“What kind of a thing is that to ask? Of course, I am sure, Mrs. Newell. I had sexual relations only with Adan.”
“I ask only the questions that are important. If you are not honest about it, we’ll find out anyway. The baby will be more mature, more developed, even though apparently born earlier, and as you might know, there are scientific ways to determine who is really the father or, perhaps in this case, who is not. It would be better all around if you would confide in me. I am a professional nurse and don’t judge you by what is moral and what is immoral. I have my own opinions, of course, but how you live your life is your own affair.”
“I’m glad to hear you say that,” I told her. “Because sometimes you give me a different impression.”
“Whatever. Do you have anything you wish to add to your story at this point? For the sake of the baby, if for anyone, that is.”
“I have told you what you need to know and what is true. The period of time I have given is as accurate as it can be.”
“Fine. Still, these are critical weeks and months. You never know what to expect. It’s not an exact science. Nothing is, actually.” She shrugged. “Babies, in my experience, drive the pregnancy, anyway. This baby might be moving faster to get out,” she said, making it sound
now as if my baby were the one who was feeling imprisoned.
“All I’m saying is that this is not the time to be taking any chances at all. I’m sorry Dr. Denardo was so permissive.”
“Permissive? All I want to do is take a walk! I’m not going dancing.”
“Take your walk, but do it following my instructions,” she snapped, slapping her hands together.
I actually flinched. Suddenly, her eyes grew smaller.
“Don’t you have a watch to wear?” she asked, seeing my naked wrist.
“I do, but…”
“Take this one for now,” she said, practically ripping hers off and handing it to me. I stared at it, and then she jerked it at me. “Take it.”
I put it on.
“Can I go now?” I asked, but didn’t wait for a reply. I walked toward the stairway.
“Fifteen minutes!” she shouted after me. “Don’t make me come looking for you.”
I turned. “I’m not an infant, Mrs. Newell.”
She smiled. “No, you’re not an infant, but socially mature and sensible women don’t get themselves into these situations, Delia. The faster you understand all of this, the better off you will be.” She turned off her smile as she would a flashlight. “I’m telling you that for your own good. I hope, you will remember.”
“Gracias, Mrs. Newell. Recordar es vivir.”
“To remember is to live,” I said.
She smirked and walked away.
“One thing I know. I’ll never forget you,” I muttered under my breath as I descended the grand stairway.
I looked at her watch to see the time. Where could I go in fifteen minutes? By the time I rounded the corner of the hacienda, I would have to turn back. What kind of a walk would that be? I might as well just stick my head out of a window and take ten deep breaths. Where did she come up with fifteen minutes, anyway? Why not twenty, twenty-five? It was just mean of her. It couldn’t be based on anything scientific, as she loved to say. It made me angry and defiant.
When I stepped outside, it was so beautiful I forgot all about her for a while, but as I approached my miserable fifteen minutes, I decided she would have to come get me. I kept walking. Of course, it was harder to walk quickly. I could feel myself waddling and laughed now at the way we schoolgirls used to poke fun at some of the young pregnant women back in my Mexican village. If any of them had heard us, they would stop, shake their heads, and tell us it wouldn’t be long before we looked like them. Some had predicted we would blow up like balloons. We’d scream and run off, laughing, but our imaginations had been filled with visions of ourselves as budding young mothers. How did all of that happen, anyway? we had wondered.
None of us had any formal sex education. What we knew we had learned only from our own mothers or older sisters, those who had older sisters. Our teachers, priests, and elders were always warning us in one way or another, equating our sexual thoughts and feelings with el diablo’s temptations. Considering where I was now and what I was experiencing, I couldn’t help but think they might have been right. Regardless of the gifts, the special attention, the promises for my future that Señor Bovio had lavished on me, I was not enjoying my pregnancy the way I knew a married woman back in my village had enjoyed hers. The coming of a new baby had been a rebirth for the entire family. There had been parties seemingly forever, and relatives would travel days over dirt roads to see the newborn, as if he or she had been born in a manger and given gifts by three wise men.
Mi abuela Anabela had loved to describe to me what a happy, pleasant baby I was. She had said my laughter was infectious and gave everyone a good feeling all day. For our family, I had been the best antidote to sadness or disappointment or hardship. Thinking about all of that, I looked forward to my own baby, who I dreamed would do the same for me.
Soon this would be over, I thought. Soon I would find some happiness in which to plant my seeds of hope for myself and my son. Like any prospective mother, I tried to envision what my baby would look like as he grew older. I saw Adan’s face, of course, but I saw something of myself or perhaps of my own father in him as well. I envisioned him tall and strong and, of course, very intelligent. He would have to be with all of his heritage on both sides. He would become a great man. Maybe he would be the successful politician his grandfather Bovio had tried to be. Maybe he would carry forward all of the dreams and plans Adan and his father had once had for themselves. Of course, I would spend hours describing his father to him. It would be both sad and happy.