The Waltz of Devil’s Creek
The sound of trickling water hit the floorboards beneath me; I sucked in a sharp breath and froze.
Joseph’s eyes strayed downward; his brows crumpled in his forehead, and he gawked at me like I’d grown a third eyeball. “Are you…peein’?” he asked as if he couldn’t believe such a thing.
“No…I uh…” I couldn’t get the words out, but I sure knew what was going on. I gripped my belly with both hands and sat down on the edge of the bed, fluid dripping down my legs—I’d swore I’d never wear a dress again, but I couldn’t fit into pants anymore. “I think I’m gonna have a baby now, Joseph.”
His eyes darted back and forth from my face to the puddle on the floor; he looked as white as the sheet I’d just dressed the bed with.
“Oh, umm…what do you…oh shit, Judy, I don’t know what to do. I’ll go get—.” He started for the door to fetch my pa.
“Joseph, remember what we talked about,” I said, stopping him in his tracks. “You can do this.”
“I remember a brief conversation about who’s gonna deliver this baby,” he said with sarcasm. “But I also remember tellin’ you ain’t no way in hell I can do it. You gotta go to the hospital.”
The first wave of pain struck me like somebody done hit me across the lower back with a two-by-four. “Ahh! Oh no, Joseph, this…ahhh!” I gritted my teeth so hard that pain shot through my jaw and into the top of my head. “I can’t go to the hospital…please, you promised.”
“What?! I did no such thing!”
“Yes, you did! You said: ‘I swear on my life I’ll deliver the baby if nobody else is around to do it’—can’t go back on it now.”
He threw his hands up in the air. “Well yeah, I may’ve said that, but it was only to get you off my back about it—I can’t deliver a baby!”
“You’re gonna have to!” I cried out in pain again and fell back against the bed; I didn’t know why, but for a moment, I thought about how I’d just made the bed and was annoyed by the awful timing.
I heard my pa’s voice from the doorway—he was like the dead arisen, as I hadn’t heard him say much in so long. I clamped my jaw down again, eyes closed so tightly I saw spots dancing on the inside of my eyelids.