SNOW AND SILENCE • by Precie A. Schroyer

It was mostly a blur for her now, a cultivated blur. Yet some bits of memory wouldn’t fade; some sensations wouldn’t dull.

The pregnancy test strip, taken from the lab, used on lunch break. How easy, how automatic it was to process the countless samples that came through the lab. Faced with the telltale color of her own strip, the test was far from easy.

This was not part of the plan.

The panic. The fear. The doubt. Then the fragile hope.

Weeks had passed as she deliberated what she wanted, what was best for them, and then another week as she decided when to tell him. For better or worse, he was going to be a father. She would welcome him home from his business trip with the news that would change their lives forever. She’d steeled herself to whatever his response might be. Ah, then the deep, engulfing joy of anticipation.

That day in March started so peacefully. She reveled in a single thought: “I will tell him today.”

Light assaulted the bedroom as she opened her eyes. Peeking out the window, she saw cars along the street already blanketed in snow. Flakes fell so heavily she couldn’t see the end of the block. The identical brick townhouses were dusted white. The identical wrought-iron fences, cleaving the postage-stamp front yards, barely poked out of the snow. At times like this, she felt the comforting weight of their historic street, the certainty that generations past had looked out on the same peaceful, snow-covered lane.

Blinded by the winter wonderland outside, it took her eyes a moment to adjust when she turned away. Huge brownish orange blobs floated just beyond her reach as she looked toward the bed. Then the blobs solidified into stains. Her adrenaline surged as she ran to the bathroom. Brown. And crimson.

Hands shaking, she rushed to call her doctor. “All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later.” She dug out the baby book hidden in her nightstand and scoured its contents for help. Skin prickling, throat seizing, she feared the worst.

Hours later, still unable to reach her doctor or any doctor, when the gut-twisting cramps bent her in half and the blood began to gush copiously, there was no doubt what was happening. In her bones, she knew. She could picture hCG charts, picture the printouts of results that the lab produced regularly. What she had never pictured before were the patients who would receive those results. Laying in bed, gripping a pillow to her abdomen, she knew there was no help.

Around dusk, the phone rang. Through the answering machine, she heard him.

“Vi? Vi, pick up. Are you there? I tried calling the hospital to see if you were working. Are you home? Pick–”

“I’m here. I’m… fine.”

“I’ve been calling all day, love. All the flights are grounded, half the highways are closed. No one predicted this severe a Nor’easter. I won’t be home until at least tomorrow, maybe Friday. Can’t be helped, I’m afraid.”

“It’s okay, buddy. There must have been a problem with the phone lines. I’ll be fine.”

Burrowing further under the comforter, she didn’t speak to anyone else that day.

By the time he arrived home two days later, she’d tossed out the baby book, washed the bedding, buried her grief. There was no news to tell.

Precie A. Schroyer writes in Bath, Pennsylvania.

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