The woman’s face was pale, and even over the video feed Dr. James Fenton could tell that she was trembling. “Please Doctor, I need a second opinion.”
The ultrasounds were transmitted within seconds. Dr. Fenton studied the pictures much longer than necessary. A weight settled upon him, so heavy it seemed as if it would squeeze the very air from his lungs. A sniff finally brought his gaze back to the young mother.
“They say I have no choice but to abort. But I’ve heard…I’ve heard that you…” Her brown eyes shimmered, pain and hope mixing in a pool of tears.
He knew what she was asking. The question was, could he risk it? A baby with Down’s Syndrome would be hard to hide. Things were growing harder. This could be the last time. This could be the last of life as he knew it. Perhaps even of life itself.
James looked back at the screen, back at the woman who in reality was on the other side of the state, yet was so near. Two souls, so near they had already entered his heart. There was only one available option.
He kept his voice matter-of-fact. “If you come to my clinic I can give you a second opinion.” Anyone could be listening to the conversation. He looked into her eyes and hoped she understood. “If nothing changes, we can do the procedure right here.”
Her mouth flew open and for a second he thought she would ruin everything. At the last second she apparently got the point he was trying so hard to convey, and she simply nodded. “Yes, sir.”
They scheduled the appointment and James disconnected the video feed. He turned and opened the living room door behind him. “Ann, we’re on call.” His nurse wife looked up, her face turning a shade paler. The few words conveyed so much, so much that she understood all too well.
The smile that lit her face made him love her all the more. “Who is it?”
He told her all he knew while they began to move, preparing a room, making contacts, printing the fake identity cards, gathering medical supplies… They worked all night, meticulously covering their tracks. When the doorbell rang the next afternoon, they thought they were ready.
The illusion was fleeting.
“I think I was followed.” Tears dripped down the woman’s cheeks. Her shoulders hung limply. “My doctor called this morning and was asking questions about you. They must have tracked the call last night. I shouldn’t have come here, but I didn’t know what else to do. You have to help me, Doctor! I can’t let them kill this child. I can’t kill my baby!”
He pulled her inside, where Ann enveloped her in a hug. He let his wife comfort her, rescue her heart, even as he worked to rescue her life.
In moments he disconnected his secure Blackberry. “The arrangements are ready, miss. Someone’s waiting out back. You’ll be safe now.”
The woman’s relief was palpable, but she hesitated. “What about you?”
James looked at Ann. “They have room for us, if we’re ready to go.” The words lingered in the air. “If we have finished our work here.”
For a moment a war raged in her eyes, in his heart. Safety lay so near. Could he risk loosing the one he loved? Had they done enough? Could they live in peace now?
The answer of his heart was mirrored in the lift of her chin. She met his gaze straight on, her voice barely perceptible. “It’s not time yet.”
The back door closed behind the young lady and her precious child only seconds before the front door began to vibrate with pounding. James winked at Ann. There was more to do, more lives to save.
Such a beautiful story! I'm reading short stories to document sensory details for a writing course I'm doing, but your story swept me away! I'll need to go back for a second reading. :) Have you thought of making this story the basis for a novel? It would make a powerful book.
29 Nov 2006
Amy, this is a riveting story, very well told. It had me puzzled, though, as I am not too UP on modern technology... I don't usually read the critiques on a story until AFTER I have made mine, so as not to influence what I want to say. But in this case, I did, and I am glad, as it enlightened me somewhat on some of the story I wasn't understanding. But I take it that this is a bit of a futuristic story. I wondered why the doctor and wife would be in danger, just because they saved lives. I also didn't know that just because a child was Down's Syndrome it was at risk to being aborted. Lots I don't know about modern life. I like your style of writing.
Well written, Amy. Just be careful with 'loose' and 'lose' ... unless you mean 'loose'. Coming from a culture where it is not mandatory but certainly normal for such lives to be terminated, your piece especially resonated.
Good job, Amy. This is a very strong message against abortion for reasons like deformity of the infant. I suspected that your article was written about a time that might be in the future when women are forced to have abortions for those types of reasons. In any event, this was well-written. Blessings.