“Untitled”

Emily Catillaz

All rights reserved by the author

 

 

“Oh my, Jack, I cannot wait to see what the test says, I’m so excited,” Ryan gushed with hopefulness.

            “I can’t wait either!  I really want to have a baby with you, I love you so much.”

            “Yes, I know, I love you too.”

            The egg timer dings on the counter next to the sink in the bathroom adjacent to the couple’s bedroom.  They anxiously walk into the bathroom and Ryan picks up the home pregnancy test. 

The look in her eyes speaks for itself.  “It’s negative.”  Ryan breaks down and cries for the second time that day.

            “Everything’s going to be ok.  Don’t worry.  The doctor said this might happen.  We’ll go see her and then she can help us decide what to do next, okay?”

 

 ~ ~ ~

 

            Once again, Jack and Ryan were at their OB/GYN’s office.  The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, with photos of mothers and babies, and families all over the walls; less than welcoming for Jack and Ryan.  The summer breeze blew the curtains into the room away from the windows and the scent of flowers was in the air.  A very uncomfortable looking woman eased herself onto the couch next to Ryan; her stomach looked like she had a basketball underneath her shirt.

            A feeling of frustration hung among the flowers, and everyone was on their toes.  Dr. Walton walked into the waiting room and called their names.  “I would like to see Jack and Ryan Reegan please.”  Ryan flashed him a look, and they got up and walked into the doctor’s office. 

            Ryan and Jack settled onto the settee and Dr. Walton sat down into her leather desk chair, “I’m so sorry to say that you aren’t pregnant….” She trailed off and didn’t speak.

            Jack cut through the silence, “What are our other options?  I mean I know about adoption but what are the other options for us to have a baby?”

            “Well I think IVF would be the best option for you two.  It would allow you to have your own child but with medical assistance.  The doctors at the clinics will probably run tests to determine the viability of harvesting your sperm and your eggs and inseminating the egg and then implanting the embryo into Ryan’s uterus.”

            “That seems like the best option I think.”  Ryan said hesitantly not wanting to be heartbroken again.

            Dr. Walton reached into her desk drawer and pulled out a list of reputable IVF clinics in the city and handed it to Jack.  “They are all very nice, and should offer you a piece of mind and guidance.  Don’t be too concerned until you have gotten any test results back.”

            “Thank you very much Dr. Walton,” Ryan paused to compose herself. “I really appreciate it.”  She was trembling so badly she couldn’t even shake the doctor’s hand.

            “You are very welcome.  Good luck, schedule another appointment after you conceive so we can begin prenatal checkups.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

            The first clinic was impressive, but very expensive.  Jack was hopeful they would find a reasonable clinic as they proceeded to go down the list, but to his dismay they were all the same.  They were all very neat, clean and hospitable but not cheap at all.  None of the clinics were in their price range.  The gleaming floors and ceilings, the starched white uniforms of the doctors and nurses, and the latest technology sent the prices through the roof.  Jack and Ryan agreed that if they were going to have a baby they needed to save money for a bigger house. 

With their deepest convictions, and fears, they decided to search online for an IVF clinic that would be affordable for their budget.  With simply the luck of the draw they found several clinics and decided to drop by and take a look at each one.  They finally found one that still upheld the standards of cleanliness and healthcare they had come to expect because of the first batch of clinics.  The best part was that they could afford it!  Fortunately they were able to find a clinic that fit their needs, because had they not, they would never have a child of their own.

As the day of the appointment rolled around, Ryan was getting more and more excited. The anticipation was unbearable.  A few weeks prior to the procedure both Jack and Ryan went to the clinic.  They first had a counseling session to discuss their options and the pros and cons of the procedure.  It was determined they were ideal candidates. The doctors took a sample of Jack’s sperm and Ryan’s ovarian tissue.  The doctors determined that Ryan wasn’t developing eggs as she normally should so they stimulated the ovarian tissue with luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormones to cause the ovary to release a mature egg.  They collected the egg and fertilized it with Jack’s sperm and inserted several into Ryan’s uterus.  In a week’s time they would know whether any of the eggs had implanted themselves into her uterus wall and if she was pregnant.  The day of the appointment came and Ryan was fine. 

