Just issuing a “warning” again: If you haven’t read the first part of Blanche’s story, A Story to Tell, you might not want to read A New Beginning, which is the second part of her story. You can find the first part of Blanche’s story on Kindle or in Paperback, on Amazon (after December 17 it will be on all ebook readers and on other paperback sellers). However, you don’t have to read the first part to be able to enjoy A New Beginning. Also this week, there is a *trigger warning* for anyone who has suffered a miscarriage. There is nothing too graphic but just in case it brings up some difficult memories.
As always, this is the first draft of a story. There will be typos and in the future, there will be changes made, some small, some large and as before I plan to publish the complete story later as an ebook. Also, sorry about the lack of indentations at the beginning of paragraphs. I can’t seem to figure out how to make that happen in WordPress.
As I rode in the back of Daddy’s new Oldsmobile with Jackson, on the way home from Emmy’s, I thought about that awful night almost four years ago at the hospital.
I had held Edith against me as she sobbed, her body trembling. The delivery room smelled of antiseptic and blood and nurses worked to clean Edith’s legs and change the blood-soaked sheets.
“It’s going to be okay,” I told her, though I really wasn’t sure how it was going to be okay.
Nothing was okay about Edith going into labor so early and her baby girl being delivered already dead. I was shaking, trying not to cry so I could be strong for her. Guilt consumed me. I’d done everything wrong, eloping with a man who turned out to be abusive, throwing my education and a chance at a career away, yet Edith was the one being punished.
Edith’s crying stopped abruptly and she went limp against me. I looked down at her pale face, her eyes closed. Panic seized me and I could barely breathe.
“Edith?” I shook her gently. “Edith?”
Her head flopped back away from me, toward the pillows on the bed.
“Edith!” I screamed.
A nurse rushed toward us, reaching for Edith’s wrist and laying two fingers against Edith’s neck.
“She’s just unconscious,” the nurse told me then darted out the door, calling for the doctor.
The doors to the delivery room burst open moments later and the doctor rushed in with Jimmy behind him.
“Edith?” Jimmy stepped toward the bed, but the nurse stood in front of him.
“Let the doctor check her,” she said. “Just hold on.”
I was still sitting on the edge of the bed, holding Edith’s hand, trembling with shock. I looked at Jimmy, his eyes filling with tears.
“She’s lost a lot of blood,” the doctor said, laying his hand on my shoulder. “We are going to start a blood transfusion and we need you to step outside while we prep her. We’ll be out to talk to your family when we have a better idea what is going on.”
Jimmy helped me stand, his hand on my arm. I stumbled with him out into the dimly lit hallway to the waiting room.
Mama stood from where she’d been sitting, holding Daddy’s hand, and I fell into her arms, crying against her chest, shaking.
“The baby – the baby didn’t make it,” Jimmy said his voice breaking with emotion. “They’re giving Edith a blood transfusion now. She’s lost a lot of blood.
“Oh, dear Jesus.” Mama gasped the words through her tears.
Her arms tightened around me as Daddy began to pray out loud.
“Father, we commend the spirit of Edith and Jimmy’s baby into your arms and we humbly ask you now to spare our Edith, keep her safe, bring her back to us while always understanding that it is your will that will be done. Amen.”
Daddy’s voice was loud and clear, full of love, yet tinged with sadness.
Mama, Jimmy and I echoed the amen, before collapsing into chairs to wait for the doctor. I drifted to sleep against Mama’s shoulder, jerking awake an hour later as the doctor entered the waiting room. The expression on his face was relaxed, relieved. “She’s lost a lot of blood and she’s weak, but I think the worst is over.”
“Thank God,” Mama said, her eyes red from crying.
“I don’t want you to think this is going to be an easy recovery,” the doctor said, his tone somber. “She’ll be here several days and will need weeks to recover, but –“ He smiled wearily. “We’re in better shape than we were a couple hours ago.”
Jimmy stepped forward and took the doctor’s hand.
“Thank you, sir. Thank you.”
The doctor’s eyes rimmed with tears as he clasped Jimmy’s hand. “Of course, young man. I’m sorry we couldn’t save the baby.”
“You did the best you could,” Jimmy said.
As the doctor turned to leave, Jimmy stopped him.
“Will we – will she –“
The doctor smiled weakly, clearly exhausted. “You’ll be able to try again, if that’s what you’re asking, yes. Not right away, but eventually, yes. This was just a fluke, you might say. I don’t expect it will ever happen again.”
