Chapter 5

For a long, unbelieving minute Dora stared at Jane’s lovely face, her averted eyes, her reserved expression and a hundred images flashed through her mind in a disordered jumble. Eric; Jane with her belly protruding; a couple of specific acquaintances; Eric furious; people gossiping, laughing at her, Dora, behind her back; sneering at her; sneering at Eric; Eric losing his job; the disgrace; the shame of it; and Jane sitting there, telling her, as calm as a cucumber!

An almost uncontrolable wave of anger, shame and fear took hold of her, together with the desire to destroy this creature who threatened the whole orderly, carefully created and preserved way of life; who, with wanton indifference was about to turn all their lives into the laughing stock of their friends and a subject of malicious gossip.

“It’s Kevin’s I suppose?” she exploded.

(I’ll get proof even if I have to pay for it…) “I don`t know,” Jane said after a slight pause.

“You don’t know? What do you mean, you don’t KNOW?”

“I said, I don’t know.” (He’ll get proof even if he has to pay for it… I can’t tell her, it would mean everybody would get to know.)

“Are you telling me that I have a daughter who sleeps around, who’s not eighteen yet and who sleeps around? That you’re just a WHORE? Is that what you’re telling me?”

Jane remained silent and Dora’s mind raced backwards and forwards as it absorbed Jane’s announcement and all it implied.

“What do you think Daddy will say? How do you think he will react to this news? Are you crazy child? What possessed you? Oh, God, what are we going to do? I’m so ashamed of you! My own daughter! And we trusted you! We let you go out because we trusted you, we’ve brought you up so carefully. The best schools, all the money we’ve spent on you! And this is how you thank us, this is how you return all our effort and our love. Behaving like a maid! A common servant girl! No better than an animal. What will your father say? What- will- your- father- say?”

Tears began to spill down Jane’s cheeks and seeing them, Dora took hold of her-self and tried to control her churning emotions and fractured thoughts. A half forgotten memory of Eric, beside himself with fury, beating up a young man who had accidentally scratched his new car, hovered in her mind. He had hit her too, once or twice at the beginning of their marriage but she couldn’t remember why now. Fear made her heart contract. She was sure Eric would lose all control of himself if he found out that Jane…

“We’ll go to a doctor,” she said.

“I’ve been,” Jane whispered.

The sudden fear that Jane had been larking around at the Torres Hidalgo’s pierced Dora like an icy arrow. “How many months are you?”

“About two.”

“Well… we’ll go and see Doctor Michaelson. I’ll phone him right away.”

Jane rose from her chair in the living room, walked into the hall and up the familiar stairs onto the landing. Her eyes travelled over the steps, the bannisters and slowly all around the landing as if it were the last time that she was ever going to see them again. She went into her room and sat on her bed. She felt very tired and with no will of her own left. There her mother found her ten minutes later.

“The doctor will see you now,” she said, “I’ve called for a taxi.”

“I’m sorry Mummy.”

“It’s too late to be sorry now. You should have thought about that before. I’m just bitterly disappointed in you! Come on.”

“I must have a shower.”

“Oh, yes, perhaps. Well, hurry up. I’ll tell the taxi to wait, get a move on though.”

Forcing herself to stand up Jane went to the bathroom, showered, towalled herself dry and dressed herself in fresh clothes. Her eyes wandered sadly over the walls and floor, the trailing potus, the tooth brushes in their rack, the yellow towels. Except for an all-pervading sadness she seemed to have gone beyond feeling. When she was ready they went out to the waiting taxi.

Dr. Michaelson was an elderly man who had seen many joys and many heart breaks during his long years as gynecologist, obstretician and general practitioner. Stillborn babies, deformed babies, perfectly healthy babies who had died for no apparent reason a few hours after birth, and others, with every kind of problem, struggling fiercely to live and to go on living. Healthy happy babies with lusty cries and loving, joyful families welcoming them. And then the women, so often full of problems which were mostly emotional, who produced strange and devious disorders so as to attract attention or to repell unwanted attention, in tumours of every kind and size, in pains and haemorrages. He opened his consulting room door himself and let Dora and Jane in with a warm smile. He had seen both Jane and her brother into the world and attended to Dora for many years.

