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Thursday, October 15, 2009

cont'd

Her water doesn’t break in the car. It doesn’t even break in the wheelchair at the hospital entrance while he is getting them signed in. In her mind that’s the way it should happen, bit it doesn’t. He is just there for support now. Ice chips, he must not forget ice chips. An orderly wheels her into an elevator and presses 2. There are only 3 buttons to press. “Steve,” she says to her husband who is tapping his feet on the elevator floor. “Steve.” She grabs his hand and the pain hits again. She squeezes and groans. “It’s ok, hon’,” Steve says in a soothing voice. He calms his whole body in an effort to ease his wife’s anxiety. It works.
“Steve,” she says again after the contraction dissipates. “What do you need Cheryl,” he asks, the calm still present in his voice. “Did you bring the suitcase?” “It’s in the car. I’ll get it in a minute.” The doors of the elevator open and the orderly wheels Cheryl out toward a desk. The two nurses behind the desk smile at Cheryl and point the orderly to a room at the end of the hallway. They don’t look or talk to Steve. He doesn’t like them.
The orderly, a dark, bald man of size, sets the brakes on the wheelchair and gingerly helps Cheryl into the bed. Cheryl notices the size of his hands and their unexpected softness and gentility. She lies in the bed wondering when Steve will get the suitcase. She would feel so much better knowing that it was ready and available. One of the nurses from behind the counter enters the room, still ignoring Steve.
The nurse is named Sadie according to the ID she has clipped to her scrubs. Sadie looks over a clip board. She wears neon floral pattern scrubs, sensible white and purple sneakers, and a bobbed and died hairdo that was in need of a touchup at the roots. She pulls pink reading glasses out of the breast pocket and places them on her nose. “You’re not due for 3 more weeks,” she says. “This is probably nothing. We’ll just check you out and probably send you home. Has your water broken? Your mucous plug?” “No,” Cheryl answers. “But my…” “Yeah, probably just false labor,” Sadie says as she walks out of the room. The second nurse, who ID claims her name is also Sadie, enters the rooms and walks silently toward the wardrobe next to the delivery bed. Steve looks at the clock on the wall; it is 5:45 pm.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Start

He wears a white button down shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbow, tucked into his khaki slacks, white socks and soft leather shoes. The shoes used to be black, but now had faded to gray after years of neglect. He thinks about shining them every time he passes the elevated kiosks in an airport or an affluent shopping mall, but he never does. He is always in a hurry at those places. He is in a hurry now too.

The suitcase he carries is soft sided, a cheap made-in-china freebie he gets at trade shows. It is full; the harder objects distort the sides and threaten to rip the zipper apart. He doesn’t care, she can bitch him out about it later. He opens the rear driver’s side door of the silver compact car and tosses the bag inside. He holds his hand in mid-air as he thinks over the contents of the bag. Nothing ultra fragile. He pulls his hand back and shuts the door. The dust under the carport swirls with the thrust. He wishes they had a garage. He hates the carport, especially with the dryness of this year. It’s like the goddamned dust bowl all over again. He has no idea what the dustbowl was like. He makes assumptions about history as he pushes his hand through his thinning black hair.

He is nervous as she waddles out of the house. She holds her hands cupped under her protruding belly, supporting the extra weight of the baby. She wears a flowing top, short sleeves bunched with elastic just off her shoulders, the print reminds him of a table cloth for a picnic that took place decades ago, the shirt follows the tangent from the furthest protruding point of her abdomen, but is long enough so that there is no gap before her pink, tapered sweatpants are visible. Her sandals are plastic and shiny; she hasn’t worn them before.

He rushes over and grabs her elbow as the screen door slams shut, rattling for a moment. She shoots him a look to remind him that she’s in no mood to be hurried by him, and he eases off the pace. He hurries back to the car, gets in the driver’s seat and starts up the engine and the air conditioner. He thinks this will help and starts to get back to his role as elbow support and helper, but she released one of her hands from its support position and waives him to keep in the car.

He rolls down the window with a sense of urgency. “You sure,” he asks. She nods her head, put her hand back in its place, pauses and groans, but stays upright and soon resumes her waddling march. He drums on the steering wheel and watches as she moved in front of the car toward the passenger seat. He makes sure the car is in park and places his foot even more forcefully on the brake pedal. Neither of them wants her to be run over right now. When she’s in the right spot, he leans over and opens her door, then hops out and half sprints, awkwardly, a course that follows hers. He helps her lower her body into the seat, attaches the seatbelt like they told him to in the classes, and gently closes her door.

He bolts back to his seat, opting to slide across the hood of the car instead of waste time running around it. He is amazingly successful. He wishes he had filmed it. She is not amused, he could have injured himself. And then what, huh? She pulls down the visor as he gets situated in his seat. He puts the car in reverse. She sees the lumpy suitcase. Yes, she knows she should have packed that suitcase and just let him be.