Fascinating was the birth of my first child. A boy. One so pure and innocent, yet so unaware of the cruel world outside the bland hospital walls. Ignorance is bliss they say, but is bliss truly the ignorance of it? Unfortunately, I'd find out soon enough.
I had never experienced such bliss as watching my son meet this unrefined world, and all that was in it. But that moment of pure joy was the clearest, most monumental moment of my life, ignorance forgotten. Not for long though.
I didn't have to wait long though, the universes karmic attitudes came back and slapped me in the face years later.
I remember that day vividly. I was outside, my son was around the age of two at the time. We were playing a chasing game. My son would run away from me and of course, I would pretend he was “too fast” for me to get him. Eventually, though, I’d scoop him up and watch his small legs dangle from my arms, his hight pitched giggle reaching far beyond the busy road that cut across the front of our yard.
“Max!” I yelled that day, watching my son run circles around the huge oak tree that adorned our yard. “I’m going to get you!”
Max giggled. “No, daddy’s not going to catch me!” He yelled. He didn’t directly say this. It came out more like “No! Dada no gon catch me! No catch me! No no no” But nevertheless, I got the point.
There was a small wooden border surrounding the outside of the tree. The wood was old, older than the two years we had been living there. I’d never found the time to rip it all out though. I mean, of course, I did. But there were far more entertaining things that were to be done.
There was a certain part of the border, it was in a more deteriorated state than the rest of it. It was leaning on its side facing the road. I was never really bothered by it, never really paid any mind to it.
Until it killed my son.
My son ran past the broken part of that border, going top speed. I ran to grab and catch him but his clumsy legs had already stumbled over the border, sending his head directly towers the strong sturdy bark of the tree.
I dove and tried to catch him once more, but it was too late. His head hit the tree with a deafening crack. He didn’t even have enough time to cry out for help. His nose was bleeding profusely, and his neck was bent at the oddest of angles. We found out later that this was because his head ricochets off the tree so quickly, it snapped his neck in the process. I pulled out my phone and dialed 999.
They told me at the time would take them almost half an hour to get there. I swore under my breath.
I called for my wife, who was standing in the kitchen preparing some sort of meal inside. I couldn’t tall you what, at that moment I didn’t care.
She looked out the window and gasped at what she saw. I sat there, my son's lifeless body in my arms, stroking his head and murmuring to both myself and him that it was going to be ok. His blood ran warm and thick down his chin and pooled onto my crisp white shirt sleeve.
My wife runs outside and sits next to me, clearly horrified as her son's head lolls back at a painful angle.
“What did you do to him, Phillip!?” She shrieked, tears welling in her eyes as she takes my son's head in her arms, uprighting it to a less sadistic angle.
“I didn’t do anything!” I shouted back, my voice exasperated. “He tripped and fell over the border and hit his head on the tree!” I gestured towards the wooden border that was now coated in a thick layer of blood.
My wife shook her head and mumbled something along the lines of “how could you" or “you should’ve paid more attention” or “why weren’t you looking?” I just sat there and waited.
The ambulance showed up in a fiery of blaring lights and sound. They immediately started chest compressions. When they moved him to the ambulance they started shocking his chest, put him on a drip, took his blood pressure.
But it was over.
He was gone.
My son was dead.
They took him to the ER anyway, hoping there was something they could do. But their hope was false. He was dead. Gone.
My only son.
They quickly moved him to one of the morgues shortly after. It was a dark place, quite cold actually. I and my wife almost couldn’t bear to go in. Eventually, we did though. My wife stood there, her head on my shoulder, as we both silently wept for our son.
Eventually, they made us leave. We drove home, the radio off. It was silent for a moment before my wife spoke.
“He was so sweet Phillip! Such a sweet little boy! What did he do to deserve that!”
I looked at her tear-streaked face. Puffy eyes and red cheeks turned my way. I looked away and focused back on the road.
“I don’t know hon” I replied quickly, my voice breaking “I really don’t know. When it’s your time to go it’s your time to go.”
She looked at me, wide-eyed and mouth agape. “He was three! Three years old! It was not his time to ‘go yet’.” She made little quotation marks in the air at the term ‘go yet’.
“I don’t know Martha,” I responded, my hands shaking on the steering wheel. “I really don’t know honey. I-“ I couldn’t finish.
“You could have saved him!” She yelled, clearly both shocked and exasperated. “Our son could be alive right now, but he’s not, and it’s all because of you!”
“There’s nothing I could have done!” I screamed back at her, slowly turning into our neighborhood. “I tried to save him, but he was moving too fast!”
“Oh, so it went from you tried to save him to you were too slow to even get near him. Pick a story, Phillip!”
I opened my eyes to respond but that was when I saw it. Smoke. Along with the red and yellow flickering of flames. I turned to my wife and watched her expression change from shock, to realization, to terror.
“Dinner! I forgot about dinner!” She shouted.
I rounded the culdesac that our house was on and, sure enough, it was our house. The fire department was already there, our neighbors stood outside, about forty yards away from the fire, eyes wide and mouths agape as they watched our house go down in flames.
The wife of the family noticed us first. Her eyes welled up with tears when she saw us. Her husband and two kids turned around shortly after their mom did.
I believe at that point I was in shock, watching everything that I own burn. My wife stumbled out of the car, barely able to breathe. The husband of our neighbors family dragged her away, helping her catch her breath. The wife ran up to my window and looked into the backseat of my car. Realization struck her face as she realized my son wasn’t there. Firelight danced off of her cocoa-colored skin as she cried out a pained I’m sorry. Tears streaked her ash stricken skin.
