To Denver and Back - Part 2
Over the past several days, Ray had asked himself a million times “Why isn’t she here?” He wondered if on some level he already knew the answer to that question.
The day she left, he had told Livy what he truly believed, that she was a fine and talented woman. Yet he didn’t always treat her that way. Sure he had made some efforts and he knew she’d appreciated those. He read a book about the lost city of Troy and he knew she was grateful at his efforts. Was that enough?
He thought back to Livy’s asking him if she could help on the farm. He had said, “I doubt it.” She had wanted to help, to be a part of the farm and he had turned her down and suggested she take care of the house instead. Why hadn’t he suggested some of the things she might do to help with the harvest? Why had he decided that she should take care of the house, the house that she’d never even seen before those first few days?
And then the night of that awful fight, he had implied that his mother’s rules were still the rules of the house. How could he expect a woman to feel at home in a house where another woman’s rules had to be followed?
Ray closed his eyes. “Livy, if you come home, you can make all the rules you want and you can help on the farm all you want. Just come home, Livy,” he said as he headed out of the shed with the ratchet in his hand. “Please come home.”
Livy opened her eyes and once again wondered where she was. Her mind was very fuzzy and it was several minutes before she realized that she was in the hospital. A nurse came in and smiled at her as she checked Livy’s pulse and blood pressure. Livy’s mind slowly allowed her to focus a bit more clearly at her surroundings.
“Mrs. Singleton, how are you feeling?” the nurse asked.
Livy let a puff of air out her nose as she said, “Kind of like I’ve been run over by a truck,” Livy answered.
The nurse smiled again and plumped Livy’s pillow a bit. “Your sister is down the hall, I’ll tell her you’re awake,” said the nurse. “She may be trying to arrange for a telegram to your husband; I imagine he’s off fighting the war?” she asked.
Livy didn’t know how to respond. After a hesitation, she just said, “No. No, he couldn’t be here,” she answered softly. Livy winced at the look the nurse gave her; the nurse finally just nodded and said, “I’ll get your sister,” as she left. Livy called out to the nurse as the door closed, but it was too late.
“Where’s my baby?” she wondered and felt a pang of guilt as she admitted to herself that Ray’s absence wasn’t because he couldn’t be there. He wasn’t there because Livy hadn’t asked him. She’d left him behind to come and have the baby in this clean and sterile place where at this moment she was by herself and surrounded by strangers who were quick to judge. “I’ve had my baby and here I sit by myself and I don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl,” she thought on the verge of tears.
Just then Abby burst into the room. “Livy!” she beamed. “Sweetheart, you did it! You have a beautiful son!”
Livy smiled. “I do?” she asked incredulously. “He’s okay?”
“He’s perfect, Liv, just perfect. The nurse is bringing around a wheelchair and then we can go down to the nursery to see him. Oh, Livy! I’m an aunt!”
Livy couldn’t help but smile at Abby’s excitement. “I can barely wait to see him, is she coming right away?” Livy asked.
Abby turned toward the door. “She said she was, let me check.”
Just then the door opened and a nurse wheeled the chair in.
“Are you ready to see your son, Mrs. Singleton?” she asked.
Ray poured the last of his coffee and walked back into the living room to listen to the news on the radio. As he lowered himself onto the couch, the phone rang. He still wasn’t quite used to hearing it ring and he waited to count the rings – one ring, two rings, three rings – that was him.
“Hello,” he said as he lifted the receiver. There was a buzz at the other end of the line and a pause before he heard a woman calling his name.
“Ray? Is that you, Ray?” He recognized Livy’s voice immediately.
"Livy? Is that you, Livy?"
“Where are you?” he asked. “Is everything okay?”
“Oh yes, Ray. I had the baby. He was born last night. I wanted to call you then, but I didn’t want to wake you.”
Ray smiled. “A boy? You had a boy? How is he?”
“He’s perfect. He weighed a little over seven pounds and is 19 inches long.”
Ray continued to smile and leaned his forehead on the wall. “That’s great, Livy. I’m so relieved. How are you?” he asked.
“Oh I’m fine, Ray. Tired, but exhilarated. I wish you could see him,” she blurted out without thinking.
Ray hesitated. He tried not to let any resentment seep into this moment, but he couldn’t bite back the thought that she was the one who went to Denver to give birth. He bit his tongue and “Yeah, me too,” was all he said.
An awkward silence loomed and then Livy said, “I’ve got to go, Ray, the nurse said I could have two minutes.”
“Okay, thanks for calling and giving me the news, Livy.”
