What’s the last thing you remember, Dax? “Taking a pregnancy test with Sarah.”
Sarah physically reacts as if she’s been struck in the stomach. She quickly
stiffens and swallows her emotions before Dax turns around again. But the Doctor catches her reaction and comes to the rescue. “I think it might be time for you to get some rest. Your visitors can come back in the morning.”
Dax abruptly turns to the Doctor. “What about Sarah? She just got here.”
The Doctor shakes his head. “It’s best that everyone leave, so we get to monitor you through the night.”
Dax looks at Sarah. He’s not sure why he’s feeling panicked, but he is. He has this overwhelming feeling that he might not see her again, and needs some reassurance. “Promise you’ll be back first thing in the am.”
Sarah squeezes his hand. “Promise.” She rises and kisses his forehead.
The Doctor ushers them all out into the hallway and closes the door. Sarah looks weak. The others circle around her away from Dax’s room door. Sarah shakes her head. “I can’t do this to him.”
The Doctor gently grabs her arm. “It’s for him. The last thing he needs right now, is an emotional shock to the system.”
Sarah removes his arm from hers. While it might be rude, she doesn’t care at the moment. “And what happens when he figures it out? Don’t you think that will be a shock? He’s already asking questions.”
Dax’s Parents are worried about the same thing. They are having second thoughts about this plan. The Doctor looks at them. “His memories will most likely return slowly in the next few days… but until then you should stay the course.”
Sarah steps further down the hallway. She’s afraid that Dax will hear their voices. She waves them to follow. “The last thing he remembers was fifteen years ago. And who is going to be the one to tell him we lost the baby?”
They are all without words.
Dax’s Mom reaches out with a comforting hand. “Sarah, honey, you don’t look well. It’s your choice, of course. We would never force you to do something that you don’t want to.”
Sarah closes her eyes in emotional exhaustion. “I need to think.” She covers her mouth and runs through the hallway, to the stairs.
Outside the hospital, Sarah bursts through the emergency stairwell door and runs onto the nearby grass, to vomit in the bushes.
THE PAST… Sarah walks the beach for hours after rushing from their hotel room in the wake of the pregnancy test. She knows that she’s being unreasonable, but her fear is taking over.
Dax and her share an amazing life right now. They’ve traveled for almost a year, seeing the world on their own terms. She never felt so free… and Dax is more than she ever hoped for.
When he first asked her to marry him, she was afraid that a marriage could jeopardize what they had. Why upset the apple cart? She knows it seems crazy, when just a few short months ago she was afraid of losing him after graduation, and now he wants to make the ultimate commitment.
She’s never been good with change. It stirs up a lot of old fears. She moved around a lot when she was little. Each time her Dad needed to hunt for a new job and she had to find a new set of friends.
But now a baby, and so soon. They wouldn’t have time to enjoy each other as a married couple before they were parents. She knows that would change things drastically. She feels possessive of her love for Dax, and to be honest – her youth, she’s not willing to share it yet. Maybe there is still a way out. Maybe it won’t stick. She knows her mother had two failed pregnancies before her. Maybe she’ll get lucky.
Oh God. What is she thinking? She needs advice. She can’t call her parents. She knows what they’ll say. She can’t call Kat or Alison, who knows what they’d say. She needs to talk to Dax. He needs to talk her from the ledge. And she needs to apologize.
Sarah makes her way back to the hotel. She can see Dax still in the window. The sun sets over the ocean behind her. She takes a deep breath and walks back through the door.
Dax doesn’t turn to look at her when she enters. He looks mad. And he has every right to be. She walks over to his chair and stands over him. She sweeps the hair from his face. “I’m sorry.” He looks up at her but doesn’t say anything. She steps closer. “I’m just scared.”
Dax makes room for her to sit on his lap. “Me too.” She sits and he puts his arm around her. “But I’ve never been more scared than when you walked out.”
Sarah kisses him apologetically. “Do you think I’m awful?”
Dax shakes his head. “Just don’t shut me out again.”
She puts her head on his shoulder. “Are we gonna be okay?”
Dax kisses her head. “More than okay.”
A few days later, Dax drives slowly down a residential street in the same beach neighborhood as the hotel. Sarah is in the passenger seat and scans the buildings on the side of the road. “What number?”
Dax glances at an address written on the palm of his hand. “Twenty eight.”
Sarah points to a small apartment building on the right. It’s two stories with a tiny balcony at every window. It’s a block off the beach, but no view. Dax pulls along the curb and puts it in PARK. He looks up at it before they get out. “We’ll just stay here for a year. I’ll get a job and replenish what we’ve spent. Just until the baby’s born and figure it out after that.”
Sarah looks a bit tentative. “Can we please plan our next adventure in the meantime?” Dax nods. Sarah smiles and reaches for something in a duffle bag at her feet. She pulls out two letters. “I thought it was time we told our parents that we’re getting married.”
