October Baby: A Novel

October Baby: A Novel

by Eric Wilson, Theresa Preston

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Overview

A novelization of the acclaimed film that broke the box office top ten even in limited release, October Baby tells the inspiring story of college student Hannah whose increasing anxiety and sudden collapse point to the surprising circumstances of her birth. Hannah soon learns from her parents she was adopted and is the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.

Bewildered, angry, and confused, Hannah turns for support to her oldest friend, Jason. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, she joins his friends on a road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past and find hope for the unknown future.
Along the way, Hannah finds that every life is beautiful, and that life can be so much more than what we might have planned.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433678462
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
File size: 4 MB
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

Eric Wilson is a New York Times best-selling author whose books include the novelizations the hit films Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. His acclaimed suspense novels, including Dark to Mortal Eyes and The Best of Evil, explore earth’s tension between heaven and hell. Wilson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and two daughters.
 Theresa Preston cowrote the October Baby screenplay. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

A Woman's Choice

MOBILE, ALABAMA ~ OCTOBER 1991

Try as she might, Nurse Rutledge knew she'd never forget the events of the past few days. Oh, heaven help her. How could she?

Last Friday, her own two feet had carried her to the clinic where she worked, a low-income affair squeezed between the buildings of downtown Mobile. She met with the patients, both walk-ins and appointments, and prepped them for their procedures. Mainly, though, she listened. In a place like this, it seemed like that went a whole lot further than running one's mouth with advice.

Most of the girls who came here, they trudged through the doors like they had nowhere else to turn. Maybe it was a boyfriend that brought them, or a relative. Maybe a taxi, or the city bus.

The how wasn't important to Nurse Mary Rutledge.

No, it was the who and the why that mattered most.

She welcomed the girls in, held their hands. Some unloaded their secrets and fears, while others spoke only through downturned eyes and shallow sighs. Some stiffened their jaws like it was no big thing to pay a visit to this place, and others, their lips quivered as they tried to convince themselves they were doing the right thing.

A woman's body was her own, sure enough, and she was free to do with it as she pleased. Yes, each of these girls had that choice.

Then again, that was sugarcoating the reality of the thing, wasn't it?

All of them, regardless, were scared as could be. They felt they'd run out of options, pressured by parents, or circumstances, or personal hopes and dreams. Some were white, some Hispanic, some with skin blacker than Mary's. Many were still children themselves, by no means ready to be raising babies of their own.

Midafternoon, between patients, the nurse popped the tab on a can of Diet Pepsi and leaned against the door frame of an empty operating room. She eased off a shoe and rubbed the sole of her foot against the top of the other.

"Where's our next appointment?" The doctor's voice startled her.

Turning, she swallowed her mouthful of soda. "Don't know, sir."

"Get to it. Go check with Josephine and see what's holding things up."

As the nurse nudged her toes back into her shoe, she spotted their last appointment slipping out the side exit at the end of the hall. The girl's head was down, brown hair draping her face. Porter? Yes, that was her last name. And barely eighteen years old. Behind her, the door locked automatically.

Mary told herself to check into it later and scurried to the reception area where she caught Josephine's eye. "Any word yet?"

"Quarter past three." The older woman shrugged. "And still not a peep."

"Doctor's getting fidgety."

"Well, don't let him sneak out just yet, dear. I've worked six years with the man, and I'm telling you, his mind's on the golf course before his body ever gets there."

Mary needed this job, and talk of this sort made her uneasy. Not only was it disrespectful, but it stirred unspoken concerns she had about the doctor's quality of work. He'd been known to overlook certain safety standards, and on the occasions when questions were asked, he shifted the blame to those who worked under him.

Josephine rose from her chair. "You don't mind, do you?"

"Sorry, uh ... What was it you asked?"

"If you'd attend to the phone. I've waited a good hour to use the ladies' room."

"Oh, you should've said something. Go on now, Josephine. Go."

