Washed Clean

The couple sat next to each other, holding hands anxiously. The only sound was the secretary’s shuffling of papers behind the desk. Her starched white lab coat hung stiffly on her shoulders as her un-manicured hands flipped through the many files in front of her. There was that medicinal smell in the air that caused the nausea to set in. The white walls of the waiting room had pictures of adorable babies laughing and smiling; almost mocking the patients awaiting their results.
Delia stared straight ahead not daring to look at one of these angelic faces. Her mind was elsewhere.
She was a little girl again with two light brown pigtails wearing a red and black plaid jumper. She was clinging to her mother’s skirt with her tiny fingers. Her green eyes were looking up at her Mom, wide with such trust and adoration.
The vision shifted
Delia stood over a crib staring down at a blue bundle. Five tiny fingers curled around her pinky so tight almost cutting off her circulation yet they felt so right. His wiggling tongue slipped in and out of his mouth ever slowly…
Coming out of her reverie she turned to her husband Carter and whispered, “It’s been such a long time…”
He turned to look at her, eyes illuminated by worry lines. “Yes, a long time…” He smiled with encouragement but his forced optimism hung stale in the air. He pulled on the neck of his grey Ralph Lauren sweater and shifted his crossed legs. The fluorescent lamps artificial light was too bright and he squinted and turned away from its glare.
Delia closed her eyes trying to block out all the images and grab hold of that blue bundle. A small tear escaped from the corner of her left eye, traveled down her cheek and dripped onto their clasped fists. Neither moved at all. They just sat in silence, hearts beating in time with the endless ticking of the clock…
Finally, the office door opened and out stepped Dr. Hammer.
“Is this it?” She was on her feet immediately. Those three small words sang with a desperate hope perverted with the constant disappointments.
Carter got up more slowly and walked up behind Delia. The nurse held the white steel door open and Carter tried to make eye contact but her eyes were black holes staring down at her clipboard. Carter grabbed hold of Delia’s hand and pulled her in to his chest. He buried his face in her hair breathing in her fruity shampoo instead of the burning rubber glove smell. There was so much to say but they just stood there silently. She pulled away first, cast a longing glance at the blue eyed little girl, lost in her soft curls and dimpled cheek. Holding hands like two children clinging to their mommy’s hand on the first day of school, they followed the doctor into his office.
Once inside the deliberation began. Endometriosis of the uterus, Sperm morphology- The tests all looked grim. Delia bit her lip to maintain control as a deep shadow ran over her now grey eyes.
“I guess this is it,” she said more as a statement than a question. Dr. Hammer’s words were saying that no test is definite and how there are other options to still consider, but Delia could no longer hear him. She stared at her reflection in the ultrasound machine and her hand unconsciously rested on her flat stomach.
She was tickling him gently and he laughed with such energy. The green and navy quilt was embroidered with red and white baseballs and bats and tucked right under his chin. Delia leaned down and kissed his nose; that was Carter’s nose but she stared down into her green eyes…
Dr. Hammer didn’t have a chance to finish what he was saying before Delia broke down crying and buried her head in Carter’s shoulder. Carter wrapped his arms around his wife as a cloud of gloom enveloped him; a mask of pain over his features.
With the air of someone who’s done this many times, Dr. Hammer handed them a pile of fat pamphlets titled, “Sperm donation and Surrogate Pregnancy,” and “Adoption is an Option.” He was saying something about all the advances in research while the Jackson’s stared blankly at him. The framed certificates on the walls hung above the supply cabinet and sink. Delia walked over to the sink and bent down to splash water over her face. She remained doubled over letting the droplets fall of their own accord watching the water swirl around in the metal drain.
He fell down and was crying for his mommy. His knee was scraped and he needed someone to kiss his sore knee. His favorite cubs cap, tilted slightly to the left, was so worn out and faded but was nonetheless on his head. He rocked himself back and forth, waiting…
Standing there, she wondered where all the wasted water went from here. She remained in that position head down until all the water washed away. Her hands curled around the edge of the counter as she rocked slowly back and forth. The last drop of water fell from her forehead down her cheek. She brushed the wet spot with the back of her hand and closed her eyes for a moment, feeling the sensation of newborn skin washed clean…

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