long chapter, but I just wanted to get it over with. Probably my favorite to write
11:32am February 13th, 1997
Andrew walked slowly through the walls of the hospital with a plastic container of food in his hands. His legs just needed to move. He glanced out one of the windows as he passed by. In any other hospital he would have probably seen parking garages and dirty freeways, but this place was for rich people who paid a lot of money to look down into pretty gardens as they writhed in pain in their hospital suits.
But despite the money and the snobbiness, there were babies being born in rooms on either side of them as he walked through the halls. Mothers were nursing for the first time and dads were breathing into paper bags as they tried to control their panic. It was a beautiful thing in theory, but in practice it was less so.
Harriet had started having contractions around midnight and had been going for almost twelve hours with no end in sight. They’d sent her home twice now, but she was always so panicked that something would happen that she’d just come right back. Andrew couldn’t imagine it. The worst pain he’d ever had was when he broke his ankle sliding into home during a high school baseball game. Harriet had already refused pain killers, insisting that it wasn’t time yet. It sure as hell looked time enough for him. He couldn’t possible see how her…parts could get any bigger. And though it was the most disgusting thing a guy could think when his wife was laboring with his child, he couldn’t help but wonder if they would ever shrink back up.
He passed by the nursery twice on his rounds and he stopped by both times. Now on his third round, he saw two new little bundles of blue and a pail looking man staring down at them through the glass. Andrew approached him slowly, wondering if he would take flight like a startled bird.
“Yours?” He asked, looking at the two boys.
The man nodded and pointed to the one on the left, than they right. “Aiden and Rory.”
“They’re beautiful.” Andrew said, and they were. “Congratulations.”
He nodded, though he hadn’t taken his eyes off his sons. “Thank you. Do you have one in here?”
“Not yet.” He said. “Still waiting on mine. A girl. Our first.” and last.
“Girls are nice.” He said. “I have another little girl at home. You never get used to it, coming in here and seeing them. God,” He laughed. “I can’t even remember when I last ate.”
“Here,” Andrew held out the container of assorted sliced fruits and a ham and cheese sandwich.
The man looked at it. “Oh, no it’s—”
“Really here.” He handed it to the man and he took it hesitantly. “I only got it just to get an excuse to walk around. I already ate and the wife says she’s never eating hospital food again. Going to be difficult considering she works here.”
“Really?” The man raised his brows. “What’s she do? Mine’s a pediatric nurse. Ironic.”
Andrew nodded. “General surgeon, just started a couple months ago and right into maternity leave.”
“Ah, a big shot.” The man chuckled. “Ask your wife if she knows her. Lisa, down in pediatrics.”
“I will,” Andrew promised. “Just as soon as she can speak without yelling at me.”
They both laughed.
1:07pm February 13th 1997
“Where have you been?” Harriet demanded as he walked through the door. “You’ve been gone for hours. Should I be worried?”
From the look on his face, he was probably thinking she needed to worry about her mental state. “I went home and got your book like you asked. And I’ve only been gone twenty minutes.”
“Don’t fu¢king correct me.” She told him. Who the hell did he think he was? “I’m bringing your child into the world and you think it’s okay to act all smug?”
“I don’t—I didn’t…” He took of his glasses and slumped into the chair beside her and rubbed his eyes like he was tiered. “Sorry.”
Harriet opened her mouth to respond, but she was interrupted by a sharp pain rising up and up in a mammoth whirlpool that slowly turned her insides and bones into mush. She screamed and grabbed for Andrew. She latched onto what she assumed was a hand and her muscles forced her hand to contract painfully around it.
“I can’t believe I wanted this to come sooner.” She growled through her clenched teeth. “Why did you think having a baby was a good idea?”