The receptionist hurried out of sight. On the wall, the clock's minute hand clicked forward. 3:18 p.m. Less than two hours till closing. Tonight when she got home, Mary'd massage some shea butter into these weary feet of hers.

The desk phone jangled.

She glanced down the hall. No sign of Josephine. Mary'd answered the clinic's phone before, but it was a task she avoided. Despite her college education and degree in nursing, she couldn't shake the insecurities of her cultural, conversational English.

Another jangle.

She closed her eyes and picked up. "Thank you for, uh, for calling Owens Clinic. Good afternoon. How may I —?"

"And what's so good about it? Huh? You tell me that."

Her eyes popped open. "Excuse me, sir?"

"I've been watching, and I know the kind of stuff that goes on in that place."

The man continued in a low, calculated tone, pouring words through the phone the way a torturer might dribble poison down a victim's throat. His rage, the vile curses, they churned in Nurse Rutledge's chest and belly. She was a good listener, sure enough. But this? This chilled her to her bones, and she hugged herself in the receptionist's chair.

Without a word, she hung up.

"Our three o'clock?" Josephine asked upon her return. "Was that her?" "The police ..."

"The police called?"

"No." Mary stood. "We need to call them, call 'em right away."

"Dear, just what is it you're trying to say?"

She hurried to the front window, where she closed the blinds and blocked out the autumn sun. "He told me he's gonna bomb us, bomb this place and everyone in it."

Mary knew such things'd been done before, and he sure didn't sound like he was making no joke.

"That last phone call?"

"He meant every word of it too." She shivered. "Said he's had his eye on us."

The doctor arrived midconversation. "A cancellation?" he ventured.

Josephine ignored his childish optimism and lifted the phone to her ear. She waved her free hand at Mary. "Lock that front door, would you?" Then, into the mouthpiece: "Police? Yes, ma'am, we'd like to report a bomb threat down here at Owens Clinic ... That's right ... Yes, that's the place." At the door, Mary turned the dead bolt and cast a glance through the glass.

"Fantastic," the doctor said. "Another prank caller, huh?"

Josephine was still on the phone. "How long, you say? Well, we're inside with the shades drawn and both doors locked ... No, ma'am, we're not going anywhere."

"Got that right," Mary muttered. "Nowhere, nohow."

Twenty minutes later, she was giving a statement to Officer Dodd.

* * *

Saturday morning the clinic doors reopened, and it was back to business as usual. The cops had placed suspects under surveillance and vowed to increase patrols in the area. In return, the doctor promised to report anything out of the ordinary to them.

For Nurse Rutledge, these were thin reassurances. She had a nice downtown apartment with a view, but she usually walked to work for the exercise and fresh air.

Not today. No, sir. Instead, she gave her older brother a call.

While she waited inside the building's front doors, she pulled back her hair into a tight bun and tried to block out the hateful words that'd echoed through her head since Friday. She turned her thoughts to thin-lipped Officer Dodd, the first to arrive at the clinic. He was a self-confessed rookie, newly married and new to the area, but he had kind eyes that went a long way toward making things seem all right.

There it was, the silky purr of her brother's Nissan 300ZX.

Mary slipped into white nurse's shoes and rushed down the steps to the car. Her brother stared at her from behind Oakley sunglasses stretched to their limit around his black, beautiful head. DeSean Rutledge was a hard- nosed defense attorney, a physically and intellectually intimidating man, and he delivered her to the clinic without incident.

"I'm off at five, DeSean. Come about ten after, and I'll be watching at the door."

"Sure thing." He lifted his chin. "Just call me at my office."

Although the morning hours crept by, she breathed easier after lunch knowing there'd been no additional threats or blistering phone calls. Looked to be a calm day, after all. Smooth as her grandma's molasses.

"We have a walk-in," Josephine called out.

Done with her prep routine for the woman in the operating room, Mary washed her hands and poked her head into the reception area. She found Josephine unlocking the door for a wide-eyed Ms. Porter, the girl who'd snuck out the side exit yesterday. She was one of those teens who from behind appeared normal as could be, and even straight-on, you'd never guess was twenty-four weeks along.

