Rated M/A for pregnancy references.
“You’re kidding.” Dr. Bruce Scofield looked up at his wife, his shoelace half untied. He stood up and loosened his tie. “Come on, Gina. This is a prank, right? You’re fooling with me?”
Dr. Regina Scofield pursed her lips. She held the little white stick out to him.
He took the tester and stared at the two blue lines, then slowly sat back down onto the bench. He set it down and methodically finished unlacing his shoes.
The oven beeped, and she walked back into the kitchen. A frozen casserole sat on the counter. She removed the plastic, placed it in the oven, and set a timer.
Her phone dinged. Her two cats, aware of their summons, slipped around the corner and waited for her to dismiss the reminder and fill their bowl.
Bruce hung up his tweed jacket and followed her. He leaned on the doorframe and watched her measure rice and oil into a pot. “I don’t know if I’m ready to be a father.”
“Please, Bruce, your work jacket goes on the other hook. And you know the rules.” She shrugged and placed the pot on the stove. “We shouldn’t have gotten married unless we were ready for the possibility of children.”
“I know, but… are you sure?”
Gina walked past him and put the jacket on the right hook, then returned to the rice and started stirring it. “I’m going to get a few more tests when we go grocery shopping. They malfunction sometimes. Maybe this is a mistake, I don’t know, I just wanted you to know.” She clenched her jaw as she collected a few grains of rice from the stovetop and threw them back into the pot. “I know we wanted to wait. I thought we were already being careful, but now—” She adjusted the pot so it was centered on the burner. “I just don’t know, and—”
Bruce wrapped his arms around her. She melted into his embrace as the tears finally came.
“I’m scared,” she hiccupped.
He rubbed her back gently. She sobbed for a few minutes before he pushed her back and wiped her tears. “Let’s sit down.”
She shook her head. “Later. The rice will burn. Could you set the table, please?”
Bruce opened the cupboards and took out two plates, two cups, two forks. “We’ll have to save longer for a house,” he said. “Maybe downsize the apartment. It’ll be tight on just my income. We’ll have to budget.”
Gina swallowed and nodded. “I should be able to work for a couple more months, at least. I’ll just make sure to get my assistants to do the X-rays.”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Gina.”
“Please, Bruce. I’ll go crazy at home all alone. Let me work a while longer. I’ll be careful, I promise.”
He pinched his lips. “Make sure you’re not anywhere near the scanner while it’s on. I want you to be safe.”
The next day, Gina waved goodbye to her receptionist and headed out the door for the stairs. She checked to make sure no one was looking, then held her hands beneath her chest while she jogged down the steps. She made it down two flights, let out her breath, and took another fortifying lungful. This annoying tenderness had started a few days ago.
Footsteps sounded from the flight beneath her. She dropped her hands and slowed down, trying to look casual as she walked slowly and carefully. Dr. Andreas, a fellow dentist, appeared around the bend in the stairway.
“Is it?” Gina smiled brightly. “I can’t wait to get outside.”
Dr. Andreas frowned slightly as he took in the tiny winces Gina gave with each step. “Are you feeling well?”
She laughed. “Just been a long day. Have a good one!”
He let her pass. As soon as she was around the corner, she supported herself again to finish the stairs.
The car next to Gina’s was in a no-parking zone, and worse, it had been left parked with the wheels still half-turned. She took in a long, slow breath and tried to focus on the falling leaves of the lone tree beside the parking lot.
Her keys were in the front pocket of her purse, right where they were supposed to be. She grunted as she sat down too fast, then started the car. She set her phone to her “Homeward Tuesday” playlist. The seven songs usually lasted exactly the drive home. Sometimes traffic was light, and she would sit in her car to savour the last verses.
Traffic was light today, and Gina was making good time. She reached an intersection and was waiting for an SUV to pass when an oncoming car caught her attention. There was a stop sign on that side too, she was certain, but the car wasn’t slowing down. She realized what was going to happen a second before it did.
“Oh, dear Father God,” she whispered.
A sickening crunch mashed her eardrums as the car t-boned the SUV. It didn’t stop, just left the SUV in a crumpled, twisted mix and headed straight for Gina’s car. The crunch was repeated, only this time even more nauseating as her car jolted backwards.
A bang followed. Her ears popped. She forced her eyes open—she hadn’t meant to shut them—and registered that her airbags were out. Her nose throbbed. She raised her hand to find blood.
Her hearing slowly faded back in. One of the cars’ horn was damaged, and it was emitting a continuous beep. Closer at hand, something was hissing. Even closer, her phone had disconnected from the cable and was playing “Homeward Tuesday” from the backseat.
Smoke filled the air, and she jolted from the car. The other vehicle occupants were still inside their aluminum cages. There appeared to be no passengers, and the drivers were both on their phones. They were all right.
Gina looked back at her own car. It hadn’t exploded. The smoke had dissipated. She approached it cautiously, unlocking the back door to grab her phone, then paused her music and retreated to take pictures of the event.
In a few minutes, cop cars pulled up. One of the drivers had called for an ambulance, so Gina had to wait in the chilly air until it was time to take her statement. Even then, sitting in the warm police car, she couldn’t stop shivering.
Bruce picked her up. They stopped for coffee and fast food on the way home.
When they reached their apartment, after taking the elevator instead of the stairs, Gina walked straight to the fridge. She scratched that day’s item off the supper list and added it to the next page. “Less grocery shopping,” she said, shrugging.
“Let’s watch a movie this evening,” Bruce suggested.
