Monstrous Femme

Linda Mercer froze as she lay on the bed. “Are you sure?”

The technician performing her ultrasound sighed as she glided the wand over Linda’s belly. “I’ll keep looking.” She smiled at Linda. “Sometimes they hide.”

Linda forced a weak smile as she nodded, tightening her grip on her husband’s hand.

After a few moments, the tech shook her head. She shot a quizzical look at Linda. “You sure you’re sixteen weeks?”

“Yes,” Linda replied, nodding. “You can’t find the baby?”

The tech tried again then shook her head. “I’m sorry.”

Tears formed in her eyes and her heart sank. “No.” Her gaze moved and in her blurred stare, she caught sight of it.

Her personal ghost.

The Lady in Black.

She stood wearing a black dress and mourning veil over her face. Linda knew she was the only one who could see the ghost; pointing her out and screaming accusations wouldn’t do any good.

So, she was here, too. This ghost wasn’t always visible; Linda rarely saw her before becoming pregnant. Then she had returned to her again last night, and the memory of it made Linda shudder. Linda awoke in her dream strapped down on a metal table, with the Lady in Black standing next to her as she held her hands over Linda’s stomach. Blue lightning-like energy shot out of her fingers and into Linda’s body. Linda had screamed from the terrible pain it had caused, but now it was nothing compared to the pain she started to feel in her heart now.

But now she stood here in this room as Linda and her husband wept. Why was she here? To revel in Linda’s pain?

The tech’s voice brought Linda back to reality.

“I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with your baby. It’s just…” She held her hand out at the screen. “I don’t see the baby.”


They remained silent as Parker drove home. Linda refused to look at him, hoping he didn’t see the tears in her eyes. How could her baby just disappear? It didn’t make sense.

Linda closed her eyes as the ache tugged at her. After her ultrasound, the technician had reported the result to her doctor right away. Her doctor was just about to see another patient, but had instructed a nurse to request that Linda take a pregnancy test then and there. When the result came up negative, she had to make another appointment with her doctor to find out what was wrong.

But all she could think about now, as she rode home in the car, was that the test had been negative.

Linda was no longer pregnant. And the ultrasound where the technician was unable to find her baby proved her baby was gone.

She remained silent and refused to look at Parker once they arrived home. Instead, she went straight to their bedroom and climbed onto their bed.

She lay there curled up, thoughts racing through her mind.

Linda had been haunted by the Lady in Black since childhood. She had stopped haunting her shortly before she met Parker, and Linda thought she was finally free of her. That she could enjoy her life without that shadowy figure lurking close by. It hadn’t been there when she married Parker two years ago, but returned shortly after her first pregnancy. She’d lost that one, and now this one had ended too.

Was there some kind of connection?

Everyone else in her family had been so fertile, with no miscarriages among her mother and three sisters.

She was the only one having miscarriages.

This reality hit her hard and the tears fell from her eyes. As the unfairness of it all swirled in her heart, she began sobbing louder, her body shaking as she wailed with grief. Soon Parker was lying against her, holding her as she sobbed.


Linda looked down at her plate of food. Normally, any time Parker cooked, she looked forward to enjoying the meal. He was such a good cook. It was too bad he could not pursue his dream of being a chef, and instead toiled away as an insurance salesman.

“Honey, you’ve barely eaten,” Parker said, placing his arm down on the table as his other hand placed the fork he had used to eat his steak onto the plate.

She looked at him, bringing her focus out of her thoughts.

“I know you’re grieving, but you have to take care of yourself.”

Nodding, she looked down at her lap again. “I know.”

“Tell you what, let’s get away for a while,” Parker suggested. “Just the two of us. We can go to the coast, get a room, and just enjoy some time together.”

She looked up at him again and this time her smile was genuine. “That sounds nice.”


Arriving in the seaside town, they stopped at a hotel and got a room. After they settled their belongings, they spent some time walking along the boardwalk, enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds. They bought souvenirs and watched a band performance near the beach.

After they ate dinner, they returned to their room and changed into their pajamas. They cuddled up together on the bed as they watched a movie.

“This is perfect,” Linda whispered, nuzzling next to her husband. “Thank you so much.”

“I knew it would make you happy,” he replied in a soft voice.

Linda looked up at him and smiled. They drew closer for a kiss. Linda had meant to give her husband a short, soft kiss, but as Parker’s hands moved down her chest and under her nightshirt to massage her breast, she pulled away from him, shaking her head as she moved his hand away.

“No, Parker. Not tonight.”

He looked at her with disappointment, gently rubbing her arm. “But we haven’t for weeks.”

