Impress Me

Chapter 11 - Sins of the Mother

The gale still rough and water resonant throughout the room as it hit the window of the 4th floor of Glen Cove Hospital.

Kale opened his eyes and looked about his hospital room. He had no earthly idea on how he got there or why his arm hurt or why his head was pounding so much……or why the man his mother was embracing was in the room with him, holding the infant he hoped he’d never see again. The man left the room to call for whoever and in a short minute, a nurse, his dad, and his MOTHER, appeared through the doorway in that order. After the nurse gave the okay that Kale was in a visiting condition, his parents approached him, his father first.

The man gripped the child tightly, so worried that his son ran away and so relieved to have him back within arms’ reach. Kale didn’t hug back, he was too busy looking at his mother to really acknowledge his dad’s embrace. His father introduced him to his mother, “Kale, this is your mother.”

The woman reached out to hold the boy she had so longed to hold but Kale screamed at her, “DON’T TOUCH ME!”

“Kale?!” his father Clyde was in shock, as was everyone in the room. Angel, the infant started to wale so Grey took him out of the room to calm him. Cielo, his mother, was taken aback but quickly recovered as he had every right to be angry at him, “WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME?! WAS I NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?! WHAT ABOUT DAD?!”

Kale was in a fit of tears, “Why didn’t you love me?” Cielo tried to defend herself, “I did love you, I still do.”

“THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU STAY IN OUR FAMILY?! Why Did You Leave?!” Kale’s face was a balled up mess. Cielo looked into Clyde’s face for answers but he only nodded. So Cielo sat down at the end of his bed, “I’d like to tell you a story, about how you were born. Will you listen to it?”

Kale nodded hesitantly then looked to his mother as she recalled the sins of her past.

The school bells rang throughout the halls of Lyon High in Boston, Massachusetts. Within moments the halls were filled with students either on their ways to the buses or their afterschool activities. Gossip filled the halls and the ears of every interested passerby, “I hear that girl, Cielo, I think her last name was Perry, she’s sleeping with Mr. Martinez. What a f***ing slut right?”

“That would explain why her grades are so perfect. I mean who gets an A+ in Psychology these days? Are you kidding me with that sh**?”

“Heard all her other grades are pathetic.”

“Where’d you hear that?”

“I have my sources. Good thing she’s pretty, otherwise she’d be getting straight F’s.”

“Mr. Martinez? But isn’t he in his thirties?”

“Chick, are you blind, he doesn’t look a day over 27. He’s gotta be one of those graduates from Wheelock.”

“No, I heard his birthday was last month. He just turned 30.”

“Ew, isn’t she a freshman?! B**** got issues.”

“Um, if she’s screwing someone over twice her age, shouldn’t we call the police?”

“I ain’t callin’ them! They might ask my name or somethin’. I don’t want nothin’ to do with ‘em. You know how many police patrol our neighborhood?”

“We’ll somebody oughta do it. While the rest of us are studying hard, she’s literally ridin’ her way to easy street.”

“B****, you ain’t foolin’ nobody. The last time you studied was when you thought you were pregnant. Lucky for you, those symptoms were just the effects of the morning-after pill.”

“SHHH! I don’t need the whole school knowing about that!”

“Whatever. It’s not a secret.”

Meanwhile, down the hall and around two corners, a young girl was sitting in a conference room with three other adults. The girl was of light, lemon-beige complexion and her mid-length, onyx hair was done up two French braids, one on either side of her head. She sat there staring at the edge of the table, following a gnat that had perched in front of her while her teacher prattled on, “Mrs. Perry, your daughter may be suffering from lack of motivation. I’ve gone over her work many times and, from what I can see, she’s definitely capable of grasping Algebra. She has the equations down but it seems she just purposely fills in the wrong answer.”

Then the next adult spoke up, this one a woman, “You may be onto something, Mr. Harris. Cielo does virtually the same thing in all of her classes excepting Psychology. If she would apply herself and study, she could pull a 3.7 GPA or higher easily.”

“Cielo, you have something to say in this conversation?” her mother asked. The girl remained silent and turned to look at the wall. “I’m sorry about her. She’s been like this ever since I remarried. My husband was actually against her coming here since she’s so smart but I insisted. I know what she’s capable of and so does she. These days, I find her sneaking out to go see friends but I can’t imagine her having any the way she is.”

