Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chapter 44: Spontaneous Actions (Babies 61 & 62)

The wind bit at my cheeks, causing them to become a bright cherry red.

Burying anyone is an emotional experience, whether you are close to him or her or not. But, to bury your own child is a stab in the back, a cold wash that makes your face pale and your breathing ragged. It was a pain like nothing else I could ever imagine.
I could never get her back, for she was long gone in a deep abyss that is death. I shivered.

~


Guilt rose in my chest and seemed to never stop growing, my steps becoming heavier and heavier as I become closer to the door. I was hesitant upon opening the door, thinking that running off and never returning as a plausible option.  I didn’t have the heart the give them a reason to why Casanya was not with me.
My fingertips found the knob of the door, slowly turning it. I swallowed hard, the backs of my eyes burning from the tears that so desperately wanted to escape. I blinked them back before entering the house.


All the lights were off and I closed the door. I sank down onto the floor, my back pressed up against the glass. I didn’t even bother with the light switch; there wouldn’t be any more light in my life so what was the point of lighting the way if the flame was only going to diminish itself?
“Mom?”
I opened my eyes, my vision slightly blurry from my salty tears. Running a hand through my unwashed, oily hair, I looked up.  “Hi Bridie.” My cracking voice was seconds away from becoming full-blown tears.
“Dale told me I should come over. He was really worried.”
I sat there, staring at my daughter, not at all believing my eyes. Her words washed over me, not even once registering. “I’m sorry I was a terrible mother,” I impulsively said, remembering what she had shouted at me before leaving. I shook my head and put a hand on my forehead.
“I’m sorry for what I said,” she replied. She sat down next to me, her hand resting on my shoulder. “I didn’t mean it, I really didn’t.” Her hand found mine and she squeezed it, reassuring me. “I just- I don’t know why I even said that. I don’t know why I went with Da- Chase. He’s not that good of a parent either. You’re much better.”  
I was at a complete lost for words; it seemed as if my tongue had actually been caught by a cat. Instead, I squeezed my daughter’s hand back, and let her take lead of the conversation. I didn’t want to drop the bad news- not yet, not ever.


“He has actually pretty surprised when I got into the car after him,” Bridie admitted, throwing in an awkward laugh. “He just drove around for the entire night, though. I don’t know exactly how long,” her voice trailed off and ended in a yawn. She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. “I guess we went back to his house- I don’t know, he didn’t say much at all. He wasn’t ever home either. He just came to drop off food and sleep. Some nights he didn’t even come home at all.”
“I’ve missed you,” I managed to blurt out. It was true; I had missed everything about my daughter.
Taken by surprise, Bridie took a second to respond. “I missed you too, Mom.”

~






“Danielle, you don’t know how sorry I am for you. I know how much it hurts to lose a child,” Aria said. She rubbed her hand on my back. My eyes were bloodshot from all the crying, my cheeks tear-stained.
I couldn’t respond, my throat clogged from the incessant crying. I forced a nod from my head; at least she would know that I acknowledged her words.
I knew funerals were for the living, yet I felt dead inside. 
The few people that were invited- and even a few that weren’t- came around and paid their condolences. All I could muster up was a few soft-spoken words of thanks and some swift nods of my head.
At last, I thought everyone had gone; Aria had taken home my younger children, leaving me to my own devices.
I sighed deeply, my eyes looking everywhere but where my daughter had been buried. I ended up looking directly at the statue of Grim, my hand subconsciously tracing the scar on my face. A shudder ran through my body- though the day was wrongfully cheerful and bright- as I thought of that cold, dreadful night.
As much as I didn’t want to cry again, the tears started flowing on their own account.



“Danielle?” My name came out as half a question, half a statement.  I turned around, my hand coming up to my face to wipe away the tears that had fallen.  
“Yeah?” I looked up and saw Aaron standing a few feet away from me, his arm linked with someone who looked oddly familiar. I wanted to place her face but I couldn’t find where to match it up to. They were both wearing the universally agreed upon black outfits.
The closer I looked at Aaron, the more I saw. His green eyes were rimmed with red, his cheeks stained, like mine. It took me a second to realize why he would be crying just as hard as me- it was his daughter too.
“I’m happy to see you again. But I wouldn’t ever imagine meeting again like this,” Aaron stated, still arm and arm with whom I determined to be his girlfriend. As much as I tried to deny it, things were snapping into place.
“I hate it as much as you do, Aaron,” I replied back. I walked a few hesitant steps forward, wanting so badly to be enveloped in his warm, comforting embrace. But, I knew that would never happen, as the circumstances would never allow it. And yet, he pulled his freckled arm away from his companion and wrapped it around me. I buried my face into his jacket, the tears free falling once more.


I hugged him tight, not ever wanting to let go.
As right on cue, he let me go but not without one last quick squeeze. My eyes found their way to his girlfriend and I finally put two and two together: she was the one that told me that my daughter was dead.
A substantial amount of hatred formed at the thought of what she had done. Of course, it was no way her fault but the delivery of bad news can sometimes be as bad as the news itself, at least to the receiver.
I gulped, trying to wash away the acidic taste that had formed in my mouth. I could tell that while she looked sad, beyond her dark clothes, was a happy, content life. I envied her.

