July 1, 1936, London
Jack Winston paced in his living room as doctors rushed to and from his bedroom. Curse those blasted in-home doctors! Yet she had repeatedly demanded not to go to a hospital. She had insisted on having as few people in the room as possible as she gave birth, insisting that Jack stay in the living room, not wanting him to see her like that. Though he could hear her screams as clear as day.
His hands itched to open his bedroom door. He wanted to hold Ming’s hand and tell her that everything will be okay. He wanted to assure her that nothing was going to go wrong, which she had been so terrified of since the moment she had found out they would be getting a new addition.
Everything was like a blur. Jack eventually drank a little rum to calm his nerves, which worked for a small while until the screams faded into the background. It was only when he heard a second, softer set of screams that the realization hit him. He was a father.
Ming’s screams cut short moments later. They didn’t fade. They didn’t calm. They didn’t quiet. They just stopped. Something was wrong.
Jack was through that bedroom door within moments, still hearing the screams of the child, but looking wildly around for the mother. His eyes soon found her. His beautiful Ming was laying on the bed in a pool of blood. Her body was limp, eyes slightly opened but glazed over. Her chest neither rose nor fell.
He weakly stumbled over to her as if in a trance. “Ming,” he mumbled to her, brushing his hand along her cheek. There was still some warmth, but he could feel the warmth leaving her body as his hand remained on her cheek. Jack’s blue eyes filled with tears. This wasn’t happening! This couldn’t be happening! He was eighteen, for God’s sake! He knew nothing about children!
The doctor stepped over behind Jack. “I’m sorry, Mr. Winston. There was nothing we could do. It was sudden and unexpected.”
Jack squeezed his eyes shut. “Why?” he simply said, trying to control the fire of rage burning inside of him. “Why didn’t you do anything for her?!” he shouted, whirling around on the doctor. “How the bloody hell could you have let this happen?!”
The doctor bowed his head. “There were more complications than you were aware of,” he simply said. “Things she wished to remain secret.” He took a deep breath and sighed. “She knew this would happen all along, yet didn’t want you to worry. All she asked before the procedure was that you knew she loved you and that you take care of the child.”
Jack fell to his knees, screaming. The person he loved most in the world was now gone. The only person who could console him at a time like this was dead. His head felt like it would explode! Was this just a nightmare?
“Wake up!” he shouted at himself, clutching his head. “Wake up, Jack!”
The doctor placed a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Mr. Winston, your late wife did leave you with a healthy son.”
Jack wiped away the tears he hadn’t felt fall from in eyes. In fact, it wasn’t just the tears he didn’t feel. His entire body was numb. He felt nothing at all. His eyes went to the bundle of blankets in the midwife’s arms. “A son?” he asked.
The doctor helped him stand and ushered him out of the room and into an armchair. “Mr. Winston, would you like to hold him?”
“Yes,” Jack answered absently. He sat back in the chair, dazed. His eyes went to the newborn infant who was soon placed in his arms. The child’s eyes were closed, but they were the same shape as Ming’s. His hair was dark like hers. It put his stomach in a knot.
“Did you have a name for him?” the doctor softly asked Jack. He stood next to them. “The late Mrs. Winston did mention names.”
At the mention of Ming, Jack nearly lost it and gripped his son tightly to him. He was all that was left of that beautiful Chinese goddess. His eyes squeezed shut, unwilling to accept the reality that she was gone and had left him all alone with a little boy who looked too much like her. He felt his chest tighten and his heart sink into his gut.
“Mr. Winston, be careful,” the doctor warned. “You don’t want to hurt the baby.”
Jack’s eyes opened. No. He couldn’t hurt him. His gaze fell upon the sleeping child in his arms. “Lee,” he softly said. “If it was a boy, we would have named him Lee Winston…”
The doctor looked at him. “So is that the name you choose?” he asked. Jack absently nodded. “That’s what we will put on the certificate then.”
Jack stared at the sleeping infant. “Lee,” he softly said, looking at the child who looked more like his mother than his father. “Please don’t leave me too.”