“I figured the fresh air would tire her out.”
Paul rubbed Camille’s back softly with his hand. Just a few minutes before her eyes slipped up as her lids came down and with a sigh she’d fallen asleep. We’d taken her to the pond for lunch and afterwards she’d been on her stomach with her head up laughing at the noises he made under her chin. He’d been likely to get some of her lunch up on his head with her laughing and lying on it but now that her head was down he was safe. We had her on a blanket between us under an umbrella for shade.
He stroked my nose with his finger.
“Your freckles are showing up already,” he teased.
“Maybe I’ll get them everywhere this year...you’ll have to look.”
My sister Alina laughed behind me. She’d arrived a few days before to stay for a couple of weeks. After that at seven months pregnant she would have to stay out of the sky for a while. Ray wanted to go back to Toronto with her but she was already working her way into a position in Sacramento because she wanted to be closer. They’d both been back and forth for the past three months unable to be apart and just as unable to decide where they wanted to be together. I knew the compound wasn’t her style but she was always comfortable and got along well with Paul and his mother who was here just as much.
Ray leaned back against a tree a few yards away, Alina sitting sideways between his legs leaning on his chest. He had an arm around her and a hand on her stomach. She hadn’t been laughing at us; Ray was running his fingertips up and down her back. She’d found they were having a boy; which I’d already known and as far as our father knew Ray had been a well kept secret like Paul had been with me.
She’d turned up early the morning after she and our father had come to meet Paul and Camille. She knocked on the door wearing the previous day’s wrinkled clothes and apologizing for the jet lag before steering Camille and me into the kitchen. Camille was falling back to sleep and I had been hoping to get a couple more hours myself but with Alina still on Toronto time that possibility was fading. She put on coffee and started going through the fridge.
“Oh my God I’m so hungry in the morning now,” she blurted out.
Blind with hunger. I’d have to keep my hands back.
“You want me to fix something? I know where everything is.”
“I need to calm down,” she said with a sigh so she took Camille and sat at the table while I got out toast and peanut butter, fruit, and cottage cheese.
“I can’t eat,” she frowned after a few bites.
“Get it off your chest then you’ll have room.”
I kept eating waiting for her to tell me what I already knew. Paul and I had watched her go hand in hand with Ray into his cabin the night before and I didn’t think they were going to talk sports.
“I slept with Ray,” she said. There Anna, her look begged. Give it to me. Tell me I should have known better.
“Okay,” I said.
“Okay?” she asked.
“I slept with Paul last night and I can eat...can you eat now?”
She shook her head and gave me Camille on her way to the coffee pot. I pointed to the cupboard the mugs were in so she helped herself and sat down. She stared at her black coffee for a few seconds before she realized she’d forgotten the milk so she had to get up again.
“Why are you worried about it?”
“I just met him,” was all she said.
She’d told me what had happened with her baby’s father Damian, every bit, in a long teary phone conversation. Maybe she didn’t think she was ready to be with someone again. It was too soon. Or maybe she thought she was still too wrecked inside for it to be fair to Ray so I waited to hear her real objection to sleeping with him.
“We started fooling around on his bed, undressing a bit. He asked if I’m pregnant. I told him yes. He said he was falling for me, but if the baby’s father was around he’d back off. I told him no. When he saw my shoulder he asked if the father had done it to me. I just nodded and started to cry...he kissed me there, said I didn’t have to talk about it but I did anyway because I wanted to tell him. He promised he wouldn’t be any more than I was ready for, but I wanted him so I told him that. Told him he was all I needed...then I slept with him.”
“Okay,” I said again.
“Aren’t you going to say I’m irresponsible?”
“No,” I told her. “I slept with Paul two hours after I met him...you had three weeks of phone calls first.”
“I can see why you don’t think it’s a big deal,” she laughed.
“Are you worried you’ll catch pregnant?” I whispered to her, making her laugh even harder. She tossed a bit of toast at me.
“I love you Anna,” she said as she pulled her plate closer.
“You too Sweetie.”
Then I’d gotten her some of my more practical clothes to wear and put the baby sling on her with Camille in it to disguise her stomach. She had her back to Paul as he came from the bedroom, our heads together as we adjusted Camille for our walk.
As we finished he put his hand on her shoulder and pulled her hair out of the way. I lifted my head to look at her and she stared back, eyes wide. Paul put his nose on her neck then he kissed her, obviously thinking she was me because of the clothes and sling.
“Good morning...” he whispered to her.
