1. Try-Mister



It’s never good when you can see blood.  All of a sudden it’s very real.  Potential fatality balances like a man on a wire.  I don’t know if it plays out like a scene from one of those TV dramas because I’m too petrified to make any comparison.  Before I can comprehend, I’ve been ushered out of the Emergency Room by a frantic swarm of doctors, nurses and midwives attending to the situation.  Drenched in shock, I gaze back into the room through the sound proof wire-mesh window at the harrowing scene.  The door swings open intermittently and the snippets of harsh noise from the professionals plying their trade within hits and fades as if being controlled by the volume dial on a television set.  In amongst these miniscule sound bites I subconsciously piece together the horror; hearing only fragments of sentences that include such words as ‘haemorrhaging’ without knowing the prefix only succeeds in terrifying me further.  And there’s blood. 

A thunderous BANG hauls me out of stasis.  The medical team stampede through the door of the ER and in a flash, stretcher her off down the corridor to ‘theatre’.  Silence again.  Minutes later I find myself sharing a ‘Parental Waiting Area’ with several chairs and a mountain of outdated periodicals.  The walls are strewn with children’s crayon drawings, presumably attempting to resemble either new born siblings or mothers with large round stomachs.  However, the lasting image in my head keeps repeating itself.  I never realised how hard it is seeing someone you love in so much pain, and being unable to do anything to help them yourself.  It’s never good when you can see blood...


“I’m pregnant!”


We stop walking.  As if by design, one of the park’s 3 benches appears to my side and I take a seat.  She sits down next to me trying to gauge my reaction.  I do my very best to mask the overwhelming sense of disappointment that has embodied me.  In an instant my world has collapsed and I have been rendered numb.  She sinks into my arms and rests her head on my shoulder.  What to do now?


Apparently I’ve seemed quite distant the last few days.  So I’m told anyway.


“We’ve barely spoken since, well, you know...”

“Have you considered all possible options?”

“What are you trying to say?”


“If you ever mention that again you can kiss me goodbye!”


I make a mental note to abide by her request.  Never do I want to see her in pain.  I’m pretty sure that I’m in love with her and would do almost anything for her.  I often think back to when I first met her.  It wasn’t love at first sight, but undoubtedly she got to me.  But it was the highlight of my 25th birthday party.  She came with a friend of a friend.  A great picture of us was taken with my new digital camera, the combined present from my 3 best pals.  I have a scaled down version of that photo in my wallet, although she doesn’t know that.  Nobody does.  I’ll be 27 in a couple of month’s time, and being in this situation was the last thing I would have expected for myself.  Turning down the opportunity to go travelling with a couple of my best mates last year is starting to haunt me now.  But I wouldn’t have got to see her every day.  No, I will never upset her like that again.


“It’s the 21 week scan!  What do you think?”

 “21 weeks!  Already?”


I stare at the printout blankly.  What is wrong with me?  I feel nothing- cold and vacant.  I can see the disheartened expression wash across her face and I want to spontaneously combust. 


“At least it has your nose.”


She slaps my arm in jest and gives me a forgiving hug. 


“If it was anything like yours Billy Boy, the poor thing would be in serious trouble!”


The hospital has never been my favourite place, but I’ve frequented it with serious regularity over the last 6 months or so that I’m getting used to the ghastly aromas emitted by the mix of sterilisers and detergents.  The big expensive equipment always catches my attention too, and often at the wrong times.  I’m mesmerised by the multiple beeps and hums and flashing lights, much like a gambler being lured back to the heart of his favoured den of iniquity.  In the background of my daydream, the sound of the doctor’s voice stops.  I slip back into reality, embarrassed that once again I’ve been caught out not being fully attentive to the explanations she’s been giving.  She says nothing aloud, but makes no secret of her annoyance at me.  She makes it crystal clear that thus far all is going well, and both mother and child are progressing as they should.  Then she turns to me.


“Can I have a word with you in private?”  She courteously offers me out into the corridor.

“So what’s up doc?”

“That’s not funny.”

“Sorry.  So what’s erm...?”

“Why are you here?”

“The baby”

“Exactly, and yet nearly 7 months on you seem just as disinterested as the first day you came in here.”

“I don’t mean to be doc.  I’m easily distracted...”

“I can understand a young man having some trepidation when he first finds out about a pregnancy; it’s a massive event to cope with.  But we’re now deep into the third trimester!”

“I’m trying doc, really I am.”

“Try harder!  That woman needs your support both day and night!  It’s just as important now as it will be when you’re in here for the birth.”

“Do I really need to be in there during the birth?  I’ve heard it’s not the nicest of...”

“If you were there for the conception you should be there at the birth!”

“I can’t recall.  I’m drinking much less these days though.”

“If you want my advice, stop being so selfish, get used to the idea now and grow a pair!  Good day!”