And just like that, he was gone. I found myself staring at her gravestone and wanting to kiss her goodnight one more time. Hold her hand while she crossed the street. Wish her a good day at school. Tell her I loved her one last time. I just wanted her back.

~


The sun was high in the sky when I finally decided enough was enough and I headed back to my house.
I found Aria waiting for me, a nice hot cup of tea already prepared. I sat down on the dining room table, my hands around the mug, quietly taking sips every now and then. Aria couldn’t bare the silence so she made her usual small talk. She talked about her life, her wishes, her goals and how close she was to finishing but I was so lost in my own thoughts that she had to repeat my name three times to evoke a response from me.
“Yes?” I finally said, my mug drained of its tasty, warm fluid.  
“You aren’t paying attention are you?” she asked, her eyebrows rising. I shook my head at her, not wanting to lie.  There was no point to even lie now anyways.
“Figures.” She pouted her lips and took the mug out of my hands. I got up out of the seat and followed her into the kitchen.
With my arms resting on the counter, I watched Aria go about and make another cup of tea. While the water was boiling, she took it upon herself to wipe down the entire room, making sure it was spotless. I wanted to stop her and say that I could do it on my own, but I had no motivation to. I knew if she was not going to be the one to clean it the kitchen would remain dirty.
“Thanks,” I said, taking the steaming mug. I blew on it, causing the steam to fly into all different directions.
“I know what you’re going through, Danielle,” Aria reminded me, “and I just want to let you know that I will always be here for you. I am just doing what you would do for me.” She took my hand and led me to the couch where I preceded to slump into the cushions, my head resting comfortably upon a pillow.



Toys were scattered upon the rug: Casanya’s toys. I thrust my cup into Aria’s hands and turned and faced the pillow, tears already streaming down my face. Everything around me reminded me of her, everything. To the toys scattered on the floor to the door where she left to catch the bus. Guilt blossomed into my chest, guilt that wasn’t going to go away with the dawn of a new day. This was guilt that would stay with me forever.
“I- we need to move, Aria. I can’t stand being surrounded by things that remind me of her,” I said, my voice muffled. “Everything reminds me of her.”
Aria put her hand on my back, trying to comfort me; it did no good. “I’m sorry,” she said. And that was all she said as that was the only thing that she could say.

To say that I did the looking for my new house would be a lie. Instead, Aria looked up some local listings while I told the kids what we were doing. They graciously packed up their clothes, while I sat down in the living room, wallowing in my own self-pity. Finally Aria rushed downstairs, a smile on her face. “I think I found the perfect place, Danielle!” she exclaimed.
I just hoped that it was as perfect as she made it out to be.



The new house turned out to be fully furnished- which was a load of responsibility off my shoulders- and large, yet still cozy. I stood outside for what seemed liked forever, just admiring our new abode, not wanting to go inside and officially call it ‘home’ yet. I watched as my kids sluggishly went inside, carrying boxes of their stuff, their faces sweaty from their labor in the dying sun’s heat. Aria passed by me, her arms full with my youngest babies. Well, currently youngest.
I rubbed my growing belly. I was already so big; it was just a matter of time before I was going to pop. As much as I hated the fact that I was carrying Chase’s children, but there was really nothing I could do about it. I still had to go on in my challenge, I wasn’t one to start something and never finish it. I was determined to finish my challenge. Whatever obstacles were thrown in my way, I was going to dodge them or live through them. I wasn’t going to stop so easily.

I rubbed my belly one more time, thinking that it my bump was too big to be only one baby. I cringed at the thought of having more than one little Chase running afoot and causing mayhem wherever he or she ran. I went inside, glad that someone had gotten the air conditioning up and running.



“I thought we could break in the house a bit by celebrating some birthdays, Danielle.” Aria grabbed my hand and led me to the kitchen where there lay one, two- I counted seven cakes total. As much as I didn’t want my kids to leave, (I never really wanted them to leave, but this time around I felt so much more responsible for them) I put on a fake smile and clapped my hands together as they blew out their candles one by one.
The quads had finished aging up, each of them giving me a warm smile and a good luck kiss before heading out to start their own lives when I felt the all-too-familiar pain shoot through my abdomen.







“Oof,” I said, my body lacing with pain. “I-I will be right back.” Aria titled her head in confusion but it only took a few more seconds for her and I to be on the same page. She righted her head, shooting me a smile, and turned her attention back to my kids, entertaining them while I was busy.



After a few wrong turns, I finally navigated myself to the nursery; this house had such a different layout than our previous one.  I shut the door behind me, another shock of pain rippling through my lower body. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping that it would not be more than one baby.


It, in fact, ended up being two babies: Chandler and Juliana.
When we had finished aging up everybody, the sun was well down in the sky, the stars twinkling brightly. I asked Aria if she needed a place to stay and she gladly accepted. She suggested that we watched a movie, of course accompanied by a tub of popcorn and a few drinks that would make your head spin after a few sips.




~

The movie was almost over and the house was as quiet as can be. Everybody was asleep, except for Aria and I.