He sat silently listening to Dora recount what for her was the end of the world and what for him never failed to fill him with awe and veneration. He looked at Jane.

“How beautiful she has become,” he thought. “One of those who bloom in pregnancy, poor little thing. Her mother will demand an abortion… Oh, God. Yet again. I don’t want to but I always give them an address. Why? Because at least I know that they are professionals and look after their patients properly? Or because I don’t want to lose a client? All these babies who want to be born and who are sent away. No room in the Inn. Aborted and sent back to look for another mother in order to come into this sorry world and comply with their destiny and their aims. Some other vehicle, some other woman, perhaps quite unsuited and then all the potential which in the first case might have developed, transformed, (again perhaps, of course,) into its opposite. Into destructive violence, or self-destructive attitudes…
Verily, verily I say unto you… No one can bring a new born child into the world and not be a Believer, but why so much suffering Lord? Why? So much unnecessary suffering!”

“… so the best thing Dr. Michaelson, in every way, I feel, is to have this pregnancy… you know… terminated.”

“I don’t perform those operations, Dora.”

“But perhaps you could recommend someone…”

Jane turned and looked at her mother.

“No,” she said.

“Jane,” Dora exclaimed. “Be quiet now. You don’t know what is best for you!”

“No,” Jane repeated and looked at Dr. Michaelson. “I don’t want an abortion!”

“Are you out of your mind?” Dora cried. “Do you think this child will thank you?
Plunging it, whether it will or not, into the situation you’ll find yourself in if you go through with this? Do you know what your father will do? He’ll throw you out of the house. Do you realize that? And if I try to help you or anything like that, he’ll throw me out too! And how are you going to live, how are you going to cope, at your age? If the child were Kevin’s we could go to the Plaths and insist on a wedding, on Kevin and the Plaths asuming their part of the responsability. But if you’ve been sleeping around like a dirty little servant girl, they’re not going to lift a finger to help you. And why should they? Oh, the shame of it!”

“Dora,” Dr. Michaelson interposed quietly. “I would like to speak to Jane alone.”

“Certainly not. She’s just a child. I am the one who makes the decisions here. I am absolutely certain that you know a doctor whom you recommend in these cases. All I’m asking for is the address.”

“Jane,” Dr. Michaelson looked at Jane sadly and kindly. “I would like to speak to you alone if you wish it.”

He took a visiting card out of his desk, handed it to Dora and stood up.

“Good evening Dora. Jane is nearly eighteen isn’t she? I feel you should respect her decisions.”

Dora glanced at the visiting card, nodded briefly and said. “How much will this consultation be?”

“No charge,” he replied and let them out.

In the taxi home she said. “You are not to say anything to your father. D’you hear? Perhaps we’ll be able to sort everything out without his ever knowing. I’ve got a little money tucked away.”

“I don’t want an abortion, Mummy. It’s a human being. Your grandchild. It’s heart is already beating.”

“And I don’t want to be made a grandmother in this way and you know that very well, Jane. Now, as soon as you get home you go straight to bed and I’ll tell Daddy that you have chicken pox.”

“Chicken pox?”

“He’s never had it.”

“Mummy, do you really believe you can hide anything from Daddy?”

Dora, her neatly laid out plans brought suddenly face to face with an undeniable reality, remained silent and disconcerted.

“It’s no good,” Jane said wearily. “I may as well face it right away. I’ll tell him this evening.” She looked at her watch. “He’s home already.”

“Are you really determined to go through this, in spite of him?”

“Yes.”

“But… why?”

“I can’t deny this baby its life, Mummy.”

“Your father … may beat you.”

“I know.”