Andrew wasn’t dumb enough to even attempt to respond. Uokalani had decided to stick around another few days after she was supposed to come out to play. She was a stubborn thing and this labor was the result of a second inducement. Lazy little beast. Even now she didn’t seem very inclined to come out into this cold world. If it weren’t for the suction cups on Harriet’s stomach tracking the baby’s heartbeat, she would have thought she was dead. Harriet’s poor, exhausted body was trying its best to flush her out, but her daughter simply wasn’t having it.
“Why can’t she just come out now?” Harriet sobbed, gripping the rails of the hospital bed.
“You were a twenty-hourer.” Harriet’s mom said as she came into the room, putting her dripping umbrella in the corner. Harriet hadn’t even known it was raining. “Hurts like a bit¢h doesn’t it? I only had Phyl with me.”
“Now’s not the time to regale me with your miserable past.” Harriet said. She would regret it later, but for now she didn’t give two $hits. “Forget Uokalani. Let’s just name her Wednesday. Wednesday’s child is full of woe, that’s perfect.”
“Because we’re not the Addams Family.” Andrew replied and then flinched back when Harriet glared at him
“Also,” Aunt Phyl pushed her way into the room. “It’s Thursday.”
“Thursday’s child has far to go.” Her dad said after ushering Quinn into the room.
“Shut up! No she doesn’t!” She yelled at her dad through another contraction. It was like her skin was literally going to rip open and peal back like a pathetic horror movie.
“Name her Apollo Superior.” Quinn said as he set up his little portable paint kit in the corner on the table around discarded food containers.
Harriet had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from screaming at him. The next person to make any sort of suggestion or commentary was going to get slugged.
“We’re not naming the baby after an owl.” Andrew said for around the fifth time in the past day since she’d gone into labor. Quinn’s favorite owl from the zoo had died last week and he was in a bad place over it. They’d had to drag him out to get him here. Apparently he had painted his entire room black with his art paint and now they were having to pay for it. God help her if Uokalani ever tried anything like that. She had better be a perfect fu¢king angel
“When does it end?” Harriet cried.
“When the baby gets here.” Her mom said.
Harriet chucked a pillow at her.
3:28pm February 13th 1997
The kids were spread out throughout the room and talking noisily. Luckily for them and Em they could talk and yell and laugh however loud they wanted since the band and choir rooms were separate from the rest of the school, the only one with access to the outside world through the closed gate besides the office. Sometimes Em would charge kids a dollar to sneak in through the band room to avoid getting a late slip from the office. He kept the money in the little freezer in his office just so he could tell the kids he was making cold, hard cash.
In truth though, teaching was more of an internal reward than a greens reward. His check was much lower than he thought it would be, especially since he was the new kid on the block. But he forgot about it the first time his newby freshmen played hot crossed buns together almost flawlessly. His flutes and oboes and clarinets and one violin up front and right, trumpets and alto and tenor saxes behind them. To the left were his tubas and French horns and trombones and baritones. Behind them all were the percussion kids. He didn’t trust any of them. Whenever he looked back there they were always giggling like they had done something, only he could never figure out what it was.
At first they had all sounded like dying fire trucks. His class of freshmeat was at the end of the day so he could go home and drink a beer in the bathtub after dealing with them. He didn’t understand why they hadn’t just started in middle school like his other freshman class. His strings class sounded divine and his drummer kids had already marched their football kids into an undefeated season. But his freshmeats…well they sounded better now, even Jordan who was almost certifiably tone deaf. He loved them for it. Who cares about some check when they waltzed into class smiling everyday, happy to play?
He’d gladly sell them all to be at the hospital with Andrew and Harriet right now, waiting for his little niece to be born. He was Uncle Em, he’d already checked, though Andrew thought they should go with Auntie Em and they could nickname Uokalani Toto or something. Harriet had shot that down before it even took flight. A bitter disappointment.
“Mr. Mavros?” One of his clarinetists came up to him, her index finger in her mouth and a pained expression on her face.
“What’s up Mandy?”
“Do you have a Band-Aid?”
“Yep.” He pulled open the little drawer in his bulky music stand and pulled a Snoopy Band-Aid out from under a wound up E violin string. “Here.”
