PreludeA Chapter by Lynne Heffner Ferrante
Just a hint before the beginning of the story...
As I slip in and out of the warm fuzz, barely able to identify the odd shapes and colors that slide back and forth in front of my eyes, I whisper faintly, please, let me have my baby, bring my baby to me... and fade out again.
I hold the tiny blanket swathed creature naturally in the crook of my arm, as though he has always been here in this custom fitted cradle. I kiss the fuzzy top of his pungent infant head, noting the slight point resulting from the force of the expulsion of his birth. I inhale deeply, the ineffable musky clean baby odor of his skin. I sigh. I have waited so long; all of my life. I reach with one hand for the pastels and sketch pad on the bedside table always within my reach; it is second nature to me. I balance the soft, warm fragrant package and begin a drawing of that darling face. I give the process, the impulse, no conscious thought. Within a few years more, I have piles of them, sketches of the different children at different phases, starting with each one mere moments after birth. I adjust the blankets; shift the position of the precious bundle, somehow instinctively aware of just what to do. I am so comfortable with this mama baby thing, I think to myself, as I feel myself drifting again...
Now, I sit in the soft damp sweetly smelling grass, the little ones sprawled across the thick woven plaid blanket that my mother brought back from her last European voyage during her summer vacation, this one to Scotland. The children are still carefully dressed against the early spring weather, but the sun presses warmly on their chubby bodies, heating their skin and their soft hair. They will turn platinum blond, again, this summer, I think, as I arrange their picnic lunch, pb&j and bologna, American cheese…bananas and chocolate chip cookies; all of the gourmet necessities of the day. Apple slices and carrot sticks in a plastic container; piled haphazardly on the blanket, a small collection of library books to read to them. In the distance, other children play on the playground equipment. I watch them cavort on monkey bars and envision painting a portrait of them in this setting, climbing and clamoring; hanging upside down arms akimbo, laughing and screaming. I promise them that they will have the chance to swing before they leave, although swings have never been my personal favorite. I breathe deeply again of the fresh spring air, and feel a great joy. What more can anyone want in life, I think, but my eyes are beginning to feel sticky and dry, and I am having trouble keeping them open, and I drift off…
The older ones dig and dig like crazy, in the hot sand, until they have a large crater-like area. The little ones play with brightly colored plastic shovels and assorted sand toys, occasionally returning from a short jaunt to the nearby surf with a shell or pail full of salty water, to pour over the sifting sand, and carefully sculpt their creations. I watch them with a great happiness, my eyes coveting their lithe browned bodies and adoring their flyaway white blonde hair. Ready, Mom, the oldest says softly, a glow of adoration cloaking his serious face, beaming at me as he helps me fit my belly, huge with child again, into the big sand pit. Now you can lie on your stomach, he laughs infectiously, and the others join him. It is a big joke, this clumsy and immobile whale-like mommy, usually slender and perpetually active. I feel so comfortable that I wish I could stay here for whatever short time I have left till the birth, a giant turtle protecting its eggs in the hot sand. I place my chin on my folded hands, and watch my beloved children do their summer beach things, racing in and out of the surf, digging and building. I adore their serious faces that can in a moment open into wide laughter and raucous giggles. I adore their perfect limbs and bodies, toasted now to a golden tan. I am indeed, blessed. I feel myself drifting as the heat of the sun beats down on my motionless body, lulling me. I must keep watching them, I think, I cannot fall asleep…
They run through the drifts of brilliantly colored leaves, whooping and hollering with joy. What a marvelous day! The sun beats strongly, but without the great heat of summer, and the air is sweet with fall aromas, dying leaves, fading flowers, cooking, barbecuing meat. Everywhere, there is color, magenta, red, orange, yellow, azure blue of sky and golden green of grass. All of us, mother and children come together in the midst of a clearing in the wooded park, and our bodies crush one another in a great giggling hug. Love you Mommy, they all scream, and love you babies, I answer smiling widely, wanting to say more, but choking on the emotion of my love for them, and needing to wipe away the crushed leaf dust and fine sand that whirls into my face with the autumn breeze, making me blink, encrusting and closing my eyes. Everything swirls with the breeze, and I wonder where I am.
Soon, I feel myself lying down, and think that I must have fallen in the midst of our raucous celebration of life and love, but moving my fingers tentatively in the area around my body, I feel the tight slick crispness of hospital sheets, smell the clean antiseptic odor of hospital, and realize that I must have just had my baby. I can sense the painful hardness of full breasts. I feel myself grinning from ear to ear, and once again, ask the moving room shadows for my child.
No, answers the nurse gently, her crisp whiteness beginning to come into focus, I cannot bring you your baby. There is no baby, she sighs apologetically. You are mistaken about that.
But you don't understand, I say, I need to see my baby, I want my baby. Hot tears are forming behind my eyes, and suddenly begin flowing profusely, uncontrollably cascading down my face, and I feel my chest and intestines constrict, and my heart begins that familiar pounding, and I feel once again that incredible pain of incomprehensible never-ending loss.
My babies, I sob. I want my babies. Please, I plead from the depths of my soul, someone, get me my babies.
© 2012 Lynne Heffner Ferrante
An Untenable Fragrance of Violets, A Trilogy, Book I, Innocence Lost
Lynne Heffner Ferrante
East Hampton, NY
AboutI grew up in the Bronx and Forest Hills, New York in the forties and fifties. I have been an artist for over fifty years, have owned schools and art galleries in the Hamptons, a gold coast area at the.. more..