I don’t remember much else from that night or anything that happened after really. We were forced to move in with our parents and sell whatever was left in the house. It was devastating. The funny thing was though, everything in that house burned, but the wooden border around the tree was left untouched. It was both ironic and aggravating.
I took my wife out to dinner a few weeks after. I thought that we both needed a bit of time to ourselves. My parents were nice people, don’t get me wrong, but they tended to smother people. They were constantly trying to comfort my wife, which ended up with her crying every time. Long story short, they weren’t helping.
The restaurant was a nice place. The type of place with big windows and bouquets of roses at every table. I managed to get my wife a seat near one of the big windows that overlooked the huge city my parents lived in. The view was magnificent.
That night I wore a suit, my wife wore a beautiful strapless red dress that fell just above her knee. She was beautiful. A dainty figure with dazzling eyes that sat somewhere in-between blue and green complemented her pale complexion, rosy cheeks, and her beautiful blond hair that framed her face perfectly.
We sat there, eating some sort of fish and my wife eating sterling steak. She grabbed the ketchup that was sitting in a small basket at the right of the table and squirted it on her plate. I looked at her, confused, as she proceeded to dip her asparagus that had came with the steak, along with her steak into the ketchup.
I gave her a strange look. She simply shrugged.
I nodded and then realized what she said.
“You what!? I asked, clearly flabbergasted.
She nodded then spoke. “You’re going to a dad again."
I remember the pure joy I felt at that moment, realizing I was going to be a father again. I jumped up and hugged her. She laughed, but something seemed off about it. As if it was fake. I couldn't place my finger on it at the moment, but I couldn't help but ask myself why she was behaving so strangely about it?
I didn't have to wait long to find out.
The following months consisted of multiple baby-related things. A gender reveal party, it was a girl. Telling family and friends and watching the joy spread across their faces as they congratulated us on our second chance of being good parents.
Some parents looked skeptical as to if they didn’t believe we could parent again. But I had faith. I had hope. I was going to be a proper father again.
We started searching for a cheap new home, and eventually decided on a decent-sized apartment in a not too bad side of town.
It was a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor. It wasn't anything special. The baby’s room was in a small hallway to your right when you walked in. To your left were the kitchen and dining area. Past the hallway, still on your right was a living room. Past that was our bedroom. Past the kitchen, on your left was a small, cramped office my wife was going to use for her at homework.
My wife still didn’t have full trust in me, she acted more distant ever since the death of our son. I tried to make it up to her, but nothing ever worked.
The funeral was nothing special. There were relatives giving condolences and friends offering us help, counseling. It didn’t hit me that he was gone though until I was throwing a handful of dirt over his grave.
Months later, I was at work when I got the call. I worked as a policeman and wasn’t on duty at the time. My wife was in labor. I immediately jumped up from my desk, telling a coworker what was going up. He told me he’d tell my boss. I barely even heard him. I was already out the door.
The nearest hospital was about an hour away from my work, fifteen minutes away from the house. They’d told me that she’d already been at the hospital for twenty minutes before they called me. That meant my wife had waited over half an hour to tell them about the father.
These thoughts didn’t bother me until I was with my wife, her panting and moaning in pain covered by the beeping of machines.
“It’s all going to be ok darling. The baby’s going to be ok.” I said, stroking her hand.
She then looked me dead in the eyes and shouted through moans “I want a divorce.”
“What?” I yelled back, clearly confused.
“You murdered my son, and now you’re just using me to get another child!” She was panting heavily now. She yelled in pain as the contractions started.
“I would never!” I shouted back, exasperated.
She moaned and then screamed in pain as a series of contractions started.
“You’re,” she moaned “using me.”
“I never said that!” I yelled.
Before she could say anything though a chorus of machines started beeping. My wife’s eyes widened. She screamed in pain.
Then, the blood came.
It flowed from her like a river, staining the white bedclothes and the blue scrubs of the doctors. People then started to yell.
“Save my baby!”
“Get her some oxygen!”
“Could somebody call in another doctor?”
“She’s losing blood fast!”
“Does anybody know this girl's blood type!”
I started yelling amongst the commotion. “What’s going on? Is my wife going to be ok? What about the baby? My baby! She’s B negative!”
“Where’s the dad!?”
“I need more type O positive fast.”
“We’re going to lose her.”
“It hurts!” My wife yelled, tears streaking her face. I went to take a step forward to comfort her, but a doctor pushed me out of the way.
“We need the dad to cut the cord!”
“Cut it yourself!”
“It’s a girl!”
“I demand to know what’s going on!” I yelled, way louder than everybody else. The room went silent for a moment before three things happened at once.
Somebody yelled, “Get this man away from my patient.
The high pitched wail of a baby was heard amidst the chaos.
And my wife’s heart flatlined.
Somebody escorted me out of the room. I reached out towards my wife, my baby! But couldn’t reach them. The door was slammed in my face.
I could hear the machine continue to flatline even outside the heavy door.
“She’s gone.” Somebody shouted inside the room.
Everything was gone. My son was dead because of me. My house burned because I distracted my wife. My wife was right, and now she was gone too. I should have apologized, told her I loved her! But instead, I spent my last few moments with her yelling. Lying to her. Before that baby killed her.
That darn baby.
Days later I was home, staring at my daughter as she slept peacefully. I scowled at her peaceful expression. Did she know she was a murderer? Did she know I’d lost everything because of her?
It didn’t matter.
I drew out my gun and pressed the cold metal to the baby's forehead. She woke up, startled, and then let out a pained cry as if she knew what I was about to do with her.
There’s the deafening sound of a shot being fired.