A look at the one pivotal moment in Ethan Casey's life.
|Ethan couldn’t sit still. His St. Louis townhouse had become confining and too small to pace as his legs wanted to. He stepped out onto the street and strode across, holding up a hand to slow an oncoming carriage. He couldn’t wait for it to pass. He had to keep moving.
Finally he reached the small strolling park and took a deep breath. Here, he could move and give release to all of the nervous energy built up inside of him. He would be fine here. He was only across the street, well within view of his house. The doctor knew where he was. He could send Calleigh to get him if there was any change with Mary.
The baby was so close now. Soon, he wouldn’t be just a husband. He would be a father. They would be a family. He began to pace. His excitement built within him again and with it pride.
He had walked with Mary in this park countless times. This is where he confessed to her all of the things he was not. He was a provider, yes. He was intelligent and well-read. He would do everything he could to keep her happy and take care of her. But he was not a strong man. He was strong of body, but his heart. He felt his heart could break and he hid it well.
Mary simply touched his cheek and smiled. She knew all his secrets, all of those quiet dark thoughts he kept hidden from the world. She knew it all. She would be his rock, the shield around his heart. The memory made him smile.
His name came to him from across the street. He turned and saw Calleigh O’Malley, the doctor’s assistant. She beckoned to him with a wave of her arm. “Mr. Casey, you must come!” she called.
Ethan had stepped into the street before he realized his feet were moving. “How’s Mary?” he asked. The beaming expectant smile faltered when he saw that Calleigh didn’t mirror it. She looked more grim as he got closer to her and the front door of his home. “Is she alright?”
Calleigh looked away from him, not able to meet his eyes. She held the door open for him. “You need to come.”
His vision began to tunnel as he moved forward. He only saw the door, the stairs, the room. The light in the room that he shared with Mary seemed oddly dim. Blood soaked rags were scattered across the floor leading to the bed. Everything had become very still until the little white-haired Dr. Harrison moved from the bassinet by the bed.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Casey,” the doctor said.
Ethan didn’t hear him. He focused on Mary. She laid on the bed. Her face had turned away from him and her left arm rested in way that made it look like she was reaching out for him. He stepped closer calling softly, “Mary?”
Doctor Harrison continued. “I’m afraid your daughter was still born.”
Ethan touched Mary’s outstretched hand. Her fingers were warm. Her hand rested limply in his grip. “Mary?” he called again softly.
“There were complications,” the doctor said. The tone caught Ethan’s attention. Still gripping her hand, he reached across to her face. “The baby’s position—it put a strain on Mary I didn’t expect.” The doctor’s words were reaching him. He didn’t want to listen but the doctor kept talking. “Something ruptured inside. I couldn’t stop the bleeding.”
Ethan had turned Mary’s face. Her eyes were open, staring into a distance only she could see. She didn’t see him. His rock. His heart’s shield. She was gone. The strain of her last moments still ghosted on her face. She didn’t look peaceful. She looked in pain, the rictus frozen on her visage forever.
Was she afraid?
“You should have called me,” Ethan said, acknowledging the doctor for the first time. He began to shake. Emotion coursed through him but he didn’t have the awareness to know what emotion it was. He didn’t care. “I should have been here.”
Doctor Harrison shook his head. “There’s nothing you could have done,” he said. The words had the sound of having been spoken many times before, an insincerity that stabbed him with ice.
Ethan’s heart pounded. “I could have been here!” he shouted. He hadn’t let go of Mary’s hand. “She needed me. I made a promise.”
The doctor bowed his head. “She never stopped trying to bring your child into the world.”
Ethan was like leather reins that were about to break under strain. Something broke inside of him. “Get out!” he screamed. He launched at the doctor and old man flinched and rushed to the door.
Finding himself alone, Ethan numbly turned to the bassinet by the bed. The tiny form inside was very still, wrapped tightly in a little quilt given to him by his mother. With slow, careful movements he reached down and lifted his daughter’s body into his arms. His daughter.
Mary had chosen the name Clare.
He carried her to Mary. He moved her arms so that Clare could fit in the crook of her arm. With a tender touch he shut her glassy eyes. Mother and child. They looked like they were sleeping.
Like his family, he was dead inside. Life had left his soul. Ethan, Mary and Clare Casey. A family of the dead.