It's too early, much too early, but still she's screaming and there's that sticky, wet substance all around the floor beneath her. Her breathing is labored and her voice is hoarse from screaming.
"Grab the bags, hurry, hurry!"
He's working on autopilot, his fingers feeling for the handle of the suitcase beneath their bed. It was the one she'd packed a month ago at the urge of her doctor, despite her not being due for another three weeks at the earliest. His own breathing has starting coming faster and faster even though he's not the one about to give birth. The world is swimming before his eyes, the colors mixing together, the furniture becoming unrecognizable shapes. He stumbles another time; even slips down the last couple of stairs on his way back down to meet her. Other occupants of their small apartment complex have opened their doors and watch him with gaped expressions. He ignores them easily, his mind somewhere completely. I'm not ready, I'm not ready, he can't help but think.
He's had eight months and a week to prepare himself for this moment and he's still unable to grasp the whole idea of the situation. He's too young, too young, only in his second year of college. His girlfriend is a senior at the local high school, about a twenty minutes’ drive from his campus. They'd met at a freshman party last summer. They’d drank from the same bottle of Pinot noir. She’d blown green smoke from her blunt into his mouth, and they kissed and kissed and somehow ended up naked between the nameless freshman's sheets. It was supposed to be a fling, as most of those types of situations are. But this one had grown and grown and suddenly showed up at the porch of his dorm sobbing with her head in cupped hands, when she was the last thing on his mind.
He's running out the door to their waiting car now. She's in the front seat, tears streaming down her face, hands on her bloated belly.
"Come on J," she calls from the passenger side and leans an arm on the horn.
Tears begin to fall down his own face and he doesn't even know why. Maybe it's because he can see his life slipping through his fingers, dispersing bit by bit with each of her contractions. 'The condom didn't even break!' He remembers telling her so many months before, his face red with exasperation and anger and annoyance. This wasn't supposed to happen. He wasn't the kind that played the stupid sex game every other weekend. He didn't hook up with girls on regular basis like most of the guys at his school. So why was his sperm half of what would soon become his baby? He should've never opened the door. She should've never offered her the couch or talked to bother their parents while she lay curled up in the corner sniffling pitifully into a tissue.
"J!" She hits the horn again and holds it longer this time.
Sweat streams down her forehead and her whole body has begun turning red like a sunburn. "Jeredy, honey. Please!"
And for one frightening moment he's tempted to turn around. To go back to bed. To close his eyes and allow her to keep screaming and honking the horn. He wants nothing more than to fall asleep and wake up and have it all be a dream. But he doesn't. He takes three long strides and makes it to the door. He opens it, gets in and he drives to the hospital, his mind swimming in a constant fog only interrupted by her scream that he missed the fucking turn and now he's going to have to go around the back way and god why is he so fucking stupid and why did she allow such a fucking idiot to knock her up and on and on, until his ears are numb and his mind is so tuned out his actions resemble those of someone whose high on something. Marijuana maybe, possible cocaine. Well, shit now he’s thinking about drugs and not focusing.
Still, somehow they make it the hospital. They rush through the automatic door, passing a couple and their child whose nursing her broken arm.
"She's pregnant!" He cries out at the secretary, who doesn't even jump as he screams it.
Her eyes are wise and wrinkled with age. Clearly she's been through this whole ordeal more than once before. At what just seems to be a snap of her fingers, two men appear at her side. They help his girlfriend into a wheelchair and then are off in a flash down the hallway that leads to the maternity ward. He releases a breath he doesn't realize he's holding and the secretary gives a laugh.
“First time, huh?" she asks.
He nods because he can't seem to remember how mouth works or how sounds happens.
He looks again to the automatic doors and that feeling is there again. Flight. He could just run right out those doors and never look back. They hadn't gotten his name or his number. They wouldn't even know who he was until hours later when they could ask his girlfriend and by then he'd be so far gone they'd been unable to track him and it would be years later before he comes across his son, whose probably been searching for him whole life and they engage in a battle with glowing swords and his son will cut off his hand, and he, Jeredy, would announce that he was the boy's father, and oh god he needs to stop having midnight move marathons and eating three boxes of chocolate pieces straight from the box before bed because he's obviously losing his mind.
"You okay there, boy?"
Oh, he is not okay at all, but he doesn’t say that. His breathing is faster now and in that moment he'd give his right leg for a paper bag. The secretary still doesn't seem disturbed by his actions and she fetches a bag from beneath her desk like it’s a normal response.
"Now is not the time to hyperventilate," she says as she hands him the bag. “Slow and steady. Calm your heart rate.”
