Saturday, November 03, 2007

September Phoenix Skies (excerpt)

Isabelle tried to focus on anything but her mother's screams. She stared out the window. The deafening thunder, piercing lightening and the rain of the mid September monsoon pulsating against the window panes, could not scare her tonight.

She  tried to focus on the rapid raging water that seemed to appear out of nowhere. If she was scared, it wasn't because of the monsoon. As lightning hit, it gave her a glimpse of the barn in the distance. Her thoughts wandered to Pepita. She wished she was with her horse, comforting her.

Isabelle shivered as she watched several lightening bolts light the sky at once. At times the bolts created a splash of light so bright she could see prickly pears getting knocked off the cacti by the strength of the rain.

It was a typical monsoon storm, one with winds strong enough to occasionally down the few power lines in town. A colossal cloud of dust had formed and lingered, shutting out the light of the sun for more than two hours – only to be replaced by raging rain, and flashfloods that raced across the desert floor.

It was a miracle Maria had been called earlier in the day – before the monsoon arrived. Isabella had gone into town to inform the midwife that her mom was not feeling well. Though she was not due to give birth for two weeks, Maria came to check on her and ended up staying.

Inside, the room was dimly lit by candles, reflecting fear in Isabelle's eyes. But the fear was not the result of the storm – nor was it created by the loud moans and occasional screams coming from the bedroom. Something else provoked it.

“I’m scared,” Isabelle whispered to Sonia.

Her sister instinctively placed an arm around her shoulders, leading her away from the window.

“Mama will be fine.”

“But what if she has another girl?” the fear now evident. “Papa said he’ll leave.”

“Let him leave,” Sonia snapped.

At 17, she was tired of the man they called their father. She looked angry as she grabbed her younger sister by the shoulders.

“Listen to me! Where is he now? Tell me! He’s never around anyway and when he is, he’s always drunk,” she said seething before calming down. “Mama doesn’t need him and neither do we. Mama has us. I want him gone. I pray she has a girl.”

Isabelle saw rage in her sister's eyes. She admired her and wished she could be more like her. Sonia was four years older and she had seen a lot of injustices in her short life. A baby brother Isabelle never knew died in infancy, sending their father into frequent drinking binges with destructive consequences to the family.

She was still holding Isabelle by the shoulders when a sudden shrilling scream sent them running to the bedroom.

“Almost. Almost. Come on. Push a little more,” the self-proclaimed midwife looked worried as she encouraged their mother.

“No puedo; no puedo,” she started crying in Spanish. She had been in labor for what seemed like hours and it was obvious that the baby was in trouble. “I can’t do this.”

“You have to do it. Just a little bit more,” Maria raised her voice, scolding the woman before reassuring her. “I see the head now. Come on. You can do this.”

Isabelle gasped as she saw the bloody child pass from her mother. Living on a ranch in Phoenix, she had seen kittens and puppies born. And once, Pepita, her horse, gave birth in the barn and Isabelle was amazed at how quickly it stood and nursed. She loved the colt but discovered it gone one day after school. Her father had sold it -- to buy alcohol.

“It’s a boy!” the midwife exclaimed as Sonia’s expression fell. It was not that she didn’t want a brother, she just didn’t want to give her father an excuse to stay.

“Sonia! Quick.! Help me,” the midwife said as they rushed away with the baby.

“Dios mio,” Isabelle heard her mother scream. “Where’s my baby? Where are you taking him?”

At that moment, Isabelle realized she never heard the baby cry. Tears rolled down her cheeks and grief filled her heart as she remembered the tiny baby who was rushed past her – a whitish-blue umbilical cord dangling from the pale limp body.

Powerful spasms hit her mother again causing additional shrieks. Shrieks that penetrated to the core of Isabelle’s heart.

“It’s ok, mama’” Isabelle said in a meek effort to comfort her mother. “You have to pass the placenta now.”

But a look at her mother’s face said otherwise.

“Maria!” Isabelle yelled for the older woman as her mother squeezed her hand. “Maria!”

The midwife rushed in, the first baby still in her arms. She had just wrapped the newborn in a blanket and she quickly handed him to Sonia.

A look of panic filled Maria as she saw a second head crowning between the mother’s legs.

"My God,” the midwife exclaimed. “Twins!"


  1. Great Post!! Brilliantly written....

  2. Thank you, Blade. I originally started this story as my Nanowrimo project a couple of years ago and I finally have time to get back to it. :) Eventually I will put up a few more excerpts.