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In the Crosshairs of a Mother's Eye

By Rebecca Crawford

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Copyright 2003 Rebecca Crawford





     The flight arrived in El Paso, this time with workable landing gear.  Liz got off the plane, retrieved her bags and went out hailing a cab.  When the cab driver pulled up in front of her and Calvin’s only home together, she stared out the window at it as if in a trance.

    “Hey, lady, this is the right house isn’t it?”

     Liz snapped out of it.  “Yes, sorry.”

     The cabbie got out pulling her bags from the trunk and sitting them on the walkway.  Liz paid her fare and the cab driver left.  She stood facing the house, staring at it and remembering the day Calvin carried her in.  Liz spoke out loud to herself, “I have to do this.”   Then picked up her bags, went to the door and let herself in.

     Liz sat her bags aside, her hands feeling shaky.  She went into the living room standing with her hands on her hips remembering the night Chief Letch gave her the devastating news.  She finally sat down on the couch, lying back against it and slipping out of her shoes.  Liz didn’t know where to start, but she knew she had to do something.  She went in to start her bath water in hopes it would ease the tension now building in her neck and shoulders. 

     The bath tub still had the water in it from the night that the chief had come.  Liz drained and cleaned the tub then started fresh water.  She went into the bedroom to get some comfortable clothes, stopping dead in her tracks when she saw the picture of her and Calvin on the wall.  She went slowly over to it, removing it from the wall, sitting it on the bed.  “Calvin I wish you were here with me.”

     Liz took the picture and her clothes into the bathroom with her.  She undressed, sitting the picture on the sink.  She sank into the hot water, looking at the picture of them.  “If by any possible means you are still alive, come home.”

     It made Liz feel better, having a speck of hope.  She wasn’t ready to remove Calvin from her life.

     Liz lay there thinking over the details that the military had given her.  They had no positive proof.  Calvin was supposedly burned to ash.  The report coming from the renegade rebels, without the confirmation of his dead body, was not acceptable to Liz and she knew that she wouldn’t give up on Calvin until she had the proof.

     Liz went to bed holding Calvin’s picture.  She kissed him good night and laid the picture on Calvin’s pillow.  She lay there looking up in the darkness of the room.  “Please God, if Calvin’s alive bring him home to me, please bring him home one day.”

     Liz reported back for duty the next morning.  Chief Letch sent word for her to report to his office.  Liz went to his door, showing respect as she knocked.

     “Richards!  Get in here, you know you don’t need to knock, how are you?”

     Liz went in, seating herself. “Hey, chief, I’m doing better.”

     “I know these things take time, if you need more just say so.”

     “No, no, I’ll be fine.”

     “Mrs. Letch and I are here if you need us.”

     “Thanks, chief.  You’ve both been so kind, I appreciate that.”

     Chief grinned.  “Yeah, well, get to work, we’re back logged again.”

     Liz started out the door, stopping as she turned to the chief.  “Chief, I just want you to know, I still have hopes that Calvin’s alive.”

     Chief sat staring at Liz.  “I probably would too if I were in your shoes, but keep in mind that the likelihood of him still being alive is minimal.  The rebels are a shrewd bunch of killers that care nothing for human life.”

     Liz left the chief’s office to begin her work for the day.

     The months seemed to pass swiftly.  Liz was now in her sixth month of pregnancy.  The sonogram showed the baby’s sex, it was a girl.  That night after she got off duty, Liz went home thinking of what she would name her and Calvin’s daughter.

     Liz sat on the couch looking down at her ever growing belly, which showed quite well now.  “Hmm, little girl, what will be your name?”

   Liz thought of a lot of girls’ names she had heard, but none seemed to fit.  “Let’s see now.  I love Calvin, and when the day arrives for you to be born, it will be a great day for me.  So it will be a day of love.”  Then it hit Liz, “Your name will be Dayla, for day of love.”

     Liz sat there giggling to herself talking to her unborn child, when the phone rang.  “Hello?”