They did not speak again. The taxi drew up in front of the house. Dora paid and they went in. Eric was sitting in the living room reading the newspaper. He had already taken Jane’s suitcase upstairs. Dora almost ran into the kitchen, Jane took a deep breath, smiled very widely to break the mask of fear which seemed to have clamped itself onto her features and walked into the living room.

At that precise moment the lights went out.

“God dammit, an electricity cut!” Eric exploded in the dark. “Hello Jane, so you’re back.”

Somehow the lighting of candles and setting them in strategic places helped Jane to overcome her blind resolve to greet her father with the fateful news of her condition. Once she had helped her mother light the necessary candles she merely kissed him, told him she had had a super time and relayed a friendly greeting from Daniel.

They had supper by candle light. Eric talked about his work during the month Jane had been away, and to Jane it seemed that he was talking not to her but to Daniel Torres Hidalgo, trying to show that he was worthy and hard working. Apart from one or two perfunctory questions he showed absolutely no interest in her experiences. Jane felt a familiar lump of disillusion, cold and heavy, pressing against her heart.

Dora, mentioning a headache, went to bed straight after supper. Jane washed up as she always did, while Eric read his newspaper by candlelight.

“Thanks for taking my suitcase upstairs, Daddy,” Jane said, returning to the living room.

“That’s all right, dear. Well, I’m glad to see you looking so well, and that you had a good time. Did they pay you what they promised?”

“Yes. No haggling.”

“Well, Torres Hidalgo is a gentleman. One would expect no less.”

“I’m going to bed now. It’s quite a long drive from Santucho.”

“Right you are.”

He gave her a little hug as she bent to kiss him. “Goodnight, Girlie.”

Jane stood up with tears in her eyes, he had not called her Girlie for years! As she walked upstairs the lights flared on again. Her mother, hearing her, appeared at her bedroom door.

“Did you tell him?” she asked.

“No.”

Dora gave a sigh of relief and returned to bed.

Lying on her own bed a few minutes later, looking out at the starlit sky through the window, Jane thought of her parents and wondered what they felt for eachother. After all these years, did they get any real pleasure from making love, did they still make love, or did that sort of thing dry up after twenty odd years? Were they just living together out of habit, respecting each other’s little idiosyncrasies, but in fact, as indifferent to each other’s innermost needs as if they were complete strangers? How strange to be their daughter, their little girl, who was now about to become a mother herself. She ran her hands over her belly and thought of her child.

“Who do you look like?” she wondered. “Are you a boy? I’m sure you are. Dr. Michaelson wants to talk to me about you. I’ll go and see him first thing in the morning. Whatever happens I promise you I’ll have you. Oh, if only Mummy and Daddy were different. How wonderful it would be if they really loved me and tried to understand me and back me up and believe in me. They’d believe me then, whatever Kevin said. But they’re so dependent on what their friends will say, on their image, on their habits, it’s as if they’d turned into statues they’re so set in their ways. How old is Mummy? Forty seven I think and Daddy’s fifty. Daniel is forty eight and he really seems much younger. I wonder, if I were his daughter, if he’d beat me or throw me out of the house? If I would be as afraid of him as I am of Daddy?
“What will we do, baby, if Daddy does that? Where will we go? D’you think Dr. Michaelson will be able to help?”

Weariness overcame her and she fell asleep hugging her teddy bear close to her breast.
———————-

“Yes, Jane?”

“You said you wanted to speak to me.”

“I haven’t any Dr. Michaelson. I only know that I don’t want to… have an abortion.”

“Good. When will you be eighteen?”

“In July. The 17th.”

“Have you told your father?”

“No.”

A silence fell between them. At last Dr. Michaelson sat up straight and said. “A couple has asked me if I knew of any young woman ‘in trouble’ who might let them adopt her baby. They would undertake to pay all the expenses necessary in return for… well … the child and total secrecy. I told them that I knew of no one and that I never go in for such transactions.” He paused. “However, now you and your mother, both of whom I am very fond, come to me, your mother wanting you to have an abortion and you with very different feelings.”