The procedure went off without a hitch and to their delight they soon found out they were pregnant.  Their happiness was contagious.  Their extended families couldn’t be happier to have grandchildren; nothing would beat the excitement Jack and Ryan were feeling when they heard the good news.

            Over time, as Ryan took her prenatal vitamins prescribed by Dr. Walton and going to her appointments; she was getting more excited by the day.  As time went on she began to finally come to terms with the fact that she was actually going to have a baby.  Doubts still plagued her, especially in her sleep.  Nights would go by when she would have horrifying dreams about miscarrying, or featuring Dr. Walton telling her it was a mistake, and she wasn’t pregnant. 

The first trimester was great; Ryan had no morning sickness, no pain, no discomfort or anything.  She took the prenatal vitamins Dr. Walton prescribed, and went to her appointments with gusto. Things were going great

One morning Ryan started to feel a bit of pain and what felt like cramping as she began to brush her teeth.  “Honey, I think I’m going into labor.  I think its time we head over to the hospital.”

“Oh my god, your water is breaking!  We need to leave!  Let’s go right now,” Jack ran frantically around the house grabbing Ryan’s suitcase and calling their parents.  “Meet me in the car!”

Calmly Ryan headed out to the car while Jack was acting like a chicken that just had its head cut off.  As always, women are calm while the man is freaking out.

They scrambled into the car, and Jack was driving extremely fast.  Once onto the highway, the quickest way to the hospital, Jack began to speed.  Little did he know, the speed limit was sixty-five and he was driving almost eighty.  Out of the corner of his eye he spotted the dark navy of a state trooper car. 

“Dammit!” he yelled. 

When the officer came to the door, he was very understanding about the rush and let them go with a warning to be careful and drive slowly from then on.  However, he did offer to escort them to the hospital with his lights flashing. 

All other cars got out of their way and they made it to the hospital in record time.  “Wow, that was so cool!  Did you see how all the other cars got out of our way, I felt so important,” Jack yelled.

Once they arrived at the hospital, doctors quickly rushed Ryan away to an exam room and left Jack at the front desk to fill out some insurance forms.  After the mind-numbing paper work, he wandered down the halls until he found the delivery room and Ryan, who was amidst very strong contractions.  Ryan grabbed his hand and screamed.  Not more than two minutes later she was holding her little girl in her arms. 

“I think we should call her Hannah,” Ryan whispered. 

“That’s a wonderful name, welcome little Hannah Marie Reegan.”  Jack beamed at his new daughter.  Any stranger could tell just by the look in his eyes that he was in love with his new daughter.  The pride was just shining on his face.

Ryan and Hannah spent that first night in the hospital.  They were released early the next morning.  On the way home Ryan spent the whole trip staring at their daughter and going on and on about her little nose and fingers and toes.  She was the perfect baby.  After getting settled in, the new family did very well. 

The first few years were a little bit rough, saving money to buy a house, and with Jack and Ryan both working and sending Hannah to stay at Jack’s parent’s house during the day.  Hannah began to act very fussy and particular.  Jack’s father, Craig, noticed that Hannah only screamed and cried when he was holding her.  She didn’t cry any other time. 

He would be changing her diaper, and she was content until he picked her up of the changing table.  At first this just seemed like a fluke thing, maybe she was just fussy but it struck him when he noticed she didn’t scream when in the arms of anyone else.  This made Craig very uneasy.  What am I doing wrong, he thought.  What’s going on? 

This continued into her toddler years and when she was older she avoided her grandfather frequently.  This is so odd, he thought many years later.  Hannah herself began to notice something was going on when she turned about seven or so. 

