“This is not the kind of thing you should face alone, love. Is there someone you could ring? A friend?”
The nurse scanned the patient's face in search of an answer, but was met with the same blank expression she'd worn since admission.
A slight shake of the head, a mumbled response; and then back to staring out the window.
“Very well,” she muttered, scurrying off to find someone more worthy of her attention.
The patient watched her go, glad of the respite. All she wanted was some peace and quiet, just a few moments alone before it began. No friends, no family, no-one. No more interfering, no more sage words of wisdom. Just her and a room full of clinical instruments. A procedure, that's all it was. The same as getting a kidney stone removed or an appendectomy. The joy of life, the wonder of creation, it meant nothing. This was a routine medical procedure which would ultimately rid her of her burden. And, once it was over, she just wanted to go home and forget about the whole thing. And she would - just so long as she didn't have to see it.
Right now her primary concern centred on the procurement of drugs. She'd heard about the pain, been told all about it, and had no intention of suffering any more of it than she needed to. She wanted everything they had. To be dosed up to the eyeballs. Pills, needles, suppositories, she wanted them all. This thing had already caused her enough heartache, she wasn't about to let it administer one final beating before it departed. The nurse had prepped her, done a few routine tests and got her changed into a gown. But there hadn't been any drugs, none that she could remember anyway. And it was too late to call her back; she was away helping pleasant ladies, and their pleasant husbands. She wouldn't be returning to the sullen cow in Room Nine if she could help it. Who would give her the drugs? She'd need them soon. She looked around the room. There were a couple of promising looking cabinets on the wall opposite. Perhaps there were drugs in there? Ones that would knock her out cold, comatose, so that by the time she awoke it would all be over and she wouldn't remember a thing. Wouldn't that be fine? But no, she couldn't go rummaging around in cabinets. Once Doctor Morgan arrived everything would be alright. He would take command of the situation, give her all the drugs she wanted.
She lay back on the bed, suddenly feeling tearful, wishing the nurse would come back so she could hold her hand. She was right; it wasn't the kind of thing you should face alone. She only had herself to blame, though. It was her own fault. That's what they told her; she had been a silly girl, a silly girl who had succumbed to her desires. And now she would have to reap what she’d sown, or at least reap what he'd sown. And sown he had, with not a care in the world. Came, conquered and disappeared, never to be seen again. A true warrior. What was he doing now she wondered? Probably going about his day as if it were any other. Would he be thinking of her? Of course not. His blissful ignorance made her feel better. A simple misadventure between two wholly unprepared organisms was about to come to a satisfactory end. There was reason to be thankful for that at least.
“Just relax, Sinéad, this kind of pain is perfectly natural.”
How the fuck would you know?
“Just breathe, there's the girl.”
Oh do fuck off, you condescending prick.
“Pretty soon it'll all be over.”
Yeah cos I've only been here seven hours so far, a walk in the park really.
Doctor Morgan had at one point been a source of great comfort, a rock to cling to during some particularly rough times, but now...
Now he was a man in a woman's world. A man coaxing her through an experience which he would never have to endure. There had been a man at the beginning of this ordeal, she wasn't about to end it in the company of another.
“Yes dear, what is it?”
“Is there any possibility you could leave me with the nurses until it's over?”
“But Sinéad, I'm your obstetrician, I have to be here.”
Her tone had changed, only slightly, but enough to signal danger.
“Says everyone Sinéad, now stop fretting and let's get this little tyke out, eh?”
“I want you out, NOW!!”
The atmosphere in the room changed, became thick and muggy. Outside, birds stopped singing, children stopped playing, traffic came to a halt.
“I'm sorry Sinéad, but that's simply not possible.”
“GET THE FUCK OUT!!!! GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUUUTTTTT!!!”
Various medical paraphernalia flew into the air as Doctor Morgan scrambled for safety; for a man of his years he moved quite swiftly, and he had needed to to avoid her clutches. Sinéad sat there, fists balled, eyes ablaze, froth dripping from her mouth. She had made to scratch his eyes out, but she would have been content to draw blood. Alas, he had made his escape and now watched from the safe environs of the door-well, a look of confused terror on his pale, drawn face. And they had been getting along so well.
Now, with just a couple of grim-faced nurses for company, she could finally get down to business. No more cloying words of comfort from that fucking man. One of the nurses, a stout lady who looked like she'd spent the majority of her years pulling calves from the dark recesses of their mothers, locked eyes with Sinéad.
“Now listen to me little Missy, you keep that temper of yours in check and do as I tell you, and everything will be fine, okay?”
Sinéad's eyes watered. Unable to speak, she nodded her acquiescence.
“Good girl, now deep breaths and push when I tell you.”
She nodded again, her face crumpled in misery.
Someone dabbed her head with a towel. A hand grabbed hers and she gripped it tightly, gratefully.
She pushed and pushed with all her might, tears rolling down her cheeks. Maybe if she pushed hard enough she could get rid of it all. Purge herself completely. Banish it all. Pretend it had never happened. Meeting him. Their desperate, sordid alliance. Her horrific discovery: pregnant at eighteen. Begging him to stay with her, to support her. And being told that it just wasn't possible; he had his own life to live. And the shame that followed. The fear. The realisation that she couldn't keep it. That she had to leave, before it was too late. Creeping away in the wee hours, like a thief in the night. Not knowing when, or if, she'd be back. Only knowing that she had to get away. Arriving in England, burden in tow, to her cousin; the cousin she'd always promised to visit. And then becoming a burden herself. Another mouth to feed. Two mouths. Her shame growing in tandem with her stomach. The looks she got, looks that told her: We know. We know exactly why you are here, and what you have done. If she pushed hard enough she could start anew. A clean slate. Be back home, this whole thing just a side-note in an otherwise happy ascension to adulthood. So she pushed, and she pushed and she pushed, fighting like she'd never fought before. Fighting for her freedom. For her future.
And then it was over. There had been screaming, deafening screaming; hers. But it had stopped. All was quiet. Her eyes swam as they adjusted to the bright, brilliant colours surrounding her. The world seemed peaceful, serene, not the place she remembered. And all around her were smiling, reassuring faces. What was this? Why was everyone so happy? Had she done something right? For once? And then as the coddled bundle was gently placed into her arms she remembered. She looked into its eyes, his eyes. She had done something right. She had created something. Created life. She stared at this beautiful, marvellous thing she had made, and vowed to never let it go.