Alina’s eyes had gone back to normal and she could see me trying not to laugh so she tilted her head away from him a bit, exposing more of her neck and letting him dig himself even deeper. He kissed her again. Fortunately his eyes had closed so he couldn’t see my hand on my mouth.
“That smells so good...is it Alina’s? What’s it called?”
“Ray’s aftershave,” she said without missing a beat and we both burst out laughing.
Paul froze a moment.
“I’m in so much trouble,” he said as he doubled back to our bedroom, our laughter following him the whole way.
Now she was laughing again as Paul and I watched our daughter sleep.
“Feeling better now?” Paul asked me.
“Not really,” I shook my head. I’d been crampy off and on all day and figured it was just Mother Nature getting things going again after the baby. I had Tylenol and a heating pad for a while and then I tried being up and around for the exercise and at least it hadn’t gotten any worse. No better either.
“I’m getting a drink, want anything?” I asked him. The basket we’d brought our lunch down in was too far away to reach.
“Yeah...can I get a beer? They’re getting warm.”
That’s chivalrous I thought, spare the beer from getting warm. There’s a refrigerator that will save it without killing it. I pushed myself up sitting and definitely felt Mother Nature starting something.
“I think the cure for the cramps just turned up,” I whispered to Paul. “I have to run to the house for a minute.”
“Okay,” he said, curling up closer to Camille.
I passed him a can and got one for Ray and hurried back to the house. By the time I got off the path and on to the road that led north past the cabins the cramps had been replaced with steady pain.
By the time I was at the house I was nearly doubled over in agony and screaming for help. I’d already bled through my clothes half way down to my knees.
Paul’s brother Joshua was back from staying with their parents and was the first one on the porch. Paul’s men were just finishing lunch in the big kitchen.
“Jones!” he yelled at the open door.
“Something’s wrong Joshua...” I whispered as he sat me on the stairs.
Jones and another man ran out.
“Jones...get Ray and the Captain...they’re at the pond...fast as you can. Matthews, call this lady a ride...medical evac.”
Crap, I thought. But flying couldn’t be any worse than the pain I was in now. Someone else brought out a blanket and they lay me down on it. I couldn’t get out of the ball I was in.
“Are you pregnant again Anna?”
“I...what?” I managed.
“Stay with her.” Joshua ordered. He ran in the house and had an IV started by the time Paul and Ray ran up. Alina must have Camille, I thought. I was dizzy even lying down and tried to ask where Camille was but nobody answered. Joshua said something about helicopter and Ray said something about blood. I couldn’t be sure. Maybe it was the other way around. Paul’s lips were by my ear telling me to relax, hold on. I remembered being carried and a lot of noise and wind.
I was definitely flying.
Rows and rows of corn fields passed beneath me. Tall, green; covered in tufts of angel hair as far as I could see. The sky was clear overhead and behind me it was darkening, both with clouds and with the coming of night. As I got lower to the corn I could hear voices. Just a murmur at first, then louder. I began to glimpse men in the rows of corn. There were shouts. Yelling and pleading.
The darkness behind had begun to reach above me. Loud, pulsing. I could feel the vibration in my bones. I went lower, trying to escape it and as I did I could see the men more clearly. Some had their arms raised shouting to me for help, pleading, pursued by others who were armed with all sorts of crazy things. Metal pipes, crowbars. Guns and cleavers. Bare hands and teeth.
As I got closer water rose up through the ground, filling the space between the stalks and climbing the legs of the men who had been pleading for help. It froze quickly holding them in place. The ones who were armed stayed on top of the thickening ice and started attacking the ones who had been begging me for help. I didn’t want to watch or be attacked myself so I went up higher, back up to the shaking sky and as I did the ice receded and the unarmed men were able to get away. They still begged me to help but at least the slaughter stopped.
I slowed down, seeing them more clearly. Their raised arms were all that was visible above the corn while the pounding above was getting in my chest. Hurting me, damaging me. I had to go lower, the pain was too much. Going lower though brought the ice up. I struggled to adjust my altitude even though I couldn’t find a place that didn’t hurt me or the men. I tried to go low until they were close to getting caught then I went up again until the pain pushed me back down.
It went on too long. I was tiring and was less and less able to tolerate the noise from above. I weaken, dipping lower each time as the ceiling above sunk toward me. Soon I wasn’t able to get up high enough to spare the men below at all. I brought my hands up to cover my eyes as the thunder drove me down.
Someone grabbed my hand as I opened my eyes, watching the thunder above blur and spin above my head. The noise was deafening and the pressure from it smothered me. Ray was at my side, grey like everything around him. My hand was in one of his and he held up two bags in the other. One big and clear, the other deep red against the colourless everything around it.
