The hallway was long, longer than Jen expected it to be. The walls were white, sterile and cold and they seemed to loom together near the end of the corridor. Jen’s feet were freezing, even through the fuzzy pink socks and purple slippers her boyfriend had brought her last night. Her white nightgown, her favorite, was flannel and long with roses and violets, but it did nothing to ward off the cold. Even her robe, thick and soft, didn’t help much against the bone-chilling temperature of the hospital’s hallway.
“Hello,” Jen called, her voice echoing hollowly even though she’d nearly whispered her call. “Is there anyone here?”
Tears flowed unchecked from her eyes. She hurt, all over. She’d known that giving birth was hard, her mother had warned her, but she didn’t think it would cause her entire body to ache. Cramps cascaded across her tired muscles, running from her arms to her legs and back again. Her still-extended belly felt soft, mushy even, and the uncontrollable moving of it while she walked caused searing pain, from her belly button to her back.
Too-bright white lights flickered in the ceiling along the hall, making Jen’s head pound. She stopped at a cross-corridor, staring at a sign on the wall, looking for directions back to the maternity ward, but the usual arrows were missing and the words were all jumbled, looking almost like a foreign language to her burning eyes.
The sound of babies crying caught her attention. She listened, trying to close out all other senses to focus on the children, but the crying seemed to be coming from everywhere. Sobbing, Jen chose a direction, hoping she was going the correct way, and continued stumbling and shuffling her way along the next hallway, identical to the first.
“Hello? Is anyone here,” Jen’s voice was stronger than before, desperation giving her call volume. She stopped, waiting for a response, but nothing came back to her. Shaking her shaggy blonde head, she continued on her stumbling way.
The hallway was growing longer. Jen watched in horror as the narrow, white line of the corridor stretched away from her. She tried to run, but her feet didn’t respond. Instead she stumbled, tripping over her own feet, and fell to the hard, tiled floor.
Lying on the floor, the chill creeping and clawing its way inside of her, Jen sobbed. Her eyes clouded with sorrow and pain, she didn’t notice the trail of crimson, extending away behind her, marking her labored journey through the hospital.
Jen gasped, trying to breathe, but it was too difficult, air wouldn’t expand her frozen lungs. She ached to hold her newborn baby girl, to see her boyfriend’s rugged face, to hear her mother scold her once more. But she knew it was hopeless. She was lost.
The lights flared once, washing the white tiled hallway and the dying woman in brilliant white light.
In a maternity recovery room, a mother cried while holding her only child’s hand. A man stood silent, cradling his newborn daughter, while the love of his life took her last breath on the narrow bed. A doctor shook his head, sadly, and muttered, “Too much blood…”