“Thanks.” She said and wondered off.
Em clicked his little conductor’s wand against the stand in anxiousness which caused several kids to look over, thinking they were being called to attention. He looked at the clock on the wall. Either it was wrong or the bell schedule was off. It hadn’t mattered before, but it did now. It was a four hour drive to Bel Air and babies didn’t keep schedules. He’d watched his nine nieces and nephews be born plus a few cousins, so he knew a thing or two. Poor Andrew had never even seen a TV birth and was probably freaking out right around now.
The bell rang out suddenly, loud and clear. Em was gone before the first kid had even approached the door.
“See you Monday!” He shouted as he headed off to the teacher’s parking lot. The non-band kids that sere slowly filtering out were staring at him like a lunatic as he ran, but his own kids were used to his little oddities. He didn’t plan on seeing them Monday because he was going to—cough, cough—develop—cough, cough—a bad cold down south and have to stay a couple more days.
He unlocked his car door and chucked the brief case he carried around just for aesthetic into the back along with a duffle bag full of clothes and belongings that he’d packed when Andrew called that morning.
With a full tank of gas and four hours’ worth of junk food in the passenger’s seat, Em took off heading south, ready to meet baby Toto.
6:50pm February 13th 1997
The woman’s hair flew in the gentle breeze that carried black leaves across the cracking floor of Hell. She wore no clothes, leaving her milky pale skin the only bright color as far as the eye could see in any direction. Her nipples were brown and swollen and dripping blood like a cow leaking milk.
The sky was a worrisome grey so close to black it was almost of no consequence. Deep violet clouds rolled in the background over the mountains made from nothing but ash and slow moving, molten rock that slid downward like molasses. The grass was dead and dry and half burned. Some of it still glowed, the colors moving hypnotically between shades of orange and red, casting off little sparks that started more fires. The gentle flames licked up the woman’s ankles adding further agony, though her face showed none of it.
Her belly was so full, it was cracking and oozing around the sides of it as the creature within tried to force its way out.
“Come Abaddon.” The shadows whispered, awaiting the arrival of their dark salvation.
“Slit her throat.” One of them whispered. “Slit her throat. Slit her throat.”
He silences it with a streak of golden light that flowed out from the dark place between her legs. The shadows fought against it, combating the light with their own dark serpents that flowed and oozed and fled the woman. An ashen dragon with a lions main and red horns flew around Hell, its wings unfolding until the sky was almost entirely blacked out.
Despite the shadows and the serpents and the flying demon, the woman’s face remained calm, her eyes closed and her face raised up toward the sky as if trying to gaze upon heaven one last time before the serpent blocked it to her forever. One hand was trying to keep her belly from tearing apart by stitching up the rips, but a little winged monkey with a devil’s smile clipped them apart with his razor sharp talons as she sewed. The other hand was reaching up and out like she was reaching for someone she couldn’t see.
“Push her.” One of the serpents whispered. “Push her, shove her.”
But it was silenced as a little dwarfen creature stabbed it through the back and twisted the bright, golden knife, the light seeping through the serpent’s slimy skin like poison, leaving veins of salvation ripping across its body. A demon monkey descended from the purple clouds, determined to strike down the creature of light and—
“$hit, Quinn.” A bright ray of light broke through a wing if the flying creature, flooding the woman below with golden light. He looked up at Andrew. “Do you need a break?”
He looked back to the thick splatters of paint that made up the scene on the canvas. Seminar stared down at the painting, his head cocked as he took in his second existence as a dwarfish warrior of light. Quinn looked him to see if he was pleased or not, but he disappeared only to reappear on the foot of Harriet’s hospital bed. Like an eye-floater that you could never quite look at in full
“Yes.” Quinn replied. “Probably.”
