Authors: Nikki McWatters
Tags: #Fiction, #Psychological, #Retail, #Suspense, #Thrillers
‘You know,’ she laughed. ‘I’ve never really thought about that. I guess I’ll just have nannies and whatever. I’ve been so into the baby thing that I hadn’t really thought about it growing up into a full-blown kid.’
‘And Chris Bergin? How do you feel about him now? After he did this thing to you and also as the father of your baby? Are you very angry, scared?’
‘Oh I don’t give a damn about him. He’s not having anything to do with my baby. He can rot in prison for all I care. He’s married you know? What a scum bag. ’
And then she looked up at me beaming.
‘Do you know that if you google my name and Chris’s there are four hundred thousand entries. Even though the court has made the newspapers and television people suppress my name, it got out all over Facebook and Twitter and stuff and now I’m literally famous! After the whole court case thing is over and when I’m eighteen I’m going to do a big interview on television and maybe a whole lot of publicity will get me that film role and then the Oscar. ’
I was aware that Libby O’Neil’s name was one of the highest trending words on twitter. To be honest, I’d done some digging about to see how far the identity leak had gone. It was viral. One girl from a Sydney school had already been charged with an offence regarding a vitriolic attack on Libby’s reputation. But I had also seen that Libby had a photograph of herself, her friend and Chris Bergin as her profile picture on Facebook. I was sneakily sure that Libby was behind some of the suspicious leaks to social media about the case.
‘Do you ever wonder about Chris’s wife and child? He has a daughter not much younger than you.’
A cool breeze blew through the window and I shivered a little.
‘His wife’s about to drop a baby too,’ she nodded. ‘She’s pretty frumpy. Not that pretty. She probably hates me, hey? Serves her right. She’s probably no better than him. And his kid? No, I can’t say I think about her at all. Do you think they’ll send him to prison?’
While rape is a sadly under-convicted crime, the banter on social media and the public’s obsession with Libby’s case might have given rise to some seriously negative consequences. It was concerning. It could have jeopardised the course of justice.
‘That will have to be decided by the courts. I’m not sure. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about today, Libby? Anything worrying you?’
‘Nup,’ she shrugged. ‘I’m pretty happy with how it’s all shaping up.’
Yes, I thought, as she breezed out of the room. There is a subtext to Libby O’Neil but unlike her cute gamin appearance, it wasn’t pretty.
Taylor Mersky is such a bitch. I told Mum what she said and Mum was furious. I knew Dad was innocent and that the court would eventually explain that but I still got angry at him for putting us in this position. I felt literally sick every morning before school. It wasn’t just Taylor but all the others too. And the teachers. They all looked at me differently. Like I’m the daughter of some pervert or monster. It’s such a change from being the ‘superstar’s daughter.
The other parents wouldn’t let kids come back to my place to hang out. It was like everyone had decided Dad was guilty before he’d even gone to the hearing. Even I was old enough to know that in the law people are innocent until they’ve been proved guilty and there was no real proof that Dad had done the thing he was accused of.
It’s so wasn’t fair on us that the newspapers wouldn’t talk about anything else. There was some terrorist act or something in Europe and was that on the front page? No. It was my Dad. The first hearing was on a Monday and Dad’s lawyer, Tim, reckoned he’d get the whole thing thrown out of court. I hoped so, for Dad’s sake, for Mum’s sake and for my sake. If they did go ahead and make this thing go to a trial, I knew Mum wouldn’t cope and I was really scared that they were going to break up and get a divorce or something.
I was so excited about having a little brother and this stupid teenage girl almost ruined that for me. At least my parents were cool enough to treat me like I was an adult and they’d sat me down and explained the whole thing. It didn’t make me happy that Dad did drugs and did cheat on my Mum. I was really angry about that but I couldn’t hate him. He was a good father and he was so sorry. He kept telling Mum but she wasn’t ready to let him back in the house yet. He was living with Clayton who lives in Sydney. Dad rang me every day and came up every weekend or I went down to their place in Newtown.