Cautiously she takes him by his shoulder and steers him toward the waiting area. She seems surprised by his lack of argument.
"Most father's scream until they're hoarse that they need to be by their wives' bedside."
Jeredy just nods at this and continues to inflate and deflate the paper bag he holds between white knuckles. It's when she offers her ear, her eyes suspicious but kind, that he breaks down and tells her. He doesn't mean for the words to come, but they stream out of his mouth in a wave. He tells this aged woman with the coffee-colored skin and kind eyes that the pregnant woman is not his wife, that he doesn't love her, that he doesn't want the baby and that he wishes that he died while having sex with her.
"I'm not ready," he repeats, "I'm not ready. I'm not ready."
The secretary places a calm hand on his shoulder, "Let it out, honey. This is a safe place."
"Sure. I want kids. But not right now. I'm still a kid myself for fucks sake!"
"Mm hm," she agrees, not at all disturbed by his vulgar words.
"I didn't love her, I never loved her. I was drunk. She was coming on to me. I was so, so tired of the guys teasing me for being a fucking virgin. I mean so what if I hadn't had sex? I was going to, with my wife whever I found her. We were going to have a big house and two dogs and three kids, two boys and a little girl. So, how? How did I end up with a knocked up girlfriend, not even my degree and some bastard child between us? I don't have that kind of sex all the time. My friends do! Yet I'm the one who gets stuck with the consequences! Why?"
He drops his head into his hands and heaves a dry sob. His eyes can't make any more tears, but they sting anyway. "I don't want to be a father."
It's hours later, but Jeredy's not sure what time it is. He's tried, his anger has somewhat ebbed. He wants nothing more than his blanket and pillows and a cold water bottle to hold to his head. The secretary had returned to her post an hour back, but every couple of minutes or so, she’d give him a smile. He give a weak wave back. He can hear the clunk clunk of the doctor's heavy shoes as he turns down the hallway from the maternity ward.
The doctor is a strange man, with broad shoulders and small rimmed glasses on the edge of his nose. His hands are behind his back; his face is pale. Though he'd never been in such a position before, Jeredy had seen enough movies to know this wasn't very good at all. He heaves a heavy sigh, stands and prepares himself for the tears and the sobbing that await him behind the maternity ward doors. She wanted this baby.
"The baby didn’t make it?" he asks, offering a hand, though the doctor's face is answer enough. Despite his large shoulders, he’s a small man in stance, young, probably fresh out of college himself with little to no wrinkles and a mass of red, curly hair. He pales even lighter if possible at Jeredy's greeting. He takes the offered hand and then pulls the other in for a tight embrace.
Definitely a new guy, Jeredy can't help but think.
"I'm so sorry," he repeats over and over, "We tried everything we could, but we just couldn't…"
Jeredy stops him with his hand, "Not need to get hysteric. Which way?"
More than anything he wants to leave and let this off-track train spiral down without him. But he was the one to knock her up and she did get a lot of shit from her side of the family for it. The least he could offer was a “sorry" and an apologetic gaze and then he'd be off and the whole thing would be done and over with.
"Let's go," he says and allows the doctor to lead him down the hall.
He doesn't expect the blood. There's so much. It’s all over the bed and the table and the operating materials. He never realized there was so much blood in the human body. He feels the bile rising in his throat but he pushes it back down.
"Where is she?" he asks because there’s no way this much blood could belong to a newborn baby.
"She?" The doctor repeats and then the reality dawns on him and he mutters his own little swear and tries to back out the door.
"Yeah 'she!'" Jeredy repeats, surprising himself with the amount of anger that flares up in his chest. "Where's my girlfriend?" He grips the doctor by the shoulder and turns him until they're nose to nose. "Where's my girlfriend?" he repeats, the words spitting between clenched teeth.
The doctor doesn't need to answer though. The nursemaids have returned and one of them holds a long, soft blanket in her arms. Her mask is pulled down to reveal her pale lips and though she's smiling her eyes are sad.
"So this must be the father," she greets, her tone light. "Congratulations Mister Hasuke…"
"Mister Suno," he corrects. Her maiden name sounds wrong with his title before it.
Over his shoulder the doctor makes a number of different actions hoping to convey the confusion to the nursemaid, but she doesn’t see it.
"Where's is she?"
The baby wails in the young woman's arms. His own chubby little limbs reaching up for the mother that will never come. It's silent enough for a pin to drop, save the shattering cries of the newborn baby boy.
Jeredy can’t it hold back any longer. Finally, he begins to sob.