Hannah heard this very low pitched static in her ears whenever Grandpa was around.  One day she confronted her mother with her questions.  “Why do I hear a fuzzy noise every time I go near Grandpa?”

“I don’t know honey; I can’t answer your question.”

“But Mommy, I don’t like the noise.  I want you to make it go away.”

“Hannah I don’t know how.  I’m sure the noise is just make-believe.  No one I know has ever had the same problem.  I don’t think anything is the matter.  You’ll be fine.  I promise.”

“Why do I hear this noise?  What’s going on?”  Hannah tugged on her ears constantly and was very irritable.

“It will go away and you will be just fine,” Ryan replied. 

 

~ ~ ~

 

The next few years went by smoothly; Jack, Ryan and Hannah lived life and spent a lot of time with their family and friends.  Hannah still spent her school vacations at her grandparent’s house on the days Jack and Ryan worked. 

On one of these days during February break from elementary school, Hannah was determined to explore the attic of Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  She sat down in an old chair and picked up what looked like a photo album.  Hannah brushed off the cover and opened it.  As she flipped the pages she recognized her grandparents at their wedding.  The looked exactly the same.  What a wonder, they must be in good shape she thought. 

She made her way through the whole stack of photo albums and saw there was a large trunk underneath the pile.  She set the albums on the floor next to her chair and proceeded to lift up the lid and dig through its contents.  The trunk was full of pictures, books, old LPs, maps and other junk.  As she got nearer the bottom of the trunk Hannah came across and black and white photo of a two men, one of which looked like her grandfather.  As soon as she picked up the photo she heard that static noise, but this time louder than ever before. 

Hmm….why do I hear that noise?  Hannah thought to herself and put the picture in her pocket.  At dinner later that night she asked her father “Hey dad, what war was Grandpa in?”

  “What are you talking about dear?  Your grandfather never fought in a war.”

“Well then why is he is this picture with another soldier?”  She pulled the picture from her pocket and handed it to her father.

“Hmm….I didn’t know my father fought in a war.  Interesting; I’l have to speak with him about this,” Jack hesitated, sighing, and he got up from the table and put the picture in his briefcase.

 

~ ~ ~

 

The next morning Jack placed a call to his mother and father’s home, “Good morning.  How are you Dad?”

“Not so bad, how about yourself?”

 “Well, I’m a little confused.  Hannah found a picture of you yesterday.”

“What kind of picture, son?”
            “A picture of you and what looks like a war buddy,” Jack hesitated, “but Dad, you never served in a war…did you??”

Getting very defensive Craig answers, “Why does it matter?  Guess what, it doesn’t!  And for your information I didn’t serve in any war!”

“Yes, Dad, it does.  I didn’t know about this until I saw this picture.  You can’t deny it, its right here in the picture.  You are wearing a military uniform and are standing with a buddy.  Why don’t you want to talk about it?”

“Look Jack…I guess I can’t hide it anymore, I did serve in the military during World War II.  But it was a top-secret classified mission and I felt it better not to reveal this information.”

“But Dad this is important.  It’s a vital part of history and you took part in it.  I can’t believe what an honor it is to have a veteran in the family,” getting more excited by the second, Jack asked, “What exactly did you do over in Europe?”

“Like I said already,” getting more perturbed, “it was classified.  I can’t reveal that sort of information.”

“What does it matter, it’s been almost sixty years?  I can’t believe you won’t tell your own son.”

“The main reason I have decided not to tell my story is because I don’t agree with what I did and why I did it.  It was a very un-American thing to do and I am very ashamed of it.”

Jack said, “Well I don’t get it, but I am going to find out Dad, believe me,” then he hung up on his father.