Dax smiles. “That’s so much better than showing up next Christmas and saying… Surprise. We’re married. Oh and by the way, here’s your grandchild.”
Sarah laughs. Dax leans over and kisses her.
Dax got a job at a local outdoor gear shop. He’s even making extra money giving archery lessons on the weekends. Perhaps not putting his degree to good use, but definitely covering their expenses and socking a little away, until they figure out their next move. Sarah was able to secure a few freelance photo gigs with the local paper. It’s not steady, but the extra money comes in handy.
They went to their first OB GYN visit together, and now the baby is about the size of a lima bean. Sarah’s not really showing yet, but she can feel her jeans getting tighter. She’s not quite used to the idea of becoming a mother, but she’s playing along for Dax’s sake.
Their parents were ecstatic when they heard that Sarah and Dax were getting married. They of course wanted them to come back home and plan a huge event. Dax was able to postpone their plans, by saying that Sarah and him wanted to do something spontaneous in an exotic location. But they were more than welcome to plan a huge event for next year, when they’ll come visit as husband and wife.
Sarah’s parents weren’t as easy to persuade. They never imagined that their only daughter would elope. But if that’s what she wanted, truly wanted… they would learn to live with it.
Neither Dax nor Sarah let on about the baby. That was how Sarah wanted it for now… One thing at a time. She didn’t want to compound the message. Plus she was still getting used to that fact herself. And if she’s being honest, somewhere in the dark resources of her heart she was still hoping that it wouldn’t stick.
On this particular day, Sarah had some time for herself. Dax was working and she thought she’d spend the day walking along the beach town and taking photos. She notices a local farmers market on the pier to her right. With the afternoon sun, the light is perfect. She steps off the curb and lifts the camera that dangles from her neck to take the shot.
But fate steps in. A valet from a local restaurant throws a car, quickly into reverse without seeing her. She turns but it’s too late. The camera goes flying and the bumper hits her squarely in the torso and knocks her to the ground.
Sarah lies on her side on a bed in the Emergency Room. She clutches her stomach with cramps worse than she’s ever had. She knows what that means. She pushes the button for the nurse, but it takes far too long for one to get there. By the time she arrives, Sarah is already in tears from the pain. There’s blood between her legs and on the sheet below her. The nurse surveys the area. Sarah is barely audible. “The baby.” The nurse looks at Sarah and asks if she is in pain, but gets no response. She calls for a doctor.
After a thorough examination, it is determined that Sarah has lost the baby. They make quick work of cleaning her up, packing her with gauze and wiping away any evidence that a life had been within her.
All the while, Sarah stares at the ceiling and doesn’t say a word. She knows that this is her fault and that her hateful misguided thoughts had caused this to happen. How could she ever look herself in the mirror again… or worse, face Dax?
She’s wheeled down for X-rays to make sure nothing is broken. When she returns to the ER, Dax arrives. He rushes to her side. “Sarah. God, I was so worried.”
He holds her head in his hands and kisses her forehead. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here sooner.”
The doctor approaches and addresses them. He explains that her X-Rays were clean and that she’s lucky not to have sustained any broken bones or internal bleeding. He explains that the vaginal bleeding will stop within the next forty-eight hours once the miscarriage has fully cleared.
Dax doubles over. He realizes what the doctor just said. Their baby did not survive. No one told Dax prior. He was not prepared. He runs his hands through his hair and the tears roll down his face.
Sarah closes her eyes. She can’t watch. She’s not good enough for him.
Dax puts his head on her stomach and sobs. He hugs her. “I’m so sorry. Are you in a lot of pain?”
Sarah can’t answer. Yes, she’s in a lot of pain. But she can’t answer. The words won’t come and she can’t face him.
The next few days were the longest of Sarah’s life. The doctor demanded that she rest and Dax made sure that she stayed put. He waited on her hand and foot. He tried to get her to speak, but she hadn’t said one word since the hospital. And if she had her way, she would never speak again. He even tried to tempt her with plans to continue their trip or even ideas for their wedding. But all of his efforts were in vain.
She would realize years later that she was suffering from a form of postpartum depression. But no one knew, because she didn’t talk. Nor would she stick around long enough for anyone to help. As far as she was concerned, she didn’t deserve to.
Dax was beside himself with worry. He left messages for the doctor, but they had no answers. Sarah seemed so lost since the accident. All he wanted was his love to come back to him. Right now, she was void of emotion, unresponsive and frankly not there.
He finally went back to work just to get some needed head space. He was inches away from calling her parents, although he knew she wouldn’t want that. Then it hit him. He’d access just a bit of his trust fund and fly her to a European location for a week or two. A change of scenery could do the trick, and they always talked about hitting the European continent next. He’d do it a bit grander than they were used to… maybe a five star hotel on Capri. He was suddenly hopeful that he had a plan and that it could actually work. After his shift he went to the bookstore and bought an Italian travel guide. He burst into the apartment with his new found hope, but Sarah was gone. There was a folded note on the kitchen counter and her engagement ring.