"Lana?" Came a voice.
Lana looked up from her place in bed, trying hard to open her eyes. She'd been sleeping almost peacefully for the last few hours, glad to finally be alone and away from the child she'd been, wanting to part with for the last nine months. Lana had heard the sounds of a screaming infant on and off for hours now as she dozed in and out of sleep, but hadn't bothered to look up until someone called her name.
"I told you I didn't want to see her." She curtly reminded.
She didn't want to see her or hold her. She was even upset that she'd been notified of what she'd had in the first place. Whatever it was, boy or girl, she just wanted it out of her presence: badly.
"I knew that," the nurse began, Lana sensed a tone of desperation in the young woman's voice, "its just she's allergic to the formula and she's been screaming like this for seven hours and, and I thought maybe if she suckled for a while, it would calm her down."
"Not my problem." Lana replied coldly.
The nurse brought the screaming newborn closer to her own frame and without a word, sadly continued out the door as the baby's cries only grew louder.
"Give her here." Lana held out her arms, and began to unbutton her gown.
The nurse seemed happy with this and quickly left Lana alone with the baby. Regardless of her feelings, Lana thought it was wrong to let the baby scream like that for seven straight hours and wondered why they hadn't found an alternate way to feed her in that length of time or even just resorted to asking her sooner.
The newborn latched on and quieted down right away, just as the nurse had predicted she would. Lana tried her best to not look at the infant, but she found that she couldn't help doing so. The first thing she noticed, was that the child didn't disturb her in the way she thought it would, probably because it was a girl and she thought she was expecting a boy.
All these months, she'd imagined that the baby's face would conjure up images of its father and all of the horrific things he'd done to her, to Wendy, even to Kit...to people, particularly women she'd never know or see. But it didn't. Instead, the infant reminded her of something else from a very long time ago. She looked familiar; she looked like….well, like herself and her own sister, who she hadn't seen in many, many years, when they were small children.
She reached out softly to brush the baby's cheek with her finger, not even realizing she was doing it. The baby ignored what were subconscious attempts on Lana's part to get her to look up, and instead continued to eat. She'd been starving since her adverse reaction to the formula much earlier that day and Lana realized she probably hadn't had any sustenance in many hours: perhaps since before she ever went into labor.
She wondered, for a split second, how the baby was to survive without her there to feed it. It didn't make much sense. After all, why was it that after seven hours the only means they could think of to nourish this child was to ask her, when she'd expressed every intention of giving it up? Did that mean there wasn't anything else and she was going to starve once she was gone?…But then she remembered, as she'd told the nurse only a few minutes before, that it wasn't her problem…at least not anymore it wasn't.
"Its not personal." She found herself addressing the suckling baby, but trying to pretend as if she was talking to herself. "You know in any other world….if you weren't…if it wasn't for the way you…if it weren't for how…"
Lana looked up when the same nurse poked her head in the door, making her realize she'd been talking to the baby.
"I'm here to take the baby, oh and I've brought you a telegram."
"Oh." Lana was surprised that she felt unready for this.
She relinquished the infant in exchange for the piece of paper without looking up but she felt weird about the fact that she'd hesitated. A weird empty feeling hit the pit of her stomach in that moment and she wished it would dissolve back into nothingness. Likewise, the baby began to cry again as soon as it was taken from her. Lana quickly began to read, in an effort to put all of this out of her mind. She got half way through the note before she burst:
"Wait! Bring that baby back here!"
The nurse seemed surprised, but pleasantly so, and placed the baby back in Lana's arms.
"Would you like me to bring you anything else…certain papers that…?"
"Yes, bring me the papers." Lana ordered rather than asked.
The young nurse was a bit alarmed at Lana's sudden change in demeanor. She looked straight ahead almost catatonic-like, gripping the little bundle in her arms, giving it the most frigid hug she'd ever seen anyone give a baby. It was clear that something in that telegram had scared her out of her wits.
Lana looked down at the baby, who had been being called 'Lana's baby' by everyone she met for months now… from the police, to everybody at Briarcliff, to all her friends…even Thredson himself. She, who apparently was supposed to have been a he, had been scheduled to be her baby until tomorrow afternoon. That was when she'd be transferred into foster care.
Lana paused for a moment, waiting for the baby's eyes to flutter open.
"Okay kid, now's your chance." She uttered nervously.
Lana thought there was something so ironic and dark in the fact that her little eyes would decide her fate. She couldn't bear to take along Thredson's eyes and have them watch her in the night.
"Alright Ms. Winters…I'll take the baby back now…" The same nurse announced cheerfully as she placed a stack of papers on Lana's bedside.
"No uh…not just yet." She quickly made an excuse. She was confused about everything that was going through her head and wanted a cigarette so badly right then.
