“You have a baby girl, Mr. Daniels.”
Fitz gave an inward sigh of relief. Thankfully, he wouldn’t have to name his child after that ingrate named Adam.
“And the mother? How’s she doing?” Karen asked anxiously. Fitz looked at the doctor. He hesitated for a moment.
“Doctor, how is Emily?”
“She lost a lot of blood…we tried our best…but she couldn’t make it. I’m terribly sorry for your loss.”
Karen felt her head spinning; her body growing numb; the ground beneath her feet shaking. She tried taking a step back but her body felt frozen. She opened her mouth to say something but her tongue felt stuck. Her world was crumbling down and she was running out of breath.
“Lady, are you okay?” Fitz glanced at her.
Karen lifted her head and when her eyes met Fitz’s, the tears gathering in her eyes fell on her cheeks.
When she finally found her voice, she screamed and passed out. Fitz caught her before she could hit the floor. The doctor signaled for a stretcher.
James came in with two bottles of water only to find his girlfriend being whisked away.
“She passed out. She’ll be fine.” Fitz sounded exhausted. He sat down.
“What happened? She was fine a few minutes ago.”
“What about her? Is she okay?” He shook his head.
When Fitz buried his face in his palms, James’ heart sank.
“Oh God!” he sighed. He sat down beside Fitz.
“This is going to be a big blow to Karen.”
“I know; so I’m counting on you to stand by her and help her endure this period. She’ll need it.” James nodded.
“I can’t believe Emily is gone,” James said faintly.
“Yeah me too. I didn’t get to say goodbye.”
Fitz stood outside the room where the babies lay and looked on quietly. He had a baby. He was a father. His face looked saddened but his heart was smiling. He felt a presence nearby and turned his head. It was Adam.
“She had a girl.” Adam nodded and glanced at the babies.
“Is she here?”
“No; she’s being monitored.”
“She’s gone, Adam.”
“What do you mean…?” Fitz’s eyes said it all. Adam’s eyes widened.
“No; that can’t be. Emily can’t…”
“Karen passed out and is lying in one of the rooms. Go find her,” Fitz said and turned his gaze away from him.
Adam opened his mouth to say something but immediately, he forgot his words and turned around quietly. Fitz watched him walk away slowly. He sighed.
Karen’s eyes opened. Where was she? She looked around and saw James looking out the window, lost in thought. Why was she here? She sat up with a start. James turned.
“What am I doing here?”
“Karen.” She looked up.
“Adam.” Then she remembered. Her heart suddenly felt heavy.
“I know.” He walked to her and hugged her.
“He killed her, Adam. He killed Emily.” He broke the embrace and looked at her.
“What do you mean?”
“He chose the baby over Emily. When it came down to whom he wanted more alive, he chose the baby, Adam. He sacrificed Emily so he could have the baby.”
“Are you sure about this?”
“I was there when the doctor asked him and he said, ‘save the baby.’ He killed her!” Violent sobs overcame her. Adam patted her back to calm her down but it seemed to make it worse. He glanced at James who got up and took his place.
“I’ll be right back,” Adam said and walked out.
“You killed her.” Fitz turned to see a seething Adam a few feet away.
“I take it that Karen is awake.”
“Why did you do that?” Adam asked, taking steps towards Fitz.
“Do what?” Fitz asked back, coolly.
“Choose the baby over her?”
“Because that’s what she’d have wanted.”
“Oh yeah? Did she tell you that? Did you two have a sit-down discussion about the choices you have to make during her labour? Because the Emily I know would want to live.”
“Yeah, Emily would have but ever since you got her pregnant, all she cared about was making sure the baby had a home to live in before she came out. She put the baby above everything else…above me.”
“And you despised her for that. And you paid her back at her most vulnerable moment. That was wicked, Fitz.”
“Oh it’s Fitz now, huh? You dropped Mr. Daniels already?”
“You took Emily away from me…but you’re not going to take my baby girl away.”
“Took Emily away from you? She was my wife! And you slept with her!”
“I didn’t know! Adam raised his voice to match Fitz’s. They both looked around to see if they had caught anyone’s attention. When they were both satisfied that they hadn’t, they turned their gaze to each other.
“I am sorry for that and so was Emily. You didn’t have to punish her like this.”
“I didn’t mean to punish her, Adam. She loved you and she loved the baby you two made. I didn’t want that to die.”
“How selfless of you,” Adam said, sarcasm ringing loudly in his voice.
“Believe me or not; I did what she would have wanted. I’m just tired,” he said and sat down. Fitz only stared at him.
“You should have chosen Emily.” He turned around and walked away.
“I did,” Fitz muttered to himself.
“Are you sure you want to go in alone?” James asked Karen. Karen nodded.
“Okay; I’ll be right here,” he said softly, rubbing her back. She held the door handle and gripped it hard. She sniffed and opened the door. She closed it and leaned on it.