9:13pm February 13th 1997
She watched her daughter sleep fitfully for hours. Hattie had finally fallen asleep around seven thirty and had been on and off since then. She was still refusing the epidural, but wasn’t opposed to some sleep meds. That didn’t stop her from moaning in her sleep as the contractions came and went, a little closer each time. When Mary had had her daughter, she had drugs the whole twenty hours through and was so out of it by the time she arrived that Phyl had had to play mother for a while. Harriet was now an hour over her own labor time.
Mary stroked a bit of her daughter’s blonde hair back from her face. Harriet didn’t look a thing like her. For a long time she had fooled herself into thinking she did. She would find tiny obscure things about how her fingernails were ridged or the angles of her ears, but it was all a lie fool the both of them.
She had been nearly twenty-three when she’d had Harriet, mere months from finishing pre-med school before she’d dropped out. Her parents wouldn’t have paid for the rest of it anyway, she was just a lost cause. When she’d told her mother she didn’t know who the father was, they’d thrown her out. She didn’t even live with them anymore and they’d thrown her out. She tried to explain it wasn’t her fault, but they wouldn’t hear it.
It was her fault in some way though. Phyl had always told her that it wasn’t and she shouldn’t think like that, but in twenty-eight years things hadn’t changed. It was her decision to go out that night, her decision to go to that trashy club after dinner, her decision to get so drunk she couldn’t feel her own feet. That much at least was her fault. She had once tried to convince herself that someone had drugged her, but over the years, little blips and blurs of that night had come to the surface, enough to know that no one had drugged her. Enough to know she’d said yes too.
To William at least. How many other there had been, if she’d said yes to them too, she didn’t know. But she had said yes to one and the rest had just fallen in line. She wondered if they’d fought over her like dogs with a bone. She couldn’t remember.
William had lived around the corner from her as long as she could remember. He was her older brother’s friend and she’d had the biggest girlhood crush on him. She used to write MRS. MARY WILLIAM GREEN all over her notebooks until she got sent to the principal’s office for not paying attention in class. She used to day dream about running away with him and joining the circus and having a trapeze act with him and everyone would cheer…Even after the worst of it had faded, her heart still fluttered every time he spoke the littlest word to her. She sometimes wondered if she had gone to pre-med at that specific university just because she knew she might see him as he went to and from his law classes. She did end up seeing him, enough for him to actually realize she had a name that wasn’t Rich’s Little Sister. They had become friends and had even flirted sometimes despite the fact that he was going with another girl.
She’d lost her virginity to him that first year, and a week later he left for the war and didn’t come back for another two years. He’d been a different person after that. PTSD, though they didn’t really know what it was back then. He dropped out of law school, though he remained part of their friend group, at least one branch of it. He didn’t really talk to her after that, not until he invited her out to drink to celebrate his twenty-seventh birthday. She knew she shouldn’t have been drinking, knew he shouldn’t have been drinking, but she was so eager to be close to him again. She remembered saying “yes” to him through the fog, remembered being asked, remembered saying the word…she just didn’t remember what happened after. If he’d left or—or shared her or anything.
Phyl dragged her home later on and only asked what happened once. William came looking for her about a week later, but Phyl had said she was visiting her parents and didn’t say another word to him. Mary had stopped talking to her friends after it happened, even the ones who hadn’t been there. It all just reminded her of the fact that she couldn’t even remember what happened. She’d quit school when she found out she was expecting and Phyl had followed faithfully, working odd jobs when Mary couldn’t get hired anymore due to her belly and ringless finger. They’d gotten itty bitty trailer near a tent city and had taken the charity of those hippie priests and flower children with gratitude.
William reportedly asked Rich about Mary twice in the following years, once when word spread she was pregnant and once after she had delivered. Poor Rich never knew the truth. Mary and told her brother that it was actually some guy from one of those traveling circuses that were going around, but she’d been too embarrassed to tell their parents. And that’s what he told William after he persisted. He stopped coming around after that.
