Read Hope House Online

Authors: Tracy L Carbone

Hope House (2 page)

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“And Gloria will be okay?”

“She’ll be fine. It just might take some time. Once she has another baby she’ll get past this.”

*

Dr. Boucher pushed Gloria down the hall in a gurney. He maneuvered her through the ward and to the operating room. A black-haired woman in pink scrubs with a shiny gold nametag smiled at Gloria and mumbled, “You’ll be okay, Honey. We’ll take care of you.”
Maria Santucci, R.N.
Gloria would have to remember that name. Thank her for being nice.

A man in blue scrubs
read her chart. He was older, her dad’s age.  Maybe the anesthesiologist. All of them gathered here to take her child. Tears rolled down Gloria’s face. She wanted to get up and run, but her legs felt like Jell-O and her arm was attached to the IV.

Nothing
she could do. She had seen the ultrasound. Her baby was dead. She held her hand on the spot where she had last felt something, knowing it would be still. The older man approached her and introduced himself, but she immediately forgot his name except that it sounded Italian, like an Italian boxer, she thought for some reason that escaped her.  “I’m sorry this had to happen to you,” he said. He held a mask over her face and asked her to count backward from ten.

Doctor Boucher stood next to the Italian boxer anesthesiologist.  Boucher, in a strange, dreamy tone kept saying, “It’ll be all right, Gloria. It’ll all be over soon.”

Gloria had already begun her countdown, eyes closed, but she didn’t hear herself after “Ten, nine, eight . . . ”

And then she felt her baby kick. Twice. So hard that her hand moved. She popped her eyes open wide.
I’ve got to tell them! My baby’s not dead!
She moaned, but the mask held firm as she breathed in more of the gas. She tried to wave her arm at Doctor Boucher to alert him, but everything went black.

 

 

Chapter One

 

1.

Boston, late morning Monday, January 16
th

Six Years Later

 

Gloria Hanes
smiled when Donna Mallory’s number appeared on her Caller ID. Donna was the celebrity author in the
When Baby Doesn’t Make It
anthology which Gloria had edited. Contributing her own poignant story of pregnancy loss, the Oscar-winning actress had pushed sales through the roof, a marvelous result for a non-fiction anthology. An absolute bounty for Gloria’s publishing firm, O’Neill and Rogers, LLP.

Kelli Somers,
the
Kelli Somers, rated number one for afternoon talk shows, had invited Donna and some of the other story contributors to assemble on her show to discuss their experiences. Kelli touted the book as, “a timeless collection of strength that every woman must read.” Only two months since its release and already
Baby
was in its second printing. Gloria knew from experience that you couldn’t buy promotion like that.

It just gets better and better,
thought Gloria as she picked up the phone. “Gloria Hanes speaking.”


Gloria, hi. It’s Donna Mallory.”

She feigned surprise. “Hi, Donna. I loved your spot on Kelli’s show. We can’t thank you enough.”


Just glad I was able to tell my story. Listen, I’m heading to the airport but wanted to confirm we’re meeting tonight.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ll pick you up at Logan International at—”


Six o’clock.”

“Great. We’ll go to Mother Anna’s in the North End. Their Chicken Marsala is to die for.” She expected a cheer of approval but Donna didn’t respond. After too long a silence, Gloria said, “You still there? Did we get cut off?”


I’m here. Listen, um —after Kelli’s show aired, a couple of women contacted me and
—”

“That’s wonderful!”

“—
through my publicist. The two ladies, they didn’t know each other, and they were from different parts of the world, but what they said
—”

“What?”
Something in Donna’s voice set off fear in Gloria.


You told me that my particular experience was too much like yours to be a coincidence.”

“Sure, but—”


I went through the same nightmare as you: The denial, the anger, the stint in the mental ward . . . but eventually I accepted the grief of losing my child. Learned to let it go, move on. Like you did.”

Gloria wondered where Donna was headed with this train of thought. Yes, Gloria
had
finally let it go. Had conceded that her miscarriage was a natural occurrence, a tragedy, but no one’s fault.  Acceptance had brought her peace and she couldn’t bear to lose that.

Donna continued. “
You know, let’s just wait till dinner. Now I’m getting paranoid
.”

A chill went up Gloria’s spine.  “Why?”


