The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Author:Ashley Audrain [Audrain, Ashley]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2021-01-05T00:00:00+00:00

* * *

• • •

When you met us at the hospital, you pulled Violet in close and held her head to your chest. And then you looked up at me, and you opened your mouth to speak, but nothing came out. We stared at each other and then we cried. Violet wiggled free of your arms and then you came to me. I folded down to the ground and leaned into your legs.

Violet watched us quietly. She came over and put her hand on my head.

“Sammy’s stroller slipped out of Mom’s hands and got hit by a car.”

“I know, sweetheart. I know,” you said.

I couldn’t look at either of you.

The police came back and wanted to talk to you, to explain everything they’d already explained to me. That the driver wouldn’t be charged, that we’d need to make some decisions about our baby’s body. And his organs. They thought three of them would be viable for transplants in other babies, for mothers who had done a better job at keeping their children alive than I had. A nurse gave me a pill to calm me down.

I took Violet down the hall to the water cooler. As she overflowed the cone cup I threw up in a garbage pail full of discarded latex gloves and medical packaging. I listened to you sob down the hall, through the heavy glass door that separated us from the rest of the waiting area. Violet watched me and shifted her weight between her feet. She wouldn’t dare speak to me. I knew she desperately needed to pee, but I wanted to let her wet herself. I watched the denim turn from light to dark as the wetness spread. I didn’t say a thing and neither did she.

I had spoken to the police with the tone of ordering at a drive-through window: My daughter yanked my arm. I was burned by the hot tea. I let go of the stroller. And then she pushed it onto the road.

Anything else, ma’am?

No, that’s all.

I didn’t have the wherewithal to protect her with a lie. They’d asked me to repeat myself a few times, probably looking for signs of shock, inconsistencies. Maybe they found some. I don’t know. I don’t know what they told you when I was gone. But when I got back, the officer crouched down and put his hand on Violet’s little shoulder, and said to her, “Accidents happen, okay, Violet? Accidents happen and it’s nobody’s fault. Mom did nothing wrong.”

“Listen to him, Blythe. You did nothing wrong.” You repeated this to me and held me.

“I think she pushed him,” I said to you quietly as you dabbed ointment on my burned skin. I couldn’t feel a thing. “I think she pushed him into the road. I told the police.”

“Shhh.” Like I was a baby. “Don’t say that. Okay? Don’t say that.”

“I saw her pink mittens on the handle of the stroller.”

“Blythe. Don’t do this. It was an accident. A terrible accident.”

“It must have been pushed. It wouldn’t have rolled over that groove.


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