Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Birth (infancy) (08/20/09)
TITLE: Family Portrait
By Jennifer Galey
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Her eyelids started to droop. If pregnancy meant being this tired for nine months she would be living off Starbucks Caramel Macchiatos.
“Oh yeah, no caffeine…fantastic,” Sydney muttered. She was already talking to herself...blame it on the hormones.
Her head slumped over on her arm loosening the grip she had on the mouse. She was out cold. Slowly peeling her eyes open, she massaged her sore neck back to the screen.
Her Google search was minimized and the Paint application was opened. A portrait of three stick people greeted her with smiles as big as their heads. They were labeled: “Ecstatic Daddy” and “Beautiful Mommy” with “Precious Baby” in between. She spun her swivel chair around to find Daniel with a goofy grin.
He scooped her up with his strong arms, cradling her effortlessly like a hammock. The same sugary high swept through her body that she felt the first time they kissed almost ten years ago.
“You were sleeping so peacefully,” he began. “I reached over to shut down the computer and discovered your Google search. When I figured out that I had ruined the surprise, I thought I would surprise you instead. I hope you like my painting.” His eyes flickered with love and excitement.
Sydney saved the document and titled it “Our Family.”
“How far along are you, Sweetheart?” Her husband breathed lightly in her ear.
“I think probably about 2 months. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow at…” before she could finish a violent projectile of vomit spewed out of her mouth.
Daniel clutched her clammy hand and supported her wobbly frame to the bedroom. Gently planting her between the sheets, he looked into her eyes. They resembled syrupy raisins sunken into floury dough. A look of concern washed over his face.
“I hope this nausea passes. I am driving you to your appointment tomorrow.”
Dr. Kimble flung open the door. She had a mass of wiry salt and pepper tendrils that framed her wrinkle-free face. Her presence happily interrupted their trance from the parent horror stories they were reading.
“How are you feeling, Syndey?”
“Besides throwing up on the way over, pretty good.” Her sarcasm was still intact.
“That is definitely typical, but I will do a series of blood tests along with the ultrasound just to be thorough.”
After what seemed like an hour, Dr. Kimble returned. “Congratulations, you are nine weeks along. I will call you later on this week with your test results.”
On the way home Daniel and Sydney stopped by the Home Depot to pick out paint colors for the nursery. She wanted to paint the room like a giant pink watermelon with whimsical scattered seeds.
Daniel wrapped his arm around her waist. “Hey, what if it’s a boy?”
Sydney smiled. “I know it is a girl. I can’t explain it, but I just know.”
Aside from racking up frequent flyer miles from bathroom trips, Sydney spent most of the week nestled in her suede sofa. She thumbed through pages of girl’s baby names, though none of them stuck out to her.
Sydney was in that twilight state between reality and sleep. She was trying to figure out if the phone had actually rung or if she was dreaming.
Daniel nudged her awake. “Honey, Dr. Kimble wants us to come by the office. She has an opening right now if we hurry.”
Dr. Kimble mounted the ultrasound pictures up on the screen.
“I found something else.”
Daniel and Sydney turned to each other and mouthed “Twins?” at the same time.
“You have ovarian cancer.”
Sydney’s elated emotion froze into numbness.
“If we do chemo, the fetus would not make it.” Dr Kimble said sternly.
Daniel kissed her head and whispered, “I know everything is going to be okay. I can’t explain it. I just know.”
Curled up in a fetal position, Sydney slept on the carpet of the nursery. After sleeping for what seemed like days, she opened her eyes. Her husband had framed the picture of the three stick figures and mounted it over the bassinet. She closed her eyes again, but her heart held onto the visual of their first family portrait.
Her lips curled into a smile. “Her name is Faith.”
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