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Sophie's Big Day by Kendall Defoe

THe doctor ignored her, but she was ready. The orderly stopped the gurney as they entered the delivery room and the hard light of the reflectors blinded Sophie for a moment. Soon she saw people in masks and loose green clothing, shuffling with trays and equipment as they made jokes and told her to relax.

Her husband was somewhere in the building; he had walked in with her until a nurse found a wheelchair and angrily deposited Sophie in it while passing him a form to fill out. There was little to do but breathe in a certain pattern, lay back when they put her on another table, and then wait. But she wanted to see the doctor; she wanted to see all of their faces. She wanted them to know. She was ready.

It was not Sophie’s first child: Back on the island, she had left a boy behind to be taken care of by her grandmother. There was a promise to send for him one day; she thought it would be better for him to come up as a little boy. Not her thought alone; there was Rufus’ idea that the boy should wait. He was willing even to take her if it was not his child. The grandmother never smiled or complained about this. Sophie wanted to go and see what this new man had to offer, and there was no life for her here. This man had an offer.

And why not accept? Rufus had made other promises to the family and kept most of them: the plane ticket; help with the visas; their own place in a country her grandmother had never thought of, but now wanted to visit soon. In Sophie’s village, they had lost many neighbours and friends to other places they knew through their school readers. Some chose places from the information they got in newspapers; others just wanted to take a chance on any place that was not an island unknown to anyone else. Sophie had received letters and packages from old classmates, now abroad; but she never dreamed of travel. It was the baby that made her think of it; it was Rufus who gave her the chance to move on.

Sophie took the plane alone; Rufus sent her the ticket, some instructions, and a brand new winter coat. She did not quite believe all the stories she had heard about the cold—they seemed to be about another planet, not a place to make a home. During the flight, she thought about her grandmother. Their hug on the hot tarmac was brief, and she looked over her shoulder to see her son kicking in his stroller. She had promised both of them she would not forget them, that she would send for them as soon as the money was ready. Her grandmother never cried; she told Sophie to write when she could. The boy kept kicking, looking down at his feet. She got on the plane, noted how her grandmother and son were not at the gate when the plane turned to begin its flight. There were some tears in her eyes as the instructions for wearing seat belts were announced. She did not look out the window.
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