My back was on the feet of my new bed as I titled the bottle up, letting the last drops of the alcohol hit my tongue and burn the back of my throat. It was a good kind of burn though, the kind that shook your nerves and made you feel more alive. I turned my head to Aria and found her stuffing her face with buttery popcorn, her hands greasy. She wiped her hands on the rug of my new room and I groaned in disapproval. Aria shot me a toothy grin and hiccuped. “It’ll wash out,” she said before taking a sip of vodka. “Eventually.”
“I hope it does,” I slurred. I closed my eyes slowly, breathing in deeply; the air smelled of alcohol, salt, and butter.
“Danielle,” Aria whispered, next to my ear. I jumped at the close proximately of her, my eyes fluttering open. Her breath smelled heavily of alcohol.
“Yeah?” I said, my voice a lot louder than I had intended it to be. I prayed that I hadn’t woken anybody up.
“Have you ever kissed a girl?” she asked, her words coming out slowly as if she had trouble forming the correct letters. Which, considering the amount of empty bottles that were lying around us, she probably experience that trouble.
“No,” I replied back, my words equally as hard to form. Her hand went up to touch my face, her fingers lightly tracing my scar. That small action suddenly made me very self-conscious.


Aria leaned in closer until we were practically sharing breaths. Unsure of what to do next, I was frozen on the spot. Aria took control and closed the gap, her lips crushing onto mine. I was shocked for a moment, and then relaxed, kissing her back. Her lips were chapped, and tasted like alcohol. I imagined mine tasted exactly the same.
Aria slowly wrapped her arms around my neck, pulling me towards her, and my arms found their way to her waist, pulling her closer to me as well. After a few heated moments, I broke away, my head resting upon her forehead. Our breathing was in sync.
I didn’t bother opening my eyes, fearing that it would ruin the moment. Our lips found each other’s once more and for the first time in my life, I just went with it.


I woke up the next morning, the sound of the door opening easing my mind awake. Flashes of the night before ran through my head, leaving me thoroughly confused and somewhat energetic. It all seemed liked a wild, messy dream. But then again, there was Aria standing just a few feet in front of me.
“Thought you would wake up.” Aria adjusted her shirt, and then pulled a light pink jacket over it. “Sorry for having to spend the night,” she said. “I will be on my way now. Thanks for letting me stay Danielle, it was really nice of you.” Aria waved in thanks, a small smile playing at the edges of her lips.
“Wait-“ I began, sitting up, but Aria had already closed the door behind her. I heard her footsteps growing fainter and fainter the farther away she got from me. I heard a car’s engine purr to life.

I let myself fall back onto the new pillows and sighed deeply. I don’t think she remembered anything about the night before, yet every detail was ingrained in my brain. 
~

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chapter 43: Part Two: A Change In The Tides


Pushing my phone back into my pocket, I went back to the restaurant and joined the girls as they finished up their dinner. Aria asked me what the phone call was about and I quickly replied, telling her that it was just my kids calling to say goodnight. She seemed to understand, as any mother would, but I couldn’t shake off this feeling that she knew what was wrong, two of my children sick in bed, calling for a mother who couldn’t be there for them. Though, every time I looked at her, her eyes sparkled with a glint of ignorance. She couldn’t of possibly known the guilt that was quickly enlarging inside of me.

Mila graciously paid for the food; we all thanked her on the way out. We arrived home, or whatever we called it, in a few short minutes. Saying goodbye to Logan and Becks, I went inside, watching the bubbly purple-haired girl and the fair headed boy fade out into the darkness. They seemed so happy together, and I couldn’t help but feel happy for them too.

I climbed into bed, the sheets were rough although the blanket was soft, comforting. I laid back and tugged the blanket closer to me. I breathed in deeply, hoping for a good dream. I closed my eyes, hoping that sleep would come to me promptly.


“Danielle are you ok?” Aria’s voice pierced through my deepening sleep. I leisurely opened my eyes, the bright light making me blink rapidly. “Oh sorry, I didn’t know you were sleeping.”
“It’s alright,” I muttered, rubbing my eye. I threw the covers back. I shivered as the cold air hit my skin. Goosebumps rose on my bare skin.
“But really.” Aria shut the door and went to her bed, sitting on the edge. She kicked off her boots and they landed with a soft thud. “Are you ok? You look worried, tense.”
“Of course I would be worried,” I snapped. I could feel the venom in my tone. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh, but I couldn’t help it. I was sick with my friend’s pity; it didn’t make me feel any better. It only brought more grief, sadness and pique. “My almost husband was a dick, my own child calls me a terrible mother and has details to back it up. They both left me in less than an hour. Of course I would be upset. Of course I would be worried. I just left my kids at home, by themselves!“ I fell back on my bed, pulling the covers up.
“I know. I am s-,” she tried to say.
I cut her off by rolling on my side, my back facing her. I tightly closed my eyes, waiting for sleep to overtake me.
I heard Aria sigh in defeat. Her feet treaded softly across the floor and I heard the dull click of light switch as I saw, through my closed eyelids, the lights go out. I could imagine Aria getting into bed, wondering what she could do to make me feel better.
At that moment I felt that nothing could make me feel better.
I finally met a restless sleep of nightmares.

