Written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black 22 November, 2013
Sienna labored over a day to bring Brandon into the world. His head was misshapen after the arduous journey through the birth canal, and his skin was mottled, but his parents thought him perfect. They counted the chubby toes and tickle his plump cheeks, but Sienna was exhausted and medicated, and thus it was difficult for her to stay awake.
“Swaddle that wee-one tightly in this blue blanket, Aroon,” said the visiting maiden aunt, Moira, holding out a blanket knitted of soft angora, a “B” embroidered in silver thread. The proud father, Aroon, handed the child to Grandma Ania, deferring to Grandma’s expertise. Aunt Moira sung in an ancient language familiar to Aroon from his own childhood, and he smiled. His Grandmother beamed up at him, predicting that the baby would be safe and strong.
A baby had a way of unifying even the most divided of families. Sienna hoped that, with her baby’s birth, Aroon’s hitherto unwelcoming family would find some common ground and accept her. However, Sienna rested through the scene, her breathing shallow. She dreamed of small people pulling on her bed sheets. She stretched out her hand and felt their downy hair. One bit her finger, and she woke with a start. The room was dark, and she was alone. She pressed the button to summon the nurse and request the return of her baby Brandon.
The nurse entered the room, pushing a sterile, silver tray appointed with syringes and medicine cups. Sienna struggled to sit upright, but the nurse gently encouraged her to rest. “Where is my baby?” The nurse contemplated her brown pressed-wood clipboard, apparently lost in thought. “Here, take your medicine, dear,” the nurse said, presenting a clear plastic cup with 5 mls of amber liquid.
Sienna obediently downed the liquid before asking for her boy again. A bit dribbled on the pink and red knitted throw covering her lap. The nurse ignored Sienna and left the room. Sienna pushed the nurse call button again, but sleep overtook before the answer. Her dreams had the same thin-armed people reaching out to her, childlike in stature, bringing to her succulent fruits heaped on silver platters.
When she woke, Sienna’s brain felt as though it were mangled in a wood-chipper. She pressed the nurse-call button, wishing to have her baby brought. No nurse came, but Sienna could hear far-off, familiar voices singing a song from her childhood in a language long-forgotten. She shook her head to quiet her mind’s buzzing, struggling to remember something. She thought that she heard them say that it was a trade, a fair deal, an unhealed mother for her bairn.
The voice of an old woman continued to convince, “’Tis the way of things, Aroon. It canna be helped. In every generation, the little ones come for a member of our family. ‘Twas the way with you and your own dear mum. Your wife would wish to go in the child’s stead, as any mum would wish. As your own mum wished.”
Sienna squinted through murky incandescent light. She was looking for someone, someone small whose name began with a “b,” a boy. He was being kept from her, she thought, or was he searching for her?
Bells like wind-chimes tinkled nearby. A woman with unbound, waist-length silver hair led a fair child into the room. Her musical voice spoke in a lilting language, relaxing as a summer brook tripping over algae-covered rocks. “Look, Berrin, ‘tis she, wrapped in the callin’ bedding,” the woman said. Berrin reached out his long, thin arms to Sienna, imploring with silent, up-tilted eyes. The boy beckoned with pantomime. Floral scents perfumed the air.
The name “Berrin” seemed familiar to Sienna, or at least similar to something she could almost recall. She pulled out her i.v. and went away with him.