This week I was asked to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time someone crossed a line, legally or ethically. I could have explored vigilante justice or another sort of line crossing.
She walked slowly through the building, taking in the intense scene surrounding her. Blood was spattered in some places across the walls and they screamed for fresh paint. Large buckets of soapy water stood at the threshold of the hospital. In each room, cots were arranged side by side. Some had mattresses and sheets, and others were bare but were at least up off of the filthy cement floor. The heat was stifling; she covered her nose with a crumpled tissue dug out from deep inside her backpack. Small fans offered weak ventilation, a small comfort that kept most of the flies away from the weeping eyes and mouths of the patients. The laborious moans of the women made her heart heavy, and worried. The cries of hungry babies would not sound the same as they would when she became a mother nine years later.
Was there nothing she could do?
A sweet nestling lay dying in a young girl’s arms. A girl, not a woman, had given birth alone hours ago to a cherub. This perfect baby boy struggled and stretched, tenderly wrapped in used cotton bunting, an old T-shirt beneath his legs to catch the dampness.
Would he make it?
A woman approached her quietly and quickly explained the situation. It was her baby to lose at that point. Failing to consider legal consequences, she attempted to do what was right, and found she could not. She had to take the child away from this sour place, where the conditions were passable at best, hellish at worst. It was time, the woman insisted. Make a decision. You look like his mother, she said. You have brown eyes, brown hair. Not too tall.
While reason fled her heart grew weak.
If she didn’t take him, the child would certainly suffer. Maybe die. The mother had no milk. No money. Nothing.
If she did, she was breaking the law.
A wave of nausea nearly made her keel over. The stench of blood and other fluids mixed with a cheaply watered down bleach solution was getting to her.
There wasn’t much time.
She made her choice, and walked out the door into the hot sun, cradling a tiny bundle in her arms.