Porcelain (Part 7)

Olivia’s pregnancy progressed without much incident other than a sharp pain in her left side that was so intense that it kept her in bed for two days.  Her doctor, despite prodding and poking far in excess of what Olivia’s mother deemed appropriate, had been unable to determine if there was anything actually wrong with her, and in the end declared that the child must have a heel or elbow jammed up against her side.  That was nonsense, as Olivia knew exactly where her baby was at the time, however the doctor seemed content to believe it and the pain went away before much more of an argument could be made.  It had led to the one disagreement which occurred between Olivia and her mother during her pregnancy, one that started as soon as the doctor had made his pronouncement, closed up his bag and scuttled off down the street in his usual nervous way.

“You should be using Jeb Martin, he saw me through having you and all the rest of your brothers and sisters.”

“Mother, there is no way that I am going to have Dr. Martin anywhere near me or this baby.  You know he’s a homeopath and his type aren’t recognized anymore.”

“That is such nonsense Olivia and you know better than that too.  He’s taken care of you, well took care of you I guess, all through your years of growing up, and you certainly don’t have anything to complain about in regard to your health.”


“And he’s taken care of me too, through all of it, still does although just through letters, advice that I ask him for from time to time.  There is nothing wrong with the medicine he practices.”

Olivia looked away for a moment and rolled her eyes in an effort to restrain herself from being too blunt.

“He may or may not know what he is doing mother, and I won’t argue the point about whatever care he has given to you or me.  I guess I truly can’t complain about that.  These days though, all that homeopathic medicine just is not thought of very well, and good folk won’t have it around them.  I’m not going to have some doctor of ill repute pressing his hands on me and deciding what is right for me and this baby.”

“The only people giving doctors like Jeb Martin a reputation of ill repute are folk like yourself Olivia who take the time to believe it and spread the nonsense around.”

Olivia rolled her eyes again, however it was much less effective than before.  “It’s because we have new knowledge mother, not everything that used to be correct and proper still is.”

“Nor is everything that is currently thought of as correct and proper necessarily true either.”

“And it wouldn’t matter anyway as I seriously doubt that Doctor Martin can care for me properly from all these miles away.  Unless you’re suggesting that we haul him out here to do so?”

Olivia, who during most of this argument had been looking out the window toward the street, turned her eyes now to look directly into those of her mother, a look that seemed to convey that if nothing else was true that this last point was certainly well spoken.  Her mother remained silent for long minutes, her gaze locked with that of her daughter.  Finally she coughed slightly and spoke.

“Of course he won’t be coming out here Olivia, however it wouldn’t hurt to ask the man his opinion about this latest trouble you have been having.  Perhaps he has some idea of what it may be.”

“I said I won’t have it mother and I won’t.  Doctor Tyler said I will be fine and I expect that I will be.”

That had been the last word spoken about the matter of homeopathic doctors and although the idea of a second opinion would look good in retrospect it was a matter that was closed at that moment.

The pain had lessened on the second day and was gone by the morning of the third, leaving Olivia in a much better mood.  There had been no other issues and no other arguments and it was the Tuesday which marked just thirty days to her due date when her mother had presented her with the dress.  Although largely a matter of fact, no frills type of a woman, this particular occasion caused Olivia’s mother to spend a few extra moments setting up things to be memorable.  She had awoken Olivia at eight by bringing in a tray containing a light breakfast of fruit and toast along with a steaming cup of tea.  It had caught Olivia by surprise however she had held her tongue, finishing the meal and bringing the tray back out to the kitchen before going into the sitting room to join her mother.  Setting down her cup of tea, she took the seat on the sofa nearest to the old woman and then sat in silence, moments which seemed to be poignant to her mother.  The time had slipped by, Olivia sipping tea and her mother rocking slowly back and forth, humming under her breath and smiling gently.  Finally, when Olivia had drained the cup and placed it down with a sharp, empty click against its saucer, her mother had stood up and taken her hand, guiding her to the old straight back chair that looked out the front window.  After sitting her down and patting her hand, a gentle command to stay where she was, her mother had gone into her bedroom and returned with a small package wrapped in white linen.  Olivia had taken the offered gift and opened it slowly, finally drawing out a simple but well-made white dress.  It was cut full at the bottom and had a slightly drawn in waist along with frills on the shoulders and neck and lace on the cuffs.  A bonnet, which also had frills on the edges, was folded by itself within the package, as was a short note written in her mother’s exact handwriting.  The dress and bonnet and been enough to bring a few tears to Olivia’s eyes, however the note caused her to get up and embrace her mother, who offered an awkward but tight embrace in return.

“It’s simply wonderful mother, it must have taken you, well I know how long you have been working on it, but so much effort and skill must have gone into it.  The work is so fine and it is just beautiful.  My baby will look so perfect in it.”

“Your daughter my dear, your daughter will look perfect in it.  A perfect dress for a perfect daughter.”

“I do hope you are right.  I do want a daughter.”

Her mother had replied simply by patting her hand and then stroking the hair back from her face.

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