“Lyle, what happened?” Sam rushed forward and dropped to his knees in front of his older brother, trying to pull his hands from his face. “Is Mirium okay? Baby Ishy?”
“I don’t know,” Lyle said, raising his tear-streaked face. “They kicked me out because I was having a breakdown.”
“Why were you having a breakdown?” Sam sat back on his heels, relieved Lyle hadn’t said Mirium or Baby Ishy was dying or something. He brushed his hands across the pantlegs of his business suit, having just come from the office. The floor where he’d been crouched was much dirtier than he’d prefer for a hospital waiting room. The stench of antiseptic cleanser seemed to imply the floors had been cleaned recently, but the grime and debris indicated otherwise.
“Because of all the beeping monitors and rising and falling numbers and Mirium’s blood pressure is really high and they’re concerned that the baby’s heartrate is too low, and no one will tell me what’s going on and so I got angry and…”
“Please don’t tell me you yelled at a nurse or something…”
“Worse,” Lyle admitted. His face showed a combination of shame and apprehension, and he cringed like he was expecting everyone in the room to hate him for what he was about to tell them.
“What did you do, son?” Their father, Levi, stepped forward with a commanding voice.
“I may or may not have yelled at Mirium.”
“What?” Ruth cried out. “How could you yell at our sister?” That set the rest of her sisters in a frenzy.
“She’s in labor, for heaven’s sake,” Leanne said. “You should be supportive.”
“What could she possibly have done to warrant being yelled at?” Adele asked.
“Whatever you think she did wrong was probably your fault, not hers.” Rachel said.
“That’s what she said too. She growled at me and said I did this to her, as if she wasn’t partially at fault for getting pregnant.”
“You think it was her fault that she got pregnant?” Sam asked, incredulous.
“She should have been on the pill or something,” Lyle said. “She should have made sure she was protected before sleeping with me.”
“She didn’t even have a boyfriend! Why would she have been on the pill?” Leanne balled her fists and leaned closer to him. Sam considered pulling her back but decided that would make things worse between him and Leanne. Plus, if Leanne decked Lyle, he deserved it. Sam would just get Leanne some ice for her wrist afterward.
“You should have been the one using protection,” Ruth said.
“You shouldn’t have even been sleeping with her before marriage,” Adele grumbled.
“I don’t think there was any sleeping going on that night.” Liam chuckled and smirked but cringed and held up his hands in defense when Rachel smacked his arm. “Ah, come on, babe, I was just teasing.”
Sam cocked his head at Liam, who was distracted wrapping his arms around Rachel, placating her and whispering something in her ear. Liam called Rachel babe, just like he’d called his secretary babe. Sam wondered if Liam called all this conquests babe so he wouldn’t mistakenly call them the wrong name. What a cockroach. Sam pulled his attention back to Lyle, the other cockroach in his family. “What exactly did you say to Mirium?”
“I told her she got pregnant on purpose to trap me into marrying her,” Lyle admitted. That caused another uproar and every sister and brother and father and mother in the room fired retorts at Lyle so fast Sam had a hard time separating who said what.
“She was drunk. How could she have gotten pregnant on purpose?”
“You got her drunk and took her upstairs to your room. Maybe it was you who got her pregnant on purpose.”
“No one gets pregnant on purpose.”
“Why would she want to marry you? She only married you because she was pregnant.”
“You’re such an idiot.”
“No wonder they kicked you out of the delivery room.”
“I’m disappointed in you, son.”
“How could you have said that to my daughter?”
“Do you realize I have a shotgun in my closet back home with your name written on it?”
“I… can’t… believe… you would say that,” their mom called out between sobs, holding one hand to her very pregnant belly and with the other, held a tissue to her eyes.
Just then a nurse came into the room and called out, “Is there a woman in here named Ruth?”
“Yes, I’m Ruth.” Their oldest sister stepped forward and lifted her chin with hope in her eyes.
“Mirium is asking for you,” the nurse said. “She wants you in the delivery room with her and we’re just about ready to head in there.” As Ruth followed the nurse, others in the family called out questions.
“Is Mirium okay?”
“Is she having a c-section?”
“Is Baby Ishy in distress?”
“Someone will be out in a little while to give you an update,” the nurse said, then closed the door between the waiting room and the delivery wing.
The room quieted and everyone relaxed into a tense but resolved calm. People were breathing heavy and scowling at Lyle and turning away and crossing arms.
“Jerk,” Rachel grumbled.
“Come on, babe, let’s go for a walk.” Liam led Rachel down the hall away from the waiting room and all its tension.
Leanne huffed away from Lyle and sat in the opposite side of the waiting room, glaring across the room at Lyle. Sam joined her and sat beside her but didn’t try to reach out. She had her arms folded across her chest and Sam wasn’t about to unfold them. He leaned his elbows on his knees.
Adele sat on the other side of Leanne and Nicholas settled beside her, holding her hand in his.
Their parents gathered around the boys’ mom, Sarah, fussing over her to calm her down lest they had another woman in labor, which wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Only their youngest brother, Jacob stayed anywhere close to Lyle, and even he sat two seats away.
Lyle lowered his head into his hands, elbows on his knees, and that’s how they all stayed for countless minutes.