They said she was too old to have a baby.
Doctors said she'd die if she had a second one.
Lettie thought different about that. Lettie thought different about a lot of things other folks said and thought.
Doctors said she'd die when she had her girl Jaycee ten years ago too, but Lettie was still very much alive.
Well, she almost died, but 'almost' didn't count with Lettie.
She did as she pleased and she had since a young age. That didn't do a world of wonder for her health, but she was happy with Jaycee. Her daughter was a good one, as smart and independent as her mom.
Now Lettie wanted a son because Jaycee wished for a brother.
Jaycee never mentioned a wish before. Lettie thought one wish was the least she could do for her girl.
Like any good mom might, she found a man whose looks she favored and who favored her for a week or two. It worked just fine. She got pregnant and Jaycee was more happy. Naturally, Lettie never saw the man again. Lettie's kids would always be her own, like her place and her life was.
This time Lettie had to let doctors operate, mainly for the baby. The operation was called a see section.
While Jaycee sat in the hospital waiting room with some lady from her mom's past, Desiree, she found a new comic strip. Jaycee never met Desiree before. She ignored the old woman and studied the new comic in the newspaper instead.
She thought it was a pretty good one. It was funny and kind of weird, like her mom. Jaycee almost forgot to worry while she read it. The kid in the comic had the exact same name the neighbors gave their cat five years ago, both first and last names. Jaycee saw that this was today's paper, too. Very interesting.
She hardly noticed when Desiree left her to go outside and smoke.
What a funny thing about that name in the comic. When Jaycee's brother got born, maybe she should call him that.
Jaycee used her mom's last name, a fake one, but Brown would fit a boy real well.
Lettie told Jaycee many weeks ago they got to pick the boy's birthday, and that Jaycee could choose his name.
Doctors gave Lettie a list of dates.
Jaycee and Lettie planned a birthday so they would have a Libra in the family.
"There're too many Scorpios between the two of us already," Lettie said.
Her daughter agreed. A teacher's pet at school said Scorpios were "kind of nuts, too smarty-pants and they argue way too much." Then the kid ran away. Stuff like that happened a lot around Jaycee and Lettie. He must've been right.
The operation was taking a long, long time.
Jaycee asked the nurse in the waiting room if the she could use a pink crayon and paper she saw for the little kids. Then she drew a pink vase like a jelly jar with three pink flowers in it to give her mom. She saw other people holding real flowers in long vases, and remembered what Lettie said.
"If you can, draw me flowers like the neighbor has," she said before docs took her away. "Pink flowers for you and me and Baby-boy. Cosmos flowers, like the stars and sun and the moon and our place. Stars look like a Libra to me. Don't they to you? Libra for your brother. Wait with Desiree. See you soon, little lady."
But Desiree was gone a long, long time.
Jaycee read the comics again and waited. She sometimes kicked her feet like she was a baby herself. That Desiree made her mad. Mom counted on the old woman to sit with her, and she was gone. She was a "flake." Mom would say that.
A doctor wearing green came in and everyone looked to see who he wanted. He saw Jaycee but didn't approach her or anyone else. The doc spoke to the nurse in whispers. The waiting room nurse talked to Jaycee when the doctor left.
"Are you as brave a little girl as your mommy said you are?" the nurse said, leading Jaycee away.
"I'm not little and she's my mom, not my 'mommy.' I'm brave. Mom always tells the truth."
"Mrs. Kingston is..."
"She likes to be called Lettie. For a paper, prob'ly Miss Kingston. She's not married."
"Oh. Well. Your mom is very sick right now and has to stay in hospital for some time. Where is that woman who waited with you before? Who is she?"
"Desiree. She smokes. I guess she ran out of cigarettes. I don't know who or where she is. She flaked a long time ago."
The nurse raised her eyebrows, then sighed.
"Well, sweetie, right now your mom is in what's called a coma. The doctors will do their best to wake her up but they must try slowly. That's what I mean by sick. Do you know what a coma is?"
Jaycee did. "People sleep when they don't mean to."
"Yes. Are you okay, Jaycee? I wish Desiree was here."
Jaycee didn't. She didn't like Desiree. Jaycee stood there, holding the picture of pink flowers in one hand and the paper with the comic in it in the other. She had to hang onto something, and a nurse who smelled funny wasn't the 'something.'
"Um," Jaycee said. "My mom's in a coma? Will she be okay?"
"I can almost say yes. Not for sure. Almost a yes. But we always hope for the best, right?"
"I do. I always do. She'll wake up. Mom gets bored sleeping too much. It pisses her off."
The nurse's eyes widened a bit. Then she nodded and said, "Hold that thought, dear."
"Nurse, what about my baby brother?"
The nurse smiled then, a real smile.
"You have two baby brothers, Jaycee. They're too little to leave hospital for a while, but they'll be fine."
Jaycee felt like somebody just punched her.
"Yes, dear. Identical twins. They're in incubators now. Do you know what those are?"
"Like for the baby chickens out back?"
The nurse laughed and put a hand on Jaycee's shoulder.
"You are smart. Yes, a little like that. Do you want to see them? You have to look through a window. They put bracelets on them, ones with an 'A' and a 'B.' One baby smiled and the other cried already, Doctor said. Want to see?"
"Oh yes! I have two brothers and two names for them! Can we go now?"
"I'll take you now, yes," the nurse said. "They're down this hall."
"And my mom?"
"Is she a fighter?"
"Some kids think she's mean and tough. But see this? She wanted me to draw flowers. She's nice. Can I give it to her? After I see my brothers? I mean, will you take me to my mom or take this if I can't go? Is it right kids can't see moms?"
"Your mom will make it too, I think. If she's a fighter, it's better. And of course someone will give her your flowers as soon as they can. You can't see your mom right now. You'll have to wait for Desiree, or we'll make other arrangements for you. Don't worry. Our staff takes care of many things here."
The nurse took Jaycee to her brothers, side-by-side in incubators, each wrinkled and red, nearly as small as new chicks. They were under lights and had tubes and stuff on them, but they wore the cutest tiny blue hats.
Jaycee stared hard and thought silently.
The one on the left is Charlie. The one on the right is Brown. Charlie Kingston and Brown Kingston. I like that. I love them! I miss you, Mom. I'm gonna be the mom for at least one of them. You can't do both. Um. Charlie. That's my baby. Mom, wake up soon! I drew the star-flowers for you. We're gonna be happy together and I love you so much. The doctors said you were too old, but you gave me two brothers. Wake up and see my pink star-flowers real soon!