"Ricky." I whispered into the darkness, trying to wake him. We were currently on our sofa-bed, it was only three am, and it was time.
"Ricky?" I tried again.
"Amy?" came his sleepy response. He yawned, and muttered something to himself about being woken up again by his very pregnant fiancé because of midnight cravings. I rolled my eyes.
"What can I get for you? Do you need me to run to the store?" As he became slightly more coherent, he became more anxious to why exactly I might wake him up so early.
"It's time." I whispered, and his eyed widened.
"Now." I clarified. He pulled out his phone to call my parents, to pick John up.
My parents where there in record time along with Nora, and, to my surprise, Bunny. We thanked them quickly and rushed to the car. Ricky drove at least fifteen miles over the speed limit. We arrived at the hospital, pre-packed bags in hand, ready for the birth of our second child. We were still very young… well, maybe a little younger than 'very young'. I was currently nineteen and Ricky just celebrated his twentieth, but financially, we could afford another child and Ricky was going into his third year of college next year. I would study at home for the first couple of months and then possibly join him on the educational path and leave Mia, our soon-to-be new family member, with Ricky while I went to night school. It meant less alone time with Ricky, but with a newborn there really isn't any allowance of alone time anyways, no matter how you approached it.
I was hustled into my room, and was ordered a place on the hospital bed, awaiting the contractions that, I knew from experience, would be quite painful. Ricky held my hand, soothing careful words into my ear. It was a much better labor with him around. John's had been spent with my mother holding my hand, because Ricky and I hadn't been together. I knew the family wanted to be here, but we needed them with John.
The contractions became closer and closer together, leaving me little time to recover before the next wave of pain came. It would be worth it though… The doctor gave a small gasp and shot a strange look at my fiancé.
"Richard? May I speak with you?" She motioned to him. I stared up at him for a moment and he looked down at me for approval. I nodded my head, wondering why they would have to speak privately right in the middle of my going into labor.
The assistant nurse took the seat where the doctor had just been. She gave a sad, sympathetic look in her eyes and I got a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach… Something was deeply wrong, I just didn't know what.
As the doctor led me outside of the room, I just knew something was wrong. The doctor sighed gruffly and looked down as if she couldn't tell whatever she was about to say to my face. I began getting suspicious and eyed her worriedly.
"Everything's okay… right?" I asked, concerned now. She sighed again.
"No, Ricky, I'm afraid everything is not okay." I felt a choking sensation and, for a moment, I couldn't even breathe. I took in a shaky gulp of air and asked the question that I didn't really want an answer to.
"Well, what's wrong then?" I asked almost harshly
"There have been some… complications."
"What kind of 'complications' do you mean, exactly?" I snapped. She didn't answer, just looked down again.
"I asked a question, dammit! What kinds of complications?" I whipped out.
"Something went wrong. We don't know! The tests came up clear but…"
"But what?" I growled, this had to be some kind of a sick joke.
"She can't breathe." The doctor whispered "The umbilical cord is strangling her to… to death." Her last word broke
"No." I whispered, I was numb, my beautiful daughter. Gone. It wasn't possible, it couldn't be, this stuff only happened in movies! And Amy… oh my god, Amy. She would never be able to survive this.
"But… We can save her?" I asked with a shred of hope, though I knew the answer, and it wasn't a yes.
"I'm sorry, Ricky. There's just no way. We would perform a much more complicated procedure, that may help the chances of a miracle, but the chances of the baby surviving woud be a one in ten chance. And Amy… She would be in a lot of physical pain. At Amy's young age, it would be much too dangerous to perform, and Amy could…" The doctor couldn't finish her sentence, but I knew the ending word. She was going to say "Amy could die." Die. I think the doctor was still speaking to me, her mouth was moving, but I heard nothing. Not the words doctor spoke, or the loud, beeping monitors. I couldn't even hear my own thoughts. It was all just a buzzing in the background. I could only hear one thing.
Amy could die.
Amy could die.
Amy could die.
I didn't realize I was crying until I felt the wetness slide down my cheeks and my vision blur with tears.