     “This is Gwendolyn Richards, Calvin’s mother.”

     Liz was unsure of what to say as she had never gotten the opportunity to meet Calvin’s parents.  “Hi, I’m so glad to finally speak to you.”

     “I apologize for not contacting you sooner, but when we received the new of Calvin’s death, well, I sunk into my own world of pain for awhile, I shut the world out around me.”

     “I understand, Mrs. Richards, I’ve had a hard time dealing with it myself, but there’s one thing you need to think about.  Calvin’s listed as duty status whereabouts unknown called DUSTWUN.  They have no real proof that he’s truly dead.

     “Liz, we were told that he was shot and they received reports that his body was burned to ash.”

     “I know, but until they can confirm it to me, I choose to believe that he might still be alive.”

     Mrs. Richards started crying.  “You really loved my son a lot.”

     “Yes, I do love him, and his new daughter that will be here soon.”

     “What  daughter?”

     “I’m having our child in three more months.”

     “I, I never knew.”

     “No, Calvin didn’t have a chance to tell anyone.  I told him the night before he left and I, too, have been in my own world.  I didn’t give it a thought to call.  I still have all of Calvin’s things.  I boxed it all up, but I’m not ready to do anything with it.

     “Oh, Liz, you don’t know how this news lightens my heart.  I can’t believe it I’m going to be a grandmother!”

     “You can see your granddaughter anytime you want.”

     “When is the due date?”

     “October 10th.”

     “If it’s alright with you, I’d love to be there for the birth.”

     “Your more than welcome to come, I’d love to have you here.”

     “Consider it done.  I’ll fly out a week before the due date.”

     “That’s fine.”

     “Liz, I hope to be close to you.  The baby and you are all I have left of Calvin.”

     “You were part of my family the day I married your son, and you always will be.”

     “Thank you, Liz, in more ways than you’ll ever know.”

     “You’re welcome, and I look forward to your coming.”

     Liz gave Mrs. Richards her address promising to stay in touch then she hung up.  Liz sat there feeling shocked. ‘How could I forget this, I have been so wrapped up in my own grief.’  Liz was looking forward to Mrs. Richards coming for the birth.

     The days dwindled along.  Liz worked even harder to prove that her pregnancy was not interfering with her work performance. 

     It was now October 4th and Liz was at the peak of her pregnancy.  She waddled around carrying her night vision goggles to her repair shelter hearing laughter from her fellow soldiers as she swayed by.  It never bothered her, and at least it brought laughter into their day.

     When Liz arrived home that night, Mrs. Richards called her.  “Liz, how are you?”

     “Feeling like a blimp, I’ll be glad to have her out instead of carrying her around inside of me, she moves around so much, it’s hard to sleep.  It’s like she’s playing soccer at night.”

     Mrs. Richards laughed at Liz’s remark.  “Only six days left until the due date.  I called to let you know my flight will arrive tomorrow at 6:10 p.m.”

     “I’ll be there to pick you up.  I doubt you’ll have any problem picking me out of the crowd.”

     “I look forward to coming, Liz.”

     “Have a good flight, Mrs. Richards, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

     After Liz hung up, she went about the house making sure it was clean and in proper order.  She went into her room which now contained more things for baby Dayla than it did for her.  Over the last four months she had spent the weekends hunting for everything she would need for the baby.

     That night Liz could have sworn that the soccer team was finally giving it a rest as the baby made very little movement.  Tomorrow was Saturday and Liz was looking forward to sleeping in as long as Dayla didn’t start moving around in the middle of the night.

      The next morning Liz was awakened by pains in her lower back.  She got up, showered and then dressing in a nice maternity jumpsuit.  She wanted to look as nice as possible for Mrs. Richards.

     As Liz busied herself making a decent breakfast, she suddenly felt a warm gush of water soaking her clothes between her legs.  Liz knew her water had just broken; she grabbed her keys, stopping first to call Mrs. Letch.

     “Mrs. Letch?”

     “Liz, how are you?”