"Having second thoughts?" The nurse asked.
Something about this nurse, her innocence, her smile, reminded Lana of Sister Mary Eunice…before her unfortunate transformation, and it bothered her. Moreover, she had to wonder why this woman was trying so hard to get her to hand her baby over. Was he already there? Lana surprised herself and brought the bundle in a little closer. She decided, nonetheless, to play along.
"Just give me some time with her. Alone." She said pointedly.
"Oh…alright." The nurse was a little surprised at this as well and Lana could tell she was embarrassed. "You know…she looks like you." She indicated, as if trying to convince her of something.
Once she left, Lana refocused her attention on the infant. The nurse was right. The tiny baby appeared to take after her in looks. But she could still not see the one part of this child that mattered to her most: her eyes. Lana's own eyes drilled into the little face she'd been dreading seeing for months, almost as if she could will the tiny eyelids open just by staring at them. Lana repositioned the baby in her arms and watched as she stirred, yawning briefly.
"We don't have a lot of time." Lana reminded herself, looking up nervously at the clock, knowing she had only minutes to get up, get dressed and flee.
Instead of opening her eyes, the baby settled deeper into her mother's arms and sighed. Now that she was finally full, she was ready to go to sleep after hours of screaming.
Lana glanced back and forth between the baby and the clock…from what she could figure, she had just fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes before Thredson arrived to claim the child she was about to give up…and probably to claim her too and then dispose of her. Lana knew she had to make this decision quickly, and that there was no room for error. She reached over on her bedside table and grabbed the stack of papers: the foster care papers. When she signed them, she'd give up all parental rights.
But now, she wasn't so sure that was the right thing to do, especially if Oliver was alive, and as the telegram indicated, coming for them. How had he survived the gunshot wound she'd given him? And weirder, how was he not in jail? And how did the sender of the telegram know he was coming now? The telegram left so many things unanswered, at least for the moment. It even made her wonder if perhaps Sister Jude really was alive, who else at Briarcliff would send her something like this? Whatever the case was she believed it. Its contents were enough to save her life and to give her one piece of advice: run.
She couldn't believe what she was asking herself to do. It just seemed crazy, she wasn't prepared to be a Mother…but Lana briefly considered if giving up this baby would really enable him to have her. She didn't feel right about that idea…she couldn't live with herself if that happened, if he allowed her to live that is. She didn't trust him with a baby girl, especially one that was so clearly hers. It didn't matter how much he claimed to want this child, his violent history toward women was enough to make her want to keep the baby herself. It was an overwhelming feeling she didn't quite understand. How could she spend nine months wanting so badly to get away from someone, yet now that she had her chance, she knew that it was the wrong choice for her to make. She had this overpowering feeling that she couldn't do that.
In the very least she knew that, in addition to saving their lives, leaving with the child would allow her to punish Oliver in the worst way she knew how: to make a family he couldn't find or be part of. Ever.
As painful as it was to admit to, Lana realized that the baby was truly hers. Looking into her face made that point obvious. All these months she'd thought of whatever it was that was growing inside her of as being his child, rather than hers. And now, she worried that, if Oliver got the baby, she would grow to remind him of her as she got older and that maybe he'd snap and hurt her or worse. Baby didn't deserve that.
Then there was the fact that a paper trail of any kind was just a further way for Thredson to track her wherever she went…she didn't know where she was going when she left this hospital room, all she knew was that she never wanted to be found, at least not by Thredson. She planned on removing every trace of physical evidence that she was ever in that hospital bed, from her adoption papers, to her gown, everything. She wanted a clean getaway, and if that met taking the baby too, then so be it. Lana also realized that taking the baby might make it easier for her to blend into society, and that in the very least, there'd be one less person out there trying to find her in the future.
Before she was finished considering all the facts and possibilities, of which there were many more, Lana suddenly and almost violently tore the foster care agreement in half, the "shhhhhhhrrrrr" of the pages shredding, breaking apart line by line, was obviously audible and made the infant stir again. Only this time, she opened her eyes.
"Oh." Lana was surprised. "Hi…"
Having the child look at her and search her face now was, well different…She didn't want to speak to the baby and yet, there was something about the way in which the girl's eyes searched her own, that demanded an introduction of sorts but all Lana could manage was a faint hello.
One might say brown eyes were brown eyes. She and Oliver both had them but Lana could tell the difference right away. The baby had her deep brown eyes, and they told her everything she needed to know…the light in those little eyes lit a path for her, seeming to reassure her that somehow she wasn't going to have to live the rest of her days wondering if Thredson's eyes were gazing at her in the dark. Lana's head snapped up when she heard the clock tick loudly. Five minutes had passed and time was running out.
"You need someone to take care of you. And I think that's my job. So, what do you say you and I get out of here?"