But when Harriet had been born with that blonde hair and those dark eyes and the subtle dimple in her chin…even now, laying pale and sweaty in the hospital bed, all Mary could see was little Willy Green from around the corner who used to let her tag along when he and Rich would go fishing. Phyl knew as well, but still to this day she had never said a word of it.
She had decided after Hattie was born that if William came around again, she would tell him. She had said yes after all, and he had tried to find her again afterward—though it was some time afterward. He never did come back. The circus story had finally driven him off, she supposed. Or he realized he wasn’t wanted.
She had seen him once more after that, years later. She and Arthur had set up a picnic at a park that was hidden under trees near a little pond. Hattie was seven and already far too smart for her own good. She and Arthur had made her put her book down for once and had told her to go play. She’d wandered around aimlessly for a while, at a total loss without her books…until she had struck up a little friendship with a girl maybe a year or two younger. The girl’s father, who had been down by the pond with a little boy, had invited her to come fish with them.
Mary took one look at his face and knew it was William, clean and sober and healthy, with laugh lines around his mouth and a wedding ring on his finger. He hadn’t seen her, but she had seen him. She had expected that if she ever saw him again, she would hate him. Hate him for leaving her, hate him for letting her get drunk, hate him for being sick, hate him for not trying harder afterwards…but she didn’t. She didn’t feel any hate or even anger as she watched him help the girl he didn’t know was his cast out the fishing line as he used to do for Mary when they were kids.
Twenty-one years later, Harriet still don’t know she had once fished with her father and brother and sister one summer day at a hidden park. She knew now that her father wasn’t a flyer from a traveling circus as she believed at the time, but Mary could never bring herself to tell her and she never asked. If the time ever came that she did, Mary didn’t know what she would say.
“Hi mama.” Harriet whispered as her brown eyes fluttered awake.
“Hi baby.” She pet her blonde hair and held her hand as another contraction worked its way silently through.
“I think I’m ready for the epidural now.” Hattie said quietly as it faded away
“Okay, baby. I’ll go find a nurse.” Mary said and started to stand, but Harriet held onto her hand.
“What is it?”
Harriet looked up at her with those brown eyes and dimpled chin, but for the first time, she didn’t look like William’s daughter. She just looked like Hattie.
“What was that song?” She asked. “That you used to sing when I was little? About the flying man?”
Mary lowered herself back into the chair and squeezed her daughter’s hand tight.
“He floats through the air with the greatest of ease,
The daring young man on the flying trapeze.
His actions are graceful, all girls he does please,
And my love he has stolen away.”
11:43pm February 13th 1997
Veronica couldn’t stand the screaming. She wasn’t like Harriet or her mother who could stand on a battle field and never flinch once. So instead she sat in the waiting room a few yards away. It wasn’t enough.
Despite the epidural, Harriet was still in more pain than Veronica knew possible. Veronica had a fear of pain and blood as did Quinn, Andrew’s little brother who sat beside her, rocking back and forth in the chair with his hands over his ears, staring straight ahead at the wall. Veronica wanted to reach out a hand and comfort him, but thought better of it. She didn’t know how to deal with kids like Quinn or really kids in general.
Not that he was really a kid anymore, technically. She had attended the small gathering in a quiet corner of a grubby old pizza place over the ocean last month for Quinn’s eighteenth birthday. The party had ended early after Andrew accidentally let slip that some owl had died and Quinn had slipped into a total breakdown, complete with him trying to stab Andrew with a fork when he tried to take him back to his home in the institute.
Veronica was about to get up and see if she could find her dad or someone to help when Andrew came out of the birthing room, face pale, hands shaking, glasses missing, and curly hair going everywhere. Veronica thought he looked beautiful, but knew better than to say anything of the sort, to even fully think about it.
“Is there a baby?” She asked instead, half rising out of her plush armchair.
“No.” Andrew’s voice was distant and he shook his head harder than need be to get the message across. “She hasn’t even started pushing. I—Quinn are you alright?”