~



I woke up screaming, cold sweat dripping off me and forming a wet puddle where my head rested on my pillow.
“Danielle!” a sleepily voice yelled. A pair of arms found my shoulders and roughly jolted me awake. “Are you ok?”
I opened my eyes and found a bright pink pair staring into my own. But unlike mine, which I guessed were feverish with fright, Aria’s were full with genuine concern. “What happened?”
“I-,” I replied, stuttering on my words. My tongue was dry in my mouth as I tried to form coherent words. “Bad dream, about C-Chase.”
“Oh, Danielle,” Aria said, hugging me tight. We remained in that position for quite some time, until my sobs grew quieter. “It was just terrible,” I sputtered out, my words rushed. The quicker I got through the story, the better. 

“It just started out the same way all my other dreams started. Here, on the beach, being married to Chase. But this time it was different. He kept yelling at me, and yelling at me. He wouldn’t stop.” A loud cry erupted from my chest and Aria sighed, hugging me harder. “Insults soared through the air and suddenly Bridie was there along with him. S-she drowned me, Aria. My own kid drowned me.” Hot tears stung my cheeks as the rolled down to stain the bed. I closed my eyes, more tears forcing their way out. My chest felt hollow, as if my heart had abandoned me. 





“I-,” Aria stumbled on her words. I could tell she didn’t know what to say, and I couldn’t blame her. How often did you have someone tell you that they had a nightmare about their daughter drowning them?
Instead Aria just pulled me closer, not caring about the stains that were bound to wind up on her shirt.
“I want to go home, Aria,” I pleaded, my voice wavering through the cries. Aria let go of me and I fell back onto my bed, my eyes still shut.

A few hours passed and I stayed up until I saw the sun make its arrival in the new day. Between the cries that came in infrequent intervals, sleep never came.
 ~

  
Sunset Valley was exactly how I left it. Except the sun was shining brighter and the snow-filled ground I had become accustomed was now interchanged with a dull, crunchy grass. While the sun had made it’s appearance, the air still held a bit of a bite, as if Jack Frost didn’t want to leave yet.
Bundled up, my boots left imprints in the wet grass as I made my way to my front door. The holiday lights had been stripped away, leaving the house looking monotonous.
As I breathed, my breath still made a puff in front of me. Winter was fading into spring and I couldn’t wait to watch the flowers bloom up, even if it was bound to upset my allergies.
Getting my keys out of my pocket, the door suddenly opened. Dale stood in front of me, his hair a wild green and black mess. His eyes were rimmed with dark half-crescents, indicating that he had gotten very little sleep since I had left. His clothes were wrinkled; in fact he was still in his pajamas!
“Hey,” he said, sounding exasperated. Looking at him closer, I noticed not only did his eyes have dark bags, but also his eyes were also somewhat bloodshot.


“Is everything alright?” I asked, pushing my way inside. I gave Dale a quick hug and shut the door. I looked up to the living room to find Silas sleeping on the couch, one hand draped on the back of the sofa, the other resting on his forehead. His chest rose and fell as he breathed. He looked oddly relaxed, but judging from the state of the house, I could tell that he had fallen asleep from pure exhaustion.
“Where are Annabelle and Peter?” I questioned, looking around. I went around the sofa and found both my fairy babies. “Never mind.”
Annabelle had followed Silas’ example and was out cold next to him, her hair flowing around Silas’ chest. Her wings slowly flapped up and down, fanning her big brother.
Peter was on the floor, too invested in playing with a toy horse to even notice I had come home. I scooped up Peter into my arms, being careful of his wings. I snuggled him close to me.
“Where’s everybody else?” I asked Dale, who was leaning against the wall, appearing to have dozed off.
Dale’s eyes slowly opened. “Um.” He yawned. “Upstairs I think. Yeah, upstairs. I just-“
“Come on, Dale,” I said, putting my arm around his shoulders. “Time to go to bed, you look dead tired.”
Dale just grumbled in response and I dragged him towards the couch and laid him down upon it.  He rolled over on his side and mumbled a thanks.
I stood back and laughed, looking at all my sleeping kids. What a sight to see.


Upstairs I found both Analee and Casanya in my room. Analee’s face was flushed; her clothes were stained and wrinkled. I walked over to her and put the back of my hand to her head. She was burning hot. I sighed, and her eyes fluttered open. “Mom?” she asked, her voice cracking.
“Hi sweetie,” I responded, kneeling in front of her. She sat up, her feet dangling over the edge. Rubbing her eyes, her sister stirred behind her. Casanya yawned and opened her eyes as well.
“Hi, Cas.” Casanya’s eyes widened when she saw me.
“Momma!” she practically yelled. “You’re back!” She moved closer to Analee and put her feet off the edge, just as her sister had done. I put my hands on both of theirs. I could feel their feverish heat radiating off of them.
“So you girls feeling any better? I heard you were under the weather.”
Analee nodded quickly while Casanya just rolled her eyes.
“Not really,” Casanya said, her voice feeble, weak.
“Are you still nauseated?” I asked, my thoughts trailing off to where I could find some extra medicine. She nodded in response, biting her bottom lip. She did look a little green, I noticed.  I got up and started heading towards my bathroom, the medicine cupboard must have something that could help her.
“But, Mommy,” she interrupted. “It really hurts right here, too.” I turned around to find her pointing to her stomach, the lower right portion of her stomach to be exact.
I could feel the blood rushing out of my face. It couldn’t be appendicitis, right?
“It doesn’t hurt that much,” Casanya continued, “but it still hurts.”
I let out a sigh that I didn’t realize I was holding. Cas probably just had a bit of a cramp from not eating. “I’ll go get you some medicine,” I said, forcing a smile.



