Petra tried to focus her attention on anything but her
mother. She stared out the window. The lightening -- or the rain pounding
against the pane -- could not scare her tonight.
She watched the prickly pears hit
with such force it knocked them off the cacti and she tried to concentrate
more on the storm and less on her mothers’ screams.
“I’m scared,” she whispered to her sister as Sonia approached, instinctively
placing an arm around her shoulders.
“Mama will be fine.”
“But what if she has another girl? Papa said he’ll leave.”
“Let him leave,” Sonia snapped. At 15, she was fed up with the roles women
She looked determined as she grabbed her younger sister by the
“He’s never around anyway and when he
is, he’s always drunk. Mama doesn’t need him. Mama has us. I hope she has a
girl. I want him gone.”
Petra could see the determination in her sister's eyes, but a sudden loud scream caused them
both to run to the bedroom.
“Almost. Almost. Come on. Push a little more,” the midwife looked worried as
she encouraged their mother.
“No puedo; no puedo,” she started crying in Spanish. “I can’t do
“You have to do it. Just a little bit more. I see the head now.”
Petra gasped as she saw the squirmy, bloody child pass from her mother.
“It’s a boy!” the midwife exclaimed as Sonia’s expression fell. It was not that
she didn’t want a brother. She just didn’t want her father to stay.
“Sonia, quick. Help me,” the midwife said as they rushed away with the baby.
“Dios mio,” Petra heard her mother scream. “Where’s my baby? Where are you
At that moment, Petra realized she never heard the baby cry. Tears rolled
down her cheeks and grief filled her heart as she remembered the pale and limp
baby brush past her, the whitish-blue umbilical cord dangling from the tiny
A powerful spasm hit her mother again and she screamed as she squeezed
“Maria!” Petra yelled for the older woman. “Maria!”
The midwife rushed in with the first baby still in her arms. She had just
wrapped the newborn in a blanket and quickly handed him to Sonia.
A look of panic filled Maria as she saw a second head crowning between the
"My God! Twins!" the midwife exclaimed.