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‘Room 382…382…3…82. Third floor is maternity, this must be wrong.’ Cloaked completely in black and skin as pale as bone Clay stood studying the hospital map hoping he was wrong. His dark blue eyes, like the ocean at midnight, shifted back and forth from his slip of paper to the map.
“Definitely maternity. ********* He swore under his breath as his head hit the map in frustration. As his head hit the screen the map went dark. Shaking his head he closed his eyes and shoved the post-it note in his jacket pocket. He hated having this detail. Bringing new life into the world was supposed to be a happy time, reapers should never be present as a general rule.
Clay pushed off from the map, causing it to show the blue error screen, and dragged his feet toward the stairs to the third floor. He climbed the stairs with a good pace and thought to himself, ‘This is not a place for a reaper, we should be at hospice, battlefields, occasionally car accidents, and death row. We should only take lives out of mercy or necessity. I see no necessity in taking a baby’s or mother’s lives.’
He reached the third floor, passed the nurses stand and made his way to room 382. He could hear a few voices in the room and even though he knew no one could see him he felt like he was intruding on this moment.
Taking a deep breath he pushed through the door and posted up in the corner closest to the window, far away from the couple and medical team.
Clay grabbed the now crumpled post-it out of his pocket and waited for the info to appear as to whom he was collecting. Nothing appeared for a while and he started to gain hope that the higher ups had made a mistake or changed their minds.
Just as a smile began creeping across his face the woman in the bed let out an ear numbing scream. Clay’s head snapped up and his eyes were momentarily glued to her and the pain displayed plainly on her pale sweat ridden face.
His gaze flitted back and forth from her to his note and back, hoping that it wasn’t her he was here to collect.
A moment that felt like a lifetime passed and no name appeared and the woman stopped screaming. Clay inched closer, now his curiosity peaked. Again this woman screamed as if she’d been stabbed and Clay made sure that he still couldn’t be seen. Her partner, a tall dark skinned man with a wide smile and calming presence, wiped the sweat off her brow and leaned in close to whisper encouragements into his woman’s ear.
At the third round of screaming, that was only broken by a bout of labored breathing, a doctor strutted into the delivery room. He snapped his bright blue surgical gloves and slid over on a stool so he’d be in prime position to deliver the incoming child.
Clay peeled his eyes away from the scene to check his slip of paper. Words started to form but slowly, painfully slow, so he crammed it back in his jacket pocket and his eyes bulged as the woman screeched once again.
A crop of white hair stretched the babes full scalp. Clay knew he needed to look away, the scrap of paper now burning a hole in his pocket. As he brought it out he still kept a curious eye on the baby.
Dr. Edwin Tart OB, Heart attack 1128 a.m.
Clay looked around frantically to find a clock, now dreading not taking Bridget up on getting him a new watch.
‘1115 I haven’t missed it.’
“Just one more big push ma’am I can see her head and a crop of snow white hair.” Dr Tart seemed to sneer as he said white hair. The woman in the bed snarled at Tart and a look of pure fury flashed in her eyes that made Clay think that maybe, just maybe, this woman was going to kill Tart. But before she could say anything the man, that Clay now assumed was her husband after finding the rings on his and her fingers, squeezed her hand and brushed the stray hairs out of her eyes and soothed her.
“Just one more Laura, just one more big push and our precious little Jasmine will be here.” His voice was melodious and he raised a small stuffed tiger from the bag that was on the floor and Laura smiled.
“Thank you Grant.”
Before anyone could react to the sweet moment Laura winced and beared down, pushing hard. A nurse on either side and Grant at her head, Clay watched in amazement as the baby girl came into the world.
A different scream filled the room and Laura slumped down and breathed slowly, laughing. A glorious smile was spread across Grant’s face as he saw his little girl for the first time. The doctor laid Jasmine on her mother’s chest and Laura lit up.
Clay was no farther than a foot away from the baby’s sweet face when her eyes, a pure unwavering silver, shot open and locked with his. Startled, Clay’s eyes bugged but he found that he couldn’t look away and something inside him clicked. He caught himself lingering as Jasmine reached out to touch him and he backed away and peeled his gaze away.
‘1126, C’mon Tart time to go.’ Clay tried to shake the feeling from his core and walked over to the doctor and merely tapped over his heart and he collapsed. The nurses, scared at first, composed themselves in record time and got Tart out of the delivery room and into a wheelchair down to the ER all without disrupting Laura and Grant.
One nurse stayed with the couple and Clay lingered just long enough to see Grant cut the cord and them all share in this wondrous moment. Clay mentally shoved himself away from them and jogged down to the ER just in time for the clock to hit 1128 and it was time to take Tart away.
Even though Tart claimed he wasn’t ready to go and all the normal b.s. people say when they go Clay wasn’t the slightest bit bothered. All he could think about was the little baby Jasmine, with her caramel colored skin and bright white hair. What a woman she was going to grow up to be?
Clay fought the urge to swing by the delivery room one last time before leaving the hospital and it felt like his heart was being torn in two but he had a job to do and he was going to get it done. Plus Clay was sure he was going to see baby Jasmine again, the world was a rather small place, especially for a reaper.
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