Just pick me up at the airport. I’ll explain it then. Six o’clock at arrivals for Delta Shuttle
.”

“But—” A
dial tone buzzed in Gloria’s ear.  She hung up but missed the cradle. On the second try, success.

Gloria assured herself that whatever Donna
planned to tell her, it would make no difference. Nothing would. It’s what the doctors drilled into Gloria’s head six years ago at Butterfield Psychiatric. Whatever she thought she felt that day right before Dr. Boucher put her under anesthesia, the reality was that she—like millions of mothers across the globe—had lost her baby.

Slowly but surely, Gloria had moved on, continuing forward in a new life. After her breakdown, Tommy Carpenter had divorced her, relocating to Miami. Gloria had then returned to her hometown of Bradfield, Mass
achusetts, where she landed a wonderful job at O’Neill and Rogers, a small but prestigious publishing company in Beacon Hill, an hour’s commute from her cozy brick townhouse in the northern part of the state. Truth be told, she enjoyed the train ride. More time to read.

She
held the job of senior editor here and had envisioned the
When Baby Doesn’t Make It
anthology to help not only her, but other woman as well. She was in awe of how many broken-hearted parents relayed such remarkable stories of personal strength. Reading the essays, even the ones that didn’t make the cut, had invigorated Gloria, had bolstered her spirits. She could not have imagined that a book would revive her, help her to finally let go.

Based o
n the sales of the book, it yielded the same positive results in its readers. She had made a difference in so many lives.

“Gloria, got a minute?” It was her boss, Brian Rogers, one of the two co-founders of the firm. “We’re having a surprise birthday party for Charlene in the conference room.”

She got up from her desk and followed Brian, careful not to make any noise, lest Charlene lurked in the hallway. Didn’t want to ruin her—

“Surprise!” Everyone in the conference room shouted to Gloria when she opened the door. She looked over her shoulder but Charlene wasn’t behind her. They were cheering not for Charlene but for
her.

She blushed and smiled. “It’s not my birthday but I’d love the cake anyway.”

Brian put his arm around her. He reminded her of Philip Seymour Hoffman. “We know it’s not your birthday, Gloria. We set you up.”

“For what?” Her face ached from smiling.

“Because of your work on
When Baby Doesn’t Make It
, you’ve received—” he reached over to a chair and pulled up a wooden and brass plaque— “The Massie Award.”

He handed it to her, and the full staff of fifteen people clapped. After she silently read
aloud the words carved into the brass, tears of pride overflowed.

To Gloria Hanes, A true humanitarian, for your outstanding work in making the world a
better place.

Gloria wiped her eyes. “
Wow. I don’t what to say except I want to thank all of you. This book couldn’t have become a reality if not for you.”

A loud pop and then a fizz added to the sounds of excited chatter that filled the large paneled room. “I’d like to make a speech,” Brian announced.

Jenny, the accountant, quickly poured champagne into paper coffee cups. After everyone had been served, Brian spoke. “It’s just like you to want to share the praise but this project was your baby. No pun intended. I think most of us were here when you started about six years ago.”

Her co-workers nodded and Brian continued. “As I recall, you came in to inter
view and told me you had been chewed up and spit out and were ready to start a new life.”

Everyone laughed.

“To be honest, I was leery about hiring you. But with your resume I couldn’t refuse. You didn’t seem downtrodden to me. Even then, you were strong. Wounded but tough. Tall, blond, and hell bent on proving yourself. Over the years, you’ve transformed so many careers. You’ve put this firm on the map. The writers love you, the booksellers love you, and hell,” he blushed, “we love you, Gloria.  In fact, Stephen and I are damn proud to have you and want to offer you a partnership.”

“A partnership?” Gloria thought she would explode with joy. Her co-workers clapped.

Stephen O’Neill, surely the long-lost brother of actor Liam Neeson, held up his cup. “A toast to O’Neill, Rogers, and Hanes, LLP.”

“What do
you say, Gloria? Partners?” Brian asked.

She wiped her eyes and b
rown mascara smeared the tissue. “I must look like a raccoon. To O’Neill, Rogers, and Hanes, LLP.” She drank the first sip of champagne and everyone cheered.

A dream come true, she thought. Making partner and being loved by such a wonderful group of people. She felt like
George Bailey at the end of
It’s a Wonderful Life
and half-expected to hear a bell ring.