Again he paused, searching for words. “What I’m talking about would not be a legal adoption you understand,” he said at last. “The lady wishes to say the baby is hers. Silly but there it is. These people have plenty of money, have been married for years, and, I’m sure, would make good parents. Would you consider permitting your baby to be adopted with only my guarantee of its future parents’ suitability?”

Jane stared at Dr. Michaelson in silence. Give up her baby. Give it to some one else to bring up, to cope with all the problems and expenses. The weight of anxiety lying in her chest lifted a little. She could go away somewhere and get another ‘job’. If her mother had money which her father didn’t know about… If these people paid all the expenses… Her father need never know… she could pretend to be living in Brazil or Chile or anywhere for the next seven months. And once she’d had the baby she could come back and start all over again… If these people had lots of money, the baby would never lack for anything, it would be well fed and warm and they’d be so glad they’d look after it extra especially well… Did she care? Was she being and animal thinking like this? As bad as her parents? Did the baby want to be her baby? That was a crazy question. Poor little thing, it was just growing away inside her unaware of anything.

“Yeah,” she said, at last. “It sounds like a good solution.”

“But you were quiet for such a long time, I don’t want you to do anything against your innermost will.”

“No,” she smiled faintly. “I was just thinking. I feel it’s too good to be true, really. It makes me feel ashamed. But I don’t have any grandparents, or uncles and aunts here in Argentina. Daddy is so rigid, Mummy’s sure he’ll throw me out, that he might even beat me up. And I’m scared of him, truly.”

She fell silent, fiddling with her bracelet. Dr. Michaelson waited. At last she looked up at him and said. “Yes. O.K. I think it’s the best thing for the baby I really do. Do you?”

“Under the circumstances, it might be a solution. I would not have mentioned it otherwise.”

Jane bit her lip and nodded with a lopsided grin.

“Are you sure the father… ?” Dr. Michaelson ventured.

“No.” Jane shook her head violently. “He’s mean. He’s no good. He told me he’d pay fellows to say they had slept with me so that there could be no proof… No, Dr. Michaelson, I’ve never slept around. I really loved Kevin and I thought he really loved me. He’s my first steady boyfriend. I’ve never been to bed with anyone else. I told my mother I didn’t know who the father was because of what Kevin said, but also because I don’t want my poor baby to have anything to do with a father like that!”

“How many people know that you’re pregnant?”

“My mother, a friend of mine, Bettina, Kevin and a woman doctor I went to with him, who does abortions. Is it true that foetus’s are used to make face creams for old women?”

Dr. Michaelson winced. He nodded ruefully. “It’s very possible.”

“I’ll bet that woman sold all the babies she could get hold of. Will I see my baby?”

“No. If you agree to this, no. It would go directly to the new parents.”

“Is it dangerous to have a baby?”

“Good heavens, no! Ah, I think I understand why you ask. Listen, shall we say that if I deliver your baby and discover that for some reason you will never be able to have another child, then I shall tell the people and you will remain with your baby.”

“Yeah, well… But even so, how would I look after it? If Daddy gets really mad… ? Are these people really nice, Dr. Michaelson?”

“Yes, I’ve known them quite some time and it seems to me that they will make very good parents.”

Jane looked vaguely round the room and her eyes rested on the photograph of a statue, a figure standing in a commanding position, its left arm raised above its head the other stretched out towards a writhing figure below it, lying on the ground.

“Who’s that?” she asked looking at the photograph intently.

“A statue of the figure of Christ.”

“Christ? Do you believe in God?”

“I do.”

“Daddy says all that about God is just hog wash. A story made up by the priests to get money out of the people.”

“Yes, well a blind man could insist that the sun and the moon don’t exist, couldn’t he? The Bible is the book which is sold most in the world and it is the story of God and of Jesus Christ. And Jesus lived two thousand years ago.”

“I know, but Daddy says that’s no proof.”

“Of course it isn’t. One has to experience Christ in order to believe. One has to hear His voice and obey.”

“How can one hear His voice if he’s dead?”

