Dan and Marion were celebrating their fifth anniversary during one of the worst storms in California history. They danced in their bedroom, thrilling to the touch of each other’s bodies as winds howled and lightning flashed outside the large picture window. The rolling thunder provided a steady beat for Joe Cocker’s broken voice as it growled out of the cassette recorder. “What do you see when you turn out the light…”
Dan remembered exactly how his body felt at that moment, the pulsating touch of Marion’s warm fragrant skin. He sang aloud, drowning out the tape. “What do you see when you turn out the light . . .”
Dan waited for Marion to join in, but she didn’t.
“The next line….” Dan coaxed. “Go on, you know it.”
Marion’s mind was adrift.
“Come on, we’ve sung it a dozen times,” Dan pleaded, doing his best Joe Cocker. “…ah cain’t say…”
Emerging from another world, Marion sang softly. “I can’t say… but I know it’s mine.”
“Right,” Dan said.
Her eyes moistened.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I feel like crying. Just happy, I guess.”
He gently pressed his body against hers and they danced in rhythm with the storm.
Slowly, imperceptibly at first, they felt their world being infiltrated by an irritating ring.
Marion stopped dancing. “Didn’t you turn off the phones?”
“I thought I did.”
Marion looked at the flashing white phone on Dan’s night table.
“Don’t answer it,” he said.
“It’s your private line.”
“Who calls me on that line beside you?”
“I don’t know but it might be important.”
Reluctantly, Dan picked up the receiver. “What?!” he barked.
“She’s here! I can’t believe it!”
“Who is this?”
“The happiest man in the world,” the man half cried and half laughed.
“I don’t know any such person.”
“It’s me, Steve!”
“My God, Steve. What happened to you?”
“I never believed in God until now, but I just saw her face!”
“Slow down. Where are you?”
“Cedars-Sinai and I’m looking at my Molly, the most beautiful baby on
On the drive to the hospital, the windshield wipers barely kept up with the lashing downpour. “I completely forgot Simone was pregnant,” Dan said. “We never see her. Steve and I played golf two weeks ago and he never even mentioned it. Did he say anything to you?”
Marion shook her head.
When they entered the posh hospital suite, Simone was completely sedated. Steve was so excited he embraced Dan before he could drop his umbrella. The nurse rocked the screaming infant in her arms, but was unable to calm her. Marion’s eyes locked onto the baby’s gaze and she immediately stopped crying.
As Marion stared at the child, she experienced something she never had before: Swirling rhythms in the depths of her womb.
Her trance was briefly interrupted by the raspy voice of her mother in a hospital all those years before when Marion’s ovaries burst. “You’re an empty vessel now,” Harriet spat. “You’ll never know what it is to be a mother!”
As if in a dream, Marion dropped her wet coat to the floor and reached for the child. Dan had never seen Marion like that. As she picked up the baby and placed it next to her bosom, the song they had been dancing to all afternoon, lodged in Dan’s brain and he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
What do you see when you turn out the light? I can’t say, but I know it’s mine.
Marion’s face was radiant and her heart was pounding. She didn’t know whether to scream or laugh out loud but she heard the infant in her arms, inches from her face say, “I’m here, Mama!”