Jimmy wiped his hand across his face to wipe away the tears.
“Thank you, sir.”
“When can we see her?” I asked.
“You can go in anytime but keep the visits short. She needs her rest.”
Mama hugged me and Daddy hugged us and then we pulled Jimmy in with us. We stood in the middle of the waiting room and cried together, mourning and rejoicing at the same time.
Daddy and I watched Edith sleep that night, him sitting in a chair next to her bed, me curled up in a chair near the window. We’d sent Jimmy and Mama home to rest, knowing they’d return tomorrow and send us home to rest. The fading daylight cast a pink hue across the room and left a chill in the air.
Edith looked so frail against the pillow. Her skin blended in with the sterile white of the hospital sheets. I stood and brushed her hair back off her forehead, watching her sleep, remembering all our nights together as children, before our teenage years, before she decided I was a boring stuck in the mud.
“Blanche, do you think there is really a God up there?” she asked one night as we laid in our beds in the dark.
“Yes,” I said confidently.
“Well, I can’t imagine all the beauty of the world came together by accident.”
“What about all the ugliness of the world?”
I laid there, silent, thinking.
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly.
“Why doesn’t God stop the evil of the world? Like why are there wars? Why did Uncle Jason have to die in Korea?”
I wiped at tears with the back of my hand.
“I don’t know,” I said again. “But one day we’ll know, and we’ll all understand why God didn’t stop it. I guess it’s like Pastor Frank said, God gave us free will and sin was chosen by Adam and Eve. Once sin entered our world even innocent people suffered. I don’t know why Uncle Jason died but I know we will see him again one day.”
Edith sighed in the darkness and I swore I could hear her eyes rolling.
“Oh, Blanche, sometimes you’re just so naïve and trusting.”
Now, in this hospital room filled with wires and IVs and beeping machines, Edith and I seemed to be reversed in our beliefs.
“God has a plan,” she had whispered to me when she woke up, after the first round of blood loss, before drifting off again into another round of deep sleep.
“A plan for what?” I wanted to ask. “A plan to take away your baby? A plan to let Hank become bitter and abusive?”
I was angry at God, but I didn’t know if that was a proper emotion to feel. I was angry that God had taken Edith’s baby. I was angry that it seemed like Edith was being punished when she’d made up for all her past mistakes and was doing all the things the Bible said was right to do in the sight of God. Why wasn’t I the one being punished for my mistakes?
I heard a soft sigh and looked over at the chair where Daddy was sitting, leaning forward, his head in his hands.
“Daddy? Are you okay?”
I heard him softly crying and tears dripped through his fingers.
“I’m sorry, Blanche,” he whispered.
“Sorry? For – ”
“I’m sorry I let my anger over what you did drive a wedge between us for so long. I’m sorry I made you feel like you couldn’t come to me when Hank started hurting you. I’m sorry I -” His voice caught with emotion – “didn’t protect you from Hank. All I keep thinking is how I could have lost both of you. My God. What would I have done without both of my girls?”
I walked over and knelt in front of Daddy, pulling his hands from his face. His eyes were swollen from crying. I kissed his forehead.
“It’s okay, Daddy. I took for granted how much you loved me and how you were trying to protect me when you told me to stay away from Hank. I’m sorry it took me so long to admit that what I did was wrong.”
Daddy leaned his forehead against mine and we sat in the floor of Edith’s hospital room, in the glow of a setting sun, crying together. It was the forgiveness we both needed.
“So, Blanche…” Mama’s voice cut through my memories and I looked up at her, wiping tears from my face. “Oh. Why are you crying? Are you okay?”
Mama looked concerned and reached over the back seat, reaching for my hand.
“I was just thinking about Edith,” I said as her fingers encircled mine.
“I know, sweetie. We never know what God’s plans are, though. Things could change for Edith and Jimmy and maybe they’ll be blessed with the baby they’ve always wanted, just as Emmy and Sam are. We can’t give up hope.”
She pulled her hand away to grab a tissue from her purse. “You’ve got to start taking tissues with you places if you’re going to be sniffing and weeping like your mama.”
I laughed as I wiped the tears and blew my nose.
“Your nose is snotty, Mama,” Jackson informed me.
“Thank you, honey. I would never have known if you hadn’t told me.”
My sarcasm was lost on my son.
“You’re welcome,” he said. “Glad to help.”
Do you have a fiction story you’ve shared on your blog? Leave me a link in the comments so I can check it out. If I figure out how to offer a link-up on my blog, I plan to start doing that in future weeks!