Out of Reach

This is a story of a teenage romance which blossoms into something beyond beautiful. It has twists and turns, where a young couple fall in and out of love with each other and other people. How do their lives pan out in the end though?


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15. Cold feet

 

Megan shouts me from the kitchen window. I rush over as her voice sounds panicked.     

   “What’s up?” I ask.    

   “Karen’s gone into labour.” Megan says, “We need you to drive her to the hospital.”    

   “Oh my god! Do you want help getting her in the car?”  

   “No, but I need you to go upstairs and get her some clean pyjamas, her toothbrush and toothpaste and put some clean pants in her bag that’s sat on her chair in the corner of her room. Everything else is in there.”    

   “Okay.” I lean in through the window to kiss her but she pushes me away.    

   “Quick!” She shouts in panic.    

   I salute to her and run round to the porch. My heart is beating and the adrenaline is coursing through my bones. I’m excited, and I don’t know why. This isn’t my baby, this baby isn’t related to me, but in the last month, living with the Strouler’s has bought me closer to them all and I really do feel like part of the family.     

   This is the third time that Karen has “gone into labour”, and the last time was only two days ago. That’s why her bag to take to the hospital isn’t ready, and that is also why I am tearing her draws apart to find some nice luxurious but comfy pyjamas for her. I run down the stairs with a big floral travel bag over my shoulder.    

   “Dylan, where are your car keys my love?” Honey asks. She is rushing around, her voice is harsh, and I can imagine this is what it was like when Lucy went into labour.    

   I rummage in my jeans pocket at then throw the car keys to Honey. She rushes outside to unlock the car, leaving the front door wide open.     

   For a second, in my stupidity, I stop rushing and take in the mayhem.    

   Karen is blowing in and out, with Megan holding her hand and saying, “Now in, and out. In, and out.” And then she screams in pain and doubles over, her legs spread wide apart. Megan coos and Karen squeezes her hand so tight that Megan winces.    

   John is gathering snacks for us to eat whilst we wait at the hospital, such as apples, bananas, chocolate bars and sandwiches. His hands are shaking in the rush and excitement. Jack is sat in the living room with Megan and Karen. It looks like he is collecting his thoughts in his head. He seems scared.    

   “Dylan, get that in the car, chop chop!” Honey says as she bustles past me and makes her way upstairs.    

   I walk out onto the gravel where the car is, and open the boot, placing the bag inside. As I go back inside to see if there is anything else I can help out with, John and Honey whisk by me. John is carrying a car seat for the new baby to be taken home in, and Honey is carrying the bag of food that John prepared.     

   Megan walks out of the living room to me and kisses my cheek, leaving Jack to help Karen with the breathing and the contractions.    “Will you get together some baby grows, baby vests and nappies for the baby and put them in a bag for me please?” She asks.     

   “Yep!” I say.    

   “Thank you.” I cup my hands round Megan’s cheeks and kiss her lips gently. Then I kiss her tummy and begin to make my way up the stairs.    

   “Dylan?” Megan calls behind me.    

   “Yes?” I turn around.    

   “I’ll be outside, I’m going to ring my dad and tell him the news. He might want to meet us at the hospital.”    

   “Okey-dokes.” I resume making my way to fetch the new baby’s clothes.    

   “Oh and... Dylan?” She says again.    

   “Yeah?” I turn around once more.    

   “I love you.”    

   “I love you too.”    

   Then I run upstairs and fetch what’s needed.     

   “Get in the car Dyl, we’re getting Karen in now and then we’ll be off.” Megan says.     

   “Okay. Did you ring your dad?” I ask.    

   “Yeah. He’s coming in a few hours.”    

   I smile at her and make my way to the car, carrying another bag of essentials with me.  

   Karen sits in the back in the middle seat with Megan and Jack either side of her. Honey sits in the front beside me and John makes his own way there in his van.     

   “How’re you going back there?” I ask just after we set off.     

   “Still breathing.” Karen jokes, in between breathing in and breathing out.    

   I laugh at this.    

   “Her contractions are getting closer together.” Jack tells me matter-of-factly.     

   “I’m driving as fast as I can, we won’t be too long. I’d say we’ll be there in about ten minutes.”    

   “Okay, thanks.”    

   “Megs, can you see if Gramps is behind us or not?” Honey asks.    

   Megan turns round in her seat, pulling her seatbelt away from her neck so she can strain her neck round further.    

   “Yeah, he’s right there.” She replies.     

   “Okay. Thanks Meggie.”     

