"I'm afraid we cannot allow you to have the baby. She's our baby…"
"Why are you doing this? This is our baby. We have an understanding with your daughter…."
"Well, no thanks to you she cannot tell us much now, can she?!"
The harsh whispering voices sounded very familiar to Rowan. She tried to moan, to hear her own voice at least, but couldn't. Oh, yes. She remembered. That was Mr Ian Palmer, her neighbour and very good friend. And why was Daddy speaking to him in that impolite tone?
Then she had a flashback to the almost fatal car accident that occurred yesterday. That must be how she ended up in the hospital, Rowan thought. Gosh, she felt sore all over, especially in the lower part of her stomach, like she'd been run over by a truck!
"D-dad?" Her voice sounded hoarse.
"I cannot believe this," Rowan's Dad, Eugene Miracle, started to say. "Rowan? Are you awake?"
"Oh, my baby girl. Someone get the doctor, please," Rowan's mother, Laura Miracle whispered tearfully as she sat on the bed, bent and placed her forehead on Rowan's. Fat tears rolled out of her eyes onto Rowan's face. She understood her mother's emotion. She could have died but she survived the accident.
"Yes, Dad. I'm awake and it hurts everywhere," Rowan said, glancing from her mother to her father, then to a widely smiling Ian Palmer, her neighbour.
Ian drew closer and squeezed her hand in his head. Tears pooled in his eyes and he smiled through them. "Rowan Miracle. You do live by your name. It's a miracle to see you awake and timely too," he whispered, glancing from her to her father.
Rowan was going to ask what he meant when the three doctors and nurses came in to examine her. Her parents and Ian Palmer were sent out of the room.
"Ms Rowan," one of the good looking doctors drew her attention while gently patting her lower abdomen. "How do you feel here?"
"Uh, it hurts there. Was I operated on?"
The doctors exchanged a look between themselves. "Ms Rowan, you were in a coma for approximately nine months after the accident."
Her eyes widened in shock. "W-what? Nine months. The accident happened yesterday."
"Not yesterday. About nine months ago. You remember you had some egg implants with respect to your surrogacy a few days before the accident?"
Rowan paled in shock. "I remember. Oh no. The eggs failed?"
"Miraculously they did not. You became pregnant while in a coma and had your baby two days ago. It must be the distress that pulled you out of the coma."
The looks from the doctors and nurses confirmed what she just heard. No wonder her body hurt all over.
"Congratulations Ms Rowan. In the meantime, we'll run some tests to know how you are doing. I'll let in your family so you can decide the way forward for your baby. She's doing great, by the way. Mrs Palmer and your mother have been taking turns bonding with her."
"Rowan, she's your baby. The baby is ours. Why would you let the Palmers have her?" Eugene Miracle growled, his face flushed in frustration.
Rowan rubbed her face and groaned into her hand. "Dad please, don't be difficult. The Palmers and I had an understanding that I would carry their baby…"
"Why would you do that? Sell your body for them?"
"Eugene!!" Both mother and daughter shouted simultaneously.
Eugene flushed from embarrassment. "You know I'm right," he glanced at both of them.
"No, Dad. You are wrong. Times have changed and it's my body. The Palmers are my good friends and I agreed to carry their babies because they cannot. It's not a crime! I'd think you would commend me for being nice to them."
Eugene paced in the room. "Not this, Rowan. Not this. I will always know that my blood is out there living with some strangers…"
Just then Ian Palmer and his wife, Alycia Palmer, walked into the room. Eugene raised his hands in resignation, "And they are here!"
"Stop it, Eugene. Behave yourself," Laura Miracle, his wife, reprimanded him. She smiled and turned to face Alycia. "Did you get a good rest?"
Alycia nodded. "I came as soon as Ian told me Rowan was awake."
Alycia drew close to the bed, hesitated a little before embracing Rowan. Both ladies cried a little. "I thought I had lost you, my friend," Alycia said.
With tears in her eyes, Rowan chuckled. "My name is Miracle, remember? I made it."
"Yes, you did. She's beautiful. Our baby is beautiful…." Alycia started to say when Eugene interrupted hotly. "The baby is ours, not yours!"
"Mr Miracle, out of respect to Rowan, I would ask you not to speak to my wife like that," Ian said, coming to stand beside Alycia.
"Stop, please!" Rowan intervened quickly. "Dad, just stop. The baby is theirs…"
"But you did not sign an agreement before the accident."
"Dad, I had an understanding with the Palmers to carry their baby. It's my body and my choice. We were going to sign the formal agreement then the crash happened and I ended up here….Just...just let it go, Dad." Rowan said solemnly. She was very tired and determined to keep her promise to the Palmers.
The hospital room was quiet. Ian and Alycia held hands and smiled at Rowan for making the right decision and not break their hearts by contending the baby's parentage.
Laura Miracle stared pointedly at Eugene. "You heard her. It's her decision, not yours." She turned to look at her daughter. "It's hard for us because you are our only child but we respect your decision."
Eugene angrily walked out of the room.
"Mom?" Rowan whispered, tears in her eyes.
Laura hugged her. "Don't worry. He loves you and will get over it. I'll be back to see you tomorrow."
I hope you enjoyed reading this story. It's my entry to The Ink Well Prompt #51: They're Here.
Image source: Zack Lucero from Unsplash