I asked Mum if that meant they were separated but she said ‘no’, she just needed space to deal with her pain and her anger. And she was really angry. Whenever Dad was around she couldn’t even look at him and when I had a good time in Sydney with him she’d cry and ask me why I didn’t hate him. She did tell me that she didn’t hate him but she said she at that time, that she couldn’t forgive him and I think she was seeing some counsellor or something about how to deal with it.
She even sent me to the school counsellor but to tell you the truth the whole thing creeped me out. The woman just kept asking me if I had ever felt uncomfortable when I was alone with my father. I walked out and called her a bad name and ended up in the principal’s office with a behaviour warning.
Then I got suspended because I punched Taylor Mersky. But she had it coming. When she called my Dad a pedo and asked me if he was a good root, that was it. I decked her. Both Mum and Dad reckoned I did the right thing and they complained to the school that it should have been Taylor who got suspended or even expelled. But Principal Bitch-face decided that I was the worse culprit because I had then written on the toilet wall that I hoped Taylor would get raped.
‘Olive!’ I heard Mum call out.
‘Coming,’ I yelled back and gave Ollie a rub on the stomach before heading back inside.
I took off my boots and jacket and hung then in the mud room but left my scarf on. The log fire was crackling and I could smell garlic cooking in the kitchen. Mum came down the stairs walking like a penguin because of her massive belly. She had a bag in her hand.
‘Honey,’ she said breathlessly. ‘Can you call your father? My water’s have broken and I’m having contractions four minutes apart.’
What? What was she talking about? I just stared up at her looking stupid.
‘I’m in labour, Olive. I’m having the baby!’
Oh shit, I thought. I raced up the stairs and helped her down and led her to the big sofa in the living room.
‘You lie down,’ I stuttered. ‘I’ll ring Dad. What do I do? Should I ring the hospital? Do you want something to eat or drink or something?’
I was in a panic and my hands were shaking. This was it. All my life I had wanted a brother or sister and now finally I was going to meet this little boy. Harrison. That’s the name we’d all decided on.
‘Where’s the phone?’ I called.
It wasn’t on the bench in the charger.
‘On my desk in the den,’ Mum laughed and then pulled a face and held her belly.
‘Oh my God are you alright?’ I asked.
She just shut her eyes and panted, breathing in and out very fast. I ran to the den and got the phone and stabbed the buttons to speed-dial Dad. He’d only left about an hour ago after a visit. He and Mum had been fighting and maybe that made her go into labour. But she was almost a week overdue. Thank God Dad was staying for the weekend at the resort on the hill. He was just around the corner. He’d booked in to be close for the birth.
‘Dad,’ I yelled into the receiver. ‘It’s happening. Come on!’
I hung up before I realised that I hadn’t told him what exactly was happening but I guessed he’d figure it out.
I went to Mum and helped her to put her legs up on the couch. She started that breathing thing again and started to groan.
‘Does it really hurt?’ I asked.
She just nodded and made some more noises and her face was all scrunched up.
‘Tell him to hurry. If he’s not here soon, I’m going to have to call an ambulance because this is going too fast. There just coming all the time.’
No sooner had she stopped talking than she started up with the groaning again and I was getting really scared. I didn’t like seeing her like this. In terrible pain.
I went to the door, looking for Dad, cursing under my breath for him to hurry.
‘Lock the back door and make sure Ollie has got water. You can come to the hospital with us and wait because it is not going to be long. I can tell. It was like this right at the end with you.’
I did what she asked, shaking and feeling like I needed to pee.
Dad got there within about five minutes and I was so relieved to see him.
‘Oh baby,’ he cried and went to Mum, putting his arms around her.
She pulled back.
‘Don’t touch me, Chris. Just get me to the fucking hospital.’
My mother never swore. Well, that’s not entirely true. Ever since the whole police drama she’d been swearing a fair bit.
Dad and I got on either side of Mum and helped her up and I grabbed her bag and slung it over my shoulder.
‘Come on,’ Dad murmured. ‘Small steps. Tell us if you need to stop.’
‘Stop!’ she said in a tight voice and we stopped as she sagged and groaned.
Dad rubbed her back and I felt tears in my eyes. This was scary and not what I thought it would be like. Actually I hadn’t really thought about the birth thing much at all. But Mum was tough and she never whinged and she never got sick. For her to be making noises like that, she must have been in serious pain.
