I’ve done terrible things to my son
My son was born perfect in every way, beautiful, brown eyed, screaming.
His pink fingers were so soft and small.
I loved the way they played across my palm.
I loved the way he gurgled when I tickled his little belly.
I loved him from the moment the doctor put him in my hands.
I’ve never stopped loving him since.
But sometimes a mother’s love is warped by time and circumstance, twisting and bending to fit what it has to.
Sometimes, love is a poison, one that festers in our minds, driving us to do things we’d never imagine ourselves capable of.
The things I’ve done for love, they hurt to just think about.
But like any poison, the best treatment is to simply spew it out, expunge it from your system in so many words.
Don’t judge me.
Jack, my little boy, was born with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive or FOP.
It’s a horrifying disease to watch, and even more horrifying to live.
Essentially, the body responds to any physical trauma by growing bone in the affected area.
It’s impossible to avoid getting bumped and bruised in everyday life; and over the course of a lifetime, victims become solid bone, their skeletons freezing up under the weight of a hundred tiny growths.
The thing is, you don’t know if they have it until it’s too late until that first bone freezes up for the rest of their life.
Jack fell onto his hip while playing soccer on the street.
It took a few days for the stiffness to start to show, but only a few days after that, and he couldn’t bend over at all.
His hip swelled with some hard growth, and every time he tried to run, he’d collapse in agony, something cracking and snapping deep inside of him.
The doctors couldn’t help.
There’s no cure for it, only the long and slow torture of living paralysed.
He was a fighter though.
He decided for himself that he wouldn’t let it stop him from living a normal life.
I watched in horror as he charged into middle school, high school, trying his damnedest to live a normal life.
By some miracle, some stroke of luck, he never really got injured.
He even got into college for medicine; he’d decided that if no one could cure him, he’d cure himself.
My son was amazing.
It… it brings tears to my eyes to remember what he was like.
He hurt himself again just before college this year.
It was some dumb thing, some graduation ritual, where all the students divebombed into a local waterhole.
He’d thought that he’d survive, no harm was done.
I didn’t even know it had happened until I found him curled up like a foetus under his blanket two days later.
I’d just gotten home from work when I heard his voice whimpering from his room.
Mum, is that you?
I can’t move.
I can’t see anything.
It hurts, mom.
I CAN’T MOVE!”
I nearly vomited when I took the sheets off.
His shoulders were abnormally wide, the skin stretched taut across his back.
His spine stuck out of his skin, tiny tears where white tips poked out of his flesh.
Spurs stuck out of his elbows, keeping his arms fixed against his knees, as they tucked up against his body.
The bones in his feet had fused together into a club.
Worst of all was his face.
His skull had swollen up to engulf every feature, turning his head into an indistinguishable lump.
He wasn’t my little boy anymore.
He was a monster.
But then I looked at him and recognised those familiar hazel eyes, shiny with tears.
He was still my little boy after all.
I called his dad over, asked him to help me move Jack to somewhere more comfortable.
We had to make this work.
I loved Jack too much to just give up.
He never got to go to college after all.
I took a couple months off of work to take care of him.
For a while, I kept him in his room, dragged in a couch so he could sit up as best he could and watch TV from the crack between his knees.
Then my husband got the basement set up so he could stay in there, have more space to himself.
I don’t think Jack cared anymore though.
He was a living corpse, perpetually in agony as his skin stretched to the point of ripping.
Life was hell to him.
I had to help him.
It hit me one night when he’d moaned about not being able to see anything.
I could help him.
I had to do it.
I had to; but that didn’t stop me from crying the whole night, my mind wracked with guilt.
The next morning, over breakfast, I told my husband my plan.
“I’m going to amputate his legs.”
He spat his coffee out.
Are you insane?
Why the hell would you do that?”
“He wants to see, Bob.
The boy is sick of staring at his knees.
He can’t even use his legs anymore.
It makes sense, right?”
“The doctor’s never going to do it for us, Mary.
And even if they did, you know as well as I do that we can’t afford it.”
I fucking know.
I think we have to do it ourselves.”
No, no, I’m not cutting off my little boy’s legs.
Can we stop talking about this?”
I paused for a second, then spoke up again.
“I’ll do it myself if you won’t help.
Coward.” I spat.
He slammed his mug against the table and stormed off.
I cursed at him silently as he left me to deal with Jack for another torturous day.
It was a Sunday when I cut his legs off.
I carried him myself all the way to his bedroom.
Strapped him down to his bed with some ropes.
The whole time, he was muttering deliriously, lost in his pain.
I didn’t have any anaesthetic, anything to lessen the pain.
All I had was a hacksaw and a lot of determination.
I put the jagged edge on the back of his thigh and started running it back and forth.
The flesh split easy enough, rough flaps of skin slipping over the side of the blade.
Then I hit bone, and he started to scream, his voice already raw from months of perpetual agony.
Sawing away at it, it took me a full hour before I made it through.
By the end of it, he and I were both sweating and panting.
Then I started on his other leg, my arms still burning from the exertion.
Love gives us power in the strangest ways.
I buried his legs in the garden, under the apple tree.
The bloody sheets I burned, any trace of what had happened to curl, blackening, drifting away with the ashes.
He spent the rest of the week comatose, head lolling as he drifted in and out of a fever dream.
My husband left the day he saw Jack, limbless and lost in his mind.
Just packed a suitcase and vanished.
Jack’s never really recovered from the amputation, but at least in his dreams, he doesn’t seem to be in so much pain anymore.
Perhaps in his mind, he’s healthy and free.
But the Jack I know is a torso, flailing around on a couch in my basement.
The Jack I know defecates himself because he cannot move.
The Jack I know is a monster, but he’s my little boy, and I love him still.
Love does strange things to a person.
Love makes us all into monsters.