Penal Code 192(c)

“She’s not breathing…no, no I tried that.  She’s not breathing! Ok….I’m kneeling….I can’t hold the phone and do CPR….ok ok….” he passes his cellphone off to me, I fumble but manage to get it to my ear “Talk to them…” he insists. His blue eyes pleading.

Jared tilts the woman’s head back softly.  Her mouth falls open.  I look away.

I’m frozen.  The scene in front of me is horrific.  So much blood underneath her and there’s glass in her hair. Her body is directly on the pavement. Like in the middle of the goddamn street. And it’s so loud. I can’t even think straight.  Why is it so loud? I can’t focus. I’m not good in a crisis.  Never have been.  Not that I have much experience. I have never been in the middle of anything like this before.  I’m just not a strong person.  No, not at all.  My stomach is queasy.   I think I’m going to throw up.  I can’t throw up here.  I shouldn’t even be here.

Somehow I manage to listen to the 911 operator and relay her instructions back to Jared. “They want you to push on her chest….they said you can’t hurt her…and count…each time you push…you count” I say.

“When do I give her the breath….two….three…four….when? …six … seven…eight…WHEN!” Jared shouts at me.

“She says you don’t do that part …just keep doing the compressions.”

“Put the call on speaker!” Jared demands and of course I comply.

The 911 operator repeats through the cellphone speaker what she previously said to me. Something about new guidelines and help is on the way.  She instructs Jared to switch with me as soon as he begins to feel fatigue, but I know he wont.  He has monkey strength and a resilience I most definitely do not have.

I put the phone down next to the woman.  Closer so that Jared can hear the operator and the operator can hear him. He looks at me helplessly but he keeps giving the woman compressions.  I am no help at all.  I can’t even hold the phone for him. I begin to back away from the scene.  I cannot be here when the police arrive.  I cannot be here for a second longer.  I have to get out of here.  I have to.

A crowd has gathered, over my shoulder.  The cars piling up.  A traffic jam for sure.  People want to help now.  I want to disappear.  Somehow melt in to the pavement.  Evaporate.  Pretend none of this is happening.  That nothing happened.

I feel myself sway and someone catches me by the elbow.

“Are you ok?”

“No…” I say …and I really don’t remember anything after that but I’ve been told a Medivac came and went. Then an ambulance came for me.  I remember that.  So many questions.  I forgot today’s date.  Jared was furious.  But the police said they’d interview me later.  And that calmed him down. I’m probably in shock, they said. He seemed to appreciate that.

But I’m not in shock.  I’m just feeling guilty.

If that woman dies, if she already has died … it’s all my fault.

Jared and Lucy (2)

Lucy weighed 94 pounds at her 6 week post-delivery checkup and her doctor was alarmed.

“Noah is quite the handsome little man isn’t he?” the doctor said as he kindly stroked the back of Noah’s head. “Just beautiful…but my dear what is going on with you? You’re gaunt….and 94 pounds.  That’s not a healthy weight for a new mother.  Especially not one who is breast feeding.”

Noah was alert and checking out the examination room from over Lucy’s shoulder.  “I eat all day long.” she said as she shifted the baby from one shoulder to the other.

“What kind of foods? Tell me what your meals consist of.” the doctor was typing his notes into Lucy’s electronic medical chart.

“We have a professional chef at the house.” Lucy said defensively “Lots of vegetables and I eat pasta….Lentils….fried rice.  Healthy stuff.  He makes me extra meals during the day because I am always so hungry. ”

“I assume you’re still Vegan?”

“Yes, but I get ample protein.  I’ve been Vegan for twenty years.  I know how to eat.”

“It doesn’t look like you are getting enough of the right foods required to maintain a healthy weight. How often is the baby feeding?”

“Every two hours. Give or take…”

The doctor’s line of questioning was insulting, as if Lucy didn’t know how to take care of herself, but Lucy wasn’t exactly upset. Defensive, but not angry. She knew her weight loss was dramatic and probably shocking to someone who last saw her when she was super preggo.  It was understandable.  And Lucy had to admit that she felt like complete shit lately.  The weight loss was taking a toll on her, even though she was pretending for everyone else that it was a blessing to “pop back” to her old self so quickly.  No one really knew she was 15 pounds lighter than she’d ever been.

Lucy didn’t blame her Vegan lifestyle for the weight loss though.  It’s something else for sure. Lucy has been eating like a pig at a trough for weeks.  Never seeming to go more than twenty minutes without feeling like she is going to starve to death if she doesn’t eat again…like immediately.  She can’t get enough food in her, that’s the problem.