Instead
it was her cell phone. She pulled it from the pocket of her corduroy blazer and saw a number she didn’t recognize. “I should get this, Brian. Be right back.”

“We’ll cut the cake.” He held up a knife.

She nodded, turned and walked from the noisy room toward her office. “Hello?”


Is this Gloria Hanes?”

“Yes.”


This is Doctor Michael Woodrow from Boston General.”

“Oh my God, is someone hurt? Is it my mother or father?”


No nothing like that. Three years ago, you went to a marrow drive for someone in the Boston area. Your marrow wasn’t a match for that person but your DNA, as you know, was recorded and stored in a database.”

“And?”


Preliminary checks show that you are a close match to a patient, someone who doesn’t have much time left. A child.”

Gloria felt her face flush. “Do you want me to come in?”


Yes. As soon as possible. I know your schedule may make it impossible
—”

“If it’s a matter of my saving the life of a child, then that’s all tha
t matters. Just tell me where I need to go.”


Well, we have to run some tests to be sure the marrow is a true match and that you’re healthy. Are you still located in Bradfield?”

“Yes, but I’m in Boston at work now. I could come right over.”


We don’t require such a rush but certainly the sooner you get here the sooner we could—theoretically speaking—do the transplant. I’m sure the parents would be grateful, not to mention the little girl.”

Gloria closed her eyes. “A girl?”


A five-year-old girl. I can’t give you details about her because of privacy laws but she is a remarkable child.”

Saving another child’s life wouldn’t bring her own unborn daughter back but it might help balance the scales.

Gloria obtained the contact name and floor at the hospital and hung up. She walked back into the conference room where she told her co-workers about the call. She asked everyone to keep fingers crossed that her marrow would be compatible and would save the child.

Brian spoke first. “You know, surgery is involved with a marrow transplant. It’s not like donating blood.” She rubbed her arm. Track marks littered her sleeve-covered arm from the bi-monthly donations at the Red Cross. Each of those pints had the potential to help someone but her marrow could single-handedly give the little girl a new chance at life.

“And your point is?” she asked, smirking.

“That the quote on this plaque is dead on, Gloria.”

Charlene added. “You are a true humanitarian.”

Stephen
shouted, “Go on, go to the hospital. We’ll formalize your partnership later.”

Gloria nodded, backing from the room and thanking everyone again. In her office, she put on her long wool winter coat and left the building, her
mind racing, wondering what this anonymous child looked like.  

 

2.

Maison D’Espoir, Haiti, late morning

 

Martine Jean-Baptiste clenched her fists tight as Dr. Tad Boucher ran the wand over her big tummy. “
Souplé, fe pitit mwen yo ansante
,” she begged. Her back was sweaty against the paper-covered blue vinyl table.

He frowned at her. “Speak in English, Martine! You know how. No Creole.”

“Please, let my children be well,” she slowly added in his language.

He smiled at her. “They are healthy.
Ansante
.”

She grinned back and said, “No Creole.” He laughed, took the wand off, and pulled her flowered blouse down.

“You’ll give birth to the twins soon and then you can take a break for four months.”  She needed a rest. Martine was only twenty-two, yet she felt so much older; growing tired just walking around the clinic, slipping into naps. She slowly sat up, and he held her hand to help her off the table. His fingers mixed with hers and together they looked like piano keys.

She looked at Dr. Tad, a tall man with a shiny balding head, a ring of thin brown hair making a letter U around the top and sides of his glasses. He was older than her, but not an old man. Perhaps forty. Behind him on the tan wall hung his medical diploma. “Harvard,” it read. Dr. Tad told her it was a first-class school. He was a good doctor so she knew he must be right about the college.

“I am happy they are well. If they were not, if they had the club feet like two times ago, I would be sent off.” Just the thought of banishment from Maison D’Espoir made her stomach jump. She did not know what she would do if she could never see her friends or Dr. Tad again.

Martine lived in a beautiful pink four-bedroom cottage shared with six other girls.
As nurse, she had the privilege of her own bedroom. It had blue walls, like the sky, with rainbows painted on them. Her Maman had once told her that God painted rainbows across the sky to give the poor some beauty and magic to look at, to dream about. When Martine was a child living next to a dump, death and filth all around her, rainbows were the only beauty she ever saw.

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