Like Rosa predicted I did not get a chance to see her before she went into labor. Her parents had come to visit her.
Which surprised me.
But they were there all day and night at her bedside so I couldn't get over there or call her. I couldn't even send her a letter because I was pretty sure they would read it.
Her father was a very tall mad with a salt and pepper hair and thick black mustache. He seemed to have a thing for suits because that's all I ever saw him in for the past two months. Mrs. Mori was a short slender woman with raven black hair; Rosa took after her the most except for the eyes. She had her fathers dark eyes. Her mother's eyes were silver like her sister's. They both looked to be in their mid fifties; their skin wasn't wrinkled much. Mr. Mori seemed to be the oldest though, he looked older at least.
They didn't seem the least bit disturbed by their daughter's condition; they didn't seem indifferent or irritated by her.
They looked happy.
It made me wonder if Rosa even told them about me.
Had she lied to me?-about her parents not speaking to her?
I couldn't separate my feelings about that revelation. I shouldn't hope for something as bad as her parents hating her but it shouldn'tdisappoint that they weren't mad either.
That is what I was thinking about when the phone rang.
“Aisuru?” it was Rosa whispering in the receiver, she was panting and her voice was straining. As if she were in pain I heard her groan curtly before continuing. But she didn't have to continue.
“I'm coming.” I say.
“Meet at the hospital.” she says.
Then she hung up.
I wait a few minutes for her and her parents to leave first. I don't have a car but I am not risking them seeing me on the street.
I had also forgotten how far the hospital is.
Two hours later I arrive at Tuckman Hospital. Since this is a small town there wasn't much activity going on in the hospital, ever. It was actually very quiet when I first walked in. Eerie quiet.
My throat constricted and my heart fluttered uncomfortably in my chest.
Something was wrong.
My hand is burning and my lips are dry. I can barely breathe.
I realized it wasn't the hospital that was quiet. It was my hearing. I zoned out everything.
I took the elevator to the maternity ward and found Rosa's parents and aunt sitting, crying in the waiting room.
Sato saw me first.
“You!” she screams.” This is your fault!”
Her parents were looking at me now. Both of their cheeks were streaked with tears.
Mrs. Mori's mouth fell open and I heard a faint “No...”
“You murderer!” Sato was still shrieking at me.
Mr. Mori didn't look at me.
The doctor saw the commotion and seemed to understand the situation immediately. He took four long strides over to me and grabs my arm with a fierceness that breaks my heart. He practically dragged me to room 309 before shoving me in the space and closing the door behind him.
“I can assume you are the father.” he says with obvious disdain. I had no idea the doctors acted this way too.
“Good. I can't let the grandparents leave with the...child.” he says. He scrunched his face when he said “Child”, as if my daughter weren't human. I almost hit him.
“What's wrong with Rosa?”
He looks at me with forced pity.
“She died during child birth,” he says plainly, “she was too small to bear it.”
I'm not surprised. I knew she was dead the minute I stepped into the hospital lobby.
“Why can't her parents take her?” I ask, I really had no idea why. I'm too young andthey're much older and experienced with children.
“This is for you.” he pulls out a note. My name is on the front. In her handwriting. “She's in room 316 if you want to see her before we take her downstairs.”
I nod and he walks out of the room.
I open the note. There are two; one with my name on it the other one says Lily.
I'm sorry but I couldn't tell you that I was carrying that baby with half my life. She was killing me from the inside out. I'm too small to bear the weight of this glorious miracle. When you read this I may be gone....God I hope the doctors gave this to you. I don't know what would happen to Lily if they didn't. She is yours, Adam. No one can take her away from you without a fight... and I know you will fight for her. I could see it in your eyes when I told you it was a girl. That sparkle in those big beautiful blue eyes. I never told you this but I've always loved your eyes. They attracted me to you from the beginning. I wrote another note for Lily when she gets older. Promise you won't read or even help her read it. It is for her eyes alone.
I love you more than anything in the world, Adam. Forever and beyond. I'll always watch over the two of you and protect you. You're are my family and I want it to stay that way. Take Lily home with YOU.
Don't let my parents take destroy our family, they won't take care of her and love her like you would.
All my love and more;
My hands are shaking, my vision blurry from tears I hadn't even known were there until I finished reading.
I fold the note and put it in my jean pockets. I fold the second one and place it in my wallet behind my license.
I walk out of the room, ignoring Sato as she continuedscream her epithets at me, and went straight to the doctor.
He looks up at me and nods his head. I follow him to room 316.
“I'll get the kid for you,” he says, “no need for it to stay over night.”
You just want the half-breed out of the hospital you ass.
He left the room.
Rosa...looked so pale and plastic. I can't believe it is her at first. She looks sad more than she looks peaceful. Her dark hair is a mess. Her lips are blue.
I take her cold limp hand in mine and whisper in her ear.
“I'll take care of us. I promise.”
I kiss her frozen blue lips and release her hand.
The doctor rolls my daughter in along with a chart in his hand.
“Fill this out and you can go.” he says tossing the chart at me.
I glare at him for a moment and start filling out the chart.
When I finish I roll Lily out into the hall with me. The doctor was standing by a water fountain chatting and laughing with another doctor.
He sees me approach him.
I ignore his question.
“She's healthy right?”
“Yes. Are you finished?”
I smile ingenuously.
I smash the clipboard across his face; cracking the cardboard and breaking his nose. I made sure I put all my weight into it. I give the clipboard to the woman standing next to him. Too stunned to reject it she took the clipboard gently out of my hand and continued to stare, mouth agape, at the wounded man.
I pick Lily up out of the crib and walk out of the room, into the elevator, and out of the hospital. The Morises had seen me leave but they did not make a sound nor move. They only watched me with their mouths open as I walked past them with their granddaughter in my hands.