“I know,” she finally answered, looking into her husband’s brown eyes. “But I’m just not ready yet. I need more time. Please?”

Parker softly smiled at her, but she could still see dissatisfaction in his eyes. “Okay. Take all the time you need.”

They cuddled up together on the bed again, Linda resting her head against his chest. “Thank you,” she whispered.


Linda looked up from the book she was reading to see Parker walk past the entrance to the living room carrying a red toolbox. She closed the book she had been reading and placed it down on the couch then stood to walk out of the room. Her heart froze in her chest as she caught sight of Parker carrying the toolbox into the nursery.

“What are you doing?” Linda asked as she entered the room, the winced as Parker turned to look at her. Her voice had been loud and almost accusatory. She had no idea what he was doing.

Parker relaxed and smiled. “Hi, honey.” He started to nervously shuffle his feet as he looked at the crib. “Just thought it was time to take this thing down.”

“No.” This time, Linda allowed her voice to be hardened. She stared at him with an icy expression, her fists clenching as her body tensed.

Parker’s smile disappeared and he looked at her with concern.

“We are not taking the crib down yet,” she added, gritting her teeth after she spoke. She had said the word “we” for a reason. How dare he just waltz right into the nursery and dismantle their baby’s bed! It should have been a joint decision.

“Sweetie, I know you’re still upset about losing the baby—”

“I’m not just ‘upset,’ Parker!” she cried, hardening her gaze further. “I feel like my heart was ripped out and stomped to pieces! Don’t you understand how I feel? I’m sad and angry and I wish our baby was still growing in me!”

“I know,” Parker gently responded, holding out his hand. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sad the baby’s gone, too.”

Linda shook her head, tears forming in her eyes. “Gone. Just like that. Our baby disappeared.” She angrily motioned at the crib. “And you want to throw out every reminder of our child!”

She burst into tears and pounded her fists on the railing. “Why? Why did I have to lose our baby again! Why?!” She fell to her knees, sobbing.

As she held her hands against her face, crying tears that didn’t seem to stop, she felt Parker’s hands on her shoulders as he embraced her from behind, holding her as she cried.

“My baby! My baby!” she sobbed, wailing as an image of what could have been her baby suddenly vanished from her mind.

“Honey, shhh, it’s going to be okay,” Parker soothed, his head resting against hers as she rocked on her knees. “It’s okay.”

She shook her head. “No. It’s not okay. It’s not.”

“We’ll leave the crib up. I won’t take it down. I promise,” he whispered, holding her closer.

Linda didn’t respond. She only nodded as she sobbed.

After a moment of silence, he spoke again. “Sweetheart, I’m sad our baby is gone, too, but you can’t go on like this. I think it might help to go to a grief support group.”

Linda’s mind raced. She knew Parker was right. This was a branch of hope, something she could cling to that might help her cope with her pain.

“Is there one?” she finally asked with a hesitant breath, swallowing the remaining tears in her throat.

Parker’s voice was soft as he whispered a response. “I’ll find out.”


Miscarriages happened to a lot of women, Linda soon found out, as she took in the sight of the women gathered for the support group. There were seven in this group, but Linda had seen other women waiting to attend the next meeting


She looked up and found the source of the voice. It was the person in charge of the group, a petite woman with a round figure and short black hair. She had welcoming blue eyes and a kind smile. She had a wedding band on her left hand and a bracelet with a heart charm around her right wrist. Her name was Joan and she had acted friendly towards Linda since Day One of their meetings. Now she seemed less interested as she spoke, a tired look on her face.

How many times could you sit through stories of women losing their babies before it started to be too much?

“Would you like to share, Linda?”

Linda forced a smile as she looked at the women surrounding her. They were the same women who had attended previous meetings. Then her eyes fell on a newcomer. She hadn’t noticed this woman before the meeting had begun, when everyone was chatting and getting a cup of coffee or a muffin from the table in the back of the room. This woman appeared to be in her late sixties, with gray hair reaching down her back and soft gray eyes.

She moved her gaze away from this woman. There was something about her that gave off a strange vibe.

Clearing her throat, she looked at various faces in the group. So now it was her turn to share her story. Lindahad prepared for this during past meetings, but as she formed the sentences in her mind to say now, she wished someone else would take her place. “My name is Linda. I recently lost my baby.”

A sob escaped her mouth and a woman sitting nearby squeezed her hand.

Wiping tears from her cheeks as she looked at the woman, the look of kindness and compassion in her face gave Linda the rope she needed to hang on.

She took a deep breath. “It was my second miscarriage. I really thought this pregnancy would be successful, because it lasted longer than the first. But I, uh.” She cleared her throat again. “We. My husband and I. We lost it.”