     “My water just broke.”

     “Do you need me to drive you to the hospital?  I can come right away.”

     “No, I think I can make it, its only fifteen minutes to the base hospital.  Would you do me a really big favor?  I need you to pick up Mrs. Richards at the airport; her flight will arrive at 6:10 p.m.”

     “Sure, I’ll pick her up.  First, I’m coming to the hospital, you need someone with you.  I’ll meet you there.”

   The phone went dead.  Liz hung up, got her pre-packed suit case and was out the door heading for the hospital.  Her contractions were coming six minutes apart. She knew she was in for a long laborious day.

     Mrs. Letch beat her to the hospital and was waiting by the emergency entrance doors when Liz drove up.  Mrs. Letch ran over to the driver’s side helping Liz out of the Tahoe. 

Mrs. Letch yelled for the intern just inside the entrance.  “We need help over here!  Bring a wheel chair!”

     “Mrs. Letch, I can still walk.”

     “Oh, no, you’re not!  We’re not taking any chances.”

     “Okay, since your Mrs. Chief, I guess I’ll do as you say.”

     Liz sat in the wheel chair the intern brought over and was taken immediately to the maternity ward.  The doctor on duty examining her said, “We’ll it looks like today’s the day, Mrs. Richards.  You’ve dilated to a five already.  Would you like anything for the pain?”

     “No, I want to have my baby natural.”

     “You’re a real trooper.  Most girls are screaming for pain killers.”

     Liz smiled up at the doctor.  “I could be before it’s over with.”

     The doctor did a sonogram to verify the baby was in the right position.  “It looks good; the baby is in the heads down position.  Your contractions will start coming closer as your dilation increases, but just remember to breath.”

 Liz looked up at Mrs. Letch who was holding her hand.  “Thanks for being here with me.”

     Mrs. Letch squeezed her hand.  “That will probably be the nicest thing you say until this baby comes.”

     They both laughed as a contraction hit Liz that took her complete attention.

     At 4:35 p.m., Liz was in full dilation on the birthing table with Mrs. Letch by her side.  Liz thought her breathing and cries could be heard through the entire hospital.

     The doctor said, “Okay, Liz, I need you to push.”

     The two nurses helped Liz lean forward as she sucked in air, and then pushed with great force.

     “Ok, Liz, stop for a minute.”

     Liz could feel the doctor turning the baby within her.

     “One more time, Liz, give it all you got!”

     Again the nurses held Liz forward as she pushed fiercely, letting out a slight cry when she felt the baby slip from within her.  Liz felt relief overcome her as she heard Dayla’s first cries.  Liz tried to lean forward to get a glimpse of Dayla, but the nurses were cleaning her up.

     Finally they came over to Liz, placing Dayla in her arms, Liz gasped.  Dayla had black hair like Calvin’s with the face of an angel, she was beautiful.  Mrs. Letch stood nearly in awe.  “Liz, she’s perfect.  What is her name?”

     “It’s Dayla, for day of love.”

     “That is so beautiful.  I’ve never heard a name picked with such sincerity.”

     Once the doctor finished up with Liz they put her in a wheel chair taking her to her room.  The baby was taken for test to make sure she had no underlying problems.

     Mrs. Letch, walking beside Liz’s wheel chair, said, “I’m going to the airport to get Mrs. Richards, I won’t be long.”

     “Thank you for being here with me through this Mrs. Letch.  Could you call chief and let him know I may not make it Monday for duty.”

     Mrs. Letch laughed.  “Well, that goes without saying.  I’ll call him on the way to the airport.”

     “I really appreciate you.”

     “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, Liz.  I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

     Mrs. Letch left the hospital heading for the airport.  Liz was put into bed and covered up.  The nurses brought her something to drink.

     “When do I get my baby back?”

     “In one hour, we need to complete standard tests first.”

     “Please bring her as soon as you can.”

