This is the twenty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 865 words.
Startled by Anita’s shouts for help, Claudia rushed into the bedroom in a complete daze, to find her friend white faced and trembling. “Claude, phone for an ambulance! Quick!”
Fifteen minutes later, a paramedic was attaching a drip bag to the needle he had placed in Anita’s arm. “The ambulance will be here soon. Don’t be too worried, it’s really not that much blood. Believe me, it looks worse than it is. Because you are close to seven months gone, they will take you straight to the Maternity Unit, and a doctor and midwife will be waiting”. Claudia had dressed hurriedly, and was now stuffing a change of clothes for Anita into a holdall to take with them. Her friend looked up at her from the bed.
“Sorry, Claude. You have just left Betsy recovering, and had to come down to all this. But I’m so glad you are here”. Claudia would hear none of it. “I’m glad I am here too, so don’t worry. Stop bothering about all that stuff, and think about yourself and the baby. Should I ring your Mum, or Jill? Even both of them?” Anita shook her head. “No, I don’t want to worry Jill just yet, and Mum will only be concerned about whether it might spoil her wedding arrangements”.
The staff at the hospital were surprisingly unconcerned. The midwife dealing with Anita told her not to worry. “Bleeding at this stage is normal for some women, believe me. And it seems to have stopped some time ago. We are going to keep an eye on the monitor for now, and you will see a doctor later this morning. They might send you for an ultrasound, but based on my experience, I reckon you will be home for lunch. Your observations are all completely normal, and baby’s heartbeat is fine too”.
Despite those reassuring words, Anita was still concerned. Claudia was cheerful now, but then she had never been pregnant. “Try to relax now, Nita. See if you can get some sleep”. Claudia sat in the hard armchair next to the bed, and checked her phone. “Shall I check your mobile, Nita? Just in case?” Anita had a thought. “What about the TV crews and reporters, Claude? They are going to be showing up at the house in a few hours”. Claudia shook her head. “Last thing you need to worry about, love. If you are not at home, I’m sure they will come back another time”.
There was no message on either phone, and despite the worry, Anita managed to settle down and sleep.
When she woke up later, Claudia wasn’t in the chair. But she came back soon after, holding two cups of coffee bought from the hospital cafe. “It’s not great, Nita, but at least it’s warm and wet”. An auxiliary came in and asked if she wanted breakfast, but she declined. Claudia was checking both phones, and looked up. “Still nothing, but at least no news is good news”. Anita was wondering when Claude had started to spout such old-fashioned sayings, when a breezy young female doctor came in to see her.
“Everything is fine, Mrs Hollis. According to what I have read from your observations, you have nothing to worry about. I’m just going to give you a quick internal examination to make completely certain, and then you will be able to go home”. She took some latex gloves from a box fixed to the wall. The friends shared a look, with Claudia screwing up her face in disgust, and looking away as the doctor started to move the bedclothes.
“As I thought, nothing to worry about. A nurse will be here soon to take down your drip, and you will be able to go home after that”. She dropped the gloves into a bin, operating the lid with a foot-pedal. The nurse arrived before they had finished their coffees. As she removed the needle in Anita’s arm, she chatted about baby names, and then asked “What about the Dad? Is he picking you up?” Anita shook her head, and Claudia spoke instead. “No, he’s working abroad at the moment, I will arrange for an Uber Cab now”.
On the way back in the taxi, Claudia used Anita’s phone to speak to the reporters who were supposed to be arriving at the house, and to cancel them. She managed to speak directly to two of them, and left messages for the others. “I hope they don’t just show up, Nita. You need to rest. Time enough to speak to reporters once Mike gets home”. Then she rang Betsy, and told her everything that had happened. “Betsy sends her love, Nita. She sounds really good, and said the lady that spent the night at our place was really caring and professional. One of her colleagues has just arrived to take over”.
When the taxi pulled up outside the house, there were no journalists to be seen. Claudia smiled. “Good news, Nita. They must have got the messages”.
But as she helped Anita to the front door, and the taxi drove off, a car stopped outside.
It was a marked police car.