by Thadd Presley
What Delilah saw at that moment frightened her. The top half of her mother’s face changed. First, her pupils dilated, but not together. Each one on its own grew to the maximum size and then shrunk back down again. Her nose flared much like a horse’s would in the spring. Delilah stood and stepped away from the table. Her mother had become someone else.
She didn’t know why this was happening, but she thought it might be a stroke. Her mother was still young. Thirty-eight was young for anyone to die.
Clare saw a color of red that she never knew existed. It filled her vision and then doubled over on itself. She saw the walls of her world deepen and drown in the color. It was the color of murder, of hatred and sex and violence. God didn’t create this color to be seen and talked about. I was the last color anyone was ever to see. She knew deep in her heart that she was dying and it was a good thing.
“Mom. God.” Delilah screamed and ran to the breakfast counter where her cell phone laid. “911,” she screamed. “911.”
A woman had answered the emergency line before Clare knew what to say. “What’s your emergency?”
“My mom. My..she’s having a heart attack.”
“OK. Calm down. What’s your address.”
Delilah took a deep breath and answered all the questions.
Finally, there were sirens in the air.
The siren grew louder and closer. Too close for them to be for anyone but herself.
Clare opened her eyes. Red still covered everything and she still certain she would die. No one saw that and lived, she kept telling herself. No one could see that and live.
The voice of her daughter was there in the red somewhere and that was somehow the worst part of it all. Why did she have to be involved?
The sirens stopped and doors slammed. The red was growing. It was outside now. Even the sky would be covered in red.
“Ma’am? Can you hear me?”
No, Clare thought. If I hear you then the red will get you.
“Look at her eyes, Cap. What do you think happened?”
“Looks to be a serious case of subconjunctival hemorrhage.”
Delilah screamed. The next thing she saw was the kitchen floor.
“She’s coming around, Cap. You alright sweetheart?”
“My mom. She had a hemorrhage. Her brain.”
The paramedic sat down beside her and smiled. “Let’s sit up.” He helped her. “There now. Your mom is fine. It was scary for her and for you, but that’s all. Nothing serious.”
“Well, we don’t know why but she became extremely stressed and it busted a blood vessel in her eye. Both of them actually. She’s going to the hospital.”
“Yes. Very OK.”
“I want to go with her.”
“That’s fine. You want to go ahead and stand up?”
Together, they managed to walk to the ambulance.
A moment of panic shot through Delilah’s chest when she saw her mother’s eyes. They were both filled with blood. Her mother looked like a zombie. Quickly, she snapped a picture and smiled.
“I got your good side that time.”
“You’re not funny. I don’t know how you can laugh at me. After what you’ve done. Being pregnant is hard enough on a family, but…”
“Pregnant? Mom!” For a moment, Delilah didn’t think she heard her right. “Mom, I’m not pregnant. Who told you that?”
“Don’t lie to me. You already…”
“I’m not pregnant. You must have hit your head or something when you fell.” She looked at the paramedic who wishing he was invisible. “I’m not, I swear.”
Clare was visibly upset.
“We can settle this once we get to the hospital,” he told them. “There is a planned parenthood clinic there that offers free pregnancy tests. You can go from there. How’s that?”
“O.K.” Delilah quickly assented.
Clare didn’t say anything but nodded her head.
“Let’s get this rig on the road, Cap!”
Slowly, the ambulance made it’s way onto the street and ten minutes later they pulled in at Methodist Medical Center.
An hour later, mother and daughter sat together in the E.R. A negative pregnancy test sat in a paper cup, wrapped in a paper towel.
“But, I don’t understand why you thought I was pregnant in the first place?”
“You said you found out something this morning and I thought you meant…”
“Mom, jeez. I learned something from Youtube that’s all. Really, I should have realized it a long time ago.” She smiled. Her mother’s blood red eyes looked back at her. “Oh, I’m sorry. I love you, mom. Thank you for worrying about me.”
“Well, child, that my job. It’s not this hard most of the time. What can I say? You’re a good kid.”
Ryan was escorted into the room by a nurse who was telling him that everything was going to be fine. “Clare is in no danger,” she said. “She just had a scare and fainted.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s been one heck of a morning for all of us.”