This story appears in the charity anthology Treasured Chests:
Cameron Gather lay on a narrow bed in a little room off the main emergency room ward at Saint Helen’s Hospital, absently rubbing her bulging stomach, waiting for the doctor to examine her. She stared up at the ceiling, breathing slowly like they’d taught her to in her birthing classes; focusing on the florescent bulb – which was blinking slightly – kept her mind off of the fact that she was in labor a month early. Fear raged in her mind every time she heard a sound outside the closed door and her concentration slipped. It had already been a long night and she was tired, and she knew there was more stress to come.
The door clicked open and Cameron jumped and turned to see her husband, Joe, entering the room holding papers and tucking his wallet into the back pocket of his jeans; he looked at her and smiled.
“All set,” he said, pulling the utilitarian plastic chair from the corner closer to the bed and his wife’s side. “Has the doctor been in yet?”
She shook her head no and tears sprang to her eyes. Turning her head, she again focused on the ceiling and the light.
He laid the papers on the floor between his feet, took her free hand in one of his, and placed his other hand on her stomach, rubbing gently.
“Everything’s going to be okay, honey,” Joe said, trying to be reassuring, but he was scared too. His heart was racing, his thoughts were jumbled, and he felt helpless. The fear of losing the woman he loved and/or their child made him want to fall on his knees and cry, while simultaneously he wanted to punch both his fists through the wall and scream at the top of his lungs.
They stayed this way for many long minutes, each lost in their own thoughts, afraid to voice them and jinx the situation. Hollering, ranting, and swearing could be heard through the closed door. The ER was flooded with people seeking various types of medical attention, but they’d been placed in a secluded room to try and keep Cameron calm while they waited for a doctor to decide what was going on with her pregnancy and their unborn child.
The door clicked open and Cameron and Joe jumped, their attention immediately going to the door; the raised volume of the commotion beyond the opening shocked them. A man in a white lab coat and blue-green scrubs walked through the door holding a chart. He was middle aged, slightly overweight, and starting to go bald. He glanced up at the couple and let the door go shut on its own behind him; none of them noticed that it hadn’t latched.
“I’m Dr. Limon, and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. You’re doctor, Dr….er…Fontana, is on vacation for a couple of days and I’m covering his patients while he’s away. Luckily, I was upstairs checking on a woman in active labor, so here I am. It says here you’ve been having contraction. Is that right, Mrs. Gather?” he asked, stepping up beside her and smiling down into her troubled face.
She nodded and bite her lip, still caressing her stomach.
“Have you been timing them?” Dr. Limon asked, looking back at the chart he held.
“They were ten minutes apart,” Joe said after clearing his throat. “But she said they were bad, and it’s too soon, so we thought it best to come and get everything checked out.”
“You did the right thing,” the doctor said, and smiled at the couple. “We’ll make sure everything’s okay. You’re far enough along that the baby has a good chance even if you’re in pre-term labor, so I don’t want you two to worry, all right?”
The couple smiled, nodded, and took a deep breath in unison; everything was going to be fine after all.
After a brief examination the doctor decided they would keep Cameron overnight for observation as she was still having severe, but erratic cramps. He was standing at the counter writing his instructions on her chart when the door to the small room flew open and a man came stumbling in. Blood covered the man from head to toe and he slipped a little on the smooth tile floor when some dripped off of his face and clothing to land beneath his feet as he advanced forward. Everyone in the room looked up when he entered, but they were rendered speechless and immobile for a moment with shock.
The man made it to the foot of the bed Cameron lay upon and swiftly bent down and bit into her ankle.
“Get off my wife, you fucker!” Joe screamed, and jumped up – almost slipping and falling on the papers at his feet. He punched the man in the head, sending him reeling backwards into the doctor when he released Cameron’s ankle.