Short Story: "Deliver Me" by Jane Vandenburgh
a short story
Illustration by Katherine Osborn
from REDBOOK magazine, August, 1981, pg 37
First Sentence: "I lie awake at night brooding over the dark ocean of my body, waiting for its nine-month tide to turn."
Last Sentence: ""Besides," I tell her, "we can wait.""
Author: The author blurb at the end of the story tells us that this is the author's first story to appear in a national magazine. Further research shows she ended up writing two succesful novels and a memoir as well as a book for writers. Her blog is very out of date but it appears she now teaches.
I really enjoyed this story. It is short, covering two magazine pages. The meaning of the title is played out in several ways as a woman recounts a couple of consecutive days in the 10th month of her pregnancy. Any woman who has been pregnant can relate to this story, even if you haven't been overdue. Fortunately, both of mine came a bit early, but there still does come that time when you just become bloated, can't move, feel like a beached whale and wonder if the baby is ever going to come.
"Mrs. Reynolds" is at the point where she has given up hope that a baby is even coming; perhaps she is perpetually pregnant, she is in a perpetual waiting mode. Life around her is in the same state of waiting to be delivered. Her husband has undertaken the huge project of re-working their kitchen, bringing it back to it's original glory. A month's work at restoring the original wooden floor has brought on a frenzy that it must not be scratched. They have no sink as he has sent away for a new one, well an antique pine and stainless steel which "Mrs. Reynolds" and the dispatcher have a continuous conversation as she is updated about its progress across the country and its expected arrival the next day. But it doesn't show. The narrator's mother is anxious about the baby's arrival, has already come down once to help out but left shortly, murmering about why they needed to do without a sink at this time in their lives and doing dishes in the bathtub.
As the story ends, the baby has arrived, Grandma is on her way, the sink is in the corner (it arrived but needs a part on order from England), husband has finished the renovations (minus the sink) but now everything doesn't feel so hectic. With baby feeding at her breast, she has plenty of patience to wait for what/whom-ever is expected to arrive. A simple story, elegantly written.