     The black nurse was a kind soul and knew the yearning a woman had for her new child.  “I assure you, Mrs. Richards, as soon as they let me have her she comes straight to you.  Relax; you’ve been through a lot.”

     “I just want her near me.”

     “She’s a beauty!”

     “Yes she is, but I’m partial to her.”

     “The nurse smiled.  “God sends such loving gifts.”

     “Yes he does.”

     As the nurse left the room, Liz was finding it hard to relax.  She just wanted to hold Dayla.  Liz pondered on how much Dayla resembled Calvin.  Her eyes were dark blue right now, but Liz hoped they would turn out to be the icy blue color of Calvin’s eyes.  Liz wished so badly that Calvin could have been with her right now, and as the months had pasted, her fears of him really being dead were looking more like reality, but she still hoped.

     Liz did feel exhausted and soon fell asleep.  She felt like she had only been asleep fifteen minutes when a nurse came in to her bed calling her name.  When Liz opened her eyes Dayla was in a cradle next to her bed.

     “Mrs. Richards, here’s your new arrival.  We have more tests to run, but so far her vital signs, blood sugar levels, and responses all look wonderful.”

     Liz sat up in bed grabbing Dayla and holding her in the crook of her arm.  Dayla looked up at Liz as if she were looking through bright sunlight, wrinkling her eye brows.

“Hi, my sweet, Mama’s going to spoil you so much!”

     Liz kissed her on the forehead, laying Dayla on her lap and checking her fingers and toes.  Liz completely examined her little body from head to toe, Dayla’s little hands going in all directions.  Liz Eskimo wrapped Dayla back in the blanket and held her in her arms.

She called Grandma and Grandpa Shamblee, then Robin and Lee.  Everyone was excited and loved the name Liz had picked for the baby.

     When she got off the phone the nurse come in.  “We need to take her back again, Mrs. Richards.”

     “I’ve only had her twenty minutes.”

     The nurse giggled.  “We’ll bring her back, besides its time for your dinner.  After you get done eating we should be done with her and then you can try to feed her.”

     “Do you have bottles?”

     “We sure do!  If that’s what you want.”

     “I figured it would be best.  I only get four weeks maternity leave and then I’ll have to find a babysitter.”

     “I’ll bring you everything you need when I bring the baby back.”

     The nurse put Dayla in the cradle rolling her out of the room.  She had no more than gone when another nurse came in with a tray of food.  Liz didn’t realize how hungry she was until the smell of the food assailed her senses.  Liz ate every bite then pushed the tray aside.  She decided it was time to attempt a trip to the bathroom.  Once Liz got on her feet, she nearly fell over because she was much lighter and was having to learn how to balance herself without a big belly.  Liz liked feeling normal in size again, now she just had to work on her equilibrium.  Liz completed what felt like a long journey to the bathroom.  When she came out the nurse was there to check on her.

     “It’s good to see you up and moving, Mrs. Richards.”

     “I feel like an old woman, it took me forever it seemed to get to that bathroom.”

     “Oh, you’ll pickup speed in a day or so.”

     “Will I be getting my baby soon?”

     “Should be anytime, Sugar.”

     The nurse helped Liz back into bed, examining her to make sure everything was looking good.  The nurse left the room and in walked Mrs. Letch and Mrs. Richards.  Mrs. Richards came to Liz; hugging her neck.  When she pulled away Liz saw tears in her eyes, as she smiled.  “Now you were supposed to wait for me to get here.”

     “I guess Dayla decided to be here for your arrival.  Thank you, Mrs. Letch, for picking up Mrs. Richards for me.”

     “No problem at all.”

     The nurse pushed the baby’s cradle into the room.  “Here’s your girl.”

     Mrs. Richards went over beaming down with joy at her new granddaughter.  “Liz, may I hold her?”

     “Absolutely, you’ll be holding her a lot as she grows, I’m sure.”

     Mrs. Richards reached into the cradle, gently picking up Dayla, and spreading the blanket away from her face exposed her hair.  She began to cry.  “She looks just like Calvin when he was born.  Oh, she is so precious.”

