I’m floating above the light, above the bed, above myself in it.
There are two of me now, the ethereal floaty me and the creature lying prone. I know which one I am – no doubt – I am the one looking down. The other one below is the thing I floated out of, and I was pleased to do it because it felt bad; breathless and oven-baked and faint and sore in a weird internal sort of way
The metal shade of the lamp throws a glow over the proceedings. I can see everything clearly, but I feel no connection. I’m not scared or angry, or even confused; although it is apparent that everyone round me is frantic with confusion. I see them as if they are birds, the perching, flocking sort of bird that is small and anxious. They move as if they have both wings and very small feet with a short gait. One flutters in, hovers over me so that the spotlight is on the back of her head now, on the stripes of her dress and her tight ponytail. She flutters off and brings more of the flock back. They hover, raising their voices. I can hear the words, but I’m not all that concerned. Crash, they say. Quick! Arrest. CPR. Phone – no – button. Dammit!
One glances up. I soar away. Strangely, I don’t want to be seen. I am a bit embarrassed about floating. Anything like this is embarrassing to me – I never like to complain in a shop, or be the one that trips in the street. I like to be invisible, normal. But, no, she is not looking at me. She is adjusting the light, so that it shines on my face. Yep, that’s my exterior, but not in great shape. Too white, with that waxy gleam my mother’s kitchen floor always had. Eyes dull in the head, staring into oblivion. Mouth open. I look ugly, stupid.
I look dead.
I am having a baby. I can see that it is in me, a big round hill of baby underneath the pale counterpane. But something was going wrong with my blood, I was poisoning the vacuum sealed compartment the baby lives in. So, looking down like this, seeing my other self and the baby it contains under the spotlight, I’m glad I’m out of there, because now they can take the baby away from the body that is destroying it and make it better. Offer it light, air, warmth, food. Nowadays, they can do anything, can’t they? The incubator is equivalent to the mother’s womb. You pop the baby in and feed it through a tube until it can suckle. Simple…the baby won’t need my poisoning system anymore. And from up here, which is both just above the bedstead and also in another place entirely, I can made that kind of dispassionate decision. I can see that I don’t matter. I am not so very important in the overall scheme of things. Life will revolve and go one and go on again so long as the next generation exists.
The baby is crucial.
Even though I don’t like being in the spotlight, even though I don’t like to create a scene, I float down at little, in case they can hear me.
Save the baby, I say. Save the baby, not me.
Save the baby, I try to remind them, but they are not listening. A massive block of apparatus on wheels is rolled through the doors of the ward which crash open and bang shut behind the thing that sways like moon buggy with its shiny, hooked antennae holding a bag of clear fluid, swaying along the ward with the woman pulling it shouting something and the nurse with the ponytail responding with one word.
She puts her face on mine. I drift closer. She is kissing me better. I cannot feel the kiss on my mouth, but something lifts in me, something inside my solar plexus pulls…tugs…
And I am back. I open my eyes and the flock of birds dart back, as if I am a cat. They chirp and tweet. One of them says, ‘hello!’
You’re fine, they say, later, while I’m recovering. It was a kind of surgical shock from the pre-eclampsia. It won’t happen again. You’re fine.
I nod. I can’t tell them. It would feel irreverent, after their efforts, that all I wanted them to do was save the baby.
But from time to time, as my child toddles, then walks, then runs, I recall that feeling, the desire I had as I gazed down on my body.
It reassures me.