“Help! Someone help – Chloe’s fallen!”


Steve drives Chloe and Peyton to the hospital. I ride with Alice Buchanan as we follow behind. She is on the phone with their nanny.

“Yes – we’ve left the Stark’s – we’ll be at the regional hospital on Dunlap – I don’t know – well she fainted, it could have been for any number of reasons – yes – thank you, you’re sure now? You know how long these types of things can take? – Right, well thanks again.”

After she hangs up, there is a pause; I can tell her mind is elsewhere, not at ease.

I break the silence, “What do you think happened?”

“No telling really. Not taking her vitamins, dehydrated, something more serious…”

“Will she be all right though? What about the baby?”

“I don’t know Jim, it could be killing her.”

Chokingly, I clear my throat, “that’s a horrible thing to say.”

“Oh dear, I don’t mean it that way, I just know that pregnancy is a delicate – well – condition, with complications you know?”

“Well I pray everything’s okay.”

“Me too.”


Hospitals; not sure anyone likes them. The last time I was here was when I lost Rebecca, my late wife. There hasn’t been a need to come back in the past couple of years.  I don’t guess I get out much anyways, specifically not with the Buchanan’s. Yet, here we are and with people we barely know. Come to think of it, this the first time any of us “porch people” have been out of the neighborhood with someone else from the neighborhood. More neighbors: the Allen’s, the Jensen’s, and Michelle & Janet – join us in the waiting room.

We are accustomed to the safety of our homes, our porches. We have the barriers of our lawns, the street, the small amount of traffic passing and dogs barking. We can hide behind typical small talk about our landscapes and wines and new restaurants we’ve enjoyed or something we’ve read about. At best, we talk at lengths about the annual Christmas event: Lights in the Heights. Now we are here, together and it’s serious.

The Buchanan’s are holding each other; Alice is crying. I know well enough not ask right now but have to wonder if this has struck a nerve with them.

Time in hospitals runs a little differently, each passing minute feels like an hour and hours feel like days. Finally, a nurse comes to the waiting room. Peyton has been pacing but the rest of us all stand up.

“Mr. Stark.”

“Yes! What is, is she –“

The nurse raises her hand and places it on his shoulder, cutting him off, “They’re fine; they will be fine”

He sits.

She continues –“She fainted from very high blood pressure, Preeclampsia. As we discussed when you first came in, she was within two weeks of the due date. The tests showed that it was best for us to pull out the baby, best for health of both. We were able to maintain her blood pressure and safely deliver the baby naturally. Chloe will be okay, but will have quite a bit of pain for a couple months. She needs to rest for now, so let me take you to meet your daughter.”


Abby Stark is now six months old. Chloe is back on her feet and quite the hostess. Tonight, ten of us, all sit on the Stark’s porch. The Buchanan’s oldest daughter is watching the other kids in the backyard. Inside, Abby sleeps. We’ve been meeting more and more like this – together, on one porch not as individuals across the block. Now, we exist not as a community but as a family.


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