     Mrs. Richards, would you like to feed her?”

     “I would love to.”

     Liz handed her a small glass baby bottle from the bottom of the portable cradle.  Liz was deeply touched as she watched Mrs. Richards feeding Dayla; adoring her every move.  Liz saw a renewing within Mrs. Richards spirit. 

Mrs. Letch leaned down; kissing Liz on the cheek.  “I’ll be going now.  I did call chief and he sends his congratulations.  He was hoping to come by while you’re on maternity leave and see Dayla, if that’s alright.”

     “You tell him if he doesn’t, he’ll have one moody female on his hands when I get back to duty.”

     Liz and Mrs. Letch laughed, “Call me if you need me Liz.”

     “Thanks again for everything, Mrs. Letch.”

     “You just take care of that baby.”

     Mrs. Richards sat cooing and talking to Dayla.  She seemed to Liz to be lost in her own world of love for Calvin’s daughter.

     Liz turned her head toward Mrs. Richards.  “She does look like Calvin; I hope she has his beautiful blue eyes.”

     “Liz, she favors him so much that even if her eyes aren’t the same color, she’ll be him all over again.  Thank you so much for letting me be here.”

     “I’m happy you’re here for me and Dayla.  Since you seem to have everything under control would you mind if I try and sleep a bit?”

     “Get your rest, darling, I’ll not leave Dayla’s side, she may never leave my lap.”

     Liz laughed.  “That’s perfectly fine.”

     “And Liz?”


     “Please, call me Gwendolyn.”

     Liz snuggled into her covers and was quickly fast asleep.  She felt like she hadn’t slept for a week.  Later that night when she awoke; her room suddenly looked like a jungle.  Liz sat up in her bed focusing her eyes.  Gwendolyn still sat in the chair beside her holding Dayla as she slept.

     “Where did all the plants and flowers come from?”

     “I ordered one arrangement from the gift shop, and the others just started pouring in.”

     Liz slowly got up going around inspecting the cards on each.  They were from others in her unit, as well as, from the chief.  “Thank you for the plant, Gwendolyn.  I never expected all the rest of these either.”

     “A lot of people must care about you Liz.”

     “It’s nice to know.  I’ll have to send thank you cards.”

     About that time the nurse came in.  “I’m afraid visiting hours are over.”

     Gwendolyn stood up handing Dayla to Liz.  “It’s so hard to know I’ll have to be away from you two.”

     The nurse smiled.  “If all goes well, Mrs. Richards should be released tomorrow afternoon.”

     “Gwendolyn, why don’t you go to my house for tonight then if the powers that be release me you can drive us home tomorrow.”

     “I really don’t mind staying in a hotel for the night.”

    “There’s no need for you to.  Beside you came all this way to be with me and the baby.  Just go to the house and make yourself at home.”

     “Your persistence has swayed me.”

     Liz gave Gwendolyn the keys for her Tahoe; telling her where it had been parked and then giving her directions to the house. 

     “I’ll be here tomorrow as soon as they open the doors for visitors.”

     “I hope I get to go home tomorrow.”

     “My Calvin could have never found a more precious jewel than you, Liz.”

     “Gwendolyn, thank you, you say such kind words.”

     “No, Liz, truthful words.”

     Gwendolyn kissed the baby good bye and softly pressed her hand on Liz’s cheek.  “See you tomorrow.”

     After Gwendolyn left Dayla started squirming around.  “I suppose you’re hungry again?”

     Liz feed and changed Dayla then held her in her arms not wanting to put her down.

     Gwendolyn finally found the Tahoe and drove straight to Liz’s house without a problem.  She let herself in and stood looking around the house.  When she went into Liz’s bedroom she saw the picture of Liz and Calvin by the bed side.  She picked it up admiring what an adorable couple they had made.  “I miss you my son.  I promise to give Dayla all the love I have.”

     Gwendolyn fell asleep on the couch that night drifting in her own thoughts as the TV filled the air.





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