Moon Over Alcatraz

Brandy Chambers was looking forward to the birth of her first child. She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project. Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.

But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face. Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart. This new distance leads them both to disaster. Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together. Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.

Everything is once again going according to plan—until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant. While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal. Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together? Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?

Praise for Moon Over Alcatraz

By djohnsonon December 25, 2015

Get ready to go on a roller coaster emotional ride with this well written book. It will touch your heart in many different ways. There is so much in this book that I could relate with...I'm sure most readers will feel the same way. Life is hard...we laugh..we cry...we stumble..and we get back up! I highly recommend this book!

Fantastic character development in this story as the the author reaches your heartstrings while the reader becomes emotionally invested until the very end.

Congrats Ms. Yager Delagrange on achieving every writers dream... bringing a fabulous story to life on the pages of a book!

Excerpt

Chapter One

“Breathe, Brandy, breathe.”

Weston’s voice came from the side of the hospital bed where I lay propped up, knees bent to accommodate Dr. Farney checking to see how far my cervix had dilated.

Gritting my teeth, eyes shut, I inhaled through my nose. The pungent odor of sweat wafted through my nostrils. I imagined the crest of a deep-blue wave curling over, white foam churning, crashing down, wave after wave speeding toward the edge of a sandy beach.

But I couldn’t take in a full breath. I opened my mouth, tried sucking in air, lungs on fire, the pain like a serrated knife to my belly, hands flailing, slapping the sides of the bed to get Weston’s attention.

“She can’t breathe.” I could hear the panic in his voice. He was scared. So was I. Is this how a first delivery is supposed to go?

Dr. Farney’s voice tore through the delivery room. “The baby’s heart rate is slowing.”

A plastic mask lowered over my mouth and nose, and a steady flow of oxygen began pouring through. I shifted my gaze to the right. Weston’s eyes were riveted on my lower body, his brows dipped down, mouth set in a tight line.

“What’s wrong?” I shouted, my voice muffled beneath the mask.

Weston leaned down, his body blocking the glare of the overhead lights. “Take deep breaths. They’re using forceps to get the baby out.” He gripped my hand and squeezed then edged toward the foot of the bed. “Doctor, is the baby okay?”

“Umbilical cord’s wrapped around her neck. She’s twisted in the birth canal.” Dr. Farney’s voice sounded achingly calm.

Wrapped around her neck...twisted in the birth canal...My baby girl had been due in early June, but she was being born three weeks early. However, Dr. Farney had urged us not to worry.

The pain was beyond bad. It was excruciating. Suddenly the pressure in my groin subsided. I inhaled one deep breath, then another, and my lower body deflated like a leaky tire.

“The baby’s not...She’s not breathing,” Weston whispered.

A deafening silence splintered through the room.

I tugged on Weston’s hand. He twisted his head in my direction, tears glistening along his lower lashes.

My mind registered the screams, but my ears heard only the wild thumping of my heart as flecks of black clouded my vision.

****

Weston opened the front door of our house on Lauren Drive just a few blocks away from the hospital, and I stepped through the threshold. Every chair, each pillow in the front room looked as if it had been reupholstered in drab, lifeless material. Walls, knickknacks, rugs took on an alien quality. I was seeing them for the first time with a new pair of eyes, filtered through a veil of tragedy and disappointment.

I sat on the couch, squinting out the window. Tiny sparrows flitted between the branches of the oak trees in our front yard. The warmer than average May weather had wilted the white petunias and pink geraniums cascading over the sides of the hanging baskets on the front porch. I’d have to water them soon.

Maybe if I closed my eyes when I awakened all of this would not have happened. Resting my hands on my stomach, I felt the place where she’d lived for nine months. Now only a small bulge remained, which would be gone in a month or two. There was no baby inside of me. There was no baby outside of me. There was no baby, period.

A heavy blanket of guilt hung across my shoulders like a woolen shroud. I’d destroyed our happiness. On the other side of the room my mother’s gilt-edged mirror reflected an image—a woman with an empty womb, a black void for a uterus. My body had betrayed me. Unable to give birth to a healthy baby, I couldn’t give my husband the child we’d been waiting for nine long months.