Another pause and then Livy said, “Good bye, Ray. I miss you.”
Ray smiled sadly. “I miss you, too Livy,” he started, but the call had ended before he finished and he slowly hung up the phone. He walked back into the living room and looked around at the few things that he’d managed to get hung at Livy’s request. He thought of the artifacts that still remained in the shed. He grabbed his coat and headed out to the shed. “C’mon Franklin,” he said to the dog asleep by the fire. Franklin jumped to his feet and followed Ray out the door.
Nearly a week later, Livy sat in Abby’s living room and cradled the baby. “I haven’t told Ray that I’ve named the baby Daniel,” she said to Abby as Abby poured her some coffee. “I’m going to wait until I see Ray,” she finished.
Abby put the coffee pot down and sat across from Livy. Eventually she said, “When are you planning to see Ray?” Abby asked.
“I’m not sure,” said Livy. “You know I came here to have Daniel in a hospital and to think – to decide what to do and I haven’t been able to think of anything but Ray and the life we’d started to build together there in Wilson.” After a pause she said, “I miss him, Abby; I miss him so very much.”
Abby smiled. “You haven’t seemed the same, Livy. It’s as if only a part of you came back to Denver. It makes me angry that Father sent you out there and left you there long enough to put down some roots. I wonder if we’ll ever really get you back.”
“Oh Abby – the part of me that loves you came back. If it weren’t for you, I’d might have never have come back. You are practically the only one who continued to love me after I became pregnant. I’ll always love you – no matter what.”
Abby smiled at Livy through her tears. “You’re going back to Ray aren’t you?” she said.
Livy nodded slowly. “I think when the doctor says it’s okay for us to travel, I’d like to go back. It doesn’t seem to be worth waiting for Father to come see his grandson. He sent the gift, but can’t seem to face us.”
“Oh, Livy,” said Abby. “I’ll miss you so much; but, I continue to think how much you deserve to be happy and I do want you to be happy.”
“You know Abby, when Ray gave me this ring, I hesitated and told him I didn’t know if I deserved him. A part of me still wonders that, but Ray deserves to be happy and if I can go back and try to make him happy, he deserves that after all he’s done for me and for Danny.
Abby got up and gave Livy a hug. “Let me hold my nephew while I still have a chance,” she said.
Ray finished winding the watch and slid it into his pocket. “Just for luck,” he thought as he headed out the door. While he drove to the train station, he recalled his conversation with Hank and Martha.
“You’re sure we can’t drive you to the train?” Hank had asked for the third time.
Ray had told him, “No, I want to have the beet box there so when we get back, we can head right on home. Or if I come back by myself, I don’t think I’ll want to face anyone right away, that’s for sure.”
He immediately regretted saying that when he saw Martha bite her lip. “I’m sorry, Martha,” he said. “That wasn’t fair.”
“Take care, honey,” she’d said as she kissed him good bye.
“Take care, Ray,” he said to himself as he pulled in to the train station.
The phone rang as Chester scurried to answer it. Martha, still surprised to hear their new phone ringing in the house, heard Chester pause and then he called to her. “Mom, it’s Aunt Livy!”
Martha herself paused in surprise and then hurried to the phone.
“Livy?” she asked as she took the receiver from Chester.
“Hi Martha!” she heard Livy say excitedly.
“How are you, Livy? How’s the baby? Ray said you’d had a boy,” Martha said.
“Yes, yes I did, Martha. Just wait until you see him,” Livy answered.
Martha hesitated a bit awkwardly, wondering when that would be.
“Martha? I know this is short notice, but I wanted to surprise Ray. I’m at the train station in La Junta and wondered if you or Hank could come and get me. I know it’s a terrible imposition, but I didn’t know what else to do without calling Ray.”
“Well of course, we can come get you, Livy, but I have to tell you that Ray isn’t here.”
“Oh,” Livy said. She was disappointed to hear the news. “Will he be back soon?”
Martha hesitated again and wasn’t sure how much to say. “How about we get you here and then we can talk all about it,” was all she said.
Ray rang the doorbell to Abby’s house. He glanced around as he waited. The door opened slowly and he saw Abby’s face appear.
“Ray?” she said, unable to hide her surprise.
Ray removed his hat. “Hello Abby. I’ve come to see Livy and the baby.”
Abby hesitated. “Well, Livy’s not here, Ray,” was all she could get out at first.
Ray couldn’t hide his disappointment. “Will she be back soon?” he asked.
Abby opened the door wider and said, “You’d better come in and we can talk all about it.”