After making sure that my sick kids got some food into their system, we sat on my bed and they decided on a movie. I relaxed against the back of the bed, cuddling my girls. It was nice to be with my kids, relaxing.
It almost felt as if everything was back to normal again.
 ~


The movie was playing softly, loud enough that we could heat it but quiet enough that you could easily fall asleep to it Cas was dozing off, her head buried in the crook of my arm. Her chest rose and fell slowly in a rhythmic pattern.  The feverish color that had tormented her face was slowly fading away to reveal her normal, freckled skin .  
“Oh baby,” I breathed. “Thank God that you’re ok. I was so worried. So worried.” My voice trailed off and I sighed. I was so grateful that my daughters were ok. They had sounded so sick on the phone, mimicking my tone of voice I used when I was panicked.
“Were you really worried, Mom?” a small, tired voice asked.
Startled, I looked over to my other side. Analee was curled up against me, her arms underneath the pillows.
“Of course I was,” I answered. My free hand went over her shoulder to rub her back. Analee scooted closer towards me.
“I just thought,” she began. Her eyes closed as she yawned. “I just though that maybe you wanted to get away from us. I thought you didn’t want us. I thought you had left us.” Analee’s voice broke off and she buried her head into the pillow.
“Sweetie,” I murmured. Guilt rose in my chest, making my heart ache. “I would never do that. I love you guys so much.  You guys are really what makes my world go ‘round.” I continued rubbing my hand on her back in small circles. Oddly enough, it seemed to calm me down as much as it calmed her down. It chased the guilt away, at least for the time being. A silence filled the room; Analee hadn’t responded. I turned my head to her and found her sleeping, soft snores escaping her.
I unwound my hands from my children and got out of the bed, careful not to wake them up from their well-needed slumber.


The tile of the kitchen floor cooled the bottom of  my bare feet. I treaded lightly across the floor, and opened the refrigerator in a swift, fluid motion. A rush of chilled air greeted me in response. Debating my already limited options, I grabbed for a simple comfort food: ice cream. After fishing a spoon out of the drawer I sat at the table, indulging into some well-need stress relieving goodness. I looked out the window to the darkening street. Although the street lamps had turned on for the night, they only cast a dim glow over the place, making the shadows long and menacing.
I was glad that spring had decided to peak its head into the city, pushing away the cold winter. Not that I didn’t enjoy winter time and it’s festive atmosphere, but the cold snow only made everything harder to do. Plus, it brought back memories best kept down.
            I finished my non-nutritious meal, the dish empty except for a few hard-to-get drops. I was halfway towards the kitchen, planning to deposit the dish in the sink when I heard it- a blood curling scream.


            I saw the dish fall downwards to the ground in slow motion. I heard the crack as it made contact with the floor, the pieces scattering in all directions. I felt as if my heart stopped. My blood seemed to run cold.
            There it was again, the scream of someone in immense pain- a child’s scream.
            Without thinking, I bounded up the stairs, not even bothering to see if Silas or my toddlers had awakened. Judging by how loud the screams had gotten, I figured that they were in fact wide-awake. But I was already halfway up the steps, my only goal to find where the screaming was coming from and, if I could, dull the antagonizing pain. 
            The sound seemed to be coming from my room. I cringed as I turned the knob, my hand shaking, scared of what I was going to find.
            The door swung open. I bit my lip. My eyes scanned the room and fell upon Analee, cowering in the corner of the room, sweat clinging her hair to her forehead.  Her breathing was jittery and her eyes panicked. I felt bad for her, especially considering the scene that had unfolded before her eyes.
Casanya was still on the bed, her arm wrapped around her side, her fingertips twitching as if the pain had overwhelmed her.

            I stood with my hand on the doorframe for support, completely frozen to the ground. I couldn’t move if I tried, although my stomach twisted and turned, making me dizzy.
            Cas had made her way up onto her knees, her entire body shaking violently. I saw her swallow hard and then give into the pain. She vomited onto the floor, crying out in pain. Analee screamed in response and I came out of my daze. Analee ran towards me and hugged my legs, hiding herself from her sick sister.


“Mommy what’s wrong with her?" Analee had started crying, wetting the back of my legs. I patted her hair and Cas lurched forward once more, throwing up the entire contents of her stomach- or at least what was left. Analee screamed and let go of my leg, but not after giving it a tight squeeze. I heard her footsteps on the wood floor as she left the room and ran, presumably downstairs.
            I felt bile rising up the back of my throat as the smell wafted towards me. I swallowed it down. I walked towards her, avoiding the mess that she had made and rested a hand on her shuddering body. She cried out in pain, her fingers tightly clenching her side. I winced and breathed through my mouth.
“Where does it hurt?” I asked gently. Instead of replying she grabbed her sides more tightly, her fingers losing color.

            My eyes widened and fear ran through my blood. We needed to get her to the hospital- now.
I scooped up my daughter’s sweaty body, my knees slightly buckling under her weight. Cas’ head leaned into my shoulder. I could feel the heat from her fever radiating onto me. She moaned and cried out as I carried her downstairs.

