I lay on my hospital bed, the crisp white cover pulled up to my chin. Outside the sun was shining and the sunflowers on my windowsill were blooming the last late summer blooms, but my heart felt chilled to the core. The earlier pains had subsided, leaving me with an utterly hollow feeling. The clock on the opposite wall ticked noisily and I closed my eyes, listening to the hypnotic beat of the ticking. It was only three o’clock the last time I checked, which meant that I had another thirty minutes to kill before Chris turned up from college. I pulled myself into a seating position, my faded blue pyjamas hanging loose on my body. I reached over to the bedside table and searched around for the TV remote, then proceeded to flick on the tiny screen suspended in the corner of the room. The noises of a cooking competition filled the empty room, the clanging of pots and pans and the gushing voices of the contestants sounding so out of place in a maternity ward. I pressed the “next” button, and was greeted with the monotonous voiceover of a badly made documentary on the Australian desert. What had happened to daytime TV? I swore it was much better in the days of my childhood. I could remember being so excited to stay home sick during primary schools, because it meant that I would be able to watch a marathon of my favourite cartoons. I flicked through the rest of the channels, trying to look for something half decent to keep this loneliness and need away from me.
“Nine out of ten dentists recommend Oral-B,” said an advertisement on channel 32.
“Now pour a good serving of sauce over your mussels and sprinkle some parsley over the top,” instructed a celebrity chef from channel 27.
“Life at One: A Documentary on Children’s Development,” heralded a program off channel 34, with clips of children and their parents scrolling across the screen.
I put down the remote, my eyes fixed on the innocent faces smiling and babbling away from inside the TV. I tried to stop myself, but my imagination was miles beyond my control. I couldn’t help but try to picture what Delia would look like on her first birthday. Would she still have the same wispy blonde hair? Would her eyes stay the same bright blue, or would they darken into another unknown shade? Would she be able to crawl yet, her chubby limbs taking her across the floor to discover a whole new world?
“Mama?” said a little boy from the TV, his voice curling up with delight at this newfound skill that he had acquired.
The presenter from the screen cooed, and then turned around to inform the audience of the many other skills that their child would acquire in that very first year of life. I found myself wondering about Delia’s firsts. Would her first smile be reserved to that woman and her husband, a sweet toothless smile that shows complete happiness? Would the person she first reach out to be her new parents? Would her first word be “Mama”? Would I ever get to hear that word?
“A Smoky Martini and a Blue Hawaii please,” ordered Maddi, twisting around in her seat to face the bartender.
“Just a Blue Hawaii, no martini,” I corrected, my hand coming up subconsciously to my belly.
“Blue Hawaii coming right up,” the bartender said, turning away to mix up the cocktails.
“What’s with you tonight?” Maddi asked, “Smoky Martini’s always your favourite.”
“I’m not drinking alcohol for the next few months or so,” I replied, crossing my fingers and toes that Maddi won’t read between the lines of my answer.
“What’s this? Is this another one of those ridiculous resolutions that you made up every year?” my best friend asked, swivelling around on her bar stool to face me.
I let out a small breath of relief. Good, she didn’t get it.
“Or are you hiding something from me Bonnie Conry?” she continued, “Don’t tell me Chris knocked you up and you hid it from me all this time.”
“No, just a silly resolution of mine,” I replied, trying to be nonchalant.
“Really Bonnie? You do know you suck at lying yeah?” Maddi said, winking at me, “So tell me all the details! How dare you hide something as big as this from me!”
“Hey, just a warning,” I said, “It really is not what you think.”
“Oh come on,” she said, putting my hand up against my midriff, “No way is this a food baby, unless if you somehow pigged out on your whole pantry.”
“There is a baby,” I said, biting my lips.
How was I supposed to tell her the truth about the baby?
“So I’m right?” Maddi said, grinning wickedly and reaching into her bag to pull out her cell phone, “Let me just text a nice congratulations to Chris.”
“Stop it!” I said, a bit louder than I intended, “We’re not keeping the baby so don’t bother congratulating him.”
“What?” Maddi gasped, “Are you going to abort it? But that’s cruel! At least...”
“Just shut up for a moment and listen Mad,” I said, already fabricating a lie in my head, “I’m not aborting it. You know I despise abortion. And this is my child... our child after all.”
No, this was just some baby, it was not mine. I tried to shove the memory of the words I just said out of my head, denying the thread of relation that existed between me and it. There was no way I would let myself become attached to this child, and if that meant I have to cocoon myself in a web of lies then so be it.