Veronica tried not to frown as he walked right by her to his brother and softly touched his curly, jet black hair. Quinn flinched, but calmed down after he seemed to realize it was Andrew and not some monster or whatever touching him. She didn’t know what Quinn saw or heard and wasn’t sure she wanted to know. She’d had an imaginary friend named Gary once, many years ago. She had made him up because she had no friends other than Harriet who was always busy. She was too skinny to play ball with the other kids, too shy to sit with anyone at lunch or recess, and too quiet to get noticed in class. To this day, it had not changed. She had imagined Gary with curly hair and green eyes and a funny smile and freckles. She had forgotten about him until she met Andrew who looked as if he was born from her imagination. She had never really seen Gary as Quinn saw his things, but he had been her friend for many years and it was like he had suddenly come to life…
Only this Gary was married and seconds away from becoming a father.
“Vee,” Andrew said, looking up at her, his face still pale. “I know this is selfish to ask, but I have to go back in there. Could you maybe take Quinn for a walk? Maybe go get some hot chocolate from the cafeteria? He likes it with a candy cane.”
“Yeah, sure.” She said without thinking. She usually said yes to anything he asked without thinking. It just amazed her that someone like Andrew would even notice she was there to ask something of.
“Thank you.” He said, smiling tiredly, but truly. “Um, we’re on phone extension 4-3-7 if you need anything. If he starts acting up, this place is full of doctors and nurses, but I think he should be fine. Thank you again. Quinn, go with Vee to the cafeteria and please be good for her.”
Quinn practically jumped to his feet and came quickly over to Veronica, still rocking on his feet with his hands over his ears. It was odd to see such behavior in a boy tall and strong enough to be a basketball star, but he couldn’t help either of those things. Veronica watched Andrew open the door back to the room just as Harriet let out another howl. She wished both of them well from the bottom of her heart before setting off to the cafeteria, Andrew’s little brother following behind like a lost duckling.
11:59pm February 13th 2997
“I-swear-to-god-the-next-person-who-tells-me-to-push-is-losing-an-eye-ball!” Harriet screamed as she gave another heave, her entire body trembling in the process.
“We’re just like drill instructors—” Em tried to say, but was interrupted by another scream of rage from Harriet who had fallen back against the pillows.
“Fu¢k you and your drill instructors Elias Mavros!” She screeched. “Have you ever shoved anything this big out of your ******?”
Em paled a little bit. “I don’t have—”
“Really?” She interrupted again. “Because I’ve heard stories and I’m pretty sure you’re actually a—ow! Fuuuuuuck!”
“What did you tell her?” Em hissed at Andrew, using Harriet’s wailing to hide the conversation from the others in the room, including Aunt Phyl, Harriet’s parents and Andrew’s mom, and Jacob and several nurses and doctors that he couldn’t recall the names of.
“Focus.” Andrew whispered back, avoiding that conversation.
Andrew’s hands were both sore and bruised to the point that if he had half a mind available to think about it, he would give Harriet something else to squeeze. But he barely had a fourth of a mind, so he just went with whatever it was Harriet was screaming at the moment. The epidural was supposedly working, but Andrew didn’t believe it. Jacob had told him earlier that a lot of the screaming was natural because anger actually helped the body release stress or whatever and the pain she was feeling was not so much pain as it was pressure. Em had made the comparison of getting a tooth pulled with a numbing shot, but got slugged in the groin for it. Harriet was not a happy about-to-be mother. Her head lulled and she got that look on her face she always got right as another contraction came.
“Puu…” Andrew trailed off as Harriet screamed, half in anger, half in pain.
“Just one more.” The doctor sitting on a chair between her legs.
“You said that ten pushes ago!” Harriet wailed.
“It’s a doctor’s white lie.” Dr. Thatcher said, utterly calm. He barely seemed to notice that it was his daughter in labor and not some other patient. Or maybe he had just gained the ability to look like he didn’t care when he was actually panicking inside. Andrew envied him.
“You know how it goes.” Jacob said.