I took the bus home this time, I didn't want Lily out in the heat. As we rode the bus I watched Lily. This was my first time actually looking at her. I counted her toes and her fingers both hands and feet having ten toes and ten fingers. I took off her cap and saw that she had barely any hair but it was dark stringy just like her mother's. She looked just like Rosa. Same head shape and facial expression as she slept. I put her cap back on and just watched her nearly missing my stop from staring so intently.
I needed to go shopping but I couldn't take her with me. The stores around here didn't have newborn carriers. I went home and laid her on the bed next to me while I thought about what I was going to do. I needed a car and I needed a babysitter. Preferably a free one. I hated that I had to do this myself, no one had thrown a shower for Rosa when she was pregnant.
No one would babysit a mixed baby either.
My doorbell rang and Mr. Mori was there.
“We brought baby gift.” he says and he points at his car. It is loaded with a dismantled crib and a few car seats. There are blankets and bottles and old clothes. Everything looks used, except the car seats.
I couldn't bring myself to speak. The man who had not even bothered to look at me in the hospital is now offering me gifts.
He raised his eyebrow at me and grabbs my wrist.
“Come, get gifts,” he says, his English isn't that great and I wonder how Rosa picked it up so well. My eyes start to well when I thought of Rosa.
Mr. Mori looks back at me and shakr his head.
“No cry. Help!” he demands. I nod and help him unload the hand-me-downs out of the car. He helps me put the crib together in my grandmother's old room and we put the small cradle in my room next to the bed.
Everything has some kind of Japanese symbols on them. Very beautiful, delicate lines and designs.
Mori saw me notice them and smiles for the first time since I've seen him.
“She must never forget who her people are.” he says as clear as day. He gives me an ancient rag doll that looks similar to Mrs. Mori. “This was Rosa's favorite thing. It was in her room under pillow.” I nod and gently take the doll from him.
“I go and get milk for baby-”
“Lily.” I correct him.
He bows his head and smiles.
“Lily, I get milk for Lily.”
He leaves for the store. I'm glad he hadn't suggested to stay and watch her for me, I wouldn't have let him. I still don't completely trust him despite the gifts.
It made me think about what Rosa had said to me that night.
“They won't speak to me.” she said yet her father seemed happy to see the baby when I let him peek in on her while she slept. She still hasn't opened her eyes yet and I wonder what color her eyes would be.
I still don'tunderstand why Rosa lied to me.
Was she ashamed... of me?
She didn't want them to know about me that was for sure.
I hear Lily fussing in my room so I go and check on her. She's probably hungry and I hope Mori remembers to get diapers.
When I open the door there she is fussing on the bed swinging her fist in the air; her face is red and I wondered how long she'd been crying. She had a gentle cry, the kind that would sound peaceful if you didn't she was there. I picked her up and held her in my arms. She had been laying in the middle of a small pillow fort Mori had made to keep her from rolling.
She opened her eyes when she felt my hands around her. I gasp. She has my eyes. They were such a bright blue I was worried she might be blind. But she smiled at me; a wrinkly gummy smile and she stared straight into my eyes. She is definitely not blind. I smile back at her and kiss her forehead, she felt cold so I bundled her up some more.
“You look just like your mommy, Lily,” I coo at her, “you are so beautiful just like her.”
I feel her little feet kicking at at me and I laugh. She makes a little choking sound and I see that she's trying to laugh with me.
She's so smart. I can see it in her eyes. She's going to be a little brainchild.
I hear Mori come into the house and call out to me.
“In here.” I say loud enough not to upset Lily. But she's distracted by the fan spinning on the ceiling. Mori walks in and sees the baby staring mesmerized at the fan and lets out a chuckle.
“You feed her now, Walter.” he says and gives me a bottle with warm formula already in it.
I thank him and feed Lily.
He sits next to me and watches as Lily sucks hungry on the nip.
“So much like Rosa.” he says, “She has your eyes. So blue, so pretty a blue.”
When I finish feeding Lily I put her in her cradle to sleep.
Mori pulls me to the side and tells me that he and his wife are staying in America for awhile. To get away from Japan. He said he would be happy to pay for a babysitter and a car for me so I could travel swiftly if there was an emergency.
I accept the car but I tell him I can afford a babysitter.
“No one will babysit Lily for you, Walter.” he says grimly. He knew about the town's disposition as well. “You may have to move.”
I shake my head.
“This is my grandmother's house.” I say, “I'm not letting these people run me out of my home.”
He sighs and suggest he hire me a nanny. I decline. I already had an idea for a babysitter. He is young but he wasn't yet corrupted by the towns racial prejudice.
The boy was me best friend's little brother. John Tanner. He is ten but I know he can do the job. And keep a secret. As well as defend Lily and himself if anything happens. He is a a very smart kid and pretty big for his age. I'd feel better with him here than with a nanny who may likely kidnap my daughter.
Mori tells me that if I ever change my mind that I could find them in Kentucky. I said I'd think about it and he nods and says he'll be back tomorrow to help me find a car.
I walk back into the bedroom and see Lily is still staring at the ceiling. I smile and pick her up out of the cradle. She looks at me as if she hadn't noticed I was holding her. I hold the doll next to her; they are about the same tiny size. Lily looks at the rag doll and smiles she hits it with her fist as if she's trying to grab it but can't get her arms to move correctly. She pouts and starts to fuss. I put down the doll and hold her closer. She smells like fresh roses and sugar.
I finally let myself cry the rest of the night. Holding Lily the whole time; never letting her go just like I promised. She watches me quizzically all night. She is a night baby. She dozes off occasionally but would wake up minutes later and just stare at me with bright blue eyes.
“My little Lily Rosa Walters.” I whisper to her.
She smiles at me.