“But it’s laundry night. We know the machines are emptiest on Tuesdays. What if they’re all full tomorrow, and—”
“Gina.” Her husband grasped her shoulders gently, then pulled her into a hug. “You were in an accident today. You need to relax. Let’s watch a movie.”
Gina sighed, but it was halfhearted. “If you run out of scrubs this week, it’ll be your fault.”
“I’ve got enough to last a week. Come on.”
The morning after, Gina felt sluggish, but she forced herself out of bed anyway. Her shoulders were stiff. She needed to schedule a massage, but not tonight. They had to do laundry tonight.
Once she fully woke up, the day went fine. She saw patients until two o’clock, when she had a meeting with the department of health representative. It was just a formality, since her office had already been cleared by the inspector, but regulations required her and her staff to go over the list of regulations with the rep twice a year anyway.
She had to sit down carefully. Her gut had been uncomfortable all day. Sitting made it worse. She had to leave for the washroom four times during the two hour meeting, only find three of the four times it was a false alarm. On the last visit, she re-googled the list of early symptoms on her phone and sighed.
Bruce made her go to bed early that night. He said that he’d take care of getting the laundry washed. She could barely keep her eyes open long enough for him to turn out the light.
Thursdays were her half-days. The taxi she now had to ride home only played the radio, so she wore earbuds to listen to her “Homeward Thursday” playlist. The driver didn’t know about the shortcut she usually took and ended up being late. Gina’s playlist ran out.
She frowned, trying not to let her annoyance get the best of her. The rental agency would get her another car by tomorrow. She distracted herself by opening Instagram.
A suggested reel popped up in her feed. “Now listen, perfectionists,” a man behind a podium said. Gina stopped swiping. “You picky people. You ‘control freaks’. You see what’s wrong in the world and you want to fix it. That’s a good thing. But you have to learn to rest. That need to fix things, to control things, is nothing but a lack of trust. You’re not trusting the people around you. More importantly, you’re not trusting God.” The reel ended, but she didn’t scroll away.
“Ma’am?” The taxi driver had turned to face her. “We are at your address, ma’am.”
“Oh! Sorry. Thank you.” Gina tapped her phone and paid for the ride.
As soon as she got inside, she was back in the washroom.
Her stomach started cramping again while she started supper. She put the meat in a pot, then reached for a cutting board. She went to put it on the counter but found Bruce’s breakfast dishes on the way. She huffed. He was always leaving his stuff lying around.
Gina held the cutting board with one hand and reached for the plate with the other. She dropped it into the sink roughly and grabbed for the glass. It slipped from her hand and dropped into the sink, shattering the plate.
“Ugh!” She couldn’t stop her foot from stomping the floor, then immediately felt childish. She dropped the cutting board, slid down the cabinet to the floor, and buried her face in her hands. “I am a control freak.”
She let her hands drop to the floor and banged her head backward against the cabinet door. She smacked it a few more times, only dully feeling the reverberations through her skull. Then her nose started bleeding again.
She scrambled up to lean her head over the sink. There were bright red spots on her pale yellow scrubs. ”Great, now I’ve got to wash out this before it stains.” She splashed her face with cold water. “And supper’s probably burning. God, I don’t like not being in control! I’m kinda freaked out right now!”
No one spoke back to her, but she realized something while pinching the bridge of her nose.
“I did all I could,” she said, murmuring aloud while blood dropped into the sink. It splashed into the water and swirled together into the drain. “We did all we could. That means, since I’m pregnant anyway, God did it on purpose. That means He’s in control. Whatever happens is up to Him, and it’s not going to do me any good to worry about it.” She raised her voice. “God, do you hear me? This one’s on You. You’re the boss. Please, help me. Help me to remember You’ve got it under control. Help me to trust you.”
The tension drained out of her muscles. The blood drops slowed. She took a paper towel and held it to her nose, then stirred the meat. It hadn’t even burned.
Someone humming caught her attention before she realized it was herself. She felt so light. It was incredible to know her fate wasn’t in her hands, and she could trust the One whose hands it was in.
She couldn’t wait to tell Bruce.
Once the vegetables were chopped and simmering with the meat, she set the table. Bruce walked in to find supper ready and his wife smiling. She told him her epiphany.
The whole time she talked, he gazed at her. When she finished, he took her in his arms and kissed her forehead. “My dearest Regina,” he murmured. “You’re right. He’s got this. It will all be alright.”
Later that evening, Gina had to use the washroom again. She called for Bruce.
“I’ve read that some women bleed a little in the beginning. It’s normal,” she said.
It didn’t stop. She was back to her regular cycle. She took another two tests, and they both came back negative.
“It must have been the accident,” Gina said, leaning against the counter. She was watching her husband load the dishwasher. “We’re not having a baby after all.”
Bruce put the bowls in the wrong spot. “I guess we’re not. Now our plans are back on track.”
“You’re right.” Gina reached to correct the bowls, then crossed her arms instead. “But I thought God was trying to tell me something. Was I just overthinking the whole thing?”
“I don’t think so.” He put a tab in the dishwasher and closed it, then pressed the start button. “Maybe it was a lesson.”
“At the cost of a life?”
“I don’t know. I said ‘maybe’. But God works through our circumstances.”
“And our baby is in His presence, right now. Maybe he’s in on the reason already and laughing at us for being so stupid to not see it.”
Gina smiled as her eyes welled. “You’re right.” Then she laughed. “Who said it’s a he? I’m pretty certain it’s a girl.”