   Once we get to the hospital, Karen’s contractions are only minutes apart and are very intense. Tension buzzes round the family, but excitement overpowers this as we walk through the automatic glass doors. Jack and I are carrying the bags and the travel seat, Honey and Megan are walking by Karen to make sure she’s okay, and John is hanging back, looking worried and nervous.     

   “Karen Strouler? She’s in labour.” Megan says to the lady sitting behind the desk.   

   She clicks around with her mouse using her perfectly French manicured nails, and then says, “Right, yes. Would you like to come this way?”    

   We follow the lady sat behind the desk, only now she isn’t sat behind it, she’s leading us to the maternity unit, and then we walk through another set of doors, into the ward full of the echoes of pain. It’s a shock for the ear drums.    

   But then in between the walls, came the happiest and most beautiful sound I have ever heard, and I’m so breath taken that I actually gasp out loud, so that Megan turns to look at me with confused eyes. That sound is babies taking their very first breaths and crying for the very first time. And the second they do that, is the same second their whole world started.     

   “Just in here, I’ll let you get settled and call for your midwife.” The woman says, opening a door into a pink room, with a large bed in the middle and lots of complicated equipment.     

   “Thank you.” Honey nods to the woman. She smiles back.    

   Karen walks in first and takes off her coat. As I walk in, I am overwhelmed by the smell and of how sterile everything is.     

   I put the bags down next to the car seat and other bag.    

   Everybody is crowded round the bed that Karen is getting comfortable on, so I sit back on one of the blue chairs and wait until the commotion calms down. We’ve been here before, but this time I think it will be the real thing. It’s nice to be in hospital for a good reason.     

   A skinny woman with red hair, all tied back with grips keeping those stray hairs in place, walks into the room with a beaming smile spread across her face. It felt like orange juice on a rainy Sunday morning.     

   Attached to her blue and white nurses uniform, hung an upside down “Winnie the pooh” watch. Her feet were hidden by sensible black shoes and the makeup on her face was to a minimal. She was carrying a clipboard in her left hand.    

   “Hello there, how’re you keeping Karen?” The smile on her face reflected in her voice, which bounced off the four pink walls and made everything seem so much calmer.     

   “I’m good thank you.” She replies, her smile looking incredibly nervous.     

   “And how’s daddy?” The midwife – who is called Fiona (which I found out from Megan who just whispered the information in my ear) – asks Jack.     

   “He’s good thanks.” Says Jack playfully. Karen looks up at him with her teeth bearing, and I can feel small butterflies in my stomach knowing that this is what it shall be like for Megan and me.     

   “That’s fantastic.” She smiled, “Right, could I just ask that everyone waits outside so that I can take a look at mum and check that everything’s running smoothly?”     

   “Of course.” John says. We all make our way outside.    

   We sit down on some more chairs outside that are identical to the ones in the room. The blue fabric is itchy on my hands and the backs of my arms, and the metal legs are ice cold.    

   I look round the room and see blank faces, clenched hands and tapping feet. Megan’s hands are resting on her two month bump, that isn’t a bump at all yet, and then I’m reminded that we’re due to see our midwife in under a week. The silence is almost unbearable, even though we’ve only been sat here for a minute or so. I look down at my hands. Dark hair gently brushes the back of them, and the size astounds me from how small I remember them back in my childhood. My nails are gritty with dirt from work, and I want to treasure this wrinkle-free skin for as long as possible, because I know that all too soon I will be old. My vein is ever so slightly visible beneath my skin, which leads a trail to my fingertips. Its greenness contrasts with the new tan I picked up from spending lots of time in the garden.     I then look over to my right at Megan’s hands. They’re pale, small and thin boned. They look so delicate. Her veins are barely visible, and are hidden by smooth wrinkle–free skin that she won’t have to wish to keep forever.     

   Fiona walks out of the room and comes over to us.     

   “Everything’s fine, she’s dilated 3centimetres.” Fiona says, again, with a huge smile on her pretty pale face, “You can go in and see her now.” She walks away to somewhere I may never know.     

   “Are you coming in Dyl?” Megan asks me as she stands up.    

   I look round the room at everyone else.    

   “You two go in now and we’ll see her in a bit.” Honey says.    

   “Okay.” I take Megan’s hand and we open the door to see Jack kissing Karen. They pause and then pull away from each other.    

   “Oh sorry, do you want us to leave you for a minute?”Megan asks, turning back towards the door hesitantly.    

   “No it’s fine. Come in.” Karen says. Jack gives us a meek smile.    

   “How’re you feeling?” She rubs Karen’s arm gently for comfort.    

   “I’m good thanks.”    

   “Does it really hurt?” She asks, sitting down.    

