In Waukegan (but it was Evanston). The pain hits me and I know something is wrong. I scream at Brett to call 911. He doesn’t. He tells me to wait and see. But this can’t wait. The baby might die. *I* might die. He tells me to calm down. He tells me they just opened a new Arby’s down the street, near the McDonalds where Wendy’s used to be. Cheesy roast beef! Isn’t that great? I moan as another wave begins to swell inside. I get to the counter, lean against it and carefully dial 911 while holding my breath and clenching my jaw against the pain. Before a dispatcher answers, the local high school football team asks for us to welcome Arby’s and advertises their raffle in a recording. When it is over, there is silence for many minutes. I cry knowing that I need help, knowing that no one believes it. Finally! A click of a dispatcher opening the line. EVANSTON! I scream. EVANSTON! I have called 911 enough times that I know the drill. I am transferred. When the local dispatcher answers I am hysterical. Something’s wrong! Oh god, my baby, it’s not time. And another wave hits. They tell me they are sending someone. Already 20 minutes have past. Brett is eating corn chips and looking amused. I cry and brace myself for more pain. It is another hour before the ambulance arrives. When it does, Brett picks me up easily and carries me to his car. I thought I would be put on a gurney? I ask him. Why am I not going with them? Your placenta is hanging out, he tells me. You’d make a mess. I’ll take you. He drives slow, takes a longer route than is necessary. Thisiswrongthisiswrongthisiswrong. I am panicked beyond fright. When we get there, she is there also. His gorgeous cold cylon partner. Tall and straight and blonde. She treats me like a child who is overreacting. Before we can see a doctor, we take a tour of the hospital. They want to see academic departments, research rooms. Finally I am shown to a bare white exam room. They talk small talk while I writhe in excruciating pain. Finally there is relief. I look to see an unbroken sac, a transparent, dry, bloodless, wrinkled egg that is a little over knee high. I am so weak I can’t move. I scream hoarsely, feebly at them to open it! I tell them the baby can’t breathe in there! I tell them that if the baby dies I will blame them for waiting too long, for not helping when I needed it more than anything. The woman bends down and with her razor sharp, perfectly manicured white fingernails she slices open the sac and lifts out a girl who is 3-5 years old, clean, fully dressed, blonde pigtails, and blue with death. The woman blows into the child’s mouth 3 times and the girl turns her face with a barely audible whimper. She unfolds enough to wrap herself around her mother. She does not cry, she only sleeps. Though her color improves, she remains pale with a bluish tint. They do not let me hold her.
I go to visit them for a picnic they have invited me to. I’m longing to see the girl. I take a tiny brass ball and fit it into a shallow indentation on the ornate keyhole plate on the back door. When I turn the knob, it clicks and the ball falls back into my hand. I pocket it and push the door open. Inside the two of them are coming down the huge marble stairs. They are looking fresh and perfectly together in the dark house, they smile and ask if I’m ready to go. I ask if they’ve prepared a bag for the baby – food, toys, diapers. I offer to pack one for them. They just smile at me. I realize they won’t let me see her. I realize I don’t even know if they’ve kept her, if she’s alive. I stand with my back to the sun, a canopy of green trees above, with a pleasant path behind the mansion that will undoubtedly bring us to the perfect picnic clearing.
I do not want to be here anymore.