Was. Past tense.

Yesterday, this girl had gone through the procedure.

Why then, pray tell, was she gritting her teeth and cradling her belly, like she was holding together the split halves of a sun-ripened melon?

The sight of the girl's condition buckled Mary's knees, and she braced herself against the wall. Was never a good thing when a postabortive mother came back this soon, and the nurse knew in this moment that her own world was about to change. She didn't know how she knew. She just did. It was a womanly stirring. Something deep in her soul.

"How are you, dear? How can we help you?" Josephine asked.

"I'm fine," the girl said.

"You look a might pale."

"Please, I ... Please tell him I'm here. I want ... I need him to finish the procedure."

"Ms. Porter, is it? You're sounding out of breath."

"No, ma'am. I'm ... I'm fine," the girl gasped.

Then collapsed upon the floor.

Mary stepped toward the girl now curled on the carpet, groaning, clasping her arms around her stomach. How could any nurse ignore what was plain in front of her? Mary might lose her job if she did what needed to be done, but at this point, well, she was more concerned with doing what was right. She, too, was a woman with choices, and far as she could tell, this young woman needed a ride to Mobile General Hospital. Needed it right quick.

Mary grabbed the phone from the desk and started dialing.

"What're you doing?" Josephine said.

"DeSean, that you? Hey, I know what I told you earlier, but I need you here now."

"Who's DeSean?"

"My ride out of here," Mary replied. "And Ms. Porter's too." She kneeled beside the fallen girl, then eased her onto her back, and propped up her feet with a cushion from the reception area's couch.

"Wherever do you think you're going to take her?" Josephine snapped.

"Just look at her. The poor thing, she's in labor."

"That doesn't answer my question, does it?"

"She's got to get to the hospital. Seems to me the only right choice."

By 1:45 p.m., a twenty-three-year-old nurse and an unwed teenage mother were being rushed toward Mobile General in a white Nissan 300ZX. Unexpected? It surely was. Wasn't just every day that Nurse Rutledge, an employee at an abortion clinic, helped one of her patients deliver a baby.

A living, breathing October baby.

CHAPTER 2

Wishes

WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA ~ OCTOBER 2003

There you go, Hannah." Grace Lawson finished lighting twelve candles on the chocolate cake with raspberry filling. "Make a wish." Smiling at her mom, Hannah didn't even have to think about it.

She already knew.

Propped on the wooden bench in a pair of jean shorts, Hannah leaned over the park picnic table, and long chestnut hair slid over her shoulders. She'd shaved her legs for the first time this morning, sneaking her mother's razor into the shower. Now that she was practically an adult, she realized she had to start looking ahead. Her dad said you had to think about these things, you had to set goals if you wanted to reach your dreams. There were all these things to consider. What sort of career did she want? Where would she go to college? What guy would she marry?

And more immediate decisions, like what movie they'd watch during tonight's slumber party. Mary-Kate and Ashley's Holiday in the Sun? Or A Walk to Remember?

Uh, that one was easy.

"Careful, honey." Her mom pulled Hannah's hair back.

"She's fine," Jacob Lawson said. "Let her blow them out."

"Dad, you didn't sneak in one of those trick candles, did you?"

"Tried to, but your mother said you're too old for that stuff now."

"That's not what I said." Her mom nudged him in the ribs. "It's her asthma. Hannah doesn't need to be blowing herself silly, trying to make one little wish come true."

"All that wish stuff, you do realize it's pretend, don't you?" her dad said.

Hannah and her mom exchanged an exasperated look. Sure, men knew all sorts of stuff about setting goals and making plans, but there were other things they didn't seem able to grasp. Sometimes a set of detailed blueprints was no more reliable than a simple heartfelt wish.

"C'mon now," he said. "That cake's calling my name."

"Okay, Dad. Okay."

