Kenneth paced the sterile white-tiled corridor anxiously; his to and fro stride if not dizzying, was quite depressing. Worry lines etched across his forehead, his eyes were bloodshot and tired. It had been more than twenty-four hours since he had had any sleep at all. He also ignored the frantic rumblings of his stomach that groaned in hunger at intervals: as a protest, it seemed, for having been only filled with countless cups of over-sweetened cups of coffee provided by the hospital’s ramshackle vending machine.
How could I even think of eating anything, when the only person I cherish, the only person I love to the point of extremes, lies in that fearsome room labeled as ICU? How could I rest my eyes with a few hours of sleep, when what matters to me the most swings like a pendulum, back and forth, between life and death? How could I abandon my vigil for the likes of food and sleep, when what is the most prior, most reverent to me, is stuffed with innumerable daunting tubes and connected to overwhelming gloomy machinery? No, I must keep walking … and praying; Kenneth thought desperately.
He was shaken from his thoughts, when an unknown voice resonated in his ears and dragged him back into the disconcerting reality.
“Mr. Slassor, would you like to see your baby?”
My baby … the two words almost seemed detestable to him; the same words that he had been uttering for the past eight months in awe, now filled him with utmost abhorrence. How quickly he had learned to hate something that he had so unerringly loved while it was nestled in its mother’s womb.
Kenneth sighed and nodded to the nurse, who in turn gestured him to follow her. Maybe the sight of this … creature would lessen the odium he felt for it.
“We’re going to name him David if it’s a boy and Rebecca if it’s a girl,” the woman chattered happily to her husband; who most lovingly looked at her. There were no doubts concerning the intense affection he felt for her.
“As you say so, dear … as you say so!” Kenneth assured his wife warmly.
Kenneth clenched his fists as he gazed at the tiny baby closeted in the immense incubator.
Its every twitch, every flick of fingers vexed Kenneth greatly. This monster was alive and healthy while its mother fought to stay tethered to this world; this is what had landed Lauren in that fright of a place. This was responsible for her precarious condition – this that had entered this world and with its entry, was attempting to force its mother to exit out of the stage of life.
Yes, he had felt love for it once. But then … hatred and love are borne on opposite sides of coins and for a three-sixty degree reversal of emotions, only one flip of it is required.
He had resented the breaths of the little baby since the moment it had left the O.R. – leaving behind its mother to clutch desperately at the last whiffs of life that coursed in her body. But twenty-four hours had elapsed and with each second ticking away, his resentment had slowly nurtured into a rumbling anger – but this intense antagonism lay in the very depths of the abyss of darkness that had drilled straight-on through the already-splintered shards of his heart. Steadily – the anger pulsed, becoming more potent and compelling.
Kenneth closed his eyes and taking several breaths, abruptly left the room.
“I can’t believe it, Lauren … we have created something …” Kenneth murmured, awed, as he gazed at the baby boy cuddled in his mother’s womb, through the ultrasound.
Tears brimmed in Lauren’s eyes as she looked at her offspring for the first time.
Kenneth and Lauren clutched hands; their gaze never wavering from the scan screen.
The words of the doctor echoed in the steep chasm he had fallen into.
“Sorry … we couldn’t save her … we are really sorry …”
Intense grief roared in his body and his chest heaving, he broke into sobs, childish sobs; he wavered and clutched at the paneled wall, slowly sliding down into a heap; mourning for the one whom he had so crazily loved; crouching as the horrifying reality ran awash him.
He cried and cried; the pain, the anguish that burned his body singed him and he cried; as if with pouring his grief in tears he could expunge himself from it.
But the pain deepened; cutting and ripping and slashing him from inside.
There came a time when the tear reservoir dried up and he gasped for breath; each breath shearing his airways. The pain of losing a beloved cannot be fathomed; its enormity is indeed mind-paralyzing.
Kenneth walked with determined steps, his hands wrapped around his balking newborn.
The tears had stopped; the grief in his eyes had transpired into something else; the transition had opened his heart to the most fatal of the seven deadly sins.
His anger that he had managed to push to the bottom of the dark chasm that had erupted in his heart, had surfaced; the intense pain and grief dragging it out – fashioning it into a rage, a great anger that took the form of wrath. Such was the seething ire that enveloped his soul that all his once-cherished emotions had presumed the form of concentrated hatred; such was the fury that galloped across his vessels, that it rendered his vision obscured, his hearing blunted and his touch impaired; all but one emotion encapsulated his existence – wrath in its most exacerbating version.
His eyes with no hint of grief, were smothered with anger towards the creature that he clasped in his hands; burning with resentment borne for the life that had snatched his love away so ruthlessly; his hands shook, but he held on to the baby tighter and plowed ahead through the maze of corridors towards the stairwell that would lead him to the roof top of the hospital.
Finding the stairwell, his entire frame now trembled as he climbed steps; but he did not quiver of fear or grief or sorrow, but of the passion of rage that streamed through his senses.
Struggling through the last few steps, his eyes swathed with a vehement blaze, he staggered towards the door that opened to the roof; pushing it open, he walked into the fresh night air; still grasping the baby tightly.
Sauntering, he made way to the end of the roof. Attaining the desired location, he glanced downwards – ground seemed quite distant; the hospital building being of five floors.
He took a deep breath and revert his gaze to the baby that had fallen asleep in his arms; but there was no love to be found in his look, but only varying shades of aversion, that ranged from bad to extreme.
With a wrathful lunge, he hurled the baby down; his mouth grimacing into a wolf-like snarl.
For few moments silence reigned that accursed night; until it was broken by a sickening thud – it seemed that something had plummeted into a car.
The noise of the car alarm reverberated into the night air.