‘Oh Chris,’ she panted. ‘I’m not going to make it. Call an ambulance. I feel like I have to push..’ and she cried out and began to groan again, sinking from our arms to the floor.
‘Dad,’ I screamed. ‘What do I do?’
He spoke calmly but his eyes were crazy.
‘Call triple zero. Say we need an ambulance. Say it’s an emergency. She’s having the baby…now!’
I ran back to the phone and rang the emergency services number. I’d never had to do that before and I blabbered like a nut into the phone giving the person on the other end all the details.
‘Please hurry,’ I begged them. ‘My Mum is having the baby right now, I told him after telling him my name and Mum’s name.’
‘I’ll direct this call to a medic and you’ll need to stay on the phone, love and give your Daddy directions in case they don’t get there in time.’
I looked across to where Dad had grabbed a cushion for Mum’s head. She was flapping about and trying to wriggle out of her tracksuit pants.
‘Hello, Olive is it?’ a man’s voice said on the phone. ‘Can you put me on speaker phone so your Dad can hear my voice?’
I did as he asked and went and stood beside Dad holding the phone toward him.
‘Is the head crowning?’ the man asked and Dad got between Mum’s legs and helped to get her pants off.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to see this much of my mother so I looked away. She might have been embarrassed about me looking right at her private parts.
‘There’s something…’Dad mumbled.
‘Tell them ‘yes’ I can feel the head!’ Mum shouted.
‘Very good. You’re doing very well there Megan, ‘ the phone man said.
‘Now can Olive leave the phone with you and go and get a cloth or towel to wrap baby in. Megan you breathe and pant through your urge to push. The ambulance is on the way and won’t be long.’
I grabbed the throw over off the couch and stood by, taking the phone again. I was so nervous my heart was going like a galloping horse.
‘I’ve got to push,’ Mum yelled and began to make a horrible growling sound like a werewolf or something.
‘Oh my God,’ Dad yelled. ‘I can see the head…it’s..is it supposed to be purple?’
‘That’s good, just go with the pushing and bear down and when the feeling stops just pant and hold off until it happens again, Megan. You’re doing great.’ Phone man.
‘Hang in there Megan, he’s coming,’ Dad’s voice was quivering and he was shaking like a leaf. ‘Oh man, our baby’s coming.’
I could hear the distant sound of an ambulance.
‘It’s nearly here, Mum!’ I cried.
I literally was crying. Please God, I said to myself, make everything be okay.
‘Arghhh….’ Mum growled again and even louder.
The siren got closer.
‘Oh…there’s the head. His head is out!’ Dad shouted.
‘Now slip a hand around his neck and make sure there is no cord around it,’ the man said, very seriously.
‘All good,’ Dad called back.
‘You might only have one more push, Megan,’ the man said. ‘Have you got something to keep the baby warm, Olive. Are you okay, sweetie? We’re nearly there.’
I just nodded to no-one in particular. I could hear the ambulance crunching down the drive-way. The siren had stopped.
‘Grroaghhh,’ Mum’s voice came out long a long strange thing that sounded like a demon.
I couldn’t help myself and I looked over Dad’s shoulder to see a grey, wet thing slither and plop between Mum’s white legs and into Dad’s hands. A long coil of blue skin cord was twisting from the baby’s belly. He had a screwed up face and wet black hair. He opened a tiny mouth and shuddered and then opened up and gave a little squeaking cry.
Mum was looking up and down and laughing and crying at the same time. I knelt down beside Dad who was holding the baby carefully, staring at him and sobbing.
There were men coming through the front door but I didn’t even look up. I was just looking at this strange creature. He was turning pinker and starting to cry with a stronger real baby noise. Dad passed the slippery boy to Mum who kissed him over and over again. I rested my head against Dad’s shoulder and he put an arm around me and held me tight.
All of us were crying and smiling and I have never, ever felt so much love for my family. Nothing else mattered in those moments. Not some stupid court case and not stupid Taylor Mersky.
Just Mum and Dad and me and Harrison.
Stuff the whole world because that day I was so proud to be a Bergin!
‘Can you call Clayton and Julie?’ Mum smiled at me. ‘I promised them they would be the first to know.’