   “Yeah, but it’s the best pain I’ve ever been through.”    

   “Oh Karen. Is it awful, or is it just sore?”    

   “It’s nothing for you to worry about sis, I’m sure you’ll find out soon-“She stops mid-sentence and moans, clutching her stomach. Then she does that quick breathing that you always see on television. Jack grabs her hand, and Megan strokes her arm again, as if she’s a dog.     

   “Sorry.” She says, after her contraction finishes and she gets her breath back.    

   “What’re you sorry for? You can’t help it.” Megan tells her.    

   “I know. What was I saying?”     

   “You were telling Megs how much it hurt.” Jack reminds her.    

   “Oh yes. It isn’t that bad. Just enjoy sleeping whilst you can!” She jokes.     

   Megan laughs, and then the rooms goes silent again until Karen gets another contraction. The commotion starts up all too soon. Once it falls away, John walks in.     

   “How’re you getting along poppet?” He asks Karen. His wise hand stokes her hair, smoothing it out. Then his arm drops to his side. He finds himself a seat.     

   “I’m good thank you.”     

   “She just had a contraction.” Jack informs him before sitting down beside him.    

   “Oh has she? They’re getting quite close together now.”    

   “I know.” Karen replies.    

   “It won’t be long until he’s in your arms, wrapped in a blanket, just like you were in mine.” John says attentively.     

   “I hope it’s not! I won’t be able to bear the pain for very long.”    

   “Well at least you have an epidural and gas and air in your pregnancy plan. Have you shown Fiona yet?” John asks.    

   “Yeah, as soon as we got here.”    

   “Oh right.”     

   “I’m gonna go for a quick walk-about.” I tell them, heading for the door. I am nervous and sweating. I think I’m having second thoughts about all this.    

   “Do you want me to come with you?” Megan asks, whilst painting a worried expression upon her own face.    

   “No,” I stutter over this word, “I’m fine thanks, you just stay here.” I push her gently.    

   “Are you sure?”    

   “Yeah, I’ll be fine.” I walk out the room, but Megan follows. She grabs my arm and turns me around. “Dylan?”    

   “Yes?” I feel irritated and enclosed.     

   “Are you feeling alright, you look a bit peaky?” She puts her hand to my forehead, but I swat it away.    

   “I’m perfectly fine!” I snap. I walk off, but behind me I can hear my voice being called. It seems like its being called for ages, so I bang against my head, trying to knock the voices out. They stay put. Walking round the squeaky corridors, I feel like I’m just walking in circles and there’s no way out. All the doors are blocked off because they’re unsuitable to go through, or they’d be too dangerous if I opened them.     

   Then I see a way out, but it will affect so many people if I do that. Do I jump or do I stay where I am. It’s just cold feet, it’s just cold feet. I repeat this in my head to block out all the voices calling my name.     

   I walk past my only way of escape and head back towards Megan. This time when I walk, instead of hearing just my name being called, I hear babies crying, screaming in fact. Then Megan’s voice yelling at me, telling me I do everything wrong.    

   “You’re not holding its head!”    

   “Don’t drop it.”    

   “For God’s sake, I thought you’d be a good dad, not the world’s worst!”     

   I cover my ears with my hands and say in the back of my mind, “Cold feet, cold feet, cold feet.”     

   Then Megan’s in view and her face is puzzled, then really confused, and then distorts into a worried frown. Her eyes are watery. I remember my hands are covering my ears. Then I notice I’ve been saying cold feet out loud.     

   “You’ve got cold feet?” She asks. All I can make myself do is nod. She looks down, then at me, then back down again.     

   “Well... How long for.” I can’t answer. I don’t know how long for. It just came upon me and... I’m terrified. I don’t answer soon enough for her so she goes to sit down, her head in her hands. I gingerly sit down beside her.    “I don’t know what to say.” I tell her.    “Sorry?” I then realise she’s crying. I didn’t think she’d react like this.    

   “Sorry for what? Being scared?” She sits up and looks at me. Her face is red and blotchy, and covered in tears, but her eyes looks as blue as the sky and her lips as red as a rose.    

   “What’re you scared of? Of being stuck with me?” I put her head on my chest and stroke her soft blonde hair with my thumb.    

   “Of course not. Never think that.”     

   “Then what?”    

   “I’m scared I won’t be a good enough dad.” A tear roles down my cheek, and I never realised what an emotional rollercoaster it would be until now.    

   “You idiot.” She thumps my chest lightly with a clenched fist. I kiss her head, tears still streaming down my cheeks. We sit there for a while, people walking past us and giving us meek smiles, until we both fall asleep.  

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