It’s just over a week now until Unborn is published, so I’m sharing another chapter from the beginning of the book.
Here’s Chapter 2, in which we meet Maya and Cindee for the first time (although you may have already met Cindee in her prequel story Good Girl.)
If you haven’t read Chapter 1 yet, you can find it right here.
Unborn, Chapter 2
Maya watched the young woman step inside her consulting room and make her way to the hard plastic chair on the other side of the desk. She was slim and blonde, pretty in a girlish kind of way, and she gave the impression of being thirteen or fourteen instead of her true age of sixteen.
The girl sat down, her knees together, her hands placed neatly on them. She held her back straight but her head was bowed, her eyes on the scuffed vinyl flooring. The door clicked shut as she sat down and the endless buzz of noise from the hallway outside miraculously stopped.
Maya let the quiet descend over them for a moment. She was glad of the heavy door to her office, of the quiet it afforded. No privacy though: that was broken by the camera in the corner of the room, where the wall met the ceiling.
“Hey,” said Maya. “I’m Doctor Maya Henderson. Call me Maya. I’m going to be looking after you while you’re here.”
The girl nodded but didn’t make eye contact.
“What’s your name?” The answer was in the file which Maya had open on the computer screen between them, but a simple question might break the ice. She glanced at the screen and wrote the date in her notes: August 27, 2026.
The girl sniffed. “Cindee, Ma’am. Cindee Adams.” She continued to stare at the backs of her own hands. They were pink, as if recently scrubbed.
“Hi, Cindee. Pleased to meet you.” Maya held out her hand. Cindee looked up and frowned. Reluctantly, she put her own hand in Maya’s. Her handshake was limp.
Cindee’s hand returned to her knee and Maya glanced at the screen.
“Do you know why you’re here?”
A shrug. The girl’s shoulders were slight, her body too thin for her four months of pregnancy.
“Can I assume that means you do?”
Cindee looked up. Her eyes were large and green, and her nose small. “I know why I’m in this place. I don’t know why I’m here with you. Ma’am.”
“Please, don’t call me Ma’am. I’m Maya.”
“That’s alright.” Maya smiled. Cindee met her gaze but her expression was as dull as her complexion.
“OK.” Maya closed her laptop, an old model that refused to turn itself on two times out of three. She didn’t need it for this. “So tell me why you’re here.”
“I tried to kill my baby.” The girl’s voice was thin and shaky. “I got caught.”
Maya nodded. “Specifically, you were apprehended outside an illegal abortion clinic in Breckenridge. The clinic’s records showed that you were due for an appointment just as the police arrived.” She lowered her voice. “At trial, you pled guilty.”
“As for why you’re here with me. Well, it’s my job to look after you and your baby. To make sure your health doesn’t suffer because you’re in jail.”
Cindee narrowed her eyes but said nothing. Maya glanced up at the camera. She had no idea if it was ever turned on, but had to assume it was.
“Is there anything it would help me to know, about the state of your health? Any problems with the pregnancy so far? Any conditions in your family which I need to be aware of?”
Cindee stiffened. Her gaze went back down to her knees. She crossed and uncrossed her ankles, her cheeks red. Suddenly the room felt hot.
“I can help you,” Maya continued. “It’s my job to make sure your health, and the health of your child, isn’t compromised by your being here. Let me make it easier for you.”
Cindee shrugged. She lifted a hand as if to place it on her stomach. She stopped it in mid-air and returned it to her lap. Maya gave her a weak smile.
“We have another appointment in two days. I’ll need to examine you. Check up on the baby.” She wondered how Cindee felt to hear her talking about the baby like this. Cindee had been here a week and as far as Maya was aware, no visitor requests had been received. Did she have a family, or had they abandoned her?
“I’ll be gentle,” she said. “It won’t hurt. Just an ultrasound.”
Cindee’s eyes went up to Maya’s face. “No.”
“You don’t have any choice, I’m afraid.”
Cindee shook her head. “No.”
Maya put a hand on the file between them. Where was this girl’s mother? She needed support. Were there any inmates who might be able to look after her, or did the nature of her crime mean she would be victimized?
Maya had seen plenty of women like Cindee come through here, but none this young. Her arrest had been the day after her sixteenth birthday. Two days earlier, she wouldn’t have been criminally negligent. Just the doctor who’d seen her.
“I’ll try and make this easier for you,” Maya said. “See if there’s anyone you can talk to, if you don’t want to talk to me.”
Cindee shook her head. Her lips were tight. “No.”
“You don’t want help?”
“I don’t deserve help.”
“Everybody deserves help, Cindee.”
“Not me. I’m a monster. I sinned.”
“You broke the law. It’s not the same thing.”
Cindee pushed her chair back. Maya looked up at her.
“Don’t try to help me,” Cindee said. “I’m past saving.”
Maya stood up. Cindee was heading for the door.
“We aren’t finished. I need to—”
Cindee turned. “What do you need to do?”
Maya shrugged. The purpose of the first consultation was to make contact, to remind patients of why they were here, and to tell them about any further treatment. That had all been done. “Nothing more, I guess.”
“Thank you.” Cindee pulled the door open. There was movement in the corridor; her next appointment. “Ma’am.”
The door closed and Maya stared at it, hating herself.