word.  “Well hello, Tara,…your Mommy and Daddy are here!”

From that moment onward, my Snowflake became….Tara Welker.

The Welkers made good on their word. Over the next year, they frequently sent me pictures. I visited their house and spent time with Tara about once every three months. I attended her first birthday party. But then, something about it just didn’t seem right. I made a very painful decision. I stopped seeing her. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. My heart ached for her. I just couldn’t take a chance confusing her. She needed to know who her parents were, no ifs, ands, or buts. Her parents were Brian and Annette. At age one, she would have no memory of me. I was sure I’d have a relationship with her when she was older and ready. I would wait for her.

That day never came. I watched from afar as Tara grew up. After my hysterectomy, I lost any chance of having another child. I never married. I learned to adjust to not having the child who gave me the happiest three days of my life. But the void and the pain never leave. It especially hurt around milestone days: birthdays, holidays, first day of school, graduation, and so on.  Occasionally, I’d choke up in tears over the site of a birthday cake, a school bus, a toy store, a children’s TV show, kids in their trick or treat costumes.

Over time, the pictures and letters came less frequently, finally stopping altogether as Tara’s behavior became worse. It was unbearable to see Brian and Annette so devastated. They tortured themselves wondering what they did wrong. I wondered if they blamed me.  Sometimes I blamed myself. I don’t know why; I didn’t take any drugs or alcohol when pregnant. Is it my genes? Let’s face it. My family isn’t exactly the shining lights of society.
So many times, I wanted to contact her but it never seemed right. I couldn’t risk complicating her more emotionally. She knew her birth mother would be accessible anytime she was ready. She never expressed interest. It seems so foolish now but I thought returning to catfighting might be a way to reach her somehow. Maybe she would respect me as a fighter and then, in time, I could reveal myself. We could become close. But then, maybe she would just hate me more.

As I kneel on the carpet, I feel the full horror of what Tara has become. I don’t really have a religion. I don’t believe in the devil. But I know this monster is not my daughter. She’s not the child I gave birth to. I realize Snowflake is long gone. She’s just a distant but powerful memory.

“Look, the old bitch is crying,” Tara scoffs as I unsteadily rise to my feat.

I let out a scream as the beast charges me, wraps her arm around me and plows my back into the wall, as plaster and two paintings come crashing down. I fall limply to the floor and roll on my back on the carpet. Tara is standing over me. Mother and daughter, both of us nude. I am defeated. I have nothing left. I can barely move. I should submit but I cannot bring myself to it. I’m not sure why. It isn’t pride. I have this strange sense that this beating at the hands of my daughter who does not know me is my destiny. I must endure it. Maybe it’s payment for my past mistakes. Maybe it’s punishment I deserve.

Tara places her bare foot on my face, her sole rubbing my nose. Her toes play with my lips as I can barely resist or even turn away. Finally, she kneels beside me digging her claws into my belly. She rips into my surgical scars mocking the very door through which she entered the world. She slaps at my tits eerily giggling like a little girl as I scream and brace.

My opponent is toying with me. She has no concern or even keeps the pretense that I might fight back. She walks around me nonchalantly. She even looks disinterested. Even detached. As I lie on the floor, Tara walks along one side of my body, then the other. Inexplicably, she steps between my legs. Seizing the opportunity, I scissor her ankle, tripping her as she pulled away. My deranged birth child falls to her knees as I roll away.

From several yards away, I lie on my belly, as Tara remains on her knees. Mentally, she is absent. Her lips move as if she’s conversing with someone or…..something. Exhausted and battered, I force myself to my feet. Tara does not move. She does not look at me as I cautiously approach her. Her eyes do not follow me as I slip behind her.

Tara laughs. The growling returns. Her face contorts to an even more hideous mask. Her voice is low and guttural.

“Kill the bitch,” her ugly voice snarls. “Kill her.”

She’s completely out of her mind. My sadness quickly dissolved into a sense of danger and survival instinct. From behind her, I wrap my arms around her head and neck. My forearm finds her carotid artery. I press and hold. As she is on her knees, I have perfect leverage to cinch in the rear naked choke hold.

My mind is transported back to the day in the hospital.

