Not Today

By John R. Herrman

Blake was shocked not to see Harper’s Tesla as he opened the garage. It was 10 p.m. There was no text, no note, no clues. Why wasn’t she answering her damn phone? He got her voicemail twice, but still dialed a third time.

Blake fought off panic as he checked the house. He broke into a sweat as he frantically tried to remember if she had mentioned any plans. He had been so busy with work. Calm down, he told himself. You’re overreacting.

His phone rang. It was Harper’s sister, “There’s been an accident, get to Norton Regional as soon as you can.”

In a daze, he dropped his briefcase, and took off. At the hospital, Blake was greeted by a nurse who said his wife was in surgery, the baby was in the NICU, and the doctors would be down to talk with him soon.

Waiting, Blake was lost in fear and in memories of the day Harper told him she was pregnant, how happy they both were. He remembered the gleam in her eyes as if she were right in front of him. There were so many times she had shown him her happiness.

He thought of the morning he woke to hear her playing her guitar and singing “Sweet Child of Mine.” His heart ached with love envisioning the way she looked and the sound of her voice. As he stood, he recalled the day they went to the cemetery to visit his father, who had died before they met. He hated that graveyard, hated his father being there, but loved that feeling of her pulling him close and holding him tight.

Harper made everything right in the world. And now they had a child. His mind started to run away with itself again, but he pulled it back, focusing again on the sound of her voice.

***

It had been three days since the accident. Harper had been awake since yesterday and was getting stronger and more anxious to meet the baby. She was complaining about the hospital food when there was a light knock and a nurse wheeled in their firstborn child.

“Hello, Smith family! Welcome your new baby boy,” the nurse announced.

Harper opened her arms wide, and took him easily from the nurse, like she’d been doing it for years.

“Blake, honey, I want to name him after your father.”

Blake’s dad had come to her in a dream, she explained, encouraging her to be strong.

The emotions suddenly overcame Blake and he broke down, with joy, pride, and gratitude gushing from him. Harper kissed him through his tears.

He looked at her and asked, “What do you think of your mama’s maiden name for his first name?”

Now it was Harper’s turn to cry. “Welcome to the world, Thornton Everett Smith,” she whispered.

Blake added, “Welcome to the family, little guy. I promise we’re not always such a blubbering mess.”

They laughed as their son started to cry, too.

###

John R. Herrman is a father, husband, and blast furnace mechanic. A native of suburban Chicago, he feels consumed with the need to write, create, and make things. He recently turned to writing microfiction and created a serial-style story about the characters Harper and Blake. He publishes on Facebook at Writing From the Dark.

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