Trevor turned up the volume on his car stereo, singing along to the music. He’d just completed his last final exam of his sophomore year and was ready to celebrate. With his bags packed for a long weekend at home, he pulled out of the driveway of the house he shared with his college buddies. Donning a Twins baseball cap and a Joe Mauer jersey, he commenced the drive home where he would pick up Lucas before heading to Target Field. He checked his wallet for the tickets—for at least the third time. Yep. Still there. The seats were great and the weather was perfect for outdoor baseball.
As he neared his parent’s house, the familiar melancholy overcame him. Whenever he came home, he couldn’t escape the painful reminders that Audrey was no longer a part of his life. Since Christmas, he’d stayed away from home as much as possible, keeping in touch with his family mainly by phone calls and texting. His mom gave him frequent updates on Audrey. She was still living at home, working as a nanny, and nearing the end of her pregnancy.
His mom said she was giving her baby up for adoption and had recently chosen the adopting couple. Trevor had mixed emotions about that. He was happy that Audrey was able to make such a brave decision. Knowing Audrey and her tender heart, it must be hard for her to relinquish her child. She probably decided the baby would be better off in a home with a mom and a dad. But Trevor also felt a twinge of sadness that he wouldn’t get to know Audrey’s baby. Maybe it would be a strong-willed, curly-haired pixie like Audrey. Trevor grinned. That would be too cute.
Audrey’s car was parked in the Chapman’s driveway; she must be home. He wanted so badly to knock on the door and give her a big hug. He bet that she probably needed one right now as her due date neared. But with respect to her wishes, he resisted.
“Well look what the cat dragged in.” Lucas welcomed Trevor home with a firm slap on his back.
Trevor set down his laundry basket towering with dirty clothes on the front entry rug. Then he shrugged off the bag draped over his shoulder. Lucas was dressed in a pair of red gym shorts and an old T-shirt with the sleeves ripped off. Anxious about the time, Trevor checked his watch. “Dude, get dressed. The game starts in less than two hours.”
“Relax. I was just on my way up to shower.” Lucas tipped off Trevor’s hat as he breezed past him.
“You don’t have time to shower.” Lucas was already upstairs, turning on the faucet. Left with no choice other than to take his brother’s advice and relax, Trevor carried the laundry basket into the laundry room and loaded the washer. As the machine filled, Trevor hoped Lucas was getting doused with a blast of cold water. Then maybe he would get out of the shower sooner.
Ten minutes later, Lucas showed up looking more like he was going to a baseball game and less like he had just finished playing a game of pick-up basketball. He slipped on his shoes and grabbed his keys off of a hook next to the front door. “Whatchya waitin’ for?”
Trevor had to admit that Lucas had gotten ready in record time, so he let his irritation slip away. Stepping outside, he put on his sunglasses. The sun was bright with just a few lazy clouds hovering in the light blue sky. Movement next door caught his attention, and Trevor looked over to see Audrey. She was locking her front door, a large bag slung over her shoulder as if she might be going away for the weekend.
Trevor’s heart rate quickened at the sight of her. All the months apart hadn’t dampened his feelings for her one bit. He was deeply in love with her, and knew he always would be, no matter what the future held. I’m gonna marry her one day.
When she turned from the door, Trevor was shocked at the size of her belly. If he hadn’t known better, he’d have thought she was carrying twins.
Lucas nudged Trevor with his elbow, and then he called out to her, “Hey, Audrey.”
She looked up then, her eyes instantly locking with Trevor’s. It didn’t matter that she was pregnant; she still made him weak in the knees.
Looking just as shocked to see him, her feet stuttered temporarily. She gave a quick wave as she practically waddled to her car. But just as she was about to open the door, she grabbed her midsection and winced.
Panic coursed through Trevor’s veins. “Are you okay?” He ran across the yards to her. She was hunched over with her hands on her thighs. “Audrey, what’s wrong?”
When she didn’t answer, he tucked her hair behind her ears so he could see her face. Her eyes were squeezed shut. She sucked in a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “I’ll be fine.” She straightened, looking much better. “I just need to get to the hospital.”
Lucas was also at her side then. “Is the baby coming?”
Of course the baby was coming. Nothing was wrong. She was going to have the baby. A new sense of urgency flooded Trevor’s mind. He grabbed her bag and threw it into the backseat of her car. “We’ll take you.”
Audrey hesitated but not for long. She slid into the backseat.
Trevor thought about the Twins tickets in his pocket. He had really been looking forward to the game. But there would be many more games. Although disappointed about missing it, he was mostly relieved that he could be here for Audrey. He hated to think of what could’ve happened had she tried to drive herself to the hospital.
Trevor took the driver’s seat, and Lucas sat in the front next to him. As he drove, Trevor kept an eye on Audrey in the rearview mirror. A few minutes later, she cradled her belly with her arms and groaned.
