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This happened to me with my first baby. I was the teenager.
The woman was older, had black hair, angry brown eyes, and wore a perpetual frown on her face. Chel had heard the nurse on the floor refer to her as Nan. They had had no conversation in the twelve hours they had been saddled together on the maternity floor.
A grandma type came in, said a few weird things, and had somehow made the older woman scowl even harder. As soon as grandma left, Nan picked up the baby rattle she had brought, and threw it with a loud crashing sound, onto the floor. It left a tiny pattern of yellow beads, and bits of pink and blue plastic in its wake.
At the age of nineteen, Chel was wise enough to not say a word. Nan’s face was contorted into a smirk now, she had tried to conceal it, but Chel was hypervigilant and missed nothing.
The look Nan gave her was angry, it said what are you looking at, without saying anything.
Chel had asked to be moved to another room four times, in secret written notes to Linda, their big-curled, blonde headed overweight nurse who said whatever she wanted, and in a loud proud way.
She knew the answer would be no, so she did not try a fifth time.
Chel’s baby Warren had already been brought to her four times to be fed. This was the maternity ward, after all. She had been asked if she wanted to keep him, and she kind of did, but the other woman in the maternity ward, had never had her baby, and her anger scared her, so she had asked them to keep him instead.
Where was Nan’s baby? Had her baby died? Can you still be in a maternity ward if your baby dies? Chel had been too tired at first to notice, then when she had, she had known better than to ask. When you asked things you should not, that is when the pain starts. She had learned that as one of her first lessons.
“Here is WARREN!” Linda announced as she brought in a little bundle in blue. Linda’s attitude always uplifted the entire room. She said this with a flourish, the way Ed McMann always announced Johnny Carson. She had an enormous grin. Chel smiled.
Chel smiled as her favorite new toy was plunked down onto her lap. She could barely contain her excitement, and she felt guilty for it. She began to nurse, not daring to look at Nan, wondering if she was watching, and if she was wearing an even deeper glare.
“What happened HERE?” Linda asked the room. Chel gave Nan a tiny glance. The older woman sat in stony silence, with her arms crossed, staring out the window. Linda went out, and came back in seconds with a broom and a dustpan. She whistled while she cleaned up the rattle. “We have had a report from the other hospital today,” she said. Chel stared at her. A clue?
Nan said, “Is she going to make it?” in a monotone voice, deadpan, as if the answer did not concern her either way.
“Unsure, but they are optimistic, much more so than yesterday,” Linda said. She gave Nan a little pat on the arm before she left and said, “I am praying for you both.”
Del stared down at Warren. She had to be the adult here. She knew what she had to do. He was staring back with those trusting I love you forever baby eyes. She took a deep breath, still scared, but knowing. “Is she talking about your baby?” she asked Nan.
The sad stranger in the next bed nodded. They had shared a room for thirteen hours, and it is the first time one had spoken to the other. Nan’s eyes teared up.
“I am so sorry,” Del told her.
“We prayed for a baby for thirteen years,” the woman said. Her voice broke. She began to sob. It was happening. A crack in the unbelievably unhappy room. A glimmer of hope.
Write Me An Emotion – Act Poetry Contest
Written 9-8-2018 Sponsor: Brenda Chiri
Copyright © Caren Krutsinger | Year Posted 2018