            Her body bounded against mine as my feet found the steps. Still barefooted, I passed the living room and found Silas with one arm around Analee.  Her eyes were red and puffy although no tears ran down her face.
“What happened?” Silas asked, turning his head to me.
“We need to go to the E.R.,” I swiftly responded. I nodded my head towards the door, silently asking him to the open it for me.


Practically reading my mind, he opened the door up without a word. Cas moaned and turned in my arms as the cold air brushed along her warm skin. I readjusted my grip on her to keep her from falling down to the ground.
“Where’s Dale?” I questioned before stepping outside. Silas thought about the questioned for a second.
“Taking care of Peter and Anabelle, I suppose.”
I nodded my head. In my state of shock I had momentarily forgotten I had other children to take care of; my thoughts were solely focused on Casanya. I felt guilty for not thinking about my other kids but the feeling quickly passes as Cas cried out in pain. Silas winced and backed away from the door.
“Mind getting my shoes?” Silas nodded and I walked towards the car.

            After strapping Cas on the backseat, I opened the car door and sat inside, waiting for Silas. As if on cue, he appeared, carrying a pair of shoes in his hand. He gave them to me without a word and walked back into the house, his arms wrapped around himself. It was only a couple of feet from the house to the door, but with the winter wind not completely gone, a chill ran up your spine the moment you were engulfed by the air.
            I tugged on the shoes only to find that they were not mine. Being too big, I figured they were probably Dale’s as his feet seemed to never stop growing. Pushing the shoe issue away, I rapidly tied the laces and jammed my foot on the gas.


            We pulled into the hospitals parking lot in record time. It was a good thing this fiasco had happened in the early morning- rather than the bustling afternoon- because the speed limit was irrelevant as panic surged through my body.
            Cas seemed to weight even less than before. I opened the car door just as rain started to pour down.


Why now, I thought. Out of all the times it could have happened, why now.
I cradled her head with one arm- my other arm wrapped underneath her knees. I pushed open the emergency room door with my back. The long metal handle met with my bare skin. I realized that I hadn’t changed out of my pajamas. Nothing was adding up in my favor tonight.

            A bead of sweat began to drip down the side of my forehead. I walked foreword into the emergency room. My knees began to give way as a strong pair of arms looped under mine, making sure I didn’t fall. They mysterious arms made sure that my feet could support my weight- and Cas’ for that matter- before they let me go. The arms found their way to my shoulders and gently turned me around.
“You ok?” the owner of the helpful hands asked. He was wearing green scrubs, indicating that he was a nurse. I looked up to his face and my breath caught.


“I’m fine,” I sputtered. I raised my hands a little, indicating towards my daughter Casanya. “But she says that her stomach was hurting a lot. Her right side to be specific.” I softly woke up Cas and set her on her feet. She moaned rather loudly and buried her head into my legs.
            “I can take her in right now,” Aaron responded. He held out a freckled hand. “It sounds like appendicitis, by the way you're describing it."
            I nodded, my mouth dry. I knew that appendicitis usually wasn’t fatal but bile still rose up at the thought of having to burry my child. I handed Cas over, her sweaty skin leaving oily marks on my forearm.


            As soon as I had let go of Casanya, my shoulders straightened up immediately; I hadn’t noticed how much she weighed. I blinked once, exhaustion trying to take over my body. With my eyes straining to be open wide, I watched as Aaron held my daughter- his daughter. Casanya was his daughter too, even if he didn’t know it. But he had to have noticed it: the same raven-black hair, sea green eyes and pale, freckled skin. Aaron must have had put two and two together.

He had to have known, right? He turned and walked away from me, beckoning someone to help him with Casanya. His voice sounded worried, but not overly worried like a father holding his sick child. So maybe he hadn’t figured it out yet.

As soon as they were out of sight, I sunk into one of the nearby seats. Reality set in as more people shuffled in and out of the room. I didn’t know what was wrong with my baby. As far as I knew, my little girl could die.

            I couldn’t bare the thought of losing her. I had to do something, anything, to keep her here with me. I wasn’t going to let myself wallow in self-pity, praying that she would be ok. I had to do something and only one action came into mind.
 ~



            My tires screeched against the asphalt when I almost turned left where I should of turned right. I continued to speed up as my destination came into view. I slammed on the brakes and hastily jumped out of the car, pushing the door close behind me.
             I looked up towards the graveyard’s archway. Illuminated by the moon, it glowed faintly, lighting the path to the small pond.
“Hey!” I yelled out to the dark night. As much as I tried to make my voice sound strong, it still came out trembling. Goosebumps rose on my skin. Rubbing my arms, I took a few hesitant steps in the graveyard. “I know you’re here.” This time my voice lacked its tremble. “You have to be.”
I walked forward even more until I was just an arm’s length away from the Grim’s statue. I looked to the left to see if he had shown up- he hadn’t. A quick look to the right produced the same results.
“I know you’re here. Just come out already! I’m done messing around!” I yelled. I was eager to yell louder but I had a feeling if I did so I would wind up having to deal with some unfriendly and agitated spirits.