My stomach turns taking the full impact of the doctors damning assessment of me.  I feel lost as my head spins in search of the bathrooms on the ward, despite the fact I know exactly where they are.  Still disorientated, I pick up speed down the corridor, almost bouncing off the walls like a drunkard stumbling home. 

I lock the cubicle door and violently throw up into the toilet basin.  I gasp in hope of clean air, but the only oxygen available in here is intoxicated with all the rancid things one would associate with a hospital bathroom, and subsequently I gag harder and further.  My eyes are streaming and my chest aches.  My heavy wheezing slows down gradually and I pull wads of toilet paper from the dispenser to wipe my drying mouth.  I attempt to clear the smoke clogging up my mind.  ‘What am I doing?  I had plans!  Why didn’t I go travelling?  Am I a bad person for acting like this?  Surely everyone in this situation battles with the same thing!’  I can hear the doctor’s words ringing through my ears on loop’.  ‘Selfish... Grow a pair... Third trimester...’  The skin around my eyes is pulled tight where the tears have dried.  I’m not a crier, but this dilemma sets me off, and I start to shed the genuine tears of a man who has no clue what to do.


We screech into the car park and I slam the motor to a halt across 3 parking bays.  I jump out like a stuntman and pull her out of the back seat as carefully as possible.  She is hysterical, in a tremendous amount of agony and I say all I can to calm her down and reassure her.  I carry her as fast as I possibly can into the hospital and to my relief I am hastily met by several attendant members of staff.  They transfer her onto a stretcher and make rapid headway towards the emergency room.  I go with my natural reaction and follow in chase. 

Moments later I find myself in the emergency room amongst the traffic of the medical team.  I’m panting at a rate of knots and perspiring like a man locked in a sauna.  I’m being shoulder barged all over the place by the comings and goings of the attending staff, but somehow it doesn’t seem to register.  My gaze is transfixed on the scene unfolding in front of me as the medics go about their duties like an army of worker ants.  A final almighty barge by a somewhat rotund midwife catapults me back down to earth and things are suddenly more lucid.  I look down at my hands.  My eyes sharp shoot back to the action and I focus on the crimson smeared scrubs donned by the workforce.  There’s blood.  It’s never good when you can see blood...


My eyes flicker tiredly but finally open.  Everything is upside down.  It’s then that I realise my head is hanging over the last in a row of seats of which I’m sprawled across.  I raise myself up and rub my eyes harshly.  I find a spot on the wall and concentrate.  As my sight clears, I focus on what appears to be a crayon drawing of a couple of long haired stick people, one with a bulbous middle.  The work is entitled ‘Where’s Daddy?’  The dim lighting emits a rather surreal hue to the room.  I activate my peripherals and glare around, stalling on a poster of a triangle labelled ‘The 3 Trimesters- Week by Week’.  I’m snapped out of it by the doctor.


 “Talk to me doc?”

“There were a couple of initial complications, but I’m happy to report that both mother and son are in a stable condition!”

“A son!”

 “An emergency caesarean was performed about 5 hours ago, since when she’s been in recovery.  She’s a bit spaced out still, but in good humour.”

“Thanks for everything doc.”

“You’ve done a grand job.  Truly!”


I kiss her on the forehead and cuddle up next to her, trying not to move her too much.  Even now, her smile ruins me.


“Congratulations sweetheart.  You did it!”

“You love me, don’t you Billy Boy?”


She didn’t say much more before slipping into a silent slumber.


The shower water suddenly runs frozen and snaps me out of my daze.  I cut off the stream, and reach a juddering goose bumped arm out to unhook my towel.

 I rest my head on my pillow and collapse onto my bed.  The sheets are cold on my side, but refreshingly so.  I don’t remember the last time I felt such bodily relief.  But my mind is still anything but.  I remain hollow.  The emptiness is endless.  I do love her, but can’t help but feel so detached.  I’m wrestling with the notion that I’m either a complete fool or a heartless, emotionless bastard.  Am I such an abominable person for feeling like this?  I reconcile that I would be if the child was mine.  But it isn’t.  She wouldn’t tell me who the father was, and I only asked once.  The other side of my bed stirs.  I feel Mandy’s warm hand on my shoulder.


“Will, are you ok honey?” 

“It’s a boy!”

“Oh I’m so happy for her.  I’ll go and see her in a few days.  Give us a kiss!”


I oblige, and it feels nice.  She is beautiful, and I’m lucky to have her.  It’s not long before she’s back in slumber land.  She works hard, and on top of that has to deal with me.


I lay awake repeatedly replaying the last thing she asked me in that recovery room before the tranquilisers took over and she drifted off to sleep.  I’m glad I didn’t answer.


“You’ll be there for us, won’t you Billy Boy?”


I’m not sure I will.  I’m not sure I can.


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