“The Bean” by Kenia Burke

Issue 18 / Summer 2019 / Abortion Ban Protest Special Issue


I thought of it as punishment, had I been walking the right path I wouldn’t be in this predicament. I questioned God’s use of me and my body. That was only my second mistake in the story. My first was the shot of Stoli’s vodka before peeing on the stick. It mocks me with an exclamation point tailing the word PREGNANT, as if I’m also excited about the matter. So condescending to believe that every woman wants to be congratulated instead of consoled.

I don’t let the stick see the tears roll down my face, instead I quickly toss it into the bucket and remove the trash. There is no need for a memento because there is no way I am keeping it. My life is fine the next few days as long as I have disbelief and denial. I silence my womb with cigarette smoke and sorrow. I can almost wash it completely away in the shower but the tenderness of my breast reminds me that my body is not my own. The thought of being a host disgusts me. A parasite, the product of lust and irresponsibility. Even if I wanted to keep it, it would be a bastard. There is no way I could, I tell myself.

My hands disobey me and cradle my belly when I sleep at night, my mind betrays me when I accidentally call it a name. Bean. Third mistake. Google is the only thing that keeps my mind occupied. I fetishize about getting the bean removed from me. Thoughts of my hormones returning to normal, my jeans being able to button, and my career being secured for the long haul gives me enough courage to do it.












Typing the word makes me feel dirty, so much so I dim my laptop as if there is kink or porn on the screen. My browser is incognito so God won’t have proof when it’s time for judgement. Images of the barbaric procedure are repelled from my conscience by a cold heart and made-up mind. God forgives, I tell myself. He knows what’s going to happen even before it does. I pray for a sign to change my mind. It doesn’t come. I understand God not wanting to talk to a murderer tonight.

I plead my case to him although he is silent. I know he is here and it frustrates me. He knows I can’t afford one. He knows I am working on my mental health. He knows I am not ready. I cry myself to slumber and my hands cradle my belly. The bean comforts me despite the scheduled removal. It’s enough for me to make amends with the bean. I promise that we will take care of each other until it has to leave. The bean is pleased because for the first time it allows me to keep down breakfast. Instinctively I nourish the bean without it asking, and although we cuddle at night I remind the bean to not get too comfortable. This is not your home.

I wonder if I hurt the bean’s feelings, I wonder sometimes if the bean has a soul. The internet tells me my bean is just a “Yolk sac.” It tells me that my bean doesn’t have fingernails, toes, or even eyes yet. This offends me although this should be making it easier to depart. My bean is different though. My bean does have a soul.

I convince myself my bean will simply be recycled to God after it is gone, instead of a hazardous waste basket filled with all the other beans taken there by the other unready mothers. I ask for forgiveness, but guilt isn’t enough to cancel the appointment. This was surely a mistake. We have a large breakfast on the morning of. I am somewhat saddened that it is our last. I attempt to ask for one last sign while driving. Just one. It doesn’t come.

I choose an all-woman facility for the compassion; instead they are cold and impersonal considering this is the place I’ll leave my biggest secret. I wonder if they will care for my bean after I’ve driven myself down the street from the procedure. Silly. A woman with a visible belly weeps upon entrance. I hear a nurse tell her that they’ve stopped funding for prenatal care. I judge her swiftly, knowing that you don’t come to a place like this for vitamins for your bean. You come here to get rid of it and make sure another accident doesn’t happen again in the future. I’m reminded of a morgue I once saw in a thriller looking around. They casually wash away trails of blood and tears with antiseptic. A sterile holocaust.

The nurse doesn’t ask me if i want to see it, instead she turns the ultrasound monitor away so my bean can’t ask me to keep it. “You’re in luck,” she says. “Early enough for the easy way.” Easy?

She places the tablet in my sweating palm. She explains it is the first step of the process. Once dissolved in my cheek, the oxygen supply will be cut off for my bean. The second pill will expel the remains from my body and into my toilet. I hesitate at the thought of my bean not even being in a waste basket with all the other beans alike. Instead, the reality is much worse not knowing that was possible. It’s enough for me.




Not. My. Bean.

RUN! It is so loud I can’t make out if it is myself, God, or my Bean yelling to me. But I oblige, bombarding my way through the recovery room. Mourning women sit pants-less, empty, and bean-less. I cry for them. I have to get my bean out of here. This is no place for my bean. My hands unintentionally cradle my belly. We fight through the heavy metal doors. I give us fresh air. It is enough for me to make amends with the bean, and despite the almost removal, it comforts me that I had the choice of saving it from a lifetime of uncertainty. My choice was mine. Your choice is yours.  I am a Mother of one, and one on the way currently. I am Pro-choice because one’s body cannot be governed by others.


Born in 1993 to a single Mother in Newark, New Jersey, Kenia Burke is no stranger to conquering adversity and prejudice with great passion. Women’s rights and the fight to be heard as an African-American millennial came naturally as she stepped into her destiny as a self-taught poet and writer, and as a single mother to a young girl growing up in today’s contrived climate. She was recently published in Rigourous Magazine. In her free time, she enjoys performing free verse poetry at local open mic nights, reading, and working on publishing her first sci-fi novel, Portraits. Her vision is to unite women through relatability and empower young girls by showing them anything is possible through hard work, passion, and determination.


  1. Stiiv

    Beautiful & harrowing, scary & comforting, all at the same time. Wonderful, wonderful work. [[]]

    • Kenia Burke

      Thank you all so much ❤ my heart is full

  2. Melissa

    I salute you

  3. Shaheer Henderson

    This was a beautifully written story of ones will to give life to an uncertain future. Here my cousin shows that even though you feel pushed to the edge… you still have the right to choose life. Greatly done.


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