Tears ran down her cheeks and she clamped her mouth shut, refusing to allow the sobs to escape.

The meeting continued, with women offering their condolences and support. Then other women shared their stories. Linda stole glimpses of the older woman as she listened, noticing this woman kept staring at her.

Finally, when the meeting was over and everybody except the old woman hugged goodbye, Linda quickly made for the exit, tightly clutching her purse against her.


Linda turned, then wished she hadn’t. It was the older woman, looking up at her with concern.

“My name is Abigail Grace,” she said. “I apologize for bothering you, but I fear you are in danger.”

Linda studied her. “What do you mean?”

“I see her with you.”

Linda stiffened. “You mean the Lady in Black?”

When Abigail Grace nodded, Linda looked around. Then she shook her head before she looked at her again. “I don’t see her.”

The woman nodded. “She’s hiding, but I can see her quite clearly. She’s always nearby, even when you don’t see her. She’s waiting, you see.”

“Waiting for what?”

“For the next baby.”

Linda froze, her eyes widening. Now she was grateful she hadn’t gotten a cup of coffee like some of the others had. This woman telling her she was going to get pregnant again would have made her spit it right out. “What?”

“There will be another baby.”

Linda barely knew this woman, and this woman barely knew her, but right then and there, she wanted to slap her. Or strangle her.

Instead, she straightened and looked at the woman with a cold expression. “There isn’t going to be another baby.”

“Linda, I assure you there will be. You may think you won’t try for a baby again after your loss, but there is a baby in your future. I know. I have seen it. Please believe me, if only to save her life.”

Now Linda looked at the woman with confusion. “What do you mean, save her life?”

“Your future baby’s life,” Abigail Grace answered, looking directly into Linda’s eyes as she spoke. “You must understand, this is no ordinary ghost that haunts you. She is a vengeful woman who hated children when she was alive. She hates them still, even in death. She feeds on them, you see. Their souls. She makes them go away, as if they never existed.”

“How do you know this?” she demanded. “I never told anyone about this ghost.”

“You didn’t need to. I can see her, because she once haunted me. I am too old to bear children now, so she moved on to her next victim. You.”

Linda stared at this woman, trying to process everything she had just been told. On one hand, she had always suspected there was a connection between the Lady in Black and her miscarriages. On the other, it was too hard to believe. The rational part of her brain told her that ghosts can’t harm people, let alone one growing in the womb. But the other part remembered the nightmare she had the night before her ultrasound.

Swallowing the lump in her throat, her gaze softened as she stared Abigail Grace      down. This woman who seemed to be so serious and so earnest to help her. Well, what harm could it do to calm her worry? “What can I do to stop her?”

The woman sighed and removed a silver chain with a circular charm hanging from it. “I was given this medallion to wear, but it was too late for me.” She handed it to Linda. “Now it can be yours.”

Linda took the medallion. It had strange symbols on one side, like Egyptian hieroglyphs, and on the other was the face of something with the head of a hippopotamus, with hair parted into lappets, one on either side with the appearance of more in the back. She looked at the woman. “What is it?”

“It’s a medallion of the Egyptian goddess Taweret. She protects pregnant women, as well as children. It will keep the unborn baby safe,” Abigail Grace replied.

The reality of such a precious heirloom made Linda gasp in alarm. This was a necklace not meant to be worn; it probably belonged in a museum. “Oh. I can’t take this,” she said, holding it out to the woman. “I probably won’t try to have any more children, anyway.”

The woman studied her as she clasped her hand, keeping the necklace in Linda’s grip. “You never know.” Her gaze was serious as she added, “In the event of another pregnancy, wear it. And never take it off.”


“I’m so thrilled for you,” Linda’s mother said, smiling as she finished putting on her coat. She smiled down at the sleeping baby in her daughter’s arms then leaned forward to gently kiss her daughter on the cheek. Before she stepped out the front door, she whispered, “See you tomorrow.”

Linda nodded as she gently closed the door, hoping she didn’t make any sounds that would awaken her newborn. She gently locked the door then turned to carry her baby to the nursery. She stopped at the entrance to the living room to watch as Parker took down a large sign which read, “Welcome to the World, Lillian!”

Grinning, she resumed her walk to the nursery.

After she placed the blanket over her baby, she smiled and sighed with contentment as she stared at her daughter. She lovingly held the medallion she wore around her neck, quietly thanking the old woman she had met at the support group for the gift that had saved her baby’s life.

Linda took one last loving gaze at her sleeping child before turning to leave the room. She crept towards the door, not seeing the Lady in Black lurking near the crib.