“Mrs. Perry, there is another thing I’ve been meaning to ask you.” the councilor continued, “There have been rumors circulating among the students that Cielo is seeing her Psychology teacher in private off school grounds. We’ve prepared for a thorough investigation but we need your permission.”

“Ms. Jones, are you implying that my daughter is sleeping with an instructor to obtain her grades?” Mrs. Perry interrogated, “No ma’am. It’s just that she and Mr. Martinez do appear rather close.”

“Before you go branding my child as a whore, keep in mind that these are nothing but rumors shared between depraved teenagers who spend more time being jealous than studying to better themselves.” her mother’s tone took on a serious note, “I’ll have you know that my daughter studies hard every night for that grade. Though I wish she’d study her other subjects as well, she earned that A. My child is smart enough to know better than to sleep with a teacher and…”

Mrs. Perry was interrupted by Cielo jumping from her seat and leaping for the trashcan. She began violently heaving up whatever she had for lunch as it fell into the bag lining the brown bin now unidentifiable. The adults in the room rushing to her side asked if she was okay. Others outside the room in the councilor’s office peered in to witness the scene. Cielo was rushed to the nurse’s office in a matter of minutes with the trashcan tight in her grip but the vomiting session continued for another fifteen minute before she could relax her abdomen. Soon, she was taken to the hospital where they ran tests on her, despite Cielo’s objections. Mrs. Perry had her suspicions but she sat silently in the room with her daughter until the doctor finally came in to answer her question, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant. You appear to be working on your fifth week.”

When the doctor finally left, Cielo’s mother was nothing short of livid. She raised her hand and slapped the girl clear in the face, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! You’re only 15!! Why are you pregnant?! Who is it, Cielo?!”

Cielo maintained her silence and her defiant scowl, but it only fueled her mother’s rage, “Cielo Beatrice Destiny Perry, you better answer me right now! Who! Is! The Father!”

Cielo refused to utter a single syllable, making her mother snatch up her jaw in her tight grip to look her in the eyes. She just glared the woman down but her lips tightened. The woman shoved her grip out of her cheeks, frustrated by her muteness, “Fine, then here’s how this will work. Either you tell me who the father is, or you get out of my house and never return.”

They stared at each other for a few minutes before Cielo got up and walked out. Her mother had the right mind to stop her but her pride kept her from even calling out to her. Cielo didn’t bother checking out and walked tall out of the hospital. No one saw or heard from her after that, until a tall man with hazelnut skin and espresso hair found her asleep on the sidewalk early one morning a month in a half later, “Cielo. Cielo! Wake up!”

Cielo opened her eyes to see those familiar blue ones staring into hers, but only for a few moments before she was wrapped tightly in his warm arms, “Thank god I found you.”

“Clyde?” Cielo examined groggily, “What are you doing here?”

“I could be asking you the same thing. Why did you run away?” he took off his coat and gave it to her, ready to zip it up to keep the spring air out when he stopped, “Y-you’re pregnant? W-…why didn’t you come to me?”

“Because I knew that was the first place they’d look. I won’t let them arrest you.” He stopped her remark, “You think I care if I get arrested? If I was sentenced to life in prison right now…Cielo, we knew this wouldn’t be easy when we started this, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to go through it with you.”

Cielo couldn’t hold it in any longer. She let the rivers of tears flood down her cheeks, “I’m so scared. I don’t want this. It’s too much. I can’t…*hic*…I can’t do…” Mr. Martinez knew she was compromising her pride by breaking down in public so he gave Cielo his shoulder to muffle her sobs. He held her tightly in his arms, “I’m here. I can’t expect you to come to terms with this easily. You’re still not ready to handle it. I’ll take care of everything. We’ll get through this.”

Clyde Martinez lifted her off the sidewalk and carried her to his car. He drove her to his sister’s house in Connecticut until he could think of some place to go. After a few weeks, Clyde quit his job, gathered the last of his savings and set up a one way trip to Long Island as it seemed like the best place to hide; in a cesspool of people. He had their names changed, got a job at the loading docks, and set up a small apartment. He stayed by her side whenever she became scared. She made him promise to deny being the father until they were visually safe age-wise.

