Hi everyone! Thank you for visiting my blog. I’ve been working on this story for a while now. I was supposed to post the first installment of this short series two weeks ago but the story took on a life of its own. It’s finally done and it’s a little longer than I had anticipated. So I will be posting three times a week until the end. I hope you will follow the series all the way through. I appreciate any feedback you leave in the comments below. Thank you and enjoy. ♥
The Search for the Last Flower
by Vashti Q
“Something’s wrong.” All color drained from Clarice’s face.
Dylan, her assistant, stared at her wide-eyed.
“She’s in a lot of pain, her face is pallid, and her pulse is weak.” She waved her hand at him. “Get Dr. Johnson––hurry!” She had to yell over the woman’s screams of pain.
“Where is he?” Dylan gawped at her. She scowled and he gulped, nodded and ran out of the hut in search of the doctor.
The heat in the jungle was stifling. Clarice wiped the sweat off her brow and passed her hand over Flaviá’s head.
Flaviá gazed at her with imploring dark brown eyes and cried out in her native language, which was some sort of Portuguese dialect. Clarice did not understand a word. “Try to calm down.” She held the tribeswoman’s hand, but her own hand trembled. Flavía howled as the next wave of contractions assailed her body.
“Don’t push yet.” Clarice instructed her to do her breathing exercises, but she knew she was beyond that. “We must wait for Dr. Johnson. The baby may be breeched.”
It was Clarice’s first trip to the Amazon basin and her first time assisting in the birth of a tribal woman’s baby. This was an unknown tribe they had stumbled upon during a routine flight into Brazil. While taking a different route to fly around a storm, they had spotted the village in a clearing surrounded on all sides by jungle.
There was something peculiar about the tribespeople of this village. From what she had learned in the few weeks she’s been there, these people seemed to know little of pain or death. There was a sort of happy innocence about them, like they had been shielded from the dark side of life. But now they might experience a rude awakening, and she did not know what that spelled for her, Dylan, or the doctor. Things were not going well.
Moments later, Dr. Johnson hurried into the hut, trailed by Dylan. The doctor knelt by the pregnant woman and grabbed her wrist. “Her pulse is very weak. How long has she been in labor?”
“Two hours.” Clarice panted wiping her forehead again. “She was doing fine and then she began complaining of pain. She’s been screaming ever since, and has become ashen and frail.”
“What did you give her?” The doctor rummaged through his medical bag.
“What do you mean?” She stared at him.
“You are a nurse practitioner and midwife.” The doctor raised his voice, which made Dylan jump. “Must I tell you everything?”
Clarice felt heat rise to her face, and her cheeks turned a deep pink. She glanced at Dylan and then set her sights on the doctor. “Yes, Dr. Johnson, I am a nurse and midwife, but I am also a Christian missionary. These people do not condone the use of narcotics, especially during childbirth. They would rather die. I will not deceive them.”
Flaviá, who had been wailing in pain the entire time, abruptly became quiet. Dr. Johnson and Clarice stopped glowering at each other and looked her way. The woman began to shake and convulse. Clarice hurried to hold her down so that she wouldn’t hurt herself.
Dr. Johnson positioned himself between her legs. Blood was gushing from her. “There’s not much more we can do for her, she’s hemorrhaging and I can’t stop the bleeding.” Dr. Johnson pushed down on Flaviá’s belly, trying to guide the baby into the right position. “We may still be able to save the infant.”
Flaviá winced and groaned in pain, her dark eyes rolling back in her head. She became quiet.
“Flaviá, Flaviá!” Clarice cried into her hands. “Oh God, I think she’s dead.”
Dr. Johnson sucked his teeth. “Auscultate her and document the time of death!”
Clarice placed the cold diaphragm of her stethoscope on the woman’s chest and searched desperately for a heartbeat. “There’s no cardiac activity.”
“Of course not, because dead people don’t usually have heartbeats.” Dr. Johnson sucked his teeth again and huffed, looked at his watch and stated the time of death.
Clarice and Dylan stared at him with stunned faces.
“From what I’ve gathered from speaking to the tribesmen, these people had not experienced a death in over a hundred years,” the doctor said matter-of-factly. “We don’t know how the tribe will react to the death of their elder’s wife.” Dylan gasped. Clarice swallowed hard. “Hopefully, they will be too busy celebrating the birth of a healthy––ah yes, baby boy—to care.” The doctor pulled the plump male infant out, causing the baby to begin crying.
Upon hearing the baby’s cry, the tribes’ elder, Flaviá’s husband, walked into the hut. His broad grin transformed into a horrified grimace when he saw his wife’s limp body sprawled in a pool of blood. He glared at Dr. Johnson and stormed out, yelling something even the doctor did not understand.
They heard a lot of activity outside the door. Dr. Johnson looked at Clarice, his brow knit tightly.
“What is happening?” Clarice’s chest heaved.
Dylan shrugged, shook his head, and bit his lower lip.
“Go see what’s going on,” Clarice told him. As he turned to go the doctor stopped him.
“No, stay.” He beckoned him to stand by his side. “Let the tribe mourn in their own way.”
Dylan glanced at Clarice with a confused expression. She gestured for him to come back. “It’s okay. Stay and help us clean and prepare Flaviá’s body.”
Dr. Johnson handed the crying infant to Clarice in a rough manner. She put the baby boy gently on the ground beside her and began the revolting task of cleaning the blood and preparing the woman for whatever death ritual this tribe had in mind. Dylan helped her, while the doctor sat back and watched.
Clarice propped the dead woman’s head on a small pillow. The doctor sucked his teeth and looked sideways. She ignored him and swore to herself that she would never again accompany him on a mission.
Dylan passed a wet rag over the dead woman’s face. Clarice glanced at his hands.
“Your hands are trembling. Here––let me have the cloth. She gently took the rag from him and decided to finish the job herself.
“How old do you think she is––was?” Dylan stared at the dead woman’s face with a grim expression.
Clarice regarded her. “I’m not sure because––”
Flaviá’s eyes snapped open. Clarice screamed and Dylan jumped back. The doctor frowned and moved closer to scrutinized her.
“It’s just a reflex.” He reached into his bag for a stethoscope and auscultated her. “There’s no cardiac activity. She is definitely dead.”
Flaviá’s hand began to twitch and her arm flexed. She sat upright, turned her head sluggishly toward Clarice, and stared.
Clarice gasped. “How is this possible?” She recoiled.
“I thought you said she was dead!” Dylan’s lips quivered as he dragged himself away.
“She had no heart beat––no pulse.” Dr. Johnson gaped at the woman.
Copyright © 2015 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.