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The International Writers Magazine First Life Steps

Reversal of Survival
Gordon Ray Bourgon

“Her name is Jane Doe.”
“Who? The baby?”
“No.  The mother.  They’re pressing charges.”
“Poor little thing.”
“The mother?”
“No.  The baby.  It was touch and go for a while.  We thought she wouldn’t make it.”

Sad faces in the midst of this story of survival.  The narcotics of despair, and the thin filament of hope, propel action and instigate delay. They look on.

In the ICU, the fragile infant is hooked up and connected with tubes and wires.  She breathes like a helpless bird fallen from its nest.  At least she is breathing now. On the gurney, before, her tiny body stilled, and something threatened to escape her corporeal shell.  No bigger than a loaf of bread, light as chiffon.  Puffy eyes, sunken cheeks, wet lips, thin, slick, dark hair. Skin like roseate parchment.

The weight of eyes on her, waiting for the miraculous.  A feeble movement of finger or ear, a subtle thank you to her saviours.

Everyone on the sixth floor stares at her, as though through osmosis they will be strong. Their empty lives need the girl to pull through, to fill them with a new purpose, a crystalline perception.

Nurse Jones is hurt by the senselessness of it all.  She hates the world that allows someone to do this. Her anger is not for the individual, but for all those who allow madness into their lives.

Moses is confused but knows he is doing the right thing.  It is warm and dry in the hospital. The lights are bright, intelligent. He feels eyes on him, his dirty clothes and tattered shoes.  Careful not to press the baby against his dirt and stink. Keep walking, to someone with a kind face.

Jane Doe is swaddled.  If only her tiny eyes could open, she would see people hurrying past, in a rush to survive through any means necessary. She hears familiar footsteps walking away.

© Gordon Bourgon October 8th 2008

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