I stood between worlds in the bright white light in front of the mirror, 
looking at my tired face and feeling wet and slippery 
running down between my legs. 
I glance down at my swollen belly.
I look back, 
feeling the heaviness of cleaning the wet footsteps 
leading into the room. The dread hardens into panic 
as I see the bright red tracks 
leading directly to where I stand.
My heart races, 
no words in my mind 
except the impulse to tell him, 
Tell him. 
He has to know.
I walk back to the bed and nudge him awake. 
There are no words, 
stifled by the tightness that rises in my chest. 
My heartbeat loud in my temples, 
crowding all thought high above my forehead, 
to a mind-space that is beyond my reach.
"What's wrong" he says.

All I can do is look at the bloody footprints on the carpet, 
smeared on the white. Bathroom. tile. 
Time skips and slows. 
I feel the softness of the towel on my legs 
as it soaks the blood that has run down them. 
He's kneeling at my feet. 
His strokes slow, firm and long, 
His method--deliberate-- willing calm-control. 
And then a break as he turns the blood-filled cloth, 
searching for a dry section to continue.
Suddenly, I'm aware of my heart racing 
so fast that my chest cramps, 
the tightness stuck in my throat 
and spreading down my arms and out my hands. 
If I shake my hands, 
I think, 
I can empty myself of it. 
But it's too late. 
The panic has dropped. 
my belly, my hips begin to vibrate with fear.
I feel his hands firm, 
squeezing my arms, 
his hands connecting us to the roots that run deep into the earth, 
steadying the vibration and stalling the fear. 
It was his steadiness that saved us.
Janie Jaramillo-Santoy is an educator, teaching students how to use the power of words, and a curandera, teaching others to heal their spirit and find a path to a joy-filled life.
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