DISCLAIMER: ER is the property of Constant C Productions, Amblin Entertainment, and Warner Brothers Television.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Part XIV: I Waited For You
Green eyes stare at me.
"Come on, come here."
She shakes her head and sets her jaw in a determined pout.
"If you come here "
I've tried wheedling before but it never works; the psychiatrist in me knows that it's not healthy. And she knows it.
"Let me hug you."
Another shake of her head.
"Sweetie, that's enough for today. Come on, let's go to bed."
She suddenly reaches her arms out to me and lets out a wail.
"Okay, oh sweet baby, it's okay."
I reach down and scoop her into my arms, making sure I deposit an abundance of kisses on her soft belly. She immediately starts to giggle and it's all I can do not to spontaneously combust.
"She's going to be spoiled rotten, you realize that right?"
I turn at the sound of Kerry's voice and continue my affectionate assault.
"Ma doesn't want to be left out, let's share our sugars."
The eight-month old in my arms wiggles in delight as I coo at her.
"I don't want her to ever forget how much I love her."
I pack my precious bundle over to Kerry and watch in awe as Sian scrambles into her mother's arms. The bond between them is a soul-stirring experience to witness. With me Sian is exuberant and outgoing, in Kerry's arms she's protected and at peace. They gaze at each other, communing silently.
Sian is our only child. She is not our first child.
We'd talked about having children for months and finally I'd gotten in touch with a specialist, with unforeseen results. The news that I would never be able to have children created an ache that threatened to consume me. When Kerry opted to try I was overcome with joy and gratitude. And when she miscarried at 11 weeks, my grief almost swept us away in its wake. I threw myself into my work, ignoring the world and my small corner of it.
I came home late one evening to find Kerry packing a suitcase.
"I thought your conference wasn't until next week."
She carefully turned to face me.
"The conference was two weeks ago, Kim, I was gone for the weekend,
"Oh, right right."
I kicked off my shoes and started to unbutton my blouse. Kerry watched me for a minute and then returned to her task.
"God I'm tired," I exhaled heavily.
"So where are you going?"
My question stretched out long enough for even me in my numb state to realize that I had missed something.
"I haven't thought that far ahead, actually. I'll just uh, stay at a hotel for now until I can arrange for a time to collect my things."
I shook my head in confusion.
She stilled in the centre of the room, nervously folding and unfolding a sweater.
"Kim, I've tried talking to you, you won't talk. I've suggested counselling,
you flatly refuse. You tell me you're fine, you just need time but the more
time I give you, the worse you get. I've run out of ideas."
She trailed off and waited expectantly but I didn't utter a word.
"We haven't made love in two months."
A small sigh escaped her and I thought I saw exasperation flash across her face but when she spoke, it sounded like crying.
"I want to try again, Kim, but I can't do it alone. I won't. And I can't fix things between us because you won't help me. So I'm removing the problem. For now, until you figure out what you want to do."
Reeling in shock, my heart pounding in my chest as I watched our life flash before my eyes, I could only stare at her.
"It's not your fault. You didn't sign on for this. You want kids and we don't know if I'll ever be able to carry to term "
She placed a few remaining items into the case then carefully closed the lid with a click.
"I'll call you and let you know where I'm staying, okay?"
She walked out of the bedroom and down the stairs, her footfalls soft on the carpet. I heard the front door close before I could turn the screaming in my head into actual sound.
"Tell me what you did today and don't skip over the good parts."
Kerry chuckles as she nestles her feet into my lap.
"Little Miss Thang is still determined to walk and I'm afraid I'm going to hurt myself trying not to laugh. She pulls herself up by the leg of the coffee table and then teeters there for several minutes. Then she finally makes the big push and promptly falls on her butt. It's hysterical."
"Oh, I wanna see!"
I can't keep the whiney tone out of my voice and Kerry laughs harder.
"Well as of today, you're on maternity leave. I believe you'll be able to witness exactly how stubborn your daughter is, repeatedly."
A huge grin lights up my face and Kerry leans forward and gives me a lingering kiss.
"All-day sucker, that's what you are. She's already got you wrapped so tight around her little itty finger "
"I'll bet her butt is sore."
"Well you wouldn't know it by watching her. She just looks I don't know, perplexed and then she pulls herself up and tries again."
"That's my girl. She's got that Legaspi "can do" spirit."
Kerry smiles indulgently at me.
"Papers came today."
I am contemplating the perfection of our daughter and it takes a moment for her statement to reach me.
"You