As Hannah closed her eyes, the glow of the candles danced upon her eyelids. She smelled blossoms in the breeze, salt from the nearby Atlantic, and a whiff of aftershave from her friend Jason on the other side of the table. He'd started wearing it since his own birthday six months earlier, like he was even old enough to shave. Of course, she didn't have to look over there to see his smooth face. She knew just what he looked like.

Jason Bradley, wide-eyed and wavy-haired. He was so ...

"Honestly," Jason said to her, "if you won't blow 'em out, I'm gonna do it for you."

So annoying.

A grin spread across her lips, shiny and pink-glossed, thanks to her parents who told her she could now wear makeup — but only if she let them inspect it before she left the house. She blew out her candles. Acrid smoke rose into her nostrils, almost causing her to sneeze, and she leaned back and opened her eyes. Those around the table clapped.

Yes. She'd conquered all the candles with one breath. Didn't that mean the wish would come true? God heard the prayers of twelve-year-old girls, didn't He?

"Can we lick the candles?" Jason said, reaching for one.

Hannah adjusted a strap of her tank top. "We're not little kids anymore."

"So?"

"So, do you see the grown-ups doing that?"

Her dad plucked a candle from the frosting and sucked on the bottom of it.

"There," Jason said. "Your dad's not embarrassed. Are you, Dr. Lawson?"

"Never."

Hannah shrugged. "That's because boys have no manners."

"And girls," Jason said, "have no fun."

"Everyone has permission," Mom said, "to grab a candle before I start cutting." She tapped the air with a finger, counting those around the table. "There ought to be enough for everyone. I won't be having any, since I'm not a big fan of raspberry in my chocolate."

Hannah's grandpa, her aunt and uncle, her mom and dad, Jason, and her six girlfriends all indulged themselves, savoring rich chocolate frosting and wiping cake crumbs from their lips. The sun was an orange fireball on the western horizon, blazing through the branches of a wax myrtle, highlighting a chameleon as it scurried up the bark and puffed out scarlet pouches beneath his chin. Beside the cake, presents and gift bags waited to be opened.

"What'd you wish for?" Danielle asked. She was Hannah's newest friend from the church youth group, a tall, thin, African-American girl with shaped hair that set off high cheekbones and serious eyes.

"Sorry," Hannah said. "My lips're sealed."

"Let me guess. A million dollars?"

Hannah shook her head.

"For all A's this year?"

"Sounds like something my mom and dad would wish for."

"To be a model?" Danielle said. "You totally could be, you know?"

"Not with my legs."

"You have that girl-next-door look, and anyway you've got nice legs."

"That's not what I meant."

"It's her hips," Jason said. "When she was little she had surgeries and stuff, which is why she can't play sports. I mean, she can. Actually she runs pretty fast, for a girl."

"What're you talking about, Jason? You know I can still beat you."

"But if a joint pops out or anything, you'd have to get another operation."

"Is that true?" Danielle said.

Hannah shrugged. "You know how those models plant a foot and spin around on the runway? It could happen doing something simple as that. Too much twist. The wrong direction. There were some complications when I was born, so I guess I was kind of frail."

Her parents gave each other a furtive glance over the table.

"Not that's it a big deal," she went on. "I just have to be careful, that's all."

While Hannah shared her parents' love of sports and physical activity, she was the one in the family who had to be most mindful of frail limbs. She felt different enough as it was without drawing more attention to her inadequacies. She could run. She could play. She wasn't going to let those concerns slow her down.

"Let's get to opening these presents." Her dad spread his arms over the pile of gifts. His blond hair was a mop of curls. He had an infectious smile, and when he wasn't stressed out from work, he could make her laugh by simply pulling a funny face. "Or am I the only one dying to see what you got here?"

"Start with the cards," her mom said. "Let's not forget our manners."

"You tell 'em." Hannah's grandpa nodded. "Gotta raise these kids right."

"Can I start with yours, Papa?" Hannah asked him.

"Hmmph. I reckon so."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "October Baby"
by .
Copyright © 2012 Gravitas, LLC..
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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