Lucas noticed also. “Hurry up, dude. There she goes again.”
Trevor checked the speedometer. He was already violating the speed limit. “I’m going as fast as I can. I don’t wanna get in an accident.”
“Well I don’t want her to have a baby in this car.”
The contraction slowly let up and gradually Audrey began to relax again. “Trevor, you don’t have to speed.” She was short of breath. “Just get us there safely. My doctor said I’ll be in labor for several hours since it’s my first time.”
Trevor tried to slow down but his racing heart wouldn’t let him. He was terrified to be responsible for getting a woman in labor to the hospital. At the same time he was elated to have this time with Audrey. He had missed her more than he had ever thought possible. A protective feeling came over him. He would do anything to keep her safe right now, and he wished he could take away her pain. But right now his job was to get her to the hospital, so he focused his attention on the road like a man on a mission.
Finally they reached the hospital, and Trevor pulled up to the front doors. Audrey needed to wait for a contraction to pass before getting out of the car.
Trevor looked to the front doors, expecting to see medical personnel running out to assist them, but no one seemed to be alarmed or rushing over to help. A girl in scrubs pushed a wheelchair holding an older gentleman through the automatic double doors. The man held a vase of flowers on his lap. Trevor couldn’t help but think that the poor guy looked worse for the wear. Trevor looked around for someone else to help but when he didn’t see anyone, he called to the girl in scrubs. “I have a woman in labor. I need help.”
The girl smiled, evidently unalarmed. “Go in and talk to the lady at the front desk. She’ll direct you where to go.”
Although the girl was friendly and slightly helpful, Trevor was appalled at her calm demeanor. Couldn’t she see that this was an emergency? “Can you get us one of those wheelchairs?” Trevor helped Audrey out of the car.
Audrey patted his arm. “I can walk.”
Trevor was skeptical about that. He needed to take control of the situation since everyone else seemed to have a laissez faire attitude. “Lucas, you park the car and meet us inside. I’m gonna stay with Audrey.”
The lady at the front desk had silver hair tied up in a bun on the top of her head. Her long painted nails clicked on the keyboard as she entered Audrey’s information into the computer. She, too, was in no hurry. Finally, she looked up from the computer. Pointing over her shoulder, she directed them to a bank of elevators. “Go up to the third floor and take a left. They’ll be expecting you.”
Trevor grabbed Audrey’s hand and started for the elevators before the woman had a chance to finish her sentence.
“Thank you,” Audrey called as Trevor dragged her away.
Trevor pushed the “Up” button three times before a set of elevator doors finally opened, revealing a mother toting three young children. One of the kids was crying because he didn’t have a turn to push a button so was refusing to exit the elevator. A second child was whining that he was hungry, and a baby girl in a stroller had dropped her pacifier on the floor. These people could take all day to get off the elevator so Trevor decided to help. He picked up the pacifier and popped it into the baby’s mouth. At least one of the children was happy now.
The mother, however, chose that moment to reach her boiling point, and took out her frustration on Trevor. She pulled the pacifier from the baby’s mouth, causing the little one to scream loud enough to drown out the voices of her brothers. The woman glared at Trevor. “Do you know how many germs are on this floor? Would you eat off of this floor?”
Just in the nick of time, another set of elevator doors opened behind them. “Sorry, ma’am.” He pulled Audrey by the hand into the empty elevator.
Leaning his back against the wall of the elevator, he exhaled. Then he looked at Audrey. She had her eyes shut tight again and had a hand bracing her lower back. Trevor looked up at the digital numbers illuminating the floor they were on. How long could it take to go up three floors? Finally the doors opened on the third floor. “We’re here, Audrey.” He pulled on her hand, but she didn’t budge.
She shook her head. “I can’t. It hurts too bad.”
Bending down, he tried to pick her up. One way or another, he was getting her to labor and delivery.
Audrey punched him square in the face. “Don’t touch me!”
Stunned, Trevor backed away from her, wedging his foot between the elevator doors threatening to close.
Slowly, the contraction receded, and Audrey relaxed. She looked up at Trevor, noticing the dazed look on his face. “Oh no. I’m so sorry I punched you. I really didn’t try. It just hurt so much.” She giggled.
Trevor smiled, rubbing the sting from his cheek. It was pretty funny, he had to admit. He remembered then about hearing of women’s erratic behavior during labor. “It’s okay. I should’ve known better. Now let’s get off this elevator already.”
Audrey took a step forward and then gasped. She looked up at Trevor, her eyes wide open. “My water just broke.” A trickle of water pooled at her feet.
The lights dimmed. Trevor’s body went numb. That’s the last thing he remembered before falling to the floor.
Read a chapter a day from Bittersweet Goodbye right here on this blog, beginning September 1st, 2019.