“In your heart. And He’s not dead you know, He’s not dead at all.”

“In one’s heart? Sort of telling one what to do, you mean?”

“That’s what I mean.”

“Like my being so sure I don’t want an abortion, d’you think? Bettina thinks I’m crazy.”

“Perhaps.”

“I just can’t. I feel the baby has a right to live, how can I just… get rid of it because it’s a nuisance? Kevin says it’s just a bunch of cells but I’ve seen photographs.”

Jane looked back at the photograph and then she said, “I’ll go home and tell Mummy. I think having the baby adopted would be the wisest thing. Especially if this lady can’t have any children of her own, it’ll make her very happy. But tell her, Dr. Michaelson, tell her to always try and understand what he wants, what he really needs even he if he can’t explain very well. Will you tell her? Them?”

“There is no need to make up your mind right away. Let the question rest in your heart. The right answer will come.”

Jane’s eyes rested once more on the photograph of the statue.

“Yes,” she said pensively. “O.K. I’ll do that.”

“I think it would be a good idea if I examined you now, while you’re here. You will have to have regular check-ups you know, eat well, rest, live a normal active life without doing anything exaggerated.”

Once Dr. Michaelson had examined her, and taken her pulse and blood pressure, Jane picked up her handbag and said shyly.

“I should pay you, shouldn’t I ?”

“One day when you’re a rich young woman you can help some one who is in need.”

Jane smiled, heartbreakingly lovely.

“Thankyou,” she said.

Dr. Michaelson put his arms around her and kissed her gently on the forehead.

“I brought you into this world, Jane dear,” he said. “My ‘babies’ are all very special to me.”

“I feel that you understand me, that you really care, that I can trust you. I want the best for my baby, I really do.”

“I know. I’ll wait for your call then, shall I?”

“Yes. I’m sure it’ll be yes, but just in case … Goodbye, thank you very, very much.”

She left. He stood at the window of his consulting room watching her. Slight, slim, so terribly young to have to make such a decision. He sighed heavily thinking of what she had said about the child’s father and wondering if he was right in feeling that the couple he had in mind would make good parents. In these moments when the threads of Destiny seemed to be in his hands he felt decidedly uncomfortable. He turned to the photograph and said aloud.

“Bless this situation, Lord. Guide Jane, strengthen and help her. Guide me and give me wisdom too, Lord, I’m not at all sure that I’ve done the right thing.”
———————-

“What’s the matter with you, Dora?” Eric said irritably. “You’re getting on my nerves, I said I wanted some more toast and you were just about to refill my full cup of tea. For God’s sake, pay attention to what you’re doing.”

“I’m sorry, Eric, I’m sorry,” Dora replied, flustered. She made him some more toast while he returned to his newspaper. She watched it carefully in case she let it burn. Once it was ready she sat quite still drinking her tea and thinking of Jane.

What to do? What to do? Eric was so irritable, so quick tempered. She knew how he would react and she was terrified, terrified for Jane and for herself. How could the child be so stupid? Didn’t she realize? An abortion would be so quick, so simple. Eric need never know, no one need ever know. What had got into Jane to insist on having the baby like this? It was suicide, just suicide. At least she hadn’t told him last night. Perhaps today she would have thought better of it. At least they had the address now, and if she was only two months then there was still time. If she insisted, well, perhaps if she got another job, but that was impossible, she’d soon begin to show and then there would be no possibility of keeping the secret. What would Eric do to her? He was always so vehement when he read about these situations in the newspapers, it made her shudder to think

“And she doesn’t even know who the father is! That’s what is so terrible, so degrading. No better than a harlot sleeping with anyone. What sort of a person has our daughter turned into? The best schools too, the best education money could buy, and all one got in return was a self-centered, egotistical, little brat!”

“DORA.” Eric`s voice cut through her tangled thoughts.

“Yes, dear. What is it?”

“What is the matter? I’ve never seen you like this. I had to repeat your name three times before you reacted just now!”

