Thursday, July 3, 2008


I should post more. I've been busy. And Twitter makes me lazy. So in lieu of an actual post, and with the rapidly approaching anniversary of the birth of my son, I thought I'd share with you the version of a birth story I wrote when I was still in high school. Man, that kid had no idea what he was talking about.

The Birth of a Child

With a sigh and a smile, Tom flopped into the big easy chair in his study. The house was empty and silent, and to keep the mood, he neglected to turn on any lights. The sigh was from exhaustion, both physical and emotional; the smile was the only expression of utter joy left to him as he had already used every other expression he knew.

At 9:13 A.M., Tom's wife gave birth to a son. A son! The sound of the word made his heart want to burst. William Daniel Grey entered the world weighing a healthy seven pounds, nine ounces and was every bit as indignant at his arrival as a self-important politician who realizes that he has been booked at the local Motel 6. To his parents' relief, he arrived in possession of all of his parts and with all parts in proper working order. Little William's eyes, when they were not squeezed shut in a tiny tempestual rage, were a clear and brilliant blue. In Little William's father's unabashedly subjective opinion, his was the finest boy to have ever graced the planet with his presence.

Tom spent the previous twelve hours on a continuous circuit between the bedside of his wife Elizabeth and the vending machines. He had only just left a few moments before at the gentle urgings of a matronly nurse. Tom, being the coward that many men are in the area of childbirth and other mysterious female processes, had elected with his wife's approval, indeed at her suggestion, to remain in the waiting room throughout the entire ordeal. He originally had every intention of experiencing the miracle of childbirth hand-in-hand with his wife, wearing a fatherly smile on his face, but when the time had actually arrived, Elizabeth had seen Tom's face turn ashen and had heard the strength drain from his voice, so she mercifully suggested that he remain outside.

Tom then spent the ungodly and unbearably long three hours in a cold sweat. He unconsciously fit every stereotype of the nervous first-time father to perfection by pacing continuously and talking to himself for the duration. His nerves were drawn pianowire-tight, and his nervous energy was at an all-time high. Tom did nothing to remedy this situation, and in fact spent most of the three hours pouring sugar into his bloodstream in the form of Hershey's, Life Savers, and Coca-Cola. Only the mercy of God kept him from collapsing into a diabetic coma.

At last the moment arrived. Tom's heart skipped a few beats when a small, somewhat mousy-looking nurse stuck her head into the waiting room and asked, "Mr. Grey?" Tom nearly jumped on her, making her flinch, with a myriad of questions at his lips, each so important that he was at a loss as to which to ask first. The nurse merely asked him to follow her, saying nothing else. She walked abominably slowly, and Tom realized that she was enjoying herself. Apparently this was the part of her job that she loved the most: watching the poor, tortured fathers squirm with anticipation.

Knowing this, Tom tried, but was unable, to calm himself and to end the ceaseless babble that was issuing forth from his lips. Without realizing that he was doing it, and in a period of mere moments, Tom managed to tell this amused nurse the entire history of The Romance of Tom and Elizabeth. With something similar to awe, Tom listened to the words flow out, unbidden by any human will.

The walk from the waiting room stretched on and on; Tom had never walked so far. The sterile, white halls stretched on to infinity, and a helpless Tom, feeling detached from his body and floating in some ethereal fluid, watched himself amble along, babbling contentedly.

At long last the nurse opened one of the hollow, wooden doors and ushered Thomas into the room. At this point, Tom's heart did not just skip a beat, it nearly stopped altogether. His wife was in the plain, white, hospital bed, smiling at him with a look of expectancy on her face. She held a baby; their baby. His face and his mind both went blank, and his wife could suddenly read no emotion in his face or eyes. Then his shock broke, and his eyes filled with wonder. In a breathless whisper he asked, "A boy?"

She nodded, laughing and crying, and held the boy up to meet his father. Tom took the baby with all the awkward care that befits a new father. In Tom's eyes, the boy seemed to be surrounded by a hazy glow, an aura. The father held his son for a time and thought of personal things. Eventually he looked around as if waking from a dream and went to his wife's side.

"William?" he asked as he handed the child reluctantly back to the mother.

"Hey! I thought we had decided on Daniel," she replied.

"William Daniel it is, then," spoke a voice from the corner. Tom looked up to see his mother-in-law, previously unnoticed in his understandably emotional condition. He went to her and gave her a hug, whispering "I'm a father!" in her ear.

And thus it was decided. William Daniel Grey. The rest of the day Tom spent in a haze; first he watched his wife feed the child and then went on a tour of the hospital, telling everyone he met that he was a father. Finally, when both his wife and his son were safely sleeping, a large and motherly nurse quietly suggested that he go home and get some sleep, all the while gently leading him toward the door.

So Tom went home. His troubles were only beginning, he knew. Would he be a good father? Would he do all the right things at all the right times? How was he going to get Little William through college? His were happy troubles, though, and he fell asleep in his big easy chair in his dark, empty house with his car keys in his hand, still smiling.


anniemcq said...

You wrote that in High School? Wow. It's beautiful. It would be interesting to read it after an edit from your Dad perspective.

I, Rodius said...

Well, thanks. I've never really been able to edit my own work, especially after a lapse in time. My edit would be to throw the damn thing out.

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