“Hold still Anna,” I heard under the fading rumble. Ray had gotten me away, the thundering above replaced by lights flying over me. Something let go of my arm and he let go of my hand.
“Seventy over fifty,” someone said. As the lights above fled past he popped the empty red bag off and attached another.
“That’s funny Ray,” I told him, laughing. “When I wake up I’ll tell you you’re in my dream. You’re grey.”
The lights above slowed and one took its station above me. Something squeezed my arm and I tried to pull away so Ray took my hand and held me still. The lights were moving again.
“Still holding, seventy over fifty doctor.”
“Good,” Ray said. I couldn’t understand why he could still be so grey and sound so relieved. He hung the bags on a pole above my head and put his nose on my forehead. “Alina has Camille...Paul’s coming in the truck. He’ll be here when you wake up. Everything’s okay.”
I must have fallen asleep with Camille at the pond. Paul with us. Ray stayed with me under the lights, keeping the thunder away. After a bit he took me somewhere else and I lost track of things for a while.
I woke up in a room full of hospital beds. Ray was with me and a woman who looked like a nurse was seeing to someone on the other side, her back to me. I wasn’t entirely comfortable. My stomach hurt and my throat was dry. When I tried to breathe my chest was heavy like the weight of the room was sitting on it.
“Am I still dreaming?” I asked Ray.
He looked up and saw that I was awake.
“No Kiddo,” he said softly. “You’re in recovery.”
“Why? What have I been doing?”
“I’m sorry Anna, you had a miscarriage,” he pushed my hair off my forehead. “You had to go to surgery to stop the bleeding.”
I must have looked like I didn’t know what he was talking about. Ray leaned over the bed looking like he needed a hug so I put my arms around him and tried to reassure him.
“I didn’t Ray, it’s okay...I would have felt him...I couldn’t have...been...” but my face was getting wet and he held me tighter. “Does Paul know yet?”
“Yeah,” Ray said as he straightened up, wiping his eyes. “We had a pretty good idea before the helicopter even arrived.”
I suddenly felt very alone. A lot less alone than if I didn’t have Ray. I wanted Paul and Camille, at home.
“I want to see him...he’s all by himself.”
“I know, he said the same thing about you. You were in a lot of trouble during the flight. He doesn’t know that yet or he’d have knocked the door down to get in here. Right now he’s waiting down the hall. We’ll have you in a room in half an hour. I got you a private one.”
Ray stroked my forehead.
“He’s hanging in there...are you having much discomfort?”
“Okay. If I’m not back before you go to your room I’ll see you there. I’m going to let him know you’re awake...he’ll let Alina know.”
He knew it took a lot for me to admit I was hurting. I didn’t argue. Even though he’d read me correctly there was nothing I could take for most of the pain I felt. While he was gone the nurse came and gave me something and went back to what she was doing. A while later someone else came and wheeled me to my room. It was all the same colour, empty and sterile like I felt inside.
Soon I heard Paul and Ray in the hallway. I couldn’t make out what they were saying. They whispered outside the door for a minute then Paul came in alone. He didn’t say anything; he didn’t have to. The sadness on his face was the same as mine. I lifted the blanket so he kicked off his shoes and got in and held me.
We didn’t talk much for a while. I didn’t want to know what trouble I’d been in and didn’t ask. The nurses were in and didn’t say anything about Paul in the bed. Ray joined us after a while and sat in the chair. Alina had started him texting. Then Paul and his mother. Alina talked to her now more than I did. Paul’s mother was delighted about Alina and Ray and thought of their son as her own grandson.
“Alina says Camille’s gone to bed...she made a big dent in the milk you froze,” he passed me his phone. “See?”
She had sent a picture of sleeping Camille. Paul and I both looked.
“I haven’t been away from her since the trip to Arlington,” he said.
“I’ll send it to you Paul.” Ray said and a minute later Paul’s pocket beeped. I liked the thought of Camille in his pocket.
“I didn’t feel him inside me Paul,” I whispered. “I should have felt him...I should have known.”
“It’s nobody’s fault Anna,” he whispered back. “Please don’t blame yourself.”
“I just feel like if I’m quick enough, if I reach out in just the right direction and grab on I can get him back...I can undo it.”
“Sshhh,” Paul said. “I do too.”
He stayed with me until Ray took him to their hotel at nearly midnight. Visiting hours were long past over. I could smell him on my pillow as I fell asleep.