“Nothing, dear, really. Just day-dreaming as usual. What did you want?”

“I’m going to work in the living room and I don’t want to be disturbed, at all.”

“Very well, dear, I’ll tell Jane.”

“Why is she still sleeping at this time, anyway? It’s disgraceful! Why can’t she get up for breakfast at the normal time I’d like to know? I hoped that working for the Torres Hidalgo’s would change all that. But no, no sooner is she back home she goes back to her old, lazy habits. You’re altogether too lenient with her, Dora. You spoil her sick. I insist that from now on she gets up for breakfast at breakfast time and not nearly lunch time! Do you hear me? Just because it’s Saturday morning doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do!”

“They’re all the same these days, dear. Remember what the Jacksons were saying the other day about their teenagers? And Jane has always been a very good student and I’m sure she was up and about early with a baby to look after in Santucho.”

“Any way, I just don’t want any sort of disturbance this morning. What’s for lunch?”

“Roast,” Dora improvised rapidly.

“At one?”

“Yes. Of course. We always have lunch at one.”

Once Eric had settled himself in the living room, Dora washed up hastily and made fresh tea. She poured out a cup and took it up to Jane. She entered Jane’s room quietly, determined to try and persude her to change her mind. The sight of the empty bed, the open suitcase and the general disorder in the room shocked her to a standstill. The certainty flashed up in her.

“She’s gone! She`s run away.”

The cup of tea in her shaking hand tipped and fell with a crash. Despite herself Dora cried out, “Eric. ERIC.”

He came upstairs inmediately.

“Jane’s gone,” she gasped, clutching him. “She’s left. She’s run away.”

“What on earth are you talking about? Where is she? Jane, JANE.”

Eric pushed Dora from him and looked into Jane’s room, the bathroom and then the guest room.

“What do you mean, run away? What are you talking about?” He repeated, giving Dora a shake as she began to cry.

“She`s pregnant, she told me yesterday. I took her to Dr. Michaelson at once. Jane says she wants to have the baby and she doesn’t even know who the father is. She refuses to have an abortion, and now she’s run away, gone, not a note, nothing!”

Eric stood quite still, his face white, his expression rigid as he listened to Dora and the situation exploded inside him like a bomb. Seeing his expression Dora grabbed him wildly, crying.

“She’s our only daughter Eric. Our only child!”

“Leave me alone,” he snapped, thrusting her away from him. “Leave me alone.”

Turning he walked downstairs and into the living room. Distraught, Dora flung herself on her bed weeping helplessly. Fifteen minutes later Jane returned and let herself in quietly. She heard the living room door open and turned to see her father standing staring at her, his eyes blazing, his mouth a thin, bitter line.

“You whore,” he said and she shrank against the door as he walked up to her and hit her with all the force he could muster. Jane covered her face and head with her hands and tried to turn away from him to protect herself. She was afraid that if she fell on the floor he would start to kick her. With vice-like fingers he tore her hands from her face and continued to punch her.

“Bitch,” he hissed. “I’ll teach you to sleep around! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Pregnant are you? My daughter pregnant and she doesn’t even know who the father is! My daughter a whore… nothing but a God damned whore!”

Half crazed with pain Jane wrenched herself free and ran past him and up the stairs. He followed her and caught her by the arm.

“I give you one hour to pack your things and get out of this house. As from this moment you are not my daughter any more. I disown you and any God damn progeny you may produce from now on. If you want to be a whore, go and make a living that way.” He paused and then went on slowly and very clearly. “I wish it had been you who had died in that car crash. Brian would never have let us down like this. When I come back I don’t want to find you here.”

He turned, walked back down the stairs and out of the house. Jane staggered to her bedroom. Dora followed her and stood at the door.

“Where were you? Where have you been?” she shrieked.

“To see Dr. Michaelson,” Jane whispered, turning her swollen battered face towards her mother. She collapsed onto her bed.