As the conversation continued, Lucy actually began to appreciate the doctor’s concern.  It validated her own feelings and made her feel important again. Being Noah’s Mommy was a lot harder than she had anticipated.  He’s high maintenance but she loves him. It’ll be better once he starts sleeping through the night.  She’s sure of that.  And once she’s not so tired anymore maybe she can get in to some sort of routine again where she’s out in the world instead of house bound.  She’s lonely and kinda resentful of all the attention Noah gets from Jared.  Attention that used to belong to Lucy and Lucy alone.

“I’d like to do some blood work but I’d also like you to eat some meat.” the doctor was saying.

“But…I don’t eat meat. It’s…just….wrong.”

“Cage free, cruelty free…whatever you like but definitely red meat.”

“Oh lord.”

“And start taking your pre-natal pills again.” the doctor sighed when he saw the look on Lucy’s face “Or you could stop breastfeeding.”

Noah turned to face the doctor.  Lucy cradled his head though it appeared he was holding his neck just fine himself.

“He is very healthy but I’m afraid the opposite is true for you Mrs Leto.  Let’s get a few pounds on you again. Gotta have you in tip top shape to handle such a big guy, right?” the doctor tickled Noah’s foot “… Ok?”

“Ok.”

“How is your mood? Are you having any negative thoughts?”

“I think I’m just very tired.  I don’t have a lot of energy.” Lucy wasn’t about to admit how crazy her thoughts have been.  How she sometimes scares herself with how out of control her own imagination has become.

“I understand.  I think it might be better for both you and baby if you stop breastfeeding at this point.  I’m worried about your heart too. Your blood pressure is quite low. I think you might want to consider hiring some help until you get some weight back on.  I’m alarmed.”

As Lucy tried to absorb the doctor’s words, Noah began wailing.  His hungry cry.  Lucy felt conflicted about what to do.  “He’s hungry.” she said and the doctor popped up and began opening cabinets looking for formula samples.  “If you’re going to heed my advice, you might as well start now. The doctor found a premixed can of Infamil and a nipple and handed them to Lucy for Noah to drink.

Noah sucked the bottle down with gusto.

“He was hungry indeed.” the doctor noted then finished up his notes in the electronic patient file.  “We’ll see you again in one month, ok?  I want to see 10 pounds gained.  Alright?”

“Ok.”

 

 

 

Jared and Lucy

They had no idea, on that bright sunny morning, that the birth of their first child, a son they named Noah Joseph, would open the door for such unbelievable heartache.  How could they?

Lucy’s labor was predictable.  The birth, smooth. And she was recovering well.  Within an hour or two she was up and about. Shuffling her slippered feet back and forth from the bathroom to the layette to her hospital bed again without complaint. She felt well enough to shower and now the happy couple were receiving their first visitors.

The perfectly pink full-term boy was exceptionally alert for his first hours on earth. Delighting well wishers with his big blue eyes that seemed to focus intently on each relative as though he recognized each and every one of them from some other time and place.

“They can’t see much yet?  Right?” Jared’s friend Raj asked as he rocked baby Noah softly in his arms. “It’s like he’s checking me out.” he added sweetly.

“He’s probably fixing on the reflection coming off your glasses. He can only see a few inches in front of him right now.”  Jared said as he held his arms out to receive Noah.  “That’s your Uncle Raj.” Jared whispered to Noah once he had him snuggled in the crook of his arm again. “He was born yesterday and you were born today.” he teased.

Lucy watched Jared show Noah around the room. Beaming with pride at their creation.  Their friends and loved ones leaning in to peek at Noah’s bright face or cradling him for a moment in their own arms.  Jared either had Noah or a bottle of hand sanitizer in his hands.  Ready with a squirt for anyone who wanted to so much as touch the blanket Noah was bundled in.  Protective new Pop.  Lucy felt her love for Jared grow deeper in those moments there.  She had made him a Daddy. And he was good at it. So far at least. It was a special morning for everyone.  Jared’s first child, a son no one ever thought he’d have. Born almost 9 months to the day after Jared married Lucy on a cliffside in Capri.  She’s almost 20 years Jared’s junior but his equal in many other ways.  A career of her own.  A name too.

Every one who held Noah that morning commented on his beauty.  A perfect blend of his model mother and his handsome Oscar winning father.  Blue eyes.  Bright blond tuffs of hair.  Pink skin.  Amazing temperament.

“Does he ever cry?” someone asked kindly.

“He’s just chillin'”

“My kinda kid.”

“You would end up with a baby that never cries wouldn’t you?”

