This year’s Fictory is for a cause. We donate P100 to a chosen beneficiary for every fic submitted. This is part of the final batch of release. Enjoy this one!
Prompt: Every baby in history cries when they are born, however yours laughed.
It felt like the room had no doors, no windows, and no way out while I patiently waited outside the delivery room. Every second staying outside sounded like death. No other sound was heard, just the clock ticking by in my mind. Ten o’clock. Eleven o’clock. Twelve. I felt the detachment of my body from my depth. I was helpless. If only I was a little bit earlier that time, I could have been there holding her hands, helping her, supporting her. When I came, everything looked dim and dark. All I saw was an unknown darkness. No light. No shadows. Just the colors of empty black. Mom fervently prayed at the corner. For the first time, I felt oxygen deprivation, like my lungs were gradually caving in.
“Is everything okay?”
Mom did not respond. She remained silently seated at the corner. She gave me a blank glance which made me more panicky. The time sounded like it was ticking too slow. Ten o’clock. Eleven o’clock. Twelve.
“Push harder,” I heard.
Mom stood up, looked at her watch, and sighed. I felt her worry.
“Push harder, ma’am!” I heard time after time.
“One. Two. Push!” one screamed.
“Johhhnnnnnnnn!” she screeched.
“Grace, I am here.” I muttered, but received nothing after. The sounds became as if underwater, and silence eventually occupied the empty darkness. My heart throbbed double its normal pace. No muscle moved.
“Grace, I am here.”
A baby chortled. It was the first vivid sound I heard after that high shrill piercing cry from my wife. The laugh was so delightful to hear. A passage of the light slowly gave grace not only outside that room but also in mom’s face. With tears falling, we managed to give each other a smile. The sound of laughter lingered, and I couldn’t help myself get enough from the sound. Then a set of full-on belly laughter exploded inside. I thought for a second, “That could be my child!”
“Mom! My baby just laughed?” I quizzed mom.
“I heard, John. I heard!” Mom answered with shaking voice and tearful eyes.
The pounding of my heart inside beat a rhythm to the words of excitement. However, another sound sent me to trouble and distress.
“Doc! Doc!” I heard time after that sound set of laughter.
“One. Two. Three. Pump.” The doctor screamed like someone was in danger.
A baby chortled again, but the counting did not stop.
“One. Two. Three. Pump!” The sounds became unknown. I could still clearly hear the baby sound, but my heart went back to throbbing, almost occupying my whole body. I was about to burst out when one of the doctors stepped out the room.
“Sir, I am sorry but we did our best…” he explained.
His apology shocked me. Darkness arrested my vision. I became immobilized. The doctor continued talking but all I was hearing was the sound of grief. I counted my steps slowly towards the delivery room. My body was too heavy, I almost knelt. No doors and no windows—only her body, breathless and lying in that bed.
There I saw how Grace withheld her pain. Couple-of-hours-ago moments flashed like long-term memories. Never did I consider her smile before I left the house that day a picture of goodbye. Never did I think of that moment as our last glance..
“Grace, Maaaaa…” I sobbed with too much pain in my chest. The pain that burnt me like fire had faded away to numbness. Black filled the edges of my vision and the only sounds I could hear was a baby’s chortle.
I almost did not even notice Mom beside us, whimpering in melancholy. Mom wiped my tears as she detached herself from her daughter’s body. She stood and went straight outside the room. With no words uttered, she remained strong but I felt Mom’s despair.
“What you did was not easy, Grace… and thank you, Ma,” I whispered while I felt her body turning cold and pale, hoped she still heard it clear, “…I love you, Ma. I love you.”
Mom went back, “Come on, John.” she said while she was trying to comfort my dead heart. I know how difficult it would be to start a new life again for a mother of her kind who just lost her husband two years ago and now, her only daughter. The room which was supposed to be a room to bring life, delivered both life and death, and heartache and pain.
* * *
It has been almost a year now, but I can still remember how that hour changed me as a person, and a father. Now, I have my daughter who loves to laugh. Every baby cries when they are born but not my daughter. She is as strong as Grace and her grandma. I did not hear her cry the day her mother passed away the day she was born. I remember she even sent everyone around her into a set of belly laughter.
“Look at her, John! Doesn’t she look like my Grace?” Mom says as they dance..
Then I hear her laugh—no words, just joy. No words can describe how much happiness I felt the day I saw and heard Faith. The pain is still inside me. But I know Faith, my daughter, would be just fine. ☁️