Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chapter 35 - I Love You

December 20, 1948

Rattling pots in the kitchen woke Solomon. Becky was up already with a towel wrapped around her wet hair. Her white chenille robe was almost too small now to reach around her belly. Solomon watched her for a minute before she noticed him in the doorway.

“Oh,” she put her hand to her chest, “you scared me.”

“I’m sorry,” he said kissing her on the cheek, “why are you up so early?”

She looked at him like he was crazy. “You made me promise to come in for a check-up, remember?”

“Oh, okay, you’re going ride with me.”

“That’s my plan,” she snapped.

Solomon put his hands in the air like he surrendered. He decided he’d try to stay out of her way.

When Becky came out of the bathroom in the hospital gown, Ma Patsy was sitting at her desk getting patient’s charts ready for the morning. Solomon took the cup of urine out of Becky’s hand and motioned for her to get on the scales. He slid the big weight over to the one hundred slot, and then he carefully pushed the smaller weight with a fingertip. “One hundred and thirty-eight pounds,” he said.

“Are you sure?” she gasped.

“It’s fluid,” he said, “your feet and ankles have been swollen for the past week.”

“Why?” Becky asked.

“I don’t know. That’s why I was pushy about your coming in for a check-up.”

“You don’t miss much, do you?” She sounded irritated.

Solomon smiled at her. He put the urine by the sink and helped her to get up on the exam table.

“Ye want me to run the urine test?” Ma asked.

“Thanks, I’d appreciate that,” he answered.

Solomon covered Becky with a flannel sheet and then turned it back to reveal her belly.

Becky asked, “What’s that line running down my belly?”

Solomon ran one finger over the line and said, “It’s called linea nigra,” he said. “It’s caused by hormones. It’ll go away after the baby’s born.”

Solomon put both his hands on her abdomen. His sensitive fingertips walked over her belly.

“That tickles,” she said.

He smiled and cupped his hands around the baby’s head and back. “Here’s his head,” Solomon said as he gently palpated her abdomen with his left hand, “and here’s his back,” he said rubbing the length of the baby’s back across her abdomen.

“Let me feel,” she said sliding her hands beneath Solomon’s.

Solomon pressed down on Becky’s hands so she could feel the baby’s position. Her mouth opened with a big smile.

He put the stethoscope’s diaphragm over the baby’s back and asked her, “Do you want to hear his heartbeat?”

Becky’s eyes lit up as she nodded eagerly.

He steadied the diaphragm over the baby’s back and handed the ear tips to her. He watched as she concentrated on the baby’s heartbeat. Her eyes locked on his. “It’s so fast,” she said.

“It’s good,” he responded. “It’s normal.”

Solomon put the stethoscope back into his pocket and stretched the tape measure over Becky’s abdomen. “Perfect for twenty-six weeks,” he said. “Let me get a blood pressure and a finger stick, and you can get dressed.”

“Okay,” she said, “you were easy on me this time.”

When Solomon and Becky got back to the cabin, smoke curled out of the chimney, and pine needles strewed the pathway to the house. Becky giggled and grabbed Solomon by the hand pulling him faster up the pathway. She bounded up the front steps and burst through the front door. The aroma of pine needles and ginger pervaded the cabin.

“Awww,” Jerry said, “you got back too early. I wanted to surprise you.”

Her face glowed. “You did surprise me,” she said. “Jerry, this is sooo sweet.”

“Well, I knew you were feeling low since this is the first Christmas you’ve spent without your parents around. They’ve got their annual Christmas Eve charity shindig at the country club so I figured we’d make our own Christmas,” he said. “I popped popcorn so we could string garlands for the tree.”

“I smell gingerbread too,” Becky said peeking into the kitchen.

Solomon fluffed up the pillows on the couch and said, “It’s time for you to get off your feet, Miss Becky. You can make popcorn garlands from here.”

Jerry pulled a basket out from under the sink. It was filled with pinecones that he’d dipped in glue and sparkles. He said, “Here are some more things to put on the tree.” He handed Solomon spools of green and red ribbon and a pair of scissors. “Take these over to Becky too,” he said.

Solomon got a patchwork quilt out of the closet to spread around the base of the tree. He dug further into the closet and pulled out boxes wrapped in red and green paper. They were baby presents that he and Jerry had bought for Becky.

Becky’s face shone like a seven-year-old on Christmas morning.

Solomon and Becky went to bed early. Solomon could tell that she was tired from all the activity. It felt good to lie in the dark in each other’s arms and talk. They often lay awake for hours just talking and spooning. Becky rolled backwards so she could see Solomon.

“You’re my Rock of Gibraltar,” she said.

Solomon traced the outline of her ear with his fingertip and said softly, “I love you, Becky.”

His words scared her. She didn’t know why. Maybe it was because she was carrying another man’s child. “Hearing that makes me feel safe, but it scares me too,” she said pulling his arm into the curve of her body. “We’ve known each other less than four months. So much has happened…so many changes.”

“I know,” he said, “I just wanted you to know how I feel about you.”

She rolled over in bed and looked him in the eyes. She took a breath as if she were going to say something, but then she turned her eyes away and said nothing.

“What is it?” he coaxed.

“It’s silly,” she said.

“Nothing is silly,” he said. “What is it?”

“Well, I…I was just wondering…if you’ve ever made love to another woman.” She twisted her mouth with a half smile.

Solomon’s face flushed, and he chuckled.

“You have, haven’t you?” she grinned. “Who is she? Or is it they?”

He hesitated, and then he said, “Dr. Wall’s granddaughter.”

She got quiet and snuggled back into the curve of his body. She wondered if he still slept with that girl. Then she thought, No, I’d know it if he did.

He buried his face in the nape of her neck and fell asleep to the familiar smell of her shampoo.

Copyright © 2008 by Robbin Renee Bridges
Coping with Grief through Afterlife Communication

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