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. 
~

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