Chapter 19

-19-

She walked into a blur of words and wires. The space was buzzing, like a hive on high alert, and no matter where she looked she could not focus. The yellow plastic-ish gown she’d been issued, flowed over her hands and almost touched the floor as if she were a child engaged in a game of dress-up. And the white surgical mask covering her nose and mouth was most definitely smothering her and making the already tight room spin.

The nurse touched Melissa’s shoulder lightly and spoke to her again, but Melissa…wide-eyed…heard nothing beyond the beeps and hums that attacked the room from every angle.

Monitors, respirators, wires and rows of tiny clear-plastic tanks with circular cut-outs filled the room. It took several moments for her to realize tiny shapes within the plastic containers that seemed tethered with tentacles of wires and tubing were actually human…wearing only hats and diapers…their skin wrinkled and nearly transparent…they uttered no human sounds…their eyes taped…they looked more like robotic creepshow models…unreal…

but as she looked around trying to find the one that could be her daughter…she slowly realized, that although a few of the see-through tanks contained these babies…so many more were empty.

And all at once she was overcome…openly sobbing above the whoosh of pumps and clicking, beeping machines, Melissa fell to the floor in the midst of it all. Shaking and crying…wadded in a ball keening to herself…inconsolable.

…for the empty basinets in the NICU…for her brother Alex who was allowed to die days before…and for Aslan, whose perfect life and happiness she most certainly now ruined forever.

She was half-escorted, half-carried from the room. She must have been screaming, though she was too terrified to remember. A doctor was summoned and she was taken to a room to recover. Medicated…and sent home in a taxi…

Told to call…

And somewhere in the NICU lay a tiny infant…barely 3 pounds and 10 inches long…who still no one came to claim…

It was happening all again…and it was Melissa’s fault.

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