Outskirts online journal

Tess Cosslett

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Volume 1, May 1996

Collage in Red, With Screens

The bleeding had started as a few drops, but now it was an undeniable flow, sometimes bright red, sometimes with black clots. The scanning machine didn't operate at weekends, so here I was stuck in the gynae ward, forbidden to leave my bed till Monday morning. Nurses with screens came to change my pads every now and then, or help me onto a bed-pan, and then carry away the grey corrugated cardboard stained with red.

And as she was looking out upon the snow, she pricked her finger, and three drops of blood fell upon it. Then she gazed thoughtfully upon the red drops which sprinkled the white snow, and said, 'Would that my little daughter may be as white as that snow as red as the blood, and as black as the ebony window-frame!'

This method is, however, only about 70% reliable and the expectant mother is advised against choosing the colour of her layette on the results.

There was a pale, thin girl in the bed opposite. She looked about fourteen. Her mother, still wearing her tweed coat, was sitting on a chair beside the bed, talking to her urgently in a low voice. Suddenly the girl began to cry and cry. Nurses were fetched, doctors, everyone talked and talked at her. She didn't stop. Screens were wheeled up and put round her.

At every tear Snow White cries, there shall drop from her eyes either a flower or a jewel.

Before the 28th week the termination of a pregnancy is abortion. This may be legally performed if the provisions of the Abortion Act 1967 are complied with.

'Mother,' said the little boy, 'how strange and wild you look! Please give me an apple. ' And she said, 'Come with me,' and lifted up the lid. 'You can pick out your own apple.. ' And as the little boy leaned in, crunch! she slammed the lid shut so that the head flew off and rolled among the red apples.

In the middle of the night, the peace of the ward was disturbed by feet, voices, hurry, worry, emergency. A woman was brought in on a stretcher, wrapped in a bright scarlet blanket. She disappeared behind some screens. Two nurses went in after her, wheeling a drip with a big bottle of blood hanging from it.

Her grandmother was excessively fond of her and caused to be made be for her a little red Riding-Hood, which made her look so very pretty, that every body called her, the little Red Riding Hood.

The initial bleeding usually increases in amount and becomes brighter in colour. The process may take many hours and be associated with severe abdominal pains and profuse bleeding.

I met her next morning, waiting for the scan, sitting up and cheerful in a dressing-gown covered in huge red roses. She said she'd just started bleeding and bleeding in the night. 'So you weren't pregnant or anything?' I asked foolishly. 'No!' she said, and laughed. When I got back to the ward, she was chatting to a group of cronies, by the loos. 'So this young one asks, was I pregnant! I ask you!' she says, and they all laugh.

At every word Rose Red speaks there shall come out of her mouth a snake or a toad.

Age is undoubtedly linked to fertility. Fertility begins to fall after the age of 25, but the decline is comparatively slow until the age of 30, when it accelerates and increases quite rapidly from the age of 35.

There was nothing there on the screen, nothing to see, just formless blurs. I remembered when I'd first seen Alice, the little creature swimming about, arms, legs, head - so quick and nimble.

And so the mother took the little boy and hacked him in pieces and put the pieces in the pot and stewed him in the sour broth.

A pregnancy where the foetus does not develop properly is termed a blighted ovum. A foetus may fail to develop at all. Strange as it may seem, a foetus is not an essential part of early pregnancy, although it is appreciated that the reason for the pregnancy is the production of a foetus.

So they took a large stone, and put it inside the wolf, in the place where Little Red Riding Hood had been.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: quotations are adapted from G. Bourne, Pregnancy (London; Sydney: Pan Books, 1975); The Juniper Tree and Other Tales From Grimm. trans. L. Segal & R. Jarrell (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Girroux, 1973); A Treasury of Grimm and Anderson (London; Glasgow: Collins, 1957).


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