Lawrence, did you receive the fax yet? he said into the receiver.
At my words, I saw her jaw quiver. I do, too, she said.Even as she said the words, we both knew it wasn’t the same.
Despite our weariness, neither of us could face the prospect of going straight home after the ordeal at the hospital. When Jane declared suddenly that she was starving, we decided to stop at the Chelsea for a late dinner.Even before we entered, I could hear the sounds of John Peterson at the piano inside. Back in town for a few weeks, he played each weekend; on weekdays, however, John sometimes showed up unexpectedly. Tonight was such a night, the tables surrounding the piano crowded, the bar packed with people.We were seated upstairs, away from the music and the crowd, where only a few other tables were occupied. Jane surprised me by ordering a second glass of wine with her entrée, and it seemed to ease some of the tension of the past several hours.
What did Daddy say to you when you two were alone? Jane asked, carefully picking a bone out of her fish.Not much, I answered. I asked him how he was doing, what happened. For the most part, it wasn’t any different from what you heard later.
She raised an eyebrow. For the most part? What else did he say?
She laid her silverware down. He asked you to feed the swan again, didn’t he.Miss Patience, a woman’s voice calls. She pounds on the door again, and when I swing it open, she almost falls in. I’m Ruth Klopfenstein. Sorry to wake you, but we live on the other side of Hope Ridge on Bucks Run and my sister-in-law, Molly, is in labor. The young woman, in her early twenties, dressed all in black with a black scarf and gold wire-rimmed glasses like mine, is a wholesome farm girl with sandy hair that shines in the kerosene lamplight.
Granny says something’s wrong and I should get you. We’ve been driving around for the last hour. Missed your road the first time.Is this her first baby? How long has she been in labor? I ask the two questions almost as one. If this is a second or third child, she may have already given birth.
It’s her first. She started paining yesterday. My granny’s not a midwife, but she brought all of us into the world, my brothers and sisters and my four cousins. This is the first time she’s been stumped.Great, I think. Wait until you have trouble, then call the midwife! On the other hand, how can I not go? A life is at stake, maybe two. I grab my birth satchel and trot out to the road, wishing Bitsy were home to share this night’s adventure. It’s true, I’ve become dependent on her.