"Why? What did we do wrong?" I asked the doctor, I had to know. Did Amy bump into something that hurt her? Was is something she ate? A virus she caught?
"Nothing, Ricky… Nothing you could've done would do this. It all just happened at the wrong time. The baby shifted and the cord wrapped around her ne-"
"Please," I cut her off, "Don't. Don't go into details. I'm not a doctor. I'm a father, and I can't just hear that-that my daughter…" I bit my lip to keep from crying again. I looked down, in disgust.
"We have to tell Amy." I whispered.
"Yes. She should be almost finished with the… birth… we should probably go back in and… tell her. Sound okay?" She asked
"Nothing sounds okay to me right now." I clarified bleakly.
It was horrible. The scariest, saddest thing I'd ever seen. Amy has cried in front of me plenty of times, but never like this. She sobbed and thrashed and screamed just as Adrian had. And I cried too, just as Ben had. We finally understood their pain, their fear. We understood, but I wished we didn't.
A mixture of grief and sorrow, anger and regret ripped through me as I clutched the beautiful thrashing girl in my arms. Amy. She was more than heartbroken, she was… was… well, there are no words for it. When she calmed down enough that she could just barely talk coherently through the never-ending tears, she asked to see her. To hold Mia.
"P-please!" She had gasped "l-l-let me s-see her!" She wailed. "S-she was m-my dau-auter!"
The nurses obliged grimly. They brought a small baby into the room, and if I didn't know any better I would've thought our Mia was asleep. Unfortunately, I did know better and the baby was far from asleep. My fiancé kissed the baby's forehead whispering "Mia, our little Mia. We love you." This was what broke me. Actually seeing her. Seeing my baby, so lifeless. It was finally real to me. She was gone, without even a chance to live. I didn't want Amy to see me break down, but I couldn't do anything, I was helpless. I hunched over, kneeling on the ground next to the only two girls I'd ever loved. Only one of them would be coming home with me tonight.
I watched as Amy stroked our daughter's lifeless face, to my surprise, Amy began to sing. She sang in a broken voice that was thick with tears and weak with sorrow, but it was the most beautiful song I'd ever heard.
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away. "
Her voice broke several times and her lips trembled but it was as if she sang with the voice of an angel. I took my pale, lifeless daughter from her arms and sang along with her.
"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms. But when I awoke dear, I was mistaken, so I hung my head and cried."
Suddenly all of the doctors and nurses and even some nearby patients began to sing with us.
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away. " But when the song ended, they did take her away. They took her straight from my arms. My sunshine was gone.
We were silent, we didn't yell or scream or thrash. But we cried. It was a calmer kind of crying, but even more painful in a way that was hard to explain. I wanted to run. Just run away from this awful place. Run away from the terrible room. Away from this town, this state, this country. I wanted to run and never look back. But then I realized that no matter what, I had to stay, not necessarily in the room, or town or country, but with Amy. I had to stay with her because; no matter how much I hated and loved it at the same time, we were both powerless against the world without each other, and now we needed each other even more than ever.
We stayed there crying for what seemed like hours and seconds at the same time. Neither of us wanted to be the first to talk, but eventually, Amy sat up from her position and looked up at my with eyes running with mascara-stained tears.
"We have to leave." She whispered.
"I know." I responded, but there was little emotion in my voice.
"But I don't want to go home," she started "our parents will be there, and-and I can't explain what- what happened… I just can't!"
"I know." I murmured, trying to sooth her
"Ricky?" She asked hollowly
"hmm?" I was too tired and depressed to respond with anything else.
Her eyes filled with more tears
"I don't want to be like Ben and Adrian." She whispered, letting more tears fall.
"We won't be like them, I swear Amy. We had a life together outside of this baby. They didn't. They had a one-night stand, we didn't, we were engaged before the baby was conceived, and they weren't. We chose to get married because we loved each other, they got married because he got her pregnant. Just because we lost her doesn't mean we're going to end up divorced and depressed. I'm not gonna get drunk every night, I'm not gunna go around telling people I want out of our marriage. You aren't going to stuff your face every night, and become a crazy psychopath trying to get pregnant with anyone who can give you a baby. We'll be alright. I love you. You love me. That is the main thing that we have and they don't. Love. We have love, Amy."