“He’s an old soul.” Grandma Constance added and everyone agreed.

What a blessed addition to the world.  Ten fingers, ten toes.  A life full of promise and good health just waiting for him.  Jared and Lucy were so proud.  Look at what their love created.  A perfect little boy.  That everyone is immediately in love with.

Lucy yawned big and then quickly laughed at herself.  “Sorry guys.” she said through a smile. “It’s not you, it’s me.” more giggling “I haven’t slept in like three days.”

Grandma took Noah from the arms of one of the couple’s friends and placed him softly into Lucy’s outstretched arms.  “I think he might need lunch and then you both should rest.” she said kindly.

Everyone took the cue and shuffled out of the room with pats on Jared’s back and well wishes to Lucy.  Once everyone was gone, Constance helped Lucy get reading for the feeding, propping a pillow beneath her elbow and a pillow at her waist..  Jared stayed back, watching the girls bond over Noah’s first latch.  It was a sight to see.  So precious.

“Ouch.” Lucy said as Noah latched on “Is it supposed to – Ouch! ….hurt?”

“Sometimes it’s because they latch on wrong … let’s try and reposition him.”  Grandma Constance slipped her finger in to the side of Noah’s mouth to break his suction and his eyes snapped up at her as if he were chastising her.  Constance was taken aback for a moment, not quite sure what in the hell she just saw.  As quickly as the expression appeared, it disappeared and Constance scolded herself for assigning such a grown-up expression to the face of a newborn. He wanted his boobie back.  That’s all.  She gently repositioned Noah’s head and he latched back on to Lucy.  But she couldn’t stop thinking about that quick shift in his eyes.  Too weird.  Too grown up.

“That’s a lot better.” Lucy sighed looking down on her boy. “Thank you.” She said before she looked up at Constance.

“Are you ok?” she asked Constance a moment later. “You’re white as a sheet!”

“Oh! I’m fine. Maybe I need a little rest too. I’m seeing things.”

“Seeing things? That’s not good.” Jared joked.

Constance shook her head as she spoke, fully aware of how nutty her words sounded “I think Noah was just mad at me…”

“What?” Lucy responded. “Mad at you?”

“Yeah Ma.  I think you do need some sleep. He’s not mad at anyone.  He’s like six hours old.”

“He gave me this look….”

“Sure he did.” Jared ushered his mother over to the couch in their hospital suite.  “Maybe you should take a nap too.”

“Yeah.”

Lucy starred down at the bundle in her arms and watched him feed. His eyes were shutting slowly and her nipple was falling out of his mouth.  In a moment he was fast asleep with a full belly.

“Do you want me to put him in the bassinet so you can sleep?” Jared whispered.

Lucy nodded quietly but when he went to grab Noah, Noah’s eyes flipped open quickly and he let out his first cry.  A painful wail that upset everyone all at once.

Sarah LLoyd (6 – end)

Somewhere on the other side of the country, where the sun perpetually shines, Sarah Lloyd’s Hollywood honey was filling his modeling portfolio quickly. Luckily for him, there were an abundance of calls for baby-faced, blue-eyed heartthrobs.  His look was TeenBop approved. Totally California. He modeled for CocaCola and Noxzema while he waited to hear if a network would pick up the off-beat pilot he shot when he first got out there. He was hustling and making actual money. Sharing an apartment with four other guys in the business. He kept his entire life inside a black duffle bag he’d hide whenever he left the house.  He was making it work and hardly thought about Sarah at all.

To be fair, he did ask her to come with him, but she refused. She was such a mess. He thought a change would do her good but she was too content in their shitty apartment with the drippy faucet and a torn shower curtain.  Co-dependent on everyone but him.  She had potential – could actually act.  But she wouldn’t listen to reason and she started smoking too much pot and not doing much else.  He resented her and then one morning he simply left.  He wasn’t going to rot away beside her.  He had dreams and a level of confidence (and God given beauty) to maybe pull it off.   So far he was right.

There might be room for Sarah somewhere in his future.  She was very much the love of his life.  The one he assumed he’d spend forever with.  But not today.  She has a lot of work to do on herself and until she becomes self-motivated to change, he’s going to leave her exactly where she is ….in the past.

The morning of Sarah’s abortion, three days after she was kicked out of the half-way house, Sarah stood in front of the mirror in her room at the Traveler’s Lodge.  She pulled her t-shirt up to reveal her belly and she turned sideways to gauge whether she looked bloated.  There was a slight curve to her once flat stomach.  Sarah winced.  She looked newly pregnant and by this afternoon, she would no longer be.

