Mai Madness – Birth and Death

This prompt asks us to consider the same situation, but once from the perspective of a dying character, and then from the perspective of a birth. It was interesting what came out of the keyboard; this is one of those that seemed to write itself.


Richard looked out at the street. The front window of the house was low and wide, not quite a bay window but the size of one. He could see all the way to the end of Kensington Court Road, down to where the street turned to the left and exited the group of houses that made up Kensington Court. They stood sad and run-down now, nothing like their splendor when they were built in the post-war boom. Back then, things were bright and optimistic. Not like now.

The oxygen tank next to his bed sighed softly, its faint hiss just audible over his labored breathing. Madge bustled in the kitchen, the desperate banging of pots and pans as she washed up from brunch clear to his ears. Their kids had escaped as soon as they could, almost before she’d served the coffee after breakfast.

He couldn’t blame them, not really. The stink of his sickness was sharp even in his own nose; what it must be like to them he had no idea. He nestled against the soft feather pillow, the bed springs creaking faintly. His son-in-law Michael had installed the bed in here, in the living room, the former magnificence of the room faded now. Madge hadn’t complained, though he knew that it must have pained her. She’d spent years getting the room just-so. Now…

He started to cough and couldn’t catch a breath. He tried to speak, to call Madge, but his voice wouldn’t cooperate. He stared outside, watching a car go buy slowly. It faded from few around the corner as his eyes slipped shut.

The oxygen tank continued its susurration, oblivious.

“Michael, I just can’t do this anymore!” Linda wailed. “He just looks so weak!”

Michael sighed. “I know, honey. You have to be strong. It means so much to him, and to your mom.”

Linda rubbed her stomach, the distention from little Victor junior lumpy under her palms. She felt him kick a little and grunted.

“Moving again?” Michael asked, smiling.

Linda started to answer and gasped. The pain took her by surprise. The nurse was right; this wasn’t anything like Braxton Hicks. “Michael…” she gasped.

He glanced over at her, eyes widening. “You’re kidding.”

She shook her head sharply, not getting breath to speak. She stared out the window at the old neighborhood, Mr. Phillip’s garden waving in the hot summer sunshine. She loved that garden. “Hurry,” she gasped.

Michael turned back to the road and accelerated.

Immediately after that, he hit the brakes and she cried out, the seatbelt cutting against her right breast and pressing painfully against Victor. He didn’t like it and kicked.

Little Johnnie Phillips, the grandson of old Mr. Phillips, waved cheerfully and ran across the road after his ball. Michael glanced at her and accelerated again. “Just hang in there, baby.”

“Baby is right,” she grated. “Oooh…”

Michael turned left at the end of the drive and they moved toward the entrance to Kensington Court. The light changed and he pulled into traffic, heading for Lutheran General. “Hurry, honey,” she gasped.

“But your water hasn’t broken!” he protested.

“You want it to happen in the car?”

His eyes were wide as he turned to stare at her and then turned back to the street, his jaw set. “I hope there’s no traffic.”

“Just wait a minute, Victor,” Linda whispered. “Just a minute, okay baby?”

Kensington Court receded on their left, the splendid old houses resting in the summer heat. Linda wiped the sweat from her lip, hoping she didn’t make a mess in the car. Victor kicked again, impatient.

One Reply to “Mai Madness – Birth and Death”

  1. Great idea for combining those two completely opposite ideas! How sad that the old man didn’t get to see his grandbaby though.
    And you almost fit another death in there with the kid running in the street. Tricky!

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