            Getting colder by the minute, I glanced again at either side of me. There wasn’t any sign of another living person, but then again Grim wasn’t exactly alive. I sighed, thinking that my final resort was meaningless.
            ‘You never looked behind you,” a thin, raspy voice murmured. I recognized the voice immediately. “And you call yourself smart.”
            I turned around and saw Grim laughing. His pale face seemed even paler than before- his black hair blacker.
“Miss me?” He winked.
“Not at all,” I responded, my voice flat. I took a few steps towards him, closing the gap between us. 


“But do you remember the first time we met?”
“That wasn’t the first time, but mortal memories are so easy to manipulate.”
“Um-ok,” I stuttered, trying to find words. I didn’t know what he meant exactly, but it still scared me. Everything about him scared me.
“So this is what you called me for?” He waved his hands around his head. “To reminisce the good ole’ times we had together?” he continued, his voice dripping in sarcasm.
“No!” I immediately responded, but then I quickly backpedaled. “Well not exactly but remember you promised me that you would stay out of my children’s and my life until I called? So take this as me trying to remind you that you have a promise to uphold.”
“I do remember that, quite well actually.” He sighed in annoyance and started picking at his nails. He wasn’t going to even try to hide his lack of interest in our conversation. “You’re telling me that you called me all the way here just to remind me about something I could never possibly forget?” He looked up to me and I nodded. He stopped picking at his nails and instead ran his fingers through his greasy hair. The space between us grew smaller yet again as he took a few steps closer to me. If it was anybody else standing this close to me, I would be able to feel the heat as it rolled off his or her body. But Grim stood only inches away from me, reeking of death; his body temperature lowered the surrounding air. 


“But I’m positive that I agreed to postpone your death date and your death date alone.”
“You said you would stay out of my life,” I breathed, my breath making a cloud in front of my face. Gasping my hands flew to my stomach as a familiar sensation filled my abdomen- a small kick. No it couldn’t be. Aria couldn’t of have been right, I couldn't be pregnant! But the evidence was showing that my assumption was incorrect. 
I swallowed hard. “You don’t understand my kids are my life!” I continued.
“And you don’t seem to understand that I agreed to protect your simple and unimportant life, not your numerous offspring.”
“Please reconsider. They are my life,” I begged. “If just this one time, please.” I choked on my tears.
“No,” he said curtly.
“Please, please!” I laced my fingers together in front of my chest. “Please,” I repeated once more.
Grim’s actions were so fast that I barely had enough time to react as he rushed forward, pale hand outstretched.


            I felt the impact before I could register what had happened. With the wind knocked out of me, I groaned and tried opening my eyes. It was painful but once I did, the menacing figure of Grim came into focus. He blew on his knuckles, a smug smirk climbing onto his face. He walked foreword towards me and knelt down in front of me.
“No means no. You’re so persistent, you’re annoying.” He raised a hand and I winced automatically, fearing another hit. His first one already sent me sprawling backwards to hit the statue. Grim laughed and pressed a thumb to my forehead, dragging it down my face. He pulled away and I saw that his finger was now stained red. “I’d say the deals off, wouldn’t you?” And with those final words, Grim was gone.

            I leaned back and found my back already touching the base of the graveyard’s only statue. I pressed my palm to my face, mimicking how Grim’s actions. I felt hot liquid covering my face. I pulled my hand away to discover that it was covered in blood- my blood.
            I pulled up my knees to meet my chest and hugged them, my cut face resting on my knees. My last option had failed; I cried.
 ~
       

            When my crying had subdued to a muffled sniffle, I got up and headed towards the car. The cut running along my face still hurt a lot but at least the bleeding had stopped for the time being. Before I started the car, I tried to at least mop up some of the blood on my face with the inside of my pajama top. I didn’t want to scare everybody when I walked back into the hospital.
            Once I arrived at the hospital, I slammed the car door shut. It had stopped raining right as I had left the graveyard but I was so single-minded at the moment that I didn’t realize that water no longer fell from the sky.
            I roughly pushed open the door just as the sun rose out of the horizon, making everything look fresh and alive. As I entered the room, I located Aaron in the back, talking to a lady whose foot was twisted at the wrong angle. Ouch.
            I decided to be polite and wait until he was done talking before trying to talk to him myself. Just as he wrapped up his conversation, I tapped his shoulder lightly. He turned around to face me and his eyes went wide.


“What happened, Danielle?” he asked, pointing to my face. He didn’t wait for me to respond before grabbing my arm. “Here come with me. Let’s get that cleaned up, we don’t want that to get infected.”
            Our feet padded across the floor, my too big shoes making weird noises when they almost fell off my feet. Aaron opened up one of the many doors in the hallway, indicating that I should walk in first. I mumbled a quick thanks as I walked into the brightly lit room. I took a seat on the bed and crossed my legs.


            Aaron shut the door and immediately went to the cupboard and opened it. He took out a couple cotton swabs and a blue bottle of who-knows-what. Aaron set them down on the counter and washed his hands, not uttering a word. I didn’t like the silence.
“So,” Aaron finally said, wiping his hands off with a paper towel. He crumbled up the towel and tossed it into the trashcan before opening up the bottle and letting some of the liquid splash onto the cotton.  “How did you get this nasty cut?” he asked, placing the swab on my face.
“Um, I tripped outside,” I lied, holding still.
“You must have pretty bad coordination to do that kind of damage to your face.” Aaron laughed and soaked another cotton swab.
“Yeah, I guess. The rain wasn’t all too friendly to those with the wrong size shoes on.” I uncrossed my legs and shook my feet, forcing out a small laugh.
“It seems like you got here in a hurry,” Aaron admitted. He rested a hand on my thigh and squeezed it lightly. “Well I guess you’re all good. I won’t put a bandage on it because there’s no bleeding to stop but I do think you’ll be left with a nasty scar.”