Weston sat next to me, and I reached out and grasped his wrist. “Remember the night she was conceived?”

He bent his head, shaking it from side to side. “Don’t do this, Brandy.”

“We were living in San Francisco. We made love on the deck. You could see the full moon—like a huge medallion, hanging by an invisible chain over Alcatraz.”

“Never saw it look that way before,” he whispered, then walked over to the window and stood, his back facing me.

“I thought it was a sign...a good sign...like an omen, you know?”

He turned back around, his lips set in a tight line. “I’ll get you some breakfast.”

He walked into the hallway, his steps sluggish. He brought in a tray with dry toast, juice, and coffee and placed it on the table in front of the couch, then sat down next to me. “I know you’re devastated you lost the baby, honey, but we can—”

My knee caught the edge of the breakfast tray as I stood up, food toppling onto the floor. Gritting my teeth so hard my temples throbbed, I glared down at him. “Don’t you dare.”

His jaw dropped open, eyes wide. “What the...? What do you mean?”

“You know damn well what I mean.” My bottom lip quivered, tears coursed down my cheeks. “You were going to tell me we can have another baby, weren’t you?” His silence was my answer, but I needed to hear the words. “Weren’t you?” I yelled, droplets of spit flying from my lips.

He glanced down at his hands then up at me. “Yes,” he muttered, his face a mask of hurt and pain. “Does that make me some kind of monster?”

In my heart, the truth was just the opposite. I was the monster. My body had given birth to a dead baby. Something inside me had killed her. Weston had done nothing wrong. But I had. Sometime during my pregnancy I’d messed up, and now I’d have to live with that knowledge. Forever.

Desperate for sleep, I trudged up the stairs, hoping to wake up and discover my world hadn’t come crashing down around me. But at three a.m. my mind stirred. Cradling my abdomen with both hands, I missed the feel of Christine’s nighttime punches and kicks. Slumping down under the comforter, I turned onto my side and prayed slumber would overtake me. A single star appeared behind my closed eyelids, and I mouthed a wish that I’d never wake up.

But I did wake up, and lay staring at the window, mesmerized by the sun’s rays that highlighted thousands of tiny dust motes fluttering near the curtains. Nothing mattered. I couldn’t imagine making the effort to leave my bed, get dressed, walk downstairs, fix a meal. They all seemed like unimaginably complex and exhausting tasks.

At some point, Weston entered the bedroom and laid a hand on my shoulder. “Honey, would you listen to me for a second?”

I turned onto my back and stared at him, knowing if I opened my mouth I’d cry a ceaseless ocean of wasted emotion. Not one tear, or a million tears, would bring her back.

“We both lost Christine, honey, and I’m sad, too. You’ve got to get up, take a walk, start writing again, whatever.” He knelt beside the bed and covered my hand with his. “Do this for yourself, Brandy. Or do it for me.”

Scenes in the hospital played over and over, my mind spinning like a DVD player. If I said anything, it would have to be about my daughter dying before I had a chance to hold her.

“I’m sorry for getting angry with you,” I mumbled. Weston’s face shimmered back at me, tears veiling my vision. “It’s just...my heart’s been ripped out, and what do I have to replace it? What am I going to do?”

He lay down on the bed, facing me. “We lost our daughter. You have every right to break down, fall apart, do whatever you need to, babe.” He wrapped a stray piece of hair around my ear and gently rubbed the back of his hand down my cheek. “I’m here for you, whenever you need me.” 

I sat up and leaned back against the pillows, staring at the far wall. “I have a follow-up appointment with the doctor in a month. I’ll talk to her about it.”

He sat up, gave me a chaste kiss, then wrapped me in his arms. “It’ll take time. We’ll never forget what happened and we’ll always remember Christine. She won’t be here with us, but we can be happy again.”

I squinched my eyes shut tight, trying to turn off the never-ending videotape of the recent past. He’d never know what it felt like to lose a child that had lived inside your body all those months. Maybe we’d both feel better soon. I just prayed what I’d feel someday would be an emotion other than loss.