Seven months in, Cielo was at the laundromat when she felt a sharp pain, “AAARRGGHH!!!”

“Ma’am! Are you okay?” A random customer rushed over to her. Cielo braced herself against the dryer, “It’s too soon!”

“What?” the woman didn’t understand her but Cielo was panicked, “My water just broke!”

“Somebody call an ambulance! This girl’s going in labor!” She took the woman’s wrist and gave the woman her phone, “Call…Clyde…call him…Clyde…AAARGH!”

The clerks had Cielo lie down on some comforters until the paramedics came to rush her to the emergency room. Clyde rush over from the ship yard the moment he found out. By the time he got there, the baby was ready to crown. Clyde held her hand through the entire ordeal. With a few more pushes, Cielo brought a new baby boy into the world. The doctor took him away for a while to check for defects or ailments since the child came two months early. When the doctor came back, she held out the child and offered it to Cielo, “Aside from being underweight and rather small, it’s a healthy baby boy.”

It was love upon sight when Cielo held her baby boy for the very first time. Clyde forgot himself and asked Cielo, “What are we going to call him?”

Cielo looked on at the infant trying to cling to its mother’s chest, “Kale Martinez, my Kale.”

“Are you sure you’re okay with that name?” Clyde asked as she kissed its head. He originally wanted to name the child Gary, or if it was a girl, Celty or Sylvia. He was so busy dispelling the unused first names that he almost forgot that she carelessly gave the child his last name in the falter of her good senses.

The physician motioned for Clyde to follow her into the hallway. Clyde followed her and shut the door behind him so as not to alert the exhausted, new mother of his son. The woman had a very serious look about her, “Mr. Martinez, I’m required to ask in situations such as this, are you the father of that child in there?”

Clyde did well not to show his distress but his heart was pounding so fast he was scarcely sure she could hear it. He controlled his breathing though, “No, not me. Ah, you’re wondering about our conversation in there?”

“If you’re not the father, what are you to her and where is the father, or her family.” The nurse kept her tone but remained visually suspicious so Clyde used the story he’d been using to anyone who asked about Cielo’s pregnancy, “I don’t know myself. I first came across her on the street asking for food. Currently, I’m her unofficial guardian.”

“That settles who you are, now about her parents…” Clyde had retold this story so many times that he could say it so naturally, he almost believed it, “I’ve tried asking her about her parents and the father is but she refuses to say anything. She won’t even tell me her last name. Traumatizing memories, I guess.”

He moved in closer to whisper to her, “Don’t tell her but I’ve hired a private eye to find out where her family is. She doesn’t want to see the police about it and I won’t force her to go back but I want to see her family for myself. Personally, I think this all started between her and a close male family member but I can’t draw any conclusions yet.”

The doctor’s suspicions were faltering from what he could see so he decided to finish off with the last of his story, “A few months ago, she asked me to help her look after it. I told her I didn’t mind her living with me, I’ve always wanted a daughter, but I never thought she’d take me up on the offer. I thought a situation like this raise some eyebrows. I could take a paternity test if you like.”

That last part was a gamble, and he prayed she didn’t take the bait, “Alright, please follow me.”

Clyde panicked inside and struggled to maintain his poker face as she led him into a room down the hall and proceeded with the test. When Clyde had his chance to finally hold the child, he kept in mind that he couldn’t act like the father and held back as much as he could.

Four days later when Cielo and Kale were allowed to leave the hospital, the results came back, “Mr. Martinez…" Clyde stepped up to the doctor, “Yes…”

“Your results came back, and they read negative. I apologize if I offended you with my suspicions.” Clyde withheld his sigh of relief, “No, it’s okay. I understand you were just doing your job.”

“If your prenatal physician isn’t aware of the situation and has questions, this is my number to alleviate any further doubts.” She gave him a card which he took and carefully packed in his wallet, “Thank you, and thank you for taking care of Cielo and Kale.”

Once they were in the car and out of sight, Clyde slumped into the driver’s seat, his heart pounding hard but steady. Cielo looked over at him, “You okay? What’s wrong?”

“They had me take a paternity test and…” Cielo freaked, “Have they called the police yet?! They won’t take Kale away, will they?! What about you?!” Clyde calmed her down, “Hey, shhshhshh. It’s okay. Everything’s okay. The test results came back negative.”

