The local mall is rundown but still used. A sleazy population of gangs occupies the stores on the inside; you enter at your own risk.
Tables line the rows of the adjacent parking lot; the less adventurous shop out in the open. I have always been one of the less adventurous. My objective was to search the tables and with any luck find a pair of shoes. I have been searching for weeks.
As I stepped into the crowd, the putrid stench of gutter-rats attacked my nose. Hunting in packs, the little thieves were everywhere. True fact, the Runt used to be one of them before Tony took the boy under his wing. It has been a bumpy road for all of us.
As I was shopping, I hear a crash, a table is knocked over and a baby starts to cry. Without hesitation, I back away from the disturbance.
I know all too well not to run to the aid of a crying baby or you lose everything to a smelly thief.
It rained all night long. I love the rain. I sleep well when it rains.
I stopped in to see Casey . She is doing well but sore. The little one is so cute, in a newborn scrunchy kinda way. I wouldn’t want to take on the responsibility of having a baby. There are so many things to worry about. Babies don’t seem to do as well as they used to. Most don’t even get names until they reach two weeks old. I don’t know who decided two weeks was standard for determining if a baby will live or die… but it’s a thing.
I saw Tony up walking around a little while ago. He was walking toward the showers. I am so glad he is feeling better. It would have been a great loss if he had died. We depend on him greatly to fix things.
By noon, Casey was in hard labor and begging for the pain to stop. I put on a happy face and reassured everyone Casey and her baby would be fine. I kept my fears to myself. I prayed a naming ceremony would be on the horizon, not a funeral.
There were moments I feared Casey wouldn’t have the strength to push her baby into the world. With every contraction Lizzy, Gretchen and Cecelia would yell, “Push Casey… Push!”
Casey responded with screams of pain that resonated through the school.
At 3:07pm, the baby arrived with a loud wonderful cry.
We all cheered as midwife Lizzy placed the crying baby girl into Casey’s awaiting arms.
I stared in horror and scooted back against the far wall. I prayed the baby wouldn’t cry. If the baby cried, the red hyenas would find me.
Several hours later, I ventured back out into the alley. The girl and her baby both died in the dark. I never asked her name.
Casey knocked on my door around 4am this morning. She was having contractions and noticeably drenched in body fluids. Attempting not to panic or look worried, I woke Gretchen, and Cecelia. The girls helped me change Casey’s clothes and put her into a clean bed. After reassuring Casey, everything would be fine; I ran to wake Evan and JT and sent them on an errand to find a mid-wife. There was a small clinic a few blocks over. They returned within an hour with a girl named Lizzy. I stepped aside as labor coach and let the midwife take over. Gretchen and Cecelia stayed in the room to help and give moral support.