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"Ancient Tree"

David Hurley

A Lonely Feat

Tricia Dahms

My eyes spring open suddenly, but through my grogginess, I am not sure what woke me. The  smell of coffee begins to settle in the room; enticing me from my bed. Where is Derek? He is impossible to wake up in the mornings. I try not to schedule anything too early to avoid having  to wake him. I imagine his poor mother’s futile attempts to rouse him for school, her hair  turning a little grayer at the start of each day. So where is he now? It’s not yet six am. I roll onto  my side and hoist my body upright before stepping heavily onto my swollen feet.  

The living room is welcoming; he has cleaned it, and the orange walls are glowing in the morning light. The cats are delighted at the activity and stretch their bodies before welcoming me to the couch. 

“What are you doing?” I ask as I drop my weight heavily onto the pillows. 

“I dunno. I  couldn’t sleep,” he tells me as he smooths down the corner of the throw rug.  

As I drink my coffee, I start to feel a heat radiate from my lower belly around to my back. Is this what it feels like? This isn’t too bad. The heat is getting more intense now and is accompanied by a tightness that seems to wash over me like ocean waves gently rolling over my toes. It’s thrilling, but the water recedes quickly before approaching again, the force never too overwhelming.  

Things are shifting now. I open my eyes and find that the waves have overtaken me, and I  cannot focus on anything outside of my body. The waves thrash me against the shore again and again, pounding me to sand. I moan as I am again pulled beneath the surface, my mind a captive audience to this animal feat.  

When did we get in the car? My weight shifts as we round the curve, our bodies changing  direction as I fall beneath the surface again. 


The hallway is brightly lit and the woman behind the desk acts as if she sees this every day. How can people just go on with their lives right now? They take my weight and my temperature and  lead me to a darkened room. I want to go in the tub; it seems like that will be more comfortable.  

I am lonely in here; I wish that someone would come in with me. I wish that I could tell them that, but the battering of the waves is relentless, so I only moan. They chat and snack while I anguish alone. 

I said that I would do this without drugs. It’s been twelve hours now and the waves are still  hammering me alone on this island. I like when the pain makes me vomit, it gives me a break  from the constricting pressure. They use a needle to break my water like a too-full balloon. “It’ll speed things along,” they say.  

Seventeen hours now and they say I need an epidural to keep trying. They say Derek can’t  watch because husbands often faint at the sight of the needle. “Rest for a while” they say.  The hammering recedes and I rest.

I see a shock of curly red hair. A doctor says, “You can’t try anymore. We are prepping you for a  C-section”.  

This is not what I wanted. I weep. They give me oxygen to calm me down. They say they’ll be  back in five minutes; “It is what is best for the baby.”  

They push me through a set of double doors into a room filled with a half dozen people dressed  in smocks and masks. It is so bright; I didn’t expect it to be so bright. My arms are strapped  down, and I resemble a potbellied crucifix.  

I look up into Derek’s face and see only his eyes. “You’re okay,” they’re telling me. Derek talks to me, but I cannot hear him. I am scared and the drugs are making my body shake so badly that my teeth are chattering. “It’s normal,” they say. “Adrenaline”.  

I hear them gasp. “He is huge!” someone says. I hold my breath. Why isn’t he crying? They carry  him to the table, and I turn my head to see him. His eyes are closed tightly and a nurse wipes  antibiotic over them. She suctions his nose and mouth, and he shrieks in disapproval. I take a  breath.  

“Ten pounds eight ounces,” they say.

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