A few days later Jack used his connections with the Justice Department to hack into the files at the CIA.  He was off to a dead end at the beginning, since he had no idea what position his father held while in the military.  He could only guess that since it was classified work it meant that he must have been some type of spy or higher up official.  Further investigation led him to a top-secret project, Project Falcon, in which his fathers name was mentioned.  Project Falcon dealt with the atomic bomb program.  In awe at what he had found, Jack was determined to get the truth out of his father. 

Jack made sure he had enough information to confront his father, and get him to tell the whole story and cornered him several weeks later.  Jack presented his findings, and finally Craig came clean with the details.

“I’m going to ask you a few questions and I would really like you to answer them please.”

“Okay, I think I could at least give you a little bit of information.  I owe you that much.  I joined the military on my eighteenth birthday in 1942.  Since my test scores in math and science were so high my superiors put me in charge of a unit designed to keep an eye on the atom bombs.”

“What did this job entail?”

“I followed the shipping routes when they were transporting the bombs to the naval bases, I supervised the transfer of the bombs to ships, and I even took care of the opponents.”

“What does that mean?  Did you murder people?”

Craig looked into Jack’s eyes and turned away, “Yes, unfortunately I did.  It wasn’t by choice.  The president knew the tide of the war could be turned in our favor if we used the atomic bomb.  If we didn’t use it, who knows what would have happened.  I am rather ashamed of that fact.”

“Dad I understand that but you do realize that murder is wrong.  You killed people but besides that fact, who were they and why did you kill them?”

“I was ordered to kill them.  Mostly they were against the use of the atom bomb.  Other times they threatened to steal the bombs and use them against Americans, or sometimes they just wanted to cause an accident.  The last reason is what caused the accident I was in the midst of.  It’s a horrible thought to think that you might die.  I was so scared that day.  I was almost killed.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t because I wouldn’t have you or Hannah.”

Very gravely Jack asked, “What exactly happened Dad?”

“Well, my men and I were stationed outside a laboratory safeguarding the transportation of a bomb.  It happened in a flash, out of no where these militants, as we called them, started firing automatic rifles at the flat-bed truck that was towing the bomb.  Thankfully none of the bullets punctured the shell but one did graze the side, and caused the bomb to leak chemicals.  We were all dragged into the health center and our DNA was studied for months to ward off any signs of harmful mutations to our DNA that could be passed on to you, the next generation.”

“You obviously weren’t injured or you wouldn’t be here today.”

“Well that’s not completely true Jack, I was exposed to radiation, but not enough to cause severe damage.  The radiation caused an irreparable mutation that changed the genes causing my offspring, you, to have a queer sixth sense about things.”

“But I don’t have a weird sixth sense…at least I don’t think I do.  That’s so weird Dad.”

“I know, but it’s not harmful to your health or to Hanna’s wellbeing either.  Why are you bringing Hannah into this?”

“Jack, are you dense?”  Chuckling, he apologizes, “I’m sorry Jack; I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to rag on you.  Haven’t you noticed the way Hannah behaves around me?  And I’m sure you’ve heard about the static she hears whenever she comes near me right?”

“Well, yes I have but what does that have to do with this?”

“Hannah has the mutation.  She’s inherited the mutation.  You must have it too but it just isn’t exhibited or it could just be not so prevalent.”

“So that’s the reason why she hears things?  But it doesn’t explain why she hears it when she gets close to you or why she heard it when she touched this picture.”

“She hears the static when she nears me because she can sense the horrible death that surrounds me and I’m sure she can tell that I am a murderer.”

“Dad that may be the case but we are going to keep her in the dark about this; at least until she’s old enough to understand.  Agreed?”

“Yes, Jack, I agree.”

“Good, Dad, I’m glad.  But I just have one more question, who’s the guy in the picture with you?  He’s not one of your victims is he?”

“Dammit you weren’t supposed to figure that out!”  Jack’s face quickly becomes pale.  “Ha ha you fell for it again.  No that’s just my boss.”

“Very funny Dad, I really appreciate the jokes.”

           

© Copyright 2005 by the author

All rights reserved