Previous: Sixteen-year-old Leona Moss’ confused relationship with her father is discovered by her eldest brother Frank, with devastating consequences. Her middle brother, Liam, leaves the family farm to emigrate to England for work.
Sins of the Son: Nature, Nurture, Torture
Camp NaNoWriMo Project Part 3
Leona sat on the edge of the examination bed. Colm hovered in the corner of the room with his arms tightly crossed.
“Can you tell me where your pain is, Leona?” Aidan requested.
“Here,” Leona said, pointing to one corner of her abdomen. “My back is hurting a lot, too.”
“Does the pain come and go, or is it there all the time?”
“All the time, but it’s worse at night.”
Aidan tensed his brows thoughtfully.
“Have you had any sickness or vomiting at all with the pain?”
“I do feel sick, but I haven’t vomited.”
“And when was your last menstrual cycle?”
There was a long pause before she answered.
“Right. Could you lie back please?”
Leona reclined back on the bed.
“My hands are cold, I’m sorry.”
Leona winced as Aidan gently massaged the problem area of her stomach in a circular motion with the tips of his fingers.
“There’s pain in my back too,” she murmured. “It’s like needles.”
“I’m just going to have a listen.”
Aidan took his stethoscope from his neck, breathing onto the cold head before pressing it against Leona’s skin.
“Have you taken anything for the pain?”
“How old are you now, Leona?”
“You can sit up again.”
Aidan removed his stethoscope and took a seat at his desk.
“I will have to take blood and urine samples and send them away for further tests. I am concerned about the pain, but I will give you something for it.”
“So what’s wrong with her?” Colm asked impatiently.
“It’s pure speculation until the test results come back, but there is a chance that Leona is pregnant.”
Colm turned away, shaking his head and covering his mouth.
“Who do you think the father is?”
“It was a worker I hired.”
Leona looked to her father. Aidan looked from her to Colm.
“I won’t tell Father Braden about this, I promise. But you must let me know if the pain gets any worse, Leona.”
Colm nodded. Leona said nothing, a tear trickling down her cheek.
Once home, Colm sent Leona straight to her room. She lay down on her bed, swallowed by her thoughts. She knew her father was furious, but this is what she had been secretly hoping for all along.
Her mother had died when she was sixteen years old, and since then she had been the woman of the house. She had cooked and cleaned and looked after her family; having a baby of her own would complete the picture.
On Sunday morning, Leona wandered sleepily out of her room. At the bottom of the stairs, her father was putting on his hat and coat.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” she asked.
“Because you’re not coming,” said Colm. “Stay here. Do not leave the house, you hear?”
Leona watched through the window as her father walked off down the road toward town. With every step he took, her heart sank inside her a little further.
Colm sat in the pews of Saint John’s alongside the other parishioners. After mass had concluded, father Braden approached the family.
“I see Leona isn’t with you today?” the priest cheerily enquired. “Is she unwell?”
“Yes, I’m afraid she is,” said Colm. “A stomach ache. She’s resting at home.”
“Oh dear. Well, I will be praying for her. I hope she starts to feel better soon.”
Leona folded her father’s shirts and trousers and placed them on the bed. She caught a glimpse of herself in her mother’s mirror, pausing to regard her reflection. Her body was changing; her breasts had swelled, and her abdomen was growing. She was overwhelmed with joy, but her father maintained a suspicion of her condition, keeping tabs on her with a watchful eye. Since the return of the test results and the confirmation of her pregnancy, Colm had forbidden her to leave the house. He had even suggested that she was pretending.
In the corner of her room was the cane bassinet that Leona had slept in as an infant, as well as her brothers, her mother and her aunts and uncles on her mother’s side of the family. It wouldn’t be long before her baby was sleeping in it.
Leona’s due date of August 6th came and went. When the baby did not arrive, Aidan made a house call to the Moss residence. Colm refused to take his daughter to his office in town.
“I suppose I could have miscalculated the due date,” Aidan speculated.
“Well, how much longer do you think it’s going to be?” Leona urged.
“I could have been wrong by a couple of weeks. Let’s make it for September.”
“What it she’s not pregnant at all?” Cathal sneered. “What if she’s making it all up?”
“Da!” Leona exclaimed. “I am pregnant! I’m having a baby!”
“Leona, do you realise how dangerous this situation is?” Colm exclaimed. “If anyone were to find out about this, you’d be dragged off to Tuam! The baby would be pulled from your arms the moment it was born and sent to America, and you’d be working off your board for years!”
“No-one is going to take my baby away from me!” Leona cried. “We’d stay with you at the house! We’ll all stay together. Father Braden will let you look after us. They won’t sent me away if they know we’ll be looked after! And it is only three of us, there will be enough to eat…”
“You’re delusional, girl,” Colm scoffed.
“It is a possibility, Leona, that something else is causing your condition,” Aidan interjected. “And it is cause for concern. It could be serious. Your swollen belly could be a tumour of some sort.”
“Well, how do we find out, then?” Colm insisted.
“She would have to go to hospital…”
“The only reason I’m going to hospital is to have a baby! I am pregnant!”
“Shut up, girl!” Colm scolded. “You’ve gone mad! If they don’t drag you off to Tuam I’ve half a mind to take you to St Brigid’s!”
“Let’s wait until September,” Aidan suggested. “If Leona does have a tumour, another month isn’t going to make a difference.”
Weeks passed and September approached. Instead of producing a baby, Leona’s belly began to visibly shrink. Standing in front of the mirror, she desperately searched her reflection for any scrap of remaining evidence of her pregnancy. She could not understand what was happening to her body. But in her young and stubborn nature, she defiantly refused to believe that she did not have a baby inside her. Her father had gladly discarded any scrap of belief he had held, with his suspicions confirmed that she was indeed pretending. But Leona was determined to keep waiting.
September and October came and went, and upon Leona’s insistence, Aidan extended her due date even further. It wasn’t until December that he declined to continue.
The cool morning wind stung like needles against Leona’s face, which was sodden with tears. Standing on the pier in Kinvara, the bay unfolded before her, gusty winds sweeping off the Atlantic Ocean. This was the first time she had been into the village in over a year. The gentle waves lapped up against the shore, over the rocks and clumps of brown seaweed.
Leona’s agonized wails echoed out across the water, and she didn’t care who heard. The shock and heartbreak had taken over her body. She felt sick to her stomach, her face feeling clammy and faint.
Throughout her adolescence, along with crippling menstrual pains and irregularity in her cycles, Leona had also suffered frequently from spells of deep depression. Her suicidal mother had been emotionally absent for as far back at Leona could remember, starving her daughter of love. In the face of the ultimate abandonment, Leona had resorted to the approval of her father, and he had given in to primal indulgence.
All along, Leona had known that deep down he could not let go of his beloved Aisling, and that through resemblance; she had been his pathway back to her.