Elsa Buffett had not bled for months. She suspected she was with child, but wanted her mind to remain three steps away from that belief. Elsa knew she would tell her mother soon, thus shaming her family’s name in the guise of love. She had not seen Philip since the encounter leading to this beginning of life. She doubted his pledge of undying love and loyalty for his actions were louder than meaningless words. Elsa’s mother, Elizabeth Buffett, had been in a heartless marriage to Oscar since she was betrothed in late adolescence. Elizabeth loved her children, she just did not love the way they were conceived. They were both a joy and a curse to Elizabeth, reminding her she was stripped from choice until the day Oscar died, so help her God! Elsa was the rebellious child of the six; She had a determination and spontaneity in her Elizabeth could not comprehend. Elsa had a freer spirit than was allowed in this era and when Elizabeth predicted the challenges Elsa would face by just being herself, it shook Elizabeth to her core. Oscar did not have much to do with his children other than provide financially. Elizabeth preferred her husband let her be while he gallivanted outside in business pursuits and other affairs. Elsa was not fearful of her father, she was more curious about the man who eluded her. Seems Philip may be a man from the same mold. Elsa garnered the courage to pull Elizabeth away from darning socks and preparing the laundry for the next day’s scrub. Elsa asked her mother to come out to the garden for a spell. Elizabeth fussed and excused herself for she had important tasks to complete in order to ensure the household ran with ease. Elsa used her spontaneity superpower to melt her mother’s heart, tugging Elizabeth’s apron like she had when a wee girl. Elsa broached the topic gently stating she had not seen her monthly for some time. Elizabeth paled and stuttered, “How could this be, Elsa?” Elsa shared the situation with her mother. She elaborated with passion and dramatic twists the love story which was hers and Philips. That is a story for another time. The one that matters is to come. Elizabeth listened with concern, her heart breaking for her beautiful daughter whose life would never be the same. Elizabeth had such hopes for Elsa to break free from the stifling control of the men surrounding her. Elizabeth asked Elsa what she planned to do. Elsa thought for a moment, then said, “I would like to abort this child.” Elizabeth was taken aback. Abortion was dangerous and illegal. It could kill her daughter as well as the child attached to life by Elsa’s body. It was risky in other ways. Abortion could lead to scandal and community shunning. If rumors soared, there would be the scarlet letter attached to her daughter’s chest forever. Elizabeth paused to weigh the options for her daughter, then said, “I will make arrangements.” Elsa exhaled the breath she was unaware of holding. She then went to hug her mother in gratitude. Elizabeth stiffened, then relaxed into Elsa’s arms. It should have been the other way around. Elizabeth made connections with the ‘undesirables’ as privately as possible. She resourced the person known for the procedure and made the appointment. Elsa was informed and Elizabeth offered to go with her daughter in hopes to make this all go away. The moment arrived where the women’s lives were suspended in the balance. They were greeted by an elderly man, hunched over with the burden of other men’s secrets. He opened the rusted metal door weighing more than he did. The women entered the underground tunnel hand in hand, descending the staircase of a storage cellar. This dank environment was musty, smelling of soil and fear. The man nodded to the platform, eyeing Elsa and the bump of her abdomen beginning to swell. He estimated the fetus as four months. He asked if his guess warranted truth and Elsa confirmed the timeline. He extracted the payment from Elizabeth with as much empathy as he would the fetus. He was not harsh or unkind; this man went through the motions of what his fate had become. The couple were known as the Caretakers. Their real identity had long been lost as the man and his wife were no longer called by their given names. The Caretakers lost many women by bleeding out or becoming infected by the procedure, but they had also saved as many. He lost track of how many women he and his wife had helped or killed. He accepted the odds. He wondered if the toll would take him and his wife soon enough. He was not a praying man, by nature, but prior to meeting each woman passing through his cellar door he threw out a plea to a God he did not understand. His wife, a meek woman stepped out of the shadows of the room. Her fingers were curled and stiff with arthritis. She introduced herself and her husband as they were known and gave instructions for Elsa to prepare. Elsa was uncomfortable undressing and laying vulnerable splayed in front of these two elders and her mother, but she was determined to proceed. A lantern hung over the foot of the platform where the procedure would take place. Boiling water had found its way down the stairs by the dilapidated old man without spilling a drop. He knew exactly how much water the wooden bucket could contain to reach its destination intact. The wife brought out a whalebone probe to scrape the fetus from implantation. She dipped the bone into the boiling water, then set it out to dry in the moldy air. She did the same with scissors, then mixed a concoction for Elsa to drink. Elsa held her mother’s hand as she lay prone on the platform, with her petticoat hiked up to her neck, naked below. She shivered blindly in fear and expectation as the midwife mindlessly took the tool, shoved it through her vagina, cervix, and into the uterus, causing Elsa excruciating pain. Elizabeth was shocked and Elsa started to cry out. Elizabeth froze, attempting to comfort her daughter saying “it will all be over soon, so think of something else, anything else!” Elsa writhed on the platform, saying, “please stop!” The midwife did not stop. She told Elsa to relax and to just calm down. Her husband handed her dampened clothes and tools in rote movements. Elsa cramped and contracted. Her baby was being aborted. She thought, “Please let this be over soon!” What happened to everyone involved here was too horrifying. A tiny sack was expelled from Elsa’s body; containing cells that had evolved into a little boy’s body. Ten tiny fingers and ten defined toes complete with nails were visible. The slits of this six ounce baby’s eyes were fused but under the lids were hints of blue. The midwife placed him into a gunny sack and her husband tied it swiftly so neither Elizabeth nor Elsa got to see the little creature. the Caretakers had taken care of. The Caretakers left the cellar with the gunny sack, tools, and the water bucket. They abandoned a bleeding Elsa on the platform without a goodbye. Elizabeth resumed where the Caretakers left off, using the soiled clothes to blot her daughter’s blood from between her legs. Elsa Buffett was bleeding again. She never stopped.