I brought my head up to look at him; he was still a little bit shorter than I was even when I was sitting on the bed. “That kind of sucks,” I responded. Aaron was so close; I could feel his body heat unlike Grim’s chilly aurora. My heartbeat grew faster when Aaron didn’t let go of my leg. 
“Just a little bit,” he said with a small smile playing at the edges of his mouth. I hesitantly put one hand on his arm, pulling him closer. When he didn’t resist I wrapped my other arm around his freckled neck and pulled him even closer. My back arched, making him taller than me for once.


            Our lips met and it was nothing like any dream I could ever had. Aaron’s hand left my thigh and traveled to the small of my back. As wrong as it sounds, for those couple of minutes I forgot what I was going or where I was. All that mattered was the person in front of me.

            Aaron pulled away from and reality snapped back in focus. “She’s my daughter, isn’t she?” Aaron asked in a hushed voice. I unwound my hands from his back before responding.
“Yes. She looks so much like you too.”
“She really does,” he responded sheepishly. He removed his hands from my back. “There’s one more, right?”
I nodded. “Analee”
Aaron stepped back and started putting away the supplies he had gotten out. “That what I thought.”

            Once Aaron had put everything away, he walked out of the room, acting like nothing had happened, letting the door shut behind him.
~



            I sat there for a few more minutes, debating between going out and sitting the in waiting room or staying here until someone found me and kicked me out. I sighed and jumped off the bed.
            I walked a little ways and found myself sitting in the waiting room, eager for an update on Casanya’s condition.
 ~


       
            I was just starting to dose off when a young nurse, wearing the same green outfit as Aaron, walked over towards me. She had her brown hair in a simple up do, away from her dark skin and hazel eyes.
“Ms. Smores?” she asked. “You are her right?”
“Yes, I am her.” I started to stand up.
“Oh you don’t have to stand. I actually prefer you don’t.” She sat down in the seat across from me and laced her fingers. “Please correct me if I am wrong, but Casanya is your daughter, right?”
I nodded, my mouth unable to form the correct words. I was too nervous about Cas’ condition to speak.
“Well what do you think happened to her? What caused you to bring her in?” She spoke the words precisely, as if they were rehearsed. I tilted my head up before I spoke; her eyes were filled with sorrow.
“Uh,” I stuttered on my words. “She said he side was hurting then she starting throwing up like crazy and she had a big fever. Appendicitis, I think.”
“Yes it was appendicitis. By the time the doctors got her to the operating table,” She took in a big sigh, ”her appendix had already burst and the infection went into her bloodstream. I’m sorry Ms. Smores, but your daughter did not make it.” The nurse got up and placed a hand on my shoulder. “My condolences are with you and your family.”


She left before her words had registered. I sat there, no tears falling onto my cheeks. I breathed hard and my stomach started to cramp up. I felt like I needed to throw up. 
I couldn’t believe that I had lost Casanya. My little girl. She was too young too die. I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was my fault that she had died.

The tears started falling when I heard my name being called out. I didn’t even bother turning my head in the direction of the voice. Talking to someone was the least of my problems.
“I knew it was you! What’s wrong?” a voice asked. Someone had slid into the seat next to mine. I opened my eyes and saw the bright face of my only fairy friend, Max.
“She’s gone,” I cried. “She’s gone and it’s all my goddamn fault!”
“I’m so sorry, Danielle. I’m so sorry.”


His words were meant for comfort but instead they just cut into me deeper, reminding me that if I had taken Cas into the hospital just a few hours earlier, she would be alive.
“If I just had brought her in earlier, she would be alive. It’s my fault! It’s all my fault!” I wept even louder and all Max could do was wrap his other arm around me.
“It’s not your fault; you couldn’t have know.”
I didn’t reply for there was nothing left to say. The more I tried to convince him that it was my fault, the more I found it to be true. Instead I just cried even more.

Max tried to change the subject but with my crying, I only caught half of what he was saying. What I could make out for sure was that the reason he found me was because his cousin was in the hospital and he got bored waiting with the rest of his family.
It I didn’t give me any comfort knowing that the reason Max was trying to assuage my pain was purely coincidental.
I didn’t know I could cry this hard.


“Danielle,” Max said after my crying had turned into infrequent hiccups.
“Hm?” My head rested comfortably on his tear-stained shoulder.
“I thought you would like to know that heaven has gained an angel.” 
I hiccuped. “How do you know that? How do you know that heaven evens exists?” My voice was groggy. “Not even everyone who dies turns into an angel.”
“Something has to exist, doesn’t it?” I felt him sigh. “I promise that she’s an angel up there. I will make sure of it.”

I closed my eyes, wishing that there was some truth in his empty promise. But all I saw was a false sense of hope.
~



















Please don't hate me for not updating in forever and then coming back with an extremely heart-wrenching post. <3