Tags: fiction


Bassinets and Cigaretts

Tinley sat on the front porch steps, bathing in the amethyst light of early evening, cigarette dangling lazily from her left hand. She hadn't smoked in five years, but under the circumstances, it seemed like the least destructive option. She had seriously considered dragging all of the nursery furniture to the curb for the garbage truck to collect, or starting a large bonfire in the front yard using the 60 congratulations cards they had received as kindling. In the end, she opted for pilfering a few of Carter's cigarettes from the "secret stash" he kept in his guitar case under the bed. She figured she would smoke until she passed out or felt better; which ever one came first.

She could hear Carter inside, yelling at someone (probably the lawyer) on the phone.

"We have given thousands to this girl… You said it was a done deal!… How can she do this?"

Tinley fixed her emerald eyes on her bare feet and began counting the veins she could see poking out through her tanned skin. No matter how much she smoked and counted, the vision of that tiny baby…her baby…would not retreat. It clung to her brain and forced out defiant angry tears.

The phone had rang at 4 AM that morning, pulling both of them from a fitful sleep. Tinley flew for the phone, hoping this was the call she had been awaiting for seven months…and ten years.

"Tinley," it was Eliza's desperate teenage voice on the other end, "Tinley, I'm in labor. I'm in labor…"

Tinley had tried to calm the sobbing girl while pulling on old jeans and one of Carter's faded Rolling Stones T-Shirts.

"Don't worry, we're coming…we're coming…everything is going to be ok, Eliza."

Carter was ten steps ahead of her, waving the car keys around in the air hurrying her off the phone. She smiled and hung up, filled with an overwhelming sense of joy.

As they pulled into the hospital parking lot ten minutes later, Carter paused before getting out of the car. He held his wife's hand tightly and smiled in a way she had never seen.

"Ready, Mama?" He asked, reaching for his door handle.

Without a word, she kissed him and jumped from the car, racing frantically toward the front doors and the future that was finally theirs. After years of wrestling with infertility, God had brought them Eliza, the girl who was going to let them raise her baby as their own. Tinley was initially nervous about this arrangement. There had been so many failed attempts that she didn't dare to hope this could be different. But as she entered the hospital, faithful husband by her side, she knew the little girl that was coming to them was meant to be her daughter.

Now, just 12 hours later, the dream had evaporated. Tinley was holding her little angel in her arms when Eliza announced she wanted to keep her. The rest of the morning was a blur. The one thing Tinley did recall was that a nurse had to practically wrestle the baby from her grasp.

Carter came out of the house and settled in next to her. He slipped his arm around her and she melted into him, still clutching the smoldering cigarette.

"What did he say?" She asked, even though she already knew the answer.

"We…we might have a chance. Maybe Eliza will change her mind." He ran a hand through her thick brown hair but couldn't bring himself to look at her.

She breathed in the warmth of his lie and offered him one of her own.

"I think she will…I think she will."

They sat in the empty silence watching the sun, and their hope, disappear.