A companion story to Ghosts
"Tata?" Juraj paused a moment, his dark eyes resting on his Father's hand as he laced his fingers with the much larger ones.
"Hmm?" A smile inched across Luka's face as he watched the simple action.
"Would you tell me about the day I was born?"
"You haven't asked for that in a longtime." Luka couldn't help wondering if his son was seeking some deeper insight in the retelling of the familiar story. Something that he hadn't been able to reason out on his own.
"I know, do you mind?" He tilted his head so he could see his Father's reaction.
"No." Luka offered a reassuring smile before continuing. "I don't mind at all, where do you want me to start?"
"You had worked all night and Mama called you about five in the morning." He stopped as his Father interrupted him with a soft laugh.
"You remember this as well as I do." He allowed another laugh to bubble up before he took over the telling. "You're right though, I was supposed to be off work at seven but Mama called me at five because she had started to have contractions."
"Which meant I was ready to be born." Juraj added helpfully.
"Close, you were letting her know that you were coming." Luka found himself easily recalling the memory as the story unfolded.
"Dr. Kovac...telephone, line 3." Adrian, the newest receptionist placed the call on hold before calling to him as he rounded the corner.
"Be right there." He finished the final notation on the chart in his hands before dropping it in the rack and entering the patient's status on the board. "Let me know when psych decides to come talk to my patient in Curtain 2 could you?" He made the request as he moved to the phone and hit the button to take the call. "This is Dr. Kovac."
"Luka, it's Alenka...sorry to bother you at work, I thought it would wait until you came home...but I don't think I can wait another two hours." Her breath caught as a contraction began.
"Alenka?" At her gasp he felt a sense of panic move into him, erasing the activity around him and making her the only thing he was aware of. "Alenka...talk to me..." He found his own breathing becoming more rapid with the request. "Tell me what's going on."
"I think I'm having contractions..." She tried not to let her own fear reflect too strongly in her words.
"How long?" Luka rubbed his head...all of his experience seeming to vanish. "Did you call anyone?"
"Luka...slow down, I called you...and they started a few hours ago. I thought they would wait until you got here but they're getting worse." She interrupted herself with a groan as the pressure deepened." I need to push..."
"Don't push...Alenka...don't push...I'll come home."
"You don't need to come home. I'll call a cab and come there. I'm sure there's time." If she didn't hurt so much Alenka was sure she would have laughed as she sensed his nervousness through the phone
"Alenka." He wanted to protest even though he realized the sense she was making. By the time he got to her she could be here already.
"I'll be fine Luka. I've been through this before, it's not that bad. She offered the words of reassurance with a brief pang of sadness.
"I can't believe you are taking this so calmly." When had he begun to pace with the phone? Luka forced himself to stop as he released as breath then ran his hand nervously through his hair. "You could call Father Joe for a ride."
"Luka...I am not calling Father Joe for a ride. Besides, he has Mass at six...I can take a cab, I have plenty of time. Now, unless you want me to have this baby here?" She left the sentence unfinished, then laughed. "I'll be fine...we'll be fine. I'll see you soon, I love you."
He let whatever else he had planned to say drop with her words. "I love you too. Call me when the cab gets there so I know you're on your way."
"I will, try not to worry so much."
"You keep twisting that cord like that and you're going to snap it...are you all right?" The sound of Susan Lewis' voice broke through the daze that still held him even after Alenka had hung up and sheepishly he dropped the cord and settled the receiver back into the cradle.
"Yeah. Well, maybe not..." He swept his tongue around the inside of his mouth prompting Susan to walk closer to him.
"Luka, what's going on?"
"Alenka...she thinks she's in labor...she's on her way in as soon as the cab gets there." He glanced to the Ambulance Bay as if by looking there he could make the cab miraculously appear.
"No kidding, that's great." Susan offered a smile before moving over to the board and erasing his name and placing hers on the attending line.
"What are you doing? I'm on for at least another hour and a half."
"No, you aren't." She shook her head. "Luka, your wife is in labor...you head is not going to be anywhere but on how she is doing. Go get some coffee, you're going to need it."
"I don't want coffee." He glanced at his watch. "I should have gone after her."
"Then go haunt the Ambulance Bay if it makes you feel better, I'm sure she'll be here as fast as she can."
Much to Susan's amusement Luke seemed to be doing that already...walking between the doors and the desk as if somehow that might help. "I have to say, this shows me a side of you I've never seen before. You need to relax though, she'll be fine."
"Easy for you to say." He rubbed his hand across his face as he reached her again.
"But she got there okay." Juraj's comment interrupted the memory and Luka smiled as he nodded.
"Yes, if you ask Mama she'll tell you she was doing better then I was when she finally got to the hospital. He couldn't help smiling at the comment knowing just how true it was.
"She was in labor a longtime." Juraj stated the known fact helpfully to move the story along.
"Yes, about 14 hours with you. I guess you weren't as ready to come out after all."
Juraj chuckled softly at the comment. "Tell me about when you first saw me." He made the request as he resettled himself then released a contented sigh when his Father's arms tightened around him in response.
"The very first time?' Luka asked the question teasingly.
"Not with the picture...when I was born." The boy glanced back at his Father, the game a familiar one between them.
"Oh...when you were born. Hmmm," Luka rested his cheek against his son's hair again. "You mean when you were all wrinkled and slimy."
"I wasn't wrinkled and slimy." Juraj emphasized his disgreement with a light jab to his Father's thigh.
"I told the Doctor's to put you back and find my son." A soft laugh broke with the teasing.
"You did not...Tata...tell it right." Juraj turned so he could glare at his Father though he knew it was all in jest.
"You're right." Luka laughed again, then let his fingers brush through the boy's long, dark locks as he turned around again.
Juraj twisted the wedding ring around his Father's finger as he waited for him to continue.
"Push Alenka." The Obstetrician coaxed the final effort from her patient as she watched the baby emerge. "Almost there, I see his head." She lifted her eyes. "He's got a full head of black hair, the girls will be all over him."
"Like Neven..." Alenka smiled to Luka, the joy radiating even through the bittersweet memory of the son she had lost, and the tears and pain of the birth.
"One more big push." The Doctor interrupted before Luka could respond.
Luka found himself blinking back his own tears with the impact of the moment. It was all coming true...he was becoming a Father again. He leaned close to his wife as he hold on his hands tightened with her final cry of pain. "I love you." He brushed his lips across her forehead. At the cry of the baby he looked to him, his cheeks now wet with tears of joy. "He's beautiful..." The smile filled his face as he returned his eyes to Alenka then broadened as they returned to his son.
to be continued...