"Leave. All of you, get out of the apartment, now. Take John with you. We- We need some… space tonight." I spoke into the receiver in my cell phone. Amy was trying to clean herself up in the bathroom before we went home
"Why? Was it another false alarm?" Anne asked
"No." was all I could manage to choke out. I heard cheering on the other line as Anne told them that Mia Eliza Underwood had been born. I almost laughed at their cluelessness. Key word: almost. Instead, anger took over. They shouldn't be celebrating. This was hell, hearing them cheer like that. It reminded me that right now, I should be telling them that they have a new granddaughter. I should be holding her. Laughing at her tiny hands. Right now those tiny hands were limp, never to move again. I threw my phone as hard as I could at the wall; it broke into pieces on the cool, tiled floor. Shattered. Broken. Smashed. Damaged. Ruined. Destroyed. It was like me.
"Ricky?" Amy came from behind me
"Oh, Amy. C'mon, let's go. "
"What happened to your phone?" She asked
"Nothing. Now, let's go. " I pressed
"you called them." It was not a question.
"I didn't tell them anything, just to leave before we got home. Did you want them to stay?" I asked, worried that she had been offended by the phone call to her parents.
"No. Thanks for doing that." She said, planting a kiss on my lips quickly. "I didn't really want them there at all."
But of course, they were.
"CONGRATS!" They yelled as we walked into the butcher shop. Everyone was there. Anne, Nora, Ben, Betty, Adrian, Grace, Jack, Tom, Even Bunny, everyone so many that I couldn't name them all. Amy lost it. All of that serenity she had built up, gone. She collapsed to the floor in tears, I kneeled down and the floor to help her up, but she pushed me away whispering "I don't want to get up." through tears.
"Get out." I growled. "NOW." Everyone just stared.
"I said leave!" I yelled, coming back to my feet again. No one moved.
"Go, dammit! Leave!" Nothing. I got back down with Amy, and forced her to stand up.
"No." She objected "I want to stay down." But I was too angry to care.
"Please." I begged, not wanting to actually force her up.
She quietly stood and, hand in hand, we made our way through the small crowd up to the apartment.
This was hell. She had never been so broken. The crowd downstairs had crushed her even more, had crushed us even more. I didn't know what to do; she'd locked herself in the bathroom, refusing to come out. I was sitting on the floor, back leaning on the back of the bathroom door. I begged her to come out, I was worried that she might be doing something worse than crying, like slitting her wrists or getting high off of the cleaning supplies from under the sink. I think we bot understood why Ben started drinking and doing drugs… getting high never felt like a better idea to me. I didn't sound half bad, actually, if I was happy on drugs… No.
I had to remember my father. The worthless drunken man who beat my mother every night. I had to remember my mother, the struggling alcoholic. If I turned to alcohol, I wouldn't ever be able to stop drinking. I had to remember them, they were always too high, hung-over or drunk to take care of their son. Too depressed and angry to even take care of themselves. That wouldn't be me and Amy. I would never hit her. She would never turn to drinking. John would never have a screwed up life like mine. Beaten by his criminal father, taking care of his not-so-sober mother, sleeping around to fill holes in his life, getting a girl pregnant at 15. Screwed up life. If I'd never went to band camp… My life would be worse. Yeah, having a child in high school was rough, but it fixed me. If not for my relationship with Amy, I wouldn't be this far. I'd still be at square one. But Amy… She would be better off. Living at home with little responsibilities. She would've still been the goody –goody Amy she was when I first met her. She would be the shy, happy, quiet Amy she was at fifteen.
But the real Amy… She was inside the bathroom crying her eyes out over our lost baby. The image of our still daughter flashed through my mind, and I cried too. I had to find someone to understand…
"Amy?" I asked, in a raspy voice
"What?" Her voice was thinned out with tears
"I think we should talk to them."
"Ben and Adrian."
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