“Why won’t she come out?!” Harriet bellowed the last word. “I’ve carried her for forty-one weeks, the least she could do is—ahhhhh!!!”
“There’s the head.” Jacob said, peering over the doctor’s shoulder with the flock of nurses. Andrew’s heart stopped beating as he just stared at Harriet’s cousin. Was he messing with them or—Harriet’s responding groan disproved the theory right away. “Op, there it goes again.”
“Wha—where’d it go?” Andrew asked stupidly. Jacob just looked up with a single dark brow raised. “Oh.”
Harriet let out a cry of distress and fell back onto her pillow, her body twisting to the left. “Mom.”
“I’m right here.” Her mom said and gripped Harriet’s other hand and wiped her brow with a cool cloth. “You’ve got this. Just think how amazing it’s going to be once she’s here?”
“Diapers and crying a puke?” Harriet asked, a legitimate question. She sounded about three years old.
“Yep,” Her mom pet her sweaty hair and smiled down at her. “And a perfect baby that you’ll love forever.”
“Yeah,” Harriet nodded, close to tears. Andrew had never seen a more exhausted person in his life. “Okay.”
“Again.” Jacob said, apparently not fearful of losing eye balls.
Harriet took two, quick sharp breaths inward and shoved with all her might. The nurses started stirring and Jacob tried to wipe a smile from his face with a hand. Andrew could only stare, not even feeling his hand as Harriet squeezed it so hard something popped.
A cry echoed throughout the room and Harriet fell back upon her pillow, laughing and crying at the same time. The cry continued and Andrew watched, eyes wide, as the doctor held up a tiny little wrinkled thing that was covered in pink cottage cheese. Its eyes were closed tight and its fists were clenched and its gummy mouth was wide open and screeching for high heaven.
Andrew almost fainted.
The doctor laid the baby down on a blue cloth someone was holding and attached a silvery scissory thing to what he was assuming was an unbiblical cord. Had they looked like that in the pictures at all the classes? It looked like a hose the color of weird yellow mucus.
“Do you want to cut it?” The doctor asked and offered Andrew the scissors. He felt Harriet touch a soft hand to his back, urging him on. Andrew took the scissors because that’s what good husbands and fathers do—and cut the cord.
Everyone ignored the loud gagging sound he made as he cut through what felt like fat from a steak and they carried the baby off and put her on a scale. They quickly shoved a stick thing in her mouth which made her scream even louder and then wrapped her up nice and tight in a blanket and cap and carried her over. Straight to him.
Andrew almost told them pass, but they shoved the screaming bundle into his arms before he could do anything about it. He felt like he was going to drop her, so he sat immediately down in the chair beside Harriet’s bed and tried to hold her over his lap just in case. The screams slowly subsided and the entire room quieted.
“Hi baby.” He whispered and he became aware of Harriet leaning over. Why did they not give them to the mother’s first? But she was already with him and he didn’t think he could move to hand her over.
She was itty bitty, way smaller than he’d thought she would be, smaller than the dolls at the classes Harriet had dragged him to. He face was wrinkled and plump and she slowly peaked open her eyes. They were a dark blue looking color and she looked as confused as a dough ball could be. Her little dew drop mouth was open and she was just staring at him.
“Yeah,” He found himself saying with a little laugh. “What just happened? Was that weird?”
She just blinked at him again, her face totally blank. He could see the little colorless hair above her wrinkly eye lids that would one day become eye brows. Andrew gently tugged back her little hospital cap, curious about what was underneath. She had a thin mop of brown hair that seemed to curl a little bit just around the edges. He pulled it back a little more and immediately located a cowlick. Oh, the poor thing.
“Time?” The nurse who was filling out a paper in the corner asked the one who had been watching the clock.
“12:03am.” She replied. “February 14th.”
Harriet laughed a little bit, though Andrew didn’t understand why. He looked away from the baby and at his beautiful, sweaty wife.
She smiled with tears in her eyes and gripped his arm. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”