There she lay on the bed, her face covered. She took slow painful steps towards the bed. She suddenly felt cold. She reached out to remove the cloth away from her face and she found her fingers trembling. She brought her hand to her lips to stop her from crying out loud. She tried again and uncovered her face.
She whimpered and the tears started pouring down her face.
“Em…you didn’t say goodbye.” She took the hand of the soul sister she had had for years.
“You promised, Em. You promised.”
When she came out, James went in for a few minutes. When he came out, he took Karen away.
Fitz entered and took Emily’s hand. He smiled through his tears.
“You look so beautiful asleep. You’re not gone. You’re just sleeping. And I know you can hear me. Thank you for making me meet you. Thank you for making me love you. Thank you for giving me a gift of a baby. I promise to let her know what a wonderful mother she had. You will never have a place in my heart, Emily. May you find rest in the bosom of the Father. Rest in peace, my love.” He bent down and planted a kiss on her forehead.
Karen and James sat in silence for several minutes. Out of the blue, she giggled. James squeezed her hand in his.
“What is it?”
“I remember when we first met…Emily and I. She came in as the new girl in the fifth grade I think and suddenly, every guy was all over her. I envied her and vowed not to spare her if she ever crossed my path. Fortunately or unfortunately, my crush at the time started looking her way and she flirted with him knowing it would piss me off. We had a big fight in class and we were both punished to clean the class after school that day. Then we both got to know the guy was seeing another girl so we teamed up to humiliate the boy in school. And it was classic, James. The guy became the clown of our batch. And Emily and I became besties. No one could ever come between us. And that was the beginning of a wonderful life together and Fitz just took her away from me,” Karen narrated.
“I can’t imagine you fighting over a guy,” James said, smiling. She smiled back. She wiped the tears off her face.
“I was a different girl back then. We both were. But we grew up…together. We laughed, we loved, we cried, we fought…together. I don’t know how I’m going to live without her.”
“You’re going to find a way. I’ll be with you…every step of the way. I know I will never be able to replace who Emily was to you so I’ll help you cherish and keep alive every memory you have of her.”
“Thanks, Jay.” She hugged him. He rubbed her back.
“I miss her already.”
“I do too.”
A number of Emily’s colleagues turned up for her funeral as well as her relatives. Her mother wailed throughout and refused to be comforted by her father. Tony was visibly shaken up as was Karen. Karen walked to the coffin in which Emily lay and sniffed.
“Rest in peace, my dear friend.”
Fitz, Karen, Adam, James looked on solemnly as the casket was lowered into the ground.
Fitz poured the first handful of sand onto the casket, followed by Karen then Adam.
I woke up in a start. My heart was racing and my head pounding as my mind tried to take in my surroundings. Was it all a dream? Did I really die? Where was I? Where was everyone?
“Welcome back, Emily.” I turned to the voice. There stood Fitz, standing by the door, arms crossed.
“Where am I?”
“Don’t you want to know how your baby is doing?”
Ah yeah, I was pregnant…but not anymore.
“She…it’s a she, Emily. And she’s doing well. She misses her mummy which is normal.”
“Where am I, Fitz?”
“Dead to the world.”
“What do you mean?”
“You died…or so they think.”
“Oh you have no idea how far I went to make that happen. Karen had a breakdown; even I naming our baby after her didn’t help make her feel better. Honestly, I felt sorry for her. It was like her world had come to an end. But she’ll pull through, hopefully. Adam too was shaken up. He has released a song about your loss and you won’t believe the massive hit it has got. I must say, I’m impressed. Even in your death, you continue to be his muse.”
“Why am I here?” I asked, still not believing my ears.
“For us to be together…alone; without the influence of your baby daddy or your best friend. I am your husband, Emily and I should be your entire world.”
I stared at him in unbelief. I couldn’t accept that I had married this good man and turned him into a monster by my actions. I felt tears gathering in my eyes and blinked. I wiped a stray tear away from my face.
“Come on, don’t be sad, Em. You’re safe here.”
“Where am I?”
“Somewhere quite far. And the best part is, they don’t even speak English here!”
“What? Where the hell have you brought me? Bangladesh?”
He laughed. “Good to know you still have you sense of humour. You will need it.”
I was about to say something when he cut in saying, “Enough with this for now. I think it’s about time I introduced you to little Karen, don’t you think?” He smiled and for the first time, it scared me.
“I’ll be right back,” he said and left, closing the door after him.
I looked around. There was no phone around. Where the hell was I? Was I really dead to everyone? God, please let me be in a Francophone country…now I regret not taking my French classes seriously. How was I ever going to escape from this monster I myself had created?
Father, help me for I have sinned.
Or maybe this was another dream; a dream within a dream. I pinched myself hard on the arm; I winced from the pain.
“Please wake up; please wake up…” I said repeatedly.