“I don’t ask questions,” she told me, and left.
Maybe you don’t, I thought, but I will. I rose to get dressed. How different this morning was from yesterday, I thought. Yesterday, although I was nervous, I felt excited and happy, looking forward to seeing Edward. What was I to look forward to now? The moment I stepped out of my suite, Mrs. Newell pounced as if she had been hovering in her own doorway.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“I thought I would go out, take a little walk, get some fresh air. Is that all right with you?”
“No,” she said sharply. “Are you really this foolish? Return to your room until Dr. Denardo arrives and examines your swelling. Stay off your feet.”
“But it doesn’t hurt when I walk.”
She shook her head and stepped closer. “So, what does that mean?” she began in a very condescending tone. It was as if she were talking to a five-year-old. “That you should go and aggravate the problem until it does hurt, until it does get worse, until it does cause a serious problem?”
“I’m only going—”
“You’re only going back to your room. Look at this stairway you have to descend and ascend. What if you cramp up out there and collapse? Who would be blamed for that, do you think? You, a child-mother, or me, a professional maternity nurse?
“Besides,” she continued, “women can give birth at this point in a pregnancy, you know. There are more premature babies than ever. I’m going to take your blood pressure again in an hour, but I’d like
you rested before I do, so go back to bed.”
I hesitated. I wanted to be defiant, but I was also frightened.
She brought her hands to her hips and widened her eyes. “Do I have to call Señor Bovio and have him speak to you? I won’t work here if my orders are disregarded,” she threatened.
For a moment, I considered saying, “So what? Quit.”
But then I thought about what this would do to Señor Bovio and all of our arrangements and bargains. Besides, both he and Dr. Denardo had shown how much faith and respect they had for Mrs. Newell. They wouldn’t think much of me for driving her away. I really didn’t have much choice. I turned around and went back to my suite, took off my special maternity shoes, and got into the bed. She didn’t follow me to be sure, but exactly an hour later, she came by to take my blood pressure. It was still higher than she said it should be. She examined my swelling again, and again I jumped when she applied some pressure. Her face wasn’t harsh and angry as much as it was now a face of concern.
“Is it worse?” I asked.
“Just continue to rest,” she said, and left.
She had me so frightened I was afraid to move a muscle. I concentrated on the swelling myself, anticipating some sort of pain. Whether it had been planted in my imagination or not, I did not know, but I thought my leg had begun to hurt without anyone touching it.
Horrible visions showing me losing my baby passed under my closed eyelids, a streaming movie of my screaming in pain, the doctor rushing to my side, the baby being prematurely born and born dead. In Señor Bovio’s eyes, it would surely be as if I had killed his son a second time. Ignacio would rot in prison, and Señor Bovio and mi tía Isabela, with Sophia cheering in the background, would send me packing off to Mexico in some broken-down, smelly pickup truck. I’d be dumped out across the border like some defective product.
I tried to sleep again and did nod off from time to time, but mostly I lay there in a terrible nervous state. Teresa brought up my lunch. I couldn’t eat much of anything. I thought I heard Señor Bovio and Mrs. Newell whispering just outside my doorway, but neither of them came into the suite. Finally, late in the afternoon, I heard footsteps in the corridor, and Dr. Denardo came in with Mrs. Newell and Señor Bovio.
“Well, now,” Dr. Denardo said. “A little complication. Let’s take a look.”
He examined me while Mrs. Newell stood behind him smirking and looking exactly like someone who would blame me. Señor Bovio was quiet and unmoving. Dr. Denardo took my blood pressure, too.
“Something’s starting here,” he said afterward. “But we’ll get right on it. Very good work, Millicent,” he told Mrs. Newell. She glowed. He turned back to me. “I’m going to put you on a little bit of a blood thinner just to get rid of this. We’ll watch you carefully. Just follow Mrs. Newell’s instructions.”
Tears came to my eyes.
“Now, now, don’t get yourself upset over it. It’s not that uncommon. Everyone’s body is different, Delia. You’ll be fine. Everything will be just fine.”
He stepped away to confer quietly with both Mrs. Newell and Señor Bovio. Then he returned to my bedside to reassure me before leaving. Mrs. Newell followed him, but Señor Bovio remained.
“This is not your fault; it’s mine,” he said. “I should have known better than to let you go off and get into all that turmoil again. I was doing so well protecting you, protecting Adan’s baby.”
I looked away. I wanted to argue with him about it. Dr. Denardo didn’t specifically blame anything for this. Señor Bovio had heard him say, “Everyone’s body is different.” This would probably have happened no matter what. I wasn’t thinking so much about him blaming himself as I was about Edward and me causing it all to happen simply by meeting each other again, simply by daring to defy mi tía Isabela.
But resistance and defiance were seeping out of me. I felt like a blob of putty lying here. Everyone but me was shaping me, turning and twisting me to fit into a mold. And what could I do about it?
I had no money.