“But how?!” Cielo quizzed eased but astonished and mystified, “You’re the only one I’ve been with!”

Clyde took her hand in his, “I know. Kale is definitely mine but I have some ideas. Paternity tests come out negative 30% of the time. Another theory is a rare occurrence but not impossible; Kale could have a Chimera gene.”

“What’s that?” she inquired. “It’s an extra genetic code that can drastically affect a parental test. You’d fail a maternity test if he does.” Haven held her confusion and directed it at Kale but Clyde rubbed the infant’s tiny hand assuredly, “Whatever the case, we lucked out.” Clyde kissed her forehead then kissed that of Kale’s, “I love you both.”

The first few weeks were very stressful for both of them. Clyde took off as much time as he could to help Cielo with the baby and still be able to pay the bills but most of the time it fell to Cielo. Kale was not a quiet baby and Cielo often went days without sleep. She took him to a clinic and they found out what was wrong but they couldn’t afford the medication to fix it, it was a few hundred dollars outside of their pay check. Cielo was pulling her hair out trying to figure out what each ear-piercing shrill meant so she could help the child and get some peace but nothing seemed to work. Once he was satisfied and stopped crying over one thing, he seemed to always find something else to cry about twenty minutes later.

One evening, Cielo was setting up the baby tub to give Kale a bath. She hadn’t slept longer than six hours in the past four days since Clyde was pulling extra hours to afford the medication. Her head ached and she was relentlessly nauseous from bad take out, and between the phone ringing (mostly telemarketers) and Kale’s wailing, she was ready and willing to jump out their five story apartment window screaming for it all to end. The fatigue was taking strong effect. She kept hearing the phone even when it was quiet, Kale even when he was napping – causing her to comfort him causing him to wake and cry more – and the neighbors banging against the wall telling her to keep her baby quiet. She kept seeing Clyde come through the door help with Kale then disappear. She’d forget what she was doing in the middle of doing it or a few minutes after. Every sound made her twitch with alarm and she couldn’t separate obvious dream from reality; for instance, she was Convinced that Super Mario Bros. was based strictly off the Korean War as she was far too tired to tell the huge difference.

It was nearing time when Clyde would be coming home but Cielo couldn’t tell since her sense of time was off. She’d look at the clock over and over again as a natural reflex while waiting for him to come through the door, but 10:37pm looked the same as 3:28am or 1:43pm. When Clyde finally came through the door, she rushed to him, took him in her arms and flooded him with her crazed ranting which sounded roughly like mad-libs, “Clyde! The Poptarts came late and splashed Kale with onions and I was covered in juice from my thigh to my liver and your garage came by and told the table that a cake in time reflects nine and your cat called and told me to tell you a jittery fish believes anything, but an adaptable fish gives thought to his potatoes and..”

“Cielo, calm down. You’re not making any sense at all.” Clyde took her shoulders and tried to help her get a hold of herself but Cielo kept going, “But the cat towers are being held at the cashews but I escaped to the Blue Forest.”

“Okay, you CLEARLY need some rest. Where’s Kale, it sounds like he’s been more than a handful for you today.” Clyde picked Cielo up and carried her to their room. Along the way, he heard water running and panicked. He quickly put Cielo down on the bed and ran into the bathroom to find Kale’s head half submerged. Clyde reached in the tub and ripped the child from the water and began the infant CPR he studied up on. He was in a panic because he was forgetting what he studied and that only made him panic more. Once Kale started coughing after four minutes of frantic rescue puffs, Clyde darted for a phone and call an ambulance.

Kale was rushed to the emergency room where he was pumped free of the water. He was in critical condition but the medics got it under control. By a miracle, he was fine. Clyde was worried about Cielo and what the authorities might do. Clyde hated leaving Kale alone despite him being closely monitored but he had to get back to Cielo. On the way home, he imagined Cielo being put in front of a judge about to be sentenced for child negligence. If anything, he was the one who would belong behind bars since he brought this upon both of them. He hoped the judge would be lenient if she pled temporary insanity and he or she realized that she was in that state due to tending to Kale to the best of her abilities. He was the real adult in that whole situation and he let them both down.

