Heads swiveled, plastic smiles, seeking eyes. All politely looking Emily Emerson up and down, eyes stopping at her flat abdomen, questioning. Moira squeezed Emily's hand. Emily smiled wanly at her, thankful for her friends silent support. She was so tired. Emily had been up all night, crying to her pillow, praying that the sun would never rise. But it did, and so had Emily. By 8 AM Emily was at the doctor's office, flat on a table. It was all so humiliating. The doctors and nurses had gone about their business with encouraging pats on Emily's head now and them. She wondered if they had ever been on the receiving end of this procedure.
Moira and Emily had spent the rest of the morning at the beach. Waiting. Waiting for the clock to make its way around to 3 PM. That was when Emily must return to the doctor's opulent office with its glass and chrome winking in the dim light, mirrors placed strategically where mothers to be could turn this way and that, studying their changing figures. But for some, like Emily, the mirrors mocked. There would be no change in their figures, there would be no baby to hold in the end.
"Emily Emerson?", the nurse questioned again.
Slowly Emily rose and walked to the door, not daring to look at anyone or anything save the floor. Before slipping through the half open door Emily snuck a look back at Moira. Moira smiled and offered Emily a thumbs up with a carefully manicured hand. Beth sighed softly and turned to the nurse and they disappeared through the door.
Moira sank back in the black leather chair and picked up the magazine from her lap. With great deliberation she thumbed through the pages, stopping occasionally to study a photo with feigned interest. She could understand why Emily had to be here today even if the dowdy biddy across the room with the bulging belly couldn't. The biddy was at this moment whispering furiously to her neighbor, a thin woman with the barest hint of a growing abdomen.
"That poor young girl is having an abortion. I'd wager my soul on it, I would," the woman with the advanced pregnancy announced with a wag of her head. "Poor little thing. Do you think she was raped?" She leaned closer to the other woman and whispered, "It's such a shame, don't you think?"
The thin woman placed her hand across her belly and glanced nervously at Moira, who with the grace of a cultured woman flicked her auburn hair behind her. "I read a wonderful article about breast feeding in this magazine last week," she said quite loudly as she offered the magazine to the nosy woman. "Here, why don't you read it? It was really very good and...," her voice trailed off.
Moira raised her eyes from the magazine she was supposedly reading and sent a silent thank you to the thin woman. The woman smiled shyly at Moira and went back to pointing out the article to the gossip.
"If you will just remove everything and drape this over yourself," the nurse was offering Emily a white sheet.
Emily took it and slid behind the white cotton curtain hanging from the ceiling in a corner of the little room. She could hear the nurse fiddling with instruments on a metal table as she quietly slipped off her dress. She froze as she heard the door swing open and the sound of something being wheeled nosily into the room. She decided to peek around the curtain to see what it was, even though she had a pretty good idea.
A tiny nurse with flaming red hair pinned haphazardly in a bun was removing a sheet from the cart. Emily could only make out the flash of metal before the head nurse grabbed the sheet and hastily covered the thing on the cart.
"Not yet," she hissed at the tiny nurse, "Never do that until the patient is sedated!"
The little nurse nodded rapidly, ducking her head in submission to the older woman. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Blake, truly I am."
Emily was surprised to note that the little thing spoke with an English accent. She thought to herself what an awful job to have, the little English girl was obviously new at this sort of thing. But then so am I, she thought grimly. She emerged from behind the curtain, smiling nervously at the two nurses. She climbed on the table without being told to, hoping that they would leave so she could see what was under the sheet.
Nurse #1 adjusted Emily's sheet around her and patted her arm soothingly. "You just lie back, honey, and take a deep breath. I'll go tell the doctor that you're ready." Emily nodded, but she didn't have the guts to tell the nurse that she would never be ready for what they were about to do to her.
Emily felt as if she were floating, somehow out of her body, hovering overhead, watching. She shook her head, hoping to clear her mind, but her head wouldn't move. A voice from somewhere near her feet was talking softly to her, telling her she'd feel a pinch, telling her it was almost over. Emily couldn't feel anything, not even a pinch. She seemed to not really be there, not really participating in this bizarre operation. Nearby she could hear humming, the sound an electric typewriter makes when running, only louder. Occasionally there was a Whoosh!, and the voice would say something again.
Emily wasn't listening to anymore. She heard someone screaming, loud and fierce, in agony. Only when she sensed her mouth was open did she realize it was her. This was all so confusing! How in the world could she be so separated?, her mind was thinking calmly as her body was racked with pain and screaming. How could she be so apart from her own body?
"It's all over now, Miss Emerson," the voice was saying.
Emily felt her head turn to the side, relieved. But it was there, the thing they had tried to hide from her, the thing she had a short time ago wanted to see. It was there now, right next to her, and it was humming. And it was so ugly, and so very full of blood. My blood, thought Emily. My baby's blood, she realized with horror before she lost consciousness.
Moira drove Emily back to Harrison's house a few hours later. Emily lay in Harrison's bed sobbing quietly while Moira and Harrison went out to fill Emily's prescription. They thought it best to leave her alone for a while. Harrison came back alone.
"Moira had to get home," he told her.
Emily nodded and held out her arms to him. He climbed in bed and took her in his arms and stroked her hair. She was quiet now, no tears left, but the horror of the day still running amuck in her mind.
"I'm sorry, Em. You shouldn't have done it. I should've made you talk to me, should have taken charge." Harrison was crying softly now. Emily pulled away from him and started to get dressed.
"It doesn't matter. Should have won't undo anything." Emily just wanted to go home and crawl into her own bed. She wanted to alone with her grief. The last thing she wanted was to listen to Harrison cry now. He could have stopped it, he could have done something, but he had chosen to ignore the whole thing. Now he wanted to share her grief. No. If he wouldn't share the pregnancy, the abortion, the pain, then she would be damned if she'd let him start sharing her pain now.
"Take me home," she said.
There were cars in the driveway and Emily recognized most of them right away.
"Damn!", she swore. It all came back to her. Her parents had been asking her every other day what she planned to do for her 18th birthday and she had always evaded them. Now they were throwing a party for her.
"Damn it!". She turned to Harrison. "Did you have anything to do with this?", she demanded.
Harrison looked startled. "Me? No way, Em, no idea at all."
Emily studied him coldly. "And you are lying through your teeth, Harrison."
He smiled sheepishly but offered no explanation. Parked in the drive she hurriedly checked her hair in the mirror. She was very pale but had no makeup with her at all. "Damn." she repeated.
"Would you please stop swearing?", Harrison asked.
Emily fixed with a deadly stare. "I'll swear all I damn please! How could you do this to me? You honestly thought after having my guts ripped out I'd feel like partying?"
Emily couldn't believe this was happening. There was nothing to do but go in and act surprised.
The party was terrible. Emily smiled her way through it, gushing over gifts, telling bad jokes, praying no one knew about her day. The only thing she truly enjoyed was the food. She had not had a bite since the day before and she was famished. Her mother shot her plenty of disapproving glances for stuffing her face the way she was. Finally everyone had left and now Emily sat in the drive again, saying good-bye to Harrison.
"It wasn't all that bad, was it?" Harrison asked. "The party, I mean."
"Yes, it was. It was terrible of you to do that to me. At the very least you could have warned me about it!"
"Emily, you've been snapping at me all evening. What do you want? I'd do anything to make you feel better. Just tell me what it is you want from me?"
Emily looked at Harrison calmly. "I want my baby back."
K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2006