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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hear (07/08/10)

TITLE: Ambience
By Author Unknown


“This room is a little smaller but it’s the quietest. You’ll have some privacy here.” The nurse helped settle Amy into the bed. Meg was still in her arms; she hadn’t put her down since the delivery.

“Thank you,” I said, forcing my manners to the surface.

The nurse dimmed the lights to a low hum. The door hesitated a hush before closing itself behind her.

I watched Amy stroking Meg’s pale face again. It was the affected effort of a mother about to be separated from her child.

“Is it all right if I call my mom now?” I looked at Amy. With her eyes still fixed on Meg, she nodded yes. She hadn’t said a word in the last two hours.

I dialed the numbers. My phone kept beeping at my finger’s clumsy errors. Finally, the phone began to ring. My heart pounded louder with each trill.

“Kevin, is that you? Is she here?” Mom’s voice was ecstatic on the phone. Her naďve enthusiasm was inappropriate.

“Yes, Mom,” I said.

She’d been waiting weeks for a call. We’d been waiting weeks to make one, but not this one.

“Richard, Richard wake up. Kevin and Amy had the baby!”

Her nightgown muffled and rubbed against the receiver as she nudged Dad awake.

“Congratulations, Son,” my dad mumbled. It was 2:30 in the morning. I couldn’t blame him for his mediocre zeal.

“Oh, Kevin, I’m so happy for you. And Amy? Is she doing all right?” Mom’s voice bubbled.

“Yes, Mom, Amy is healthy. She’s holding Meg right now.” I looked over at my wife. Our daughter lay silent in her arms. This scene I imagined over and over, but not in these hues. Meg’s lips were so blue.

“Meg, what a lovely name,” she said.

“Mom,” my tone abrupt, “Mom, there’s something I need to tell you.”

I heard the bedside light click on. She caught the intonation. “Kevin, what is it? Is something wrong?”

“Mom, she… she didn’t make it. Meg was stillborn.” I couldn’t say dead. Dead would mean acknowledging our life existed without our daughter. It would mean acknowledging that we were going home empty-handed.

Amy pulled Meg close and began to rock again. She moaned in soft throbs with each beat of her wounded heart.

Mom’s voice caught. “Oh, Kevin.”

This caught Dad’s attention. “What happened? What’s wrong?” His voice crowded Mom’s. He was listening now.

“They don’t know yet. They’re not sure… She looks so perfect.”

Dad was shouting at the phone. “Kevin, we’re coming straight out. Are you at Memorial? We’re on our way, Son.” The springs squeaked as Dad got out of bed. I heard him dumping his keys and change back into his pant pockets.

It was too much, the idea of anyone disturbing our sacred space. Blood began to throb in my ears.

“Mom, stop Dad. We just… we just need to be alone right now. Please.”

“Of course, sweetheart,” she said, but she didn’t mean it. My words smacked against her cheek. “Dad and I will come by in the morning. We love you, and we’re praying for you both.” Her nose sounded stuffed, the receiver wet.

“I, we, love you, Mom. We just need a few hours, alone, with Meg.” My finger scratched the corner of the phone in rhythm with the rat-a-tat-tat-tat of my foot on the linoleum floor.

“Kevin,” she said in the same tone that comforted me after nightmares.

“Uh-huh,” my façade was crumbling fast. I took a deep breath, sounding like a crashed wave on the mouthpiece.

“God is with you, don’t let the silence fool you. I’ll see you in the morning.”

The phone chirped as she turned it off.

“What’d they say?” Amy didn’t take her eyes off Meg, but she spoke. We would grieve together.

“They’re coming in the morning, they love us, and God is in the silence or something like that.” I walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. The vinyl mattress crackled under my weight.

I put my arms around Amy, our baby between us. I strained to hear the noises that weren’t there. No newborn cries. No cooing mom. No jubilant congratulations.

Even so, God was with us, tethering us to life with monitored beeps, the rushing of water through pipes, and the rubber-soled footfalls that rose and fell outside our door. God kept us from falling into the silent abyss that night by giving us ambient noise.

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This article has been read 1164 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst07/15/10
The authentic observations, conversations & introspections in this story helped me to hear & feel the emotion of the narrator. My throat is still choked up & my eyes wet.
Donna Powers 07/15/10
This is so beautiful. You've done a wonderful job telling this very touching story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/16/10
This is so touching...so sad...and at the same time, so comforting. You did an excellent job of telling the story.
Kellie Henningsen07/18/10
You have me in tears. I remember the calls we made after our baby daughter passed. This hit close to home and you told it beautifully. Very touching.
Colin Swann07/19/10
This is terrible writing,and, an awful story,and, way off topic!
What I mean: It's terribly good emotional writing,and, an awfully wonderful story, and, it's way off being off target.
Just thought I would test you half-full gal!
you have two options - what's your glass telling you? Colin
Rikki Akeo07/19/10
Well done.
It's like I was observing in a corner of the room. I love when that happens!
Carol Penhorwood 07/19/10
A heartbreaking story told well.
Joan Campbell07/19/10
Very powerful writing. You draw your reader into that almost sacred unknown place - a couple privately grieving the loss of a child - and give us insight into their pain. Excellent!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/19/10
This is beautiful. I used to work in labor and delivery. I always said it was the happiest place in the hospital except for when it was sad then it was the saddest place in the hospital. I've seen the scene you described and you got every heartbreaking emotion right. The title is so powerful, even more so after the story has been read.
AnneRene' Capp07/19/10
What a tear-jerker! Your dialogue and detailed descriptions are superb. I love your phrase: “God is with you, don’t let the silence fool you.
Chely Roach07/20/10
Excellent writing on a difficult topic. The last paragraph was superb. Sniff.
Carole Robishaw 07/21/10
Not sure I can add anything to what's already been said. Heart and gut wrenching, very well written.
Shirley McClay 07/21/10
Ugh.... wiping tears. Amazing... and amazingly painful. Great job with sucking me in to the very last word!!!
Lollie Hofer07/21/10
I'm not crying but I do have goose bumps running up and down my arms...God always uses the goose bumps to make me aware of His presence. I did feel a special anointing on this story as I read it. Wow! What more can I say?
Susan Montaperto07/21/10
Tissues, indeed, you should have said a box full of them! Thank you for a heartfelt and beautifully written story. God Bless. Keep writing.
Edmond Ng 07/21/10
Very sad story. The emotions came through very well in your writing. I like the ending ... the assurance of even at the worst of times, God is in control.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/22/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level and for the Editor's Choice.
Charla Diehl 07/22/10
God bless you for sharing this emotional and heart wrenching story. A close friend of mine (years ago) went through everything you just described. Within a couple months she was blessed with a healthy little girl. God is good.