Coming into the apartment, he found water flooding the bathroom and the hallway. He was in too much of a panic to realize the water from the tub was never shut off. He shut it off and pulled out every towel in the linen closet, even a few blankets, to soak up the mess on the carpet. Looking into the bedroom, Cielo was still asleep and despite his calls to her and shaking, she was practically comatose. He could easily imagine how much sleep she was getting with the phone ringing and the baby crying. He let her sleep since she wouldn’t have been able to fully take in the situation in that sleep deprived state of mind.

While she slept, Clyde mopped up the mess in the bathroom and called his boss for a few days off due to the emergency before going to sleep next to Cielo. The next morning, he awoke but Cielo was still knocked out so he let her sleep more. He cleaned up the apartment, took the wet towels and blankets to the laundromat to dry them, and fixed a meal for himself. He called the hospital to check on Kale, he was doing fine. A little after 5pm, Cielo finally woke up refreshed and, above all, sane. Clyde walked in to check on her but stopped at the door when he saw her up, “Clyde…good morning…or is it afternoon?”

“It’s about a quarter after 5pm.” he explained, “You were asleep for about 18 hours.” Cielo stretched and rubbed her eyes, “That doesn’t sound right.”

Cielo finally noticed how quiet it was in the house, “Is Kale asleep?” Clyde couldn’t bring himself to tell her yet, “Yeah, I hired a babysitter so you could rest. I fixed you dinner.”

“Thank you, but why aren’t you at work? And who is this babysitter?” Cielo tried standing but became dizzy from the sudden elevation and plopped back down on the bed. Clyde came to her side and helped her get to the table, “Don’t worry about that now. You haven’t been taking care of yourself and I know you’ve been pushing yourself so I took a few days off.”

Clyde sat her down in front of a plate of spaghetti and cheese broccoli which she ate whole-heartedly. Clyde sat there and watched her eat, trying to think of a way to tell her she nearly killed their son. Cielo looked up from her plate at last after finishing the meal and saw Clyde’s troubled expression, “Clyde? What’s wrong? You’ve been quiet this whole time.”

Clyde paused for a long time before taking a deep, DEEP breath and letting it out, “Cielo, do you remember what happened last night?” Cielo thought for a long time then shook her head no so Clyde took an even deeper breath (if that’s even possible) and continued, “Last night…you lost total control of your rationality…and……left Kale alone in the bathtub with the water running.”

Cielo took a few moments to let the words process before losing it, “…oh my god…” she fell out of her chair dumbfounded, “Please GOD, tell me I didn’t kill him…”

Clyde took her shoulders and looked her square in the eyes, “Kale’s fine. He’s in the hospital right now. Do you want to go see him?”

Cielo nodded yes with tears in her eye so he took her to the infirmary room he was in. They weren’t allowed inside yet but could see him from the window. The sight and the thought of what she did filled her eyes with tears and made her sick to the stomach. Everything she had for dinner, back up all at once in the hallway trashcan. Nurses and a doctor came to her aid and found a chair for her to sit in but she refused to sit. She took one last look at Kale before she ran. Clyde chased her down the hall and took hold of her arm, “Wait! Where are you going?!”

“LET ME GO!” Cielo thrashed to escape his grasp but Clyde held firm and grabbed hold of her other arm, “It’s not your fault! It was an accident!”

“I NEARLY KILLED HIM!” She pulled away from him but he brought her close and held tight. She started kicking him but he wouldn’t let go, “It was an accident! He’s fine now! Everything will be alright!”

“NO! HE’S NOT SAFE WITH ME! I RUIN EVERYTHING I TOUCH! LET ME GO! I MIGHT TRY TO KILL HIM AGAIN!” Clyde took her shoulders into his tight grip and shook her from hearing that, “Don’t EVER let me hear you say that again! No one cares more about that child than you do!”

Cielo froze giving Clyde the false sense that she had calmed down. He was about to embrace her, ready to let her cry on his shoulder when she punched him clean in the nose. Letting her go as a reflex to cover up his nose and catch the blood, she took the chance to knee him in the groin, making him fall to the ground in pain. She took one last horrified look at him, “I…I can’t do this anymore. Just tell him I’m dead when he’s old enough.”

Cielo bolted, not daring to look back or turn her head even in the slightest. Racing through the open automatic doors and into the sunset hours; that was the last he saw of her for a long, long time.

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