Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
March 31, 1995
The gunshot echoed through her ears as she flung open the door to the motel room. She took off, not daring to look back to see if Yolanda was following her. Adrenaline coursed through Selena’s veins as she ran toward the lobby. Just get to the lobby. You’re almost there, just a few more feet — She froze as a contraction ripped through her, so intense she dropped the papers she’d been holding. She couldn’t be in labor, not now. It was too early. She had five weeks left. A trickle ran down her leg, too cold to be the blood that was running down her backside. Not now baby boy please just hold on until we get to a hospital she begged.
The bell above the door jingled as Selena ran towards the front desk. Judging by the look on the receptionist’s face, she looked unrecognizable in her green tracksuit—now rapidly soaked with blood. “Oh my god,” the receptionist murmured as she dialed 911. The blood loss was making her dizzy, she could barely focus on the receptionist’s questions. “I’m 35 weeks... I’m in labor… I think my water just broke,” she trailed off as another contraction hit almost stronger than the first. Please let them come soon. The woman then asked who shot her.
“Yolanda… Room 158..” God, how could Yolanda have done this to her? She had trusted her with the boutiques.. with everything that she had worked so hard for. The paramedics were surrounding her, her vision was starting to fade to black. “My baby… save my baby,” she uttered before losing consciousness.
It wasn’t supposed to end up like this. She wasn’t supposed to be in labor and fighting for her life after arguing with Yolanda. They were at the hospital now, maybe it was silly but Selena thought her odds were starting to look better at the sight of it. She was standing next to the doctors as they worked on her. Selena didn’t know how she was able to do this, her first thought had been that she had died and this was some sort of heaven. She had decided that she was in some sort of in-between place, a halfway point between living and dying.
“She’s hemorrhaging… Damn it, this stitch isn’t holding... Suction,” said one of the doctors operating on her shoulder. All was quiet in the operating room beside the steady beeping of the machines. Another doctor entered the room and stood by one of the monitors that were monitoring the baby. “Whatever you’re planning on doing, you’d better do it fast because the baby is having decels.”
“I don’t know what else I can do, it looks like the subclavian artery was torn through,” The doctor’s face looked grim underneath the mask.
“Jackson check her pupils.” Another doctor shined a light in her eyes, “Fixed and dilated sir, she’s brain dead.” She was dying. She couldn’t be dead, she’d had a million things she had wanted to do before then. The most important one though, was being this little guy’s mom.
The doctor monitoring the baby shook her head solemnly before saying to a nurse “Alert the NICU and prep the OR for an emergency c-section.”
Her son was coming now and she didn’t even have a name for him yet. She thought that she would have plenty of time to decide on one. He’s here before she can even think about Chris having to decide that by himself. He isn’t breathing and is immediately surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses. A sudden cry pierces the air and Selena lets out the breath that she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. The crowd around him begins to part and she’s able to see him—really see him. He is tiny with a head full of dark hair and she swears that he’s the most beautiful baby she’s ever seen.
She isn’t sure why she’s still here, she’s dead. They had called time of death nearly an hour ago. She waits by her son’s bedside, running her hand through his hair, she wondered if he could even feel this and if he knew that she was there. Selena spent the better part of the next hour testing out names, none of the names she’d picked seemed to fit. Chris had suggested Mateo and she hadn’t really cared for it, but maybe it would be the one.
“Hi, Mateo.” Almost on cue, her son opened his eyes for the first time. She continued talking even though she doubted he could hear her.
“That’s your name huh? I think it suits you, it means ‘gift from God’ and you are. You really are.” Mateo gurgles in response. Selena was about to respond when she hears Chris. There he is, standing on the other side of the glass looking back and forth between the nursery and her family. She is running toward him before she knows it, her heart shattering when she sees them up close. Their eyes are red and puffy and her mom is sobbing into her dad’s chest.
“You should go meet him. If—if it was her, I’d already be gone,” her father says before placing a hand on Chris’ shoulder. Chris nods and says “Me too,” before pushing the door open and walking toward their son. A nurse places Mateo in his arms and Chris took one look at him before letting out a sob. She hates this and she wants to scream about this isn’t fair. The three of them were supposed to be a family, it wasn’t supposed to be Chris and Mateo alone.
“His name is Mateo Christopher Pérez,” Selena whispered in Chris’ ear and hoped that he could hear her.
It was September now, it had been barely five months since she died. Dead. Selena could still hardly wrap her head around it. Heaven truly was a paradise and she was surrounded by her family, who had welcomed her with open arms. She had kept vigil watching over her remaining family, especially Mateo. He was such a happy baby, he had changed so much since the last time she’d seen him. She had to go see him at least one more time.
Selena appeared in the nursery, not much had changed since the last time she was here except for the addition of their little boy. There were more pictures on the walls, mostly of her and Chris including the last one that was taken the night before everything happened. A soft coo interrupted her before she could dwell on that night. Mateo looked curiously up at her, studying her for a moment before smiling at her. He could see her. She wasn’t sure how he could, but he was smiling at her.
“Hi Mateo, I don’t know if you remember me but I’m your mama,” Mateo babbled a word that sounded like ma. “Yeah, that’s right, I still can’t believe that I got to be your mom for a few minutes. I know you won’t grow up with me but I know that your daddy’s gonna make sure that you remember me.” She ruffled his hair, Mateo giggled at her before trying to grab her hands. He eventually grew tired of this little game and his eyes began to droop closed. Selena pressed a feather-light kiss to his forehead and whispered an ‘I love you’ before vanishing from the room.