It felt like the wrong thing and the right thing to do all rolled into one impossible decision.  She knew she was in no place either mentally, physically or even financially to bring a baby in to the world but it still was just that: a baby.  She had a million reasons to justify the procedure but also a lot of guilt.  She wished time would speed up.  She needed it to be tomorrow so badly.  Gabriella was going to sneak over as soon as humanly possible.  But they both knew that probably wouldn’t be today.  Sarah would have to fend for herself today.  And tonight.  But she’d have her best friend by her side tomorrow.

She thought about trying to find him.  To tell him what she was about to do.  But she didn’t even know where to begin.  He didn’t leave a forwarding address or anything. And she knew he wouldn’t be listed in the phone book.  Not yet and if his dreams became reality, hopefully not ever.  She was truly alone.

Sarah rubbed her belly once more.  Said aloud “I’m sorry.” and grabbed her cigarettes and wallet off the dresser.  “I’m so sorry.” she said.

The door to Sarah’s hotel room slammed shut behind her.  She didn’t look back.

Sarah Lloyd (5)

“Shit. Shit. Shit!” Sarah said as she came out of the upstairs bathroom at the half-way house.

Gabriella was waiting in the hallway just on the other side of the door while Sarah took an at-home pregnancy test.  “Oh, damn.” she said as Sarah showed her the pregnancy test.  Two pink lines. “Damn.”

Sarah retreated in to her room and flumped down on her bed. Tears started to fall from her eyes in spite of her effort to quell them.  She tossed the pregnancy test in the air, aiming for the end table beside her bed, but it fell to the floor dramatically.

“What the fuck am I going to do?” Sarah asked.  She looked around the room as if the walls were closing in on her.  “I can’t have a baby!”

“I know.”

“No, you don’t.  I seriously mean it.  I. Cannot. Have. A. Baby.  I can’t!”

Sarah was panicking.  Gabriella wasn’t sure exactly what to do.  She was just staring at Sarah wringing her hands.  A pregnancy is not tolerated at the half-way house.  In fact, it’s something Sarah should have been tested for before she was even accepted to the program.  Gabriella couldn’t figure out how it was even possible they missed it since she came right from the rehab here.  There’s no way she got knocked up in rehab.  Well, that is entirely possible but it would have been with another resident, not with her Hollywood honey like she had said.

Gabriella sat down on the bed next to Sarah and pushed a tendril of hair out of Sarah’s face and tucked it behind her ear tenderly “You don’t have to have it.” she nearly whispered.

Sarah and Gabriella have become fast friends.  Sarah has been a resident at the half-way house for only a week but in recovery terms, that’s practically a year.  They bonded on day one and have been inseparable ever since.  Gabriella is at a higher step than Sarah so she’s doing her best to mentor the new comer. Sarah’s receptive to her advice.

The girls are from two entirely different worlds but they have come to learn that they have almost too much in common. It feels good to have a best friend again.  Sarah is very grateful for Gabriella.  Especially right now.

“G?  What the hell am I going to do?”

“You got two choices.”

Sarah rubbed her belly tenderly.  “I’ve never had one.”

“Well…I’ve done both.” Gabriella said carefully not entirely sure if Sarah meant a baby or an abortion “The abortion absolutely sucked.  I’m not going to lie.  But it was better in the end than having the kid.  That’s for sure.” she closed her eyes as she spoke “The abortion is behind me now.  And I don’t gotta deal with the Father or none of that.  The kid I kept, I don’t even have custody of her. I probably fucked her up for life. I’m in court all the damn time for shit I didn’t even do. You know what I’m saying?”

“I can’t even process this …” Sarah said.

“I’m sorry. I’m talking too much about my shit.  But girl, you do have a choice.”

Sarah put her hand up quickly in a gesture meant to silence Gabriella. Both girls quieted when they heard a floor board squeak outside the room somewhere in the hallway.

“Someone is listening?” Gabriella whispered.

Sarah got up quickly to shut the door and watched the top of someone’s head descend down the stairs quickly.  By the time she got to the top of the stairs, it was impossible to figure out who it was.  Friend or foe.  Sarah didn’t know but she suspected it wasn’t a friend.  A friend would have come to her instead of fleeing.

“Fuck.” Sarah said when she came back in the room. “That’s not good.”

“You’ll get kicked out!” Gabriella said. Stating the obvious.

“I don’t need this shit!” Sarah practically shouted.

Gabriella stood up and embraced Sarah tightly. “I know honey – I know.”

“I just…”

“We’ll figure it out.  You’re gonna be ok.”