Dora, galvanized into action out of fear of what Eric would do should he find Jane still in the house when he returned, rushed to the bathroom and brought a basin of cold water and sponged Jane’s face and laid cold compresses on it. She dragged up the half empty suitcase and packed Jane’s winter clothes with urgent haste, sensing that what ever remained of Jane’s would be burned or thrown away.

“Where will you go?” she asked desperately.

“Ana.” Jane mumbled and Dora rushed to the telephone and dialed her old maid’s neighbour’s number.

Ana agreed at once to take Jane in. Dora, relieved, finished packing. She hid what didn`t fit in her own bedroom amongst her things, hoping that Eric wouldn`t recognize them there. As she worked, her mind, like a feverish mouse, darted round and round seeking some miraculous solution for putting together again the fragments of her daily life which had disintegrated all about her. What to tell the neighbours and her friends? How to persuade Eric not to spread abroad why Jane was not living at home any more? At least, living at Ana’s she would be in contact with her and would be able to send her money and anything she needed. She must go again and speak to Dr. Michaelson. Who else had Jane told? Would the news spread? Would the Torres Hidalgos’ find out? Perhaps with this beating Jane would abort naturally and then the worst problem would be solved. If only she would lose the baby somehow. What should she do? How would she manage?

For a moment Dora contemplated leaving Eric and making a home for Jane and the baby, but the idea died almost before it was born. Jane would probably go off and live with some man and leave her on her own. One made sacrifices, gave up everything for one’s children and then, without even so much as a thank you they would go off and live in China or Guatemala and there you’d be, left with your life in bits again.

She had everything ready with fifteen minutes to spare.

“How do you feel?” she asked.

Jane pulled the compresses off and Dora winced at the sight of her child’s face.

“O.K.,” Jane replied with difficulty, through puffed lips. “I’m sorry I didn’t help.”

“Why did you go to Dr. Michaelson again this morning?” Dora asked.

Jane shrugged and shook her head.

“I’ll call a taxi,” Dora said. “Will you be all right? I’ll give you money to pay for it.”

Jane nodded faintly. The wound caused by her father`s words seemed to be draining all her life forces away. She longed for the cool, dark nothingness of death, for a respite from her agony of soul, from the physical pain in her heart which made breathing difficult. She waited for her mother to repudiate her father’s words, to tell her that she loved her, but her mother went on fussing about the taxi.

“I want to die, I just want to die,” was all she could think as she heard her mother lugging her suitcases and holdall downstairs. At last her mother came back and helped her to stand up and walk downstairs.

“Can you walk alone to the taxi?” Dora asked, picking up Jane’s handbag and anorak. “That way the neighbours won’t start wondering, I mean.”

Jane shrugged and nodded.

“Wait,” Dora handed her a wad of bills. “I’ll phone. This is Ana’s address, I’ve written it down. You’d better go now, your father may be here at any minute.”

They walked out to the taxi. Jane hesitated. “He didn`t mean it,” her heart cried wildly. “He’s going to come back and say he’s sorry, that he loves me. If I wait a tiny bit. He didn’t mean what he said. Daddy, you didn`t did you? You don’t really wish that I had died?”

“Get in dear, the taxi’s waiting.”

“Yes. ‘Bye Mum.”

“Goodbye dear. Ana will look after you.”

“Mummy, Mummy do you wish I had died, too? Tell me you don’t, tell me, TELL ME.” Jane looked at her mother in agonized silence but Dora took the paper with Ana’s address out of her hand and gave it to the taxi driver.

“’Bye ‘bye,” she called, waving as the taxi slid away. Jane made no gesture, through her half closed eyes she searched the sidewalk for her father as they drove along, but she didn’t see him and desolation filled her heart.

“ … if you want to behave like a whore go and make a living that way…”

If she didn`t give the baby to these people who wanted to adopt one, she might even have to work as a prostitute just to make the money to be able to live…

“Oh, Daddy, I’m not a whore. You know that. Why didn’t I say it was Kevin’s baby? But Kevin said…”

It was too late, her father would never believe the truth now.

********************************