“Oh Tara,” I say, “So fussy. Let me put you to sleep. Let me help you. You were my little Snowflake once. I did it once before. I can do it once again. Listen to my voice my little one.”

“Goodnight clocks. And goodnight socks
Goodnight little house. And goodnight mouse”

“What the hell is she saying.” I hear the producer ask.

Goodnight comb. And goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush”

I feel Tara’s muscles relax as her movements slow down.

And goodnight to the old lady whispering ‘hush’.”

She’s almost out. Goodnight Snowflake…Your Momma’s here

“Goodnight stars. Goodnight air
Good night noises everywhere”

NO! I can’t do this. I won’t do this to my child. I gave this human being her blood supply once. I can’t take it away now.

I release the choke hold on Tara. Groggy, she shakes her head, coughs and drops to all fours. Stiffly and feebly, I walk to the middle of the room. I’m done fighting. I have nothing left. Yet, I can’t bring myself to concede the match. I was compelled to come here tonight. I’m in a drama that must reach its conclusion. I turn my back to Tara. I get down on my knees. And I await my fate.

From behind, I hear her growling as she approaches. I feel her breath on the back of my neck. She leaps on my shoulders, shifting her body horizontally behind my neck. Her legs scissor one of my arms. She traps my other arm with her own. My arms are stretched to the sides. Her body creates intense pressure on my neck. I know this hold. It’s known as an iron crossbar. It’s also known as a crucifix because the victims arms are spread out like a condemned man on a Roman cross. I’m on my knees, my neck forced down, my arms tied. I will not escape. I came here to redeem my daughter. It’s ironic and perhaps fitting that I should perish from a hold known as a crucifix. A crucifix…yes, a crucifix…that’s it…now, I see it. Now I know the true reason of why I’m here. I see my destiny…my purpose…my mission. Fear not, Snowflake. Soon you’ll be set free. I found you at last my sweet child.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost

The producer asks if I want to submit. I say, “No.” I will finish what I started.

I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations

Let me take your place for you, Snowflake. Let me feel the suffering for you. All I ever wanted for you was a second chance.

Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

The pressure in my neck eases as I notice my arms are free. It is apparent Tara has released her hold.

No my love. Don’t let go. Don’t defeat my mission, my plan for you.

A pair of thighs embed my neck. In front of me, two heavily tattooed ankles lock together. I’m forced over to the side as her legs wrap around my neck like an anaconda. The triangular choke in place, I wait.

Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

I’m conscious but my muscles do not respond to my well. I hear voices calling “Marci.” I hear the producer say, “Let go, Tara, you won.” The voices grow more frantic. “Tara, let go of Marci.” What they do not know is that I am no longer Marci….I am…

“JESUS CHRIST!!!…Tara, let go NOW!…You’ll KILL her!…Somebody STOP HER!”

The voices and the commotion grow more distant, like they are echoing down a well. They become faint until I hear nothing…Goodnight Snowflake. I am leaving now. It’s dark now but a new morning is coming. We’ll be together again and everything will be different. I promise.

Behold, I make all things new..…………………

“Tara, what can I help you with?

“Nothing, Mom, you’ve already done more than enough,” my daughter laughs. Tonight, she looks exceptionally beautiful with her deep set blue eyes and stylized long blonde hair, and that killer smile.

“You mean, it’s the night before my only child’s wedding day, I can’t do anything else for you.”

“Nope, Dave and I have everything set. You can help me with my dress tomorrow and be there for pictures. And of course, show up at the church.”

“Here’s something for you,” I said, taking the book out of the little end table drawer. “I read it to you in the hospital. It was your first book. Now you can read it to your little ones some day.”

Goodnight Moon. Yup, that’s a classic,” she chuckles. “You know Mom, I said this before and I’ll say it again. When you backed out of the adoption at the last minute, you made sacrifices for me I can never repay. And although I didn’t have as much as the other kids growing up, there was never a day I wasn’t proud to have you as my mother. You’ve given me so much.”

She pauses, then adds, “And at least I didn’t have to catfight like you did. You must have been quite a pistol,” she laughs.

“I was. And I still am.”

“Yes you are. Time to go to bed. Big day tomorrow. Goodnight Mom”

“Goodnight Snowflake.”

The End

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