Saturday 28th November 2009
Gestation: 9 weeks, 1 day
One year ago.
This is getting silly.
It’s 3.53am on Saturday morning. And we’re in hospital.
But we’re not up to this bit yet.
* * * * *
Suse and I make dinner, in this extraordinary guesthouse; literally, guests of the house. In this beautiful climate, we’ve not worn shoes or a shirt in four days. I stand there, cutting up salad, looking through the gauze curtains blowing in the afternoon breeze, lifting the lid on the God’s rolling green hills behind.
This is the sanctuary to our ills.
We eat, and then head down to our room. We watch a DVD, and for the hell of it, another. It’s a Friday night after all. We’re supposed to be on holiday.
Before we know it, it’s 12.30am. We crawl into bed, holding each other close. As I start to drift off, Suse touches me on the arm. I stir.
“Honey, I’m getting pain,” she whispers.
“I mean, I know that’s nothing new.”
“So, what then?”
I feel a pall of doom come over me. Just like that. Like I’m in a Bronte novel or something; like I just got consumption. I brace myself, holding her tight. We lie there, silently, for another minute.
“Oh, fuck,” she says, “it’s…Oh, fuck!”
Suse jumps out of bed and runs to the bathroom. I follow. She sits down hard, and within seconds, we both see red. Blood dripping into the bowl.
“Oh, Jesus!” she yells.
I look again, and the stream continues. I fumble at my pocket, pulling out my phone, opening the map function, and searching for the closest hospital. I do this for precisely three seconds before sprinting upstairs. There is a sliver of light coming from under Sheila’s bedroom door.
“Sheila!” I yell, wrapping hard on the door, “Sheila!!”
I fling it open. There is a flash of white flesh, and the surprised faces of her and another man.
“Jesus, I’m sorry guys,” I say, shielding my eyes, “But Suse is bleeding, and it won’t stop. Where is the closest hospital? Is it Byron or Bangalow? Do either even have Obstetrics?”
I hear the tension in my voice. My medical cool has vanished.
This is my wife.
I turn and exit before the flesh can even be covered.
“How are you, babe?” I yell as I run.
“Okay.” I hear the groan of someone doubled over in pain.
I skip down stairs, two at a time, entering the toilet to find Suse exactly like that.
“Sheila is sorting it out for us,” I say. “I’ll get some things together.” I grab the laptop, a couple of DVDs, and an odd assortment of clothing, stuffing them into a bag.
“Get a few pairs of undies, honey,” Suse yells. I grab what I can find, shoving them on top of the computer. Sheila appears behind me, finally clad in a gown, the phone at her ear.
“Lismore has Obstetrics, but you’re better off just getting to Byron and sorting it out from there. Head into town, and when you get to the first round-about, turn towards the Police Station.” I glance down at my phone, waiting for the map to appear. “Are you listening, Mark?”
I nod as I look at her. Her voice fades away to a buzz, as I find myself cursing the reception deadspots in paradise. Why doesn’t paradise have phone reception?
“Keep driving, and beyond that turn, you can’t miss it,” she says, touching me on the shoulder. “Did you get that?” I stare at her, nodding some more, blinking hard.
I help Suse off the toilet, and we both walk her over to the sink. She stands there, leaning hard against the taps. I run back into the room, and grab a few more of Suse’s clothes but none of my own. I’m acting like yet another useless relative.
“Get it together, you fucking idiot!” I whisper harshly to myself. I grab at bottles of shampoo, scooping them in.
“Jeff can drive you if you need it,” Sheila says.
“You got those directions?”
“Yep,” I say, shaking her away, as we stumble out towards the car.
* * * * *
To be continued…