Chapter Three: Grief – Mary Anne
The best beds in the entire institution were here. Too bad all that accompanied Mary Anne were eleven hours of crippling agony. Ripples, waves, torrents of pain rolling through her body.
Her throat was dry and aching, yet she couldn’t hold back the screams that let rip with each contraction. Someone was holding her hand. She assumed it was Ellen, as she had been present when labour had started, but Mary Anne’s head was so far in the clouds of agony that she barely reconized her friend.
“Come on, Mary, almost there, pet.” Ellen was crying. Mary Anne had heard her crying in bed at night. Ellen probably couldn’t even hear herself sobbing, poor thing. Her brain fog lifting slightly, Mary Anne took comfort in the fact that her screaming probably wasn’t affecting her friend too badly, given her poor hearing. A pretty sick, desperate comfort to take, but given the current situation she had to clutch at every straw thrown her way.
“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” Mary Anne roared as yet another agonizing contraction riveted her body. She felt Ellen’s hard grow tighter. Or was it Mary Anne who was squeezing? She truly couldn’t tell.
“Ellen,” she whispered. “You should go. Sleep. You don’t have to stay up. If you get caught, they’ll –”
“None of that,” Ellen snapped. Mary Anne was used to her friend being so quiet and reserved. Now she was in an almost authoritive mode. “I’m not going to be able to sleep if you’re up here alone. Besides, everyoneelseis sleeping. The only way I’ll get caught is if you wake them up with all that screaming.”
Mary Anne couldn’t bring herself to appreciate the humour. She let her head roll back and shut her eyes.
“Oh, my God, Mary Anne,” came Ellen’s now high-pitched, ecstatic voice. “Mary, I can see a head!”
“Yes, Ellen, babies have heads, aaaaaaaaaaaagh!” Mary Anne shouted, her words turning into an agonizing ringing. She breathed heavily. “Ellen,” she whimpered, pulling her friend’s arm so that she was leaning closer to her face. “Ellen, I can’t do it.”
“Yes, you can.” Ellen stroked Mary Anne’s dark, sweat-soaked hair. “You’re the strongest person I know, Mary. And just think… It’s a baby,” she said, laughing with what cuold have been nerves or excitement.
Whatever it was, Mary Anne found herself smiling back through her pain. Ellen was right. This was her baby. The reason she was here in the first place. She couldn’t give up.
“And anyway, pet, I don’t think you have much choice,” Ellen added.
“Oh, Ellen!” Mary Anne wailed, though there were still the slightest droplets of laughter in her tone.
Ellen smiled and shuffled back towards the end of the bed, still holding Mary Anne’s hand despite the fact that both their hands were sweaty and slippery and the girls should technically have not been able to hold onto each other. Somehow Mary Anne and Ellen managed it.
Mary Anne screamed again.