In the middle of the storm, in the middle of the night

Darron wasn’t a doctor, and he didn’t have a medical background. He had a pair of hemostats and his wife’s giant canning tongs to act as forceps if things came to that. He wanted a nurse. No, he wanted the midwife. Or the doula. Or that really scrawny kid who mowed the lawn in summer.  He wanted the fucking ambulance.

“Put down that phone.” Casey stood between the bedroom and hall. She was naked. “I am not having this baby in a …”  she groaned. “Count me!” she ordered.

Darron scrambled for his watch and its handy stopwatch feature. Casey leaned into the doorframe, and he drew careful circles on her back while he counted the seconds to the contraction’s peak. “Don’t touch me!” Darron took his hand away, but kept counting.

When the contraction had passed, he said, “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

“Not until I’m pushing.” Casey groaned again. “But that’s going to be sooner than I thought.”

Darron went back to the window at the end of the hall and struggled to see through the snow.

Casey said, “She’ll be here. Marie’s come out in weather like this before.”

“But has she done it on ten minutes notice?”

“It’s been an hour.

Had it? Had it really been an hour since he woke half bathed in amniotic fluid to the sound of Casey running a bath? Had it been sixty whole minutes since she told him, “I guess those weren’t Braxton Hicks.”? He went back to the bedside, where he had arrayed the hemostats and on-the-fly forceps on a clean towel that looked very lonely. He wanted a room with monitors, a bed with rails, and most of all Dr. Islingard swathed in greens, neat blue surgical gloves, and a facemask.

Casey had not moved away from the wall. She groaned low again, and once more, Darron went through the act with the stopwatch. This time, he didn’t try to rub. When the contraction had passed, Casey shifted sideways, and he hurried to be beside her to give her something to lean against. “I want to go to bed,” she whimpered. Darron helped her heft her body back in the right direction. “I have to push. I can’t possibly wait any longer.”

Darron swallowed air around his suddenly dry tongue. He wanted to say, “Remember your breathing,” but Casey’s face was so strained, and he thought she might punch him if he opened his mouth at all.

Then the doorbell rang. The blessed doorbell rang, and Marie’s voice echoed up the stairs. “Hello in there! I heard a rumor about a certain someone in labor!”

“Marie!” Casey called out before Darron could speak, and then another contraction hit her, and the word ended in a squeaking moan. Darron suddenly found his voice and began counting, even though he seemed to have misplaced the stopwatch entirely.

Over Casey’s controlled squeal, he heard Marie’s feet on the stairs, and before the contraction passed, her expert hands were taking stock of Casey’s body. “Marie,” Casey sobbed. “Marie it hurts.”

“Yes,” said Marie. “It does. But that’s alright. Just remember, you get a prize at the end.”

Casey whispered, “Prize at the end. Prize at the end. But Marie!” Casey grabbed the midwife’s face with both hands.

“Yes, dear?” Marie gently detached her patient.

“Marie, I’m having a baby.

“Yes dear,” Marie smiled and pointed Darron to her bag that held medical instruments and paraphernalia. “I do believe you are.”

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, dailyshorts gave me this prompt: Here’s a 90 second drill. List items you find in a hospital. When the 90 seconds are up, write a story that includes all the words on your list, but don’t set your story in or near a hospital..

I gave Eric Storch this prompt: My mind flashed to childhood games. I imagined Jeanette Soltz chanting “Red Rover, Red Rover, we dare Lilly over.”

My list was
bedpan (sorry – that one refused to fit. I tried to put it in around the part about half bathed in amniotic fluid, but it just didn’t work out)
rubber gloves (these became surgical gloves)

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


In the middle of the storm, in the middle of the night — 16 Comments

  1. That was amusing. Playful ending how Marie says Red Rover, Red Rover (oops – wrong quote) “I do believe you are”. And dammit. Every time I read your stories I expect the unexpected. And now, the unexpected became the midwife showing up and doing her job with confidence (which is a true fact of all Marie’s around the world.)
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  2. I love the humourous tone of this piece set against the urgency and crisis. I suppose it is debatable whether babies are a prize or not, especially when set against six months of dirty nappies and no sleep. Thank goodness for midwives the world over. 🙂
    Hop over and visit idiosyncratic eye’s recent post How My Garden GrowsMy Profile

    • Me too – Both my babies were born in hospitals (Sam only made it by half an hour. He was nearly a home-car birth.). I’ve got friends who are strong homebirth advocates, though.

    • They are tons of fun. The prompts are surprising and force me to be creative. This one nearly did me in, and then the story clicked late in the week.

    • It was kind of … um … fun’s not the right word, but enlightening to imagine how to get through labor pain without swearing. (I left before she started in, because I think she was louder than even I was once she let loose.)

  3. You captured that frenzied, excitement of child birth. I love Darron’s panic and Marie’s calm. I think I held my breathe for most of this piece.
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    • Yay! I’m glad for that. Her calm erodes just as Marie gets there. She needs someone to lean on more metaphorically than poor Darron is managing to help out with here.

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