Skip to main content

Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 36 page 16


Confession in the Birthing Room

by Hervé Suys

Just when she was about to give birth to her third child, she considered this moment the right time to make a confession. She wanted to tell the truth to her husband, the alleged father of all three children. At first, he thought that his wife was gasping and exhausted with the pain of labour, but gradually as he heard what she was saying, the grip with which he held her hand became less firm. As many drops of sweat dripped from his forehead as from hers. Even before the first cry of the newborn — a third boy — the man withdrew slowly and silently. His disappearance was noticed only by the mother, who sighed deeply, relieved that a heavy burden had fallen from her shoulders. She then resumed the panting and rhythmic pressing associated with the creation of new life.

Meanwhile, the man walked through the corridors to the hospital gift shop. His disappointment was big when it turned out that they were selling neither tobacco nor alcohol, because he felt a need for both. He didn’t look behind him when he walked out through a revolving door. With stinging eyes, he stared at the clouds for a moment and then stepped towards the city centre. He stopped at the first bar he encountered. He pushed open the door, took a seat at a table, and ordered two large glasses of beer.

That’s how I found him, staring gloomily at the bottom of his empty glasses. Due to my profession, I regularly visit such establishments. I offered the man a fresh pint. He accepted, invited me to join him and told me of his recent suffering.

At first he had become friends with her brother, whom he had met during the home matches of his favourite football team, Black-and-Blue. Their friendship went beyond the game, and soon they went round to each other's houses.

The first time he saw her, she sat raised knees in the corner of a black leather armchair, reading a book he had finished two weeks before. At first she only glanced up when he greeted her with politeness, but a conversation soon developed. She became fascinated by his literary knowledge. He went home that day whistling, writing her name in the air with great swinging movements. The following days he also wrote that name in graceful letters on every corner of every piece of paper within reach. He drove to the beach and braved the last prickles of winter to draw her name in the sand with his bare feet — first with his right foot, which was easy, then a little more challenging with his left. They married in the same spring the football team became champion again after eleven long years, oh irony, on the field of arch-rival Purple-and-White.

Their love for each other was great and within a short time she gave birth to two boys. The first was named after a legendary but not forgotten goalkeeper of Black-and-Blue, the second that of Black-and-Blue’s then striker. Everything seemingly went harmoniously in the family: the man was promoted twice in a short time, the woman seemed to agree with her role as a caring mother. The children were admitted to the local football team as soon as their age allowed it. Secretly the father hoped to one day see his sons wearing the shirt of his beloved club, but turned a blind eye to their poor game insight and lack of technique. After eight years, the woman announced almost casually and in the presence of the boys that she was pregnant again. The man appeared to be pleasantly surprised, the woman smiled briefly from a corner of her mouth and cleared the table. That evening in bed the man did the math and recalled days and weeks, but did not find a reassuring solution.

In the following weeks and months, the man could not catch her on a single sign of misconduct or concealed mockery. The morning on which she was to give birth, she just kindly but coolly asked him to put the suitcase in the car. Although he knew from previous times that the preparations had been carried out to perfection and the only thing that was expected of him was to bring the expectant mother safely to childbirth, he found it hard to concentrate: the car came to a halt twice because he shifted to the wrong gear, he drove past the hospital entrance once and in the elevator he pressed the wrong button. None of this, however, could spoil his wife’s seemingly good mood.

An hour and a half later, she was lying with a baby in her arms listening to his soft breath, while the man sitting here in this bar beside me is drinking beer, has not seen the child and is wondering how it should continue after her confession...her confession that she does not want to name the child after the defence midfielder of Black-and-Blue because she has actually secretly been a supporter of Purple-and-White for a long time.