This is a short story I am currently working on. This is the first draft. Pretty rough, but I thought I’d go ahead and post it anyway.
I hold her hand as she screams.
“It’ll be okay, El” I assure her, “Everything’s gonna be okay.”
She screams again. I look at the doctor who avoids eye-contact with me. She doesn’t finish the next scream. Instead, a succession of beeps assures me that her heart rate is increasing. I look at the doctor again. He’s worried. He tells the nurse something, but I can’t understand him.
“Get the baby out now!” he yells. A nurse shoots some sort of medicine into Ellie’s IV.
They work hard to deliver the baby. The doctor has grabbed forceps and is pulling the baby on through. I’m still holding on to her hand for dear life. This can’t be happening. She screams again. Her heartbeat sounds normal for now, but how long?
I look at her for what seems like the first time since she started pushing the baby out. Her black hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and her face shines from sweat. Her brown eyes have lost their luster. Black circles underline her eyes. She doesn’t look like herself.
“You have to take her,” she whispers.
“When I die, you have to take her.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re not gonna die.”
I know she is. The doctor has already warned me.
“Listen to me. My parents won’t take her. I don’t want her in a foster home. I want you to raise her.”
“Promise me, Addie.”
I don’t have any other choice. Of course, there is always the possibility that even the child won’t live. I’ve been warned of that too. I pray. I pray like I’ve never prayed before.
She screams again, as she pushes. The doctor tells her to push one more time. The baby’s almost out. She does. Her body goes limp. The monitor screeches, letting us know her heart has stopped beating. They hurriedly pull the baby out of Ellie. She’s quiet. There’s no sound coming from her. They rush her off to NICU, I assume.
A nurse rolls a crash cart next to the bed, charges it, gets it ready and yells “clear.” I reluctantly let go of her hand and step away. I watch as her body convulses with electricity. They have to do it three times. They give up.
I yell, “No,” although I didn’t have any intention of it. I run to her, hold her close, and cry. She’s my best friend. She is only eighteen. Why would this happen to her?
I remember the day she told me she was pregnant. She was crying. Her boyfriend had just up and ran off. Didn’t tell her where he went. Didn’t want her to know. Her parents kicked her out of their house. She had nowhere else to go. My parents took her in.
We helped her through her pregnancy. We were there for her when her parents and ex-boyfriend wasn’t. I loved her like she was my sister. In fact, she had become my sister. And now, I had lost her forever.
I look at her lifeless body and cry. A nurse places her cold hand on my shoulder. She means to be consoling, but I’m not sure I can be consoled.
The doctor says, “I think it’s best if you leave.”
“I don’t want to leave her.”
“You need to go wait for news about the baby.”
I nod. He’s right. I do. He points me in the direction. I’m barely aware where my feet are taking me.
The hospital smells like lemon disinfectant and reminds me of death. Everything is white and bright. It’s horrific.
I sit in a red chair outside of NICU. I call my parents and tell them what happen. They say they are on their way. I need someone with me. I can’t do this by myself.
I’m only eighteen too. I have just seen my best friend die, and I don’t know if her baby lives. Her baby. Soon, she might be my baby. I don’t know if I can do it. How can I be a teenage mom? How can I look at her everyday and not think of Ellie? But what if I don’t get her? What if I can’t adopt her? I’ll have to find a way. It was the dying request of my best friend.
My mom and dad are beside me, waiting just as I am. I have waited for over an hour. No one is telling me anything. I have to know if she is still alive. I have to know if she will make it. I lay my head on my mom’s shoulder and cry.
It’s a warm, summer day in June. I’m sitting in the park under a wooden pavilion watching kids play. A pink balloon escapes into the air. I watch it float up into the clouds until I can’t see it anymore. I wonder where it will land, who will find it and what they will think.
My mom walks up to me and asks, “What’s wrong?”
She nods and says, “Me too.”
She hugs me and walks away.
I look up to see my beautiful black haired, brown-eyed girl running towards me. I take her into my arms. She kisses me on the cheek.
“Are you having fun, Ellie?” I ask.
She nods. “I’ve been swinging.”
“When can I open presents?”
“After we eat cake.”
“When are we going to eat cake?”
“Now if you want.”
She nods. I gather everyone around. I light the five pink candles on the white iced cake with pink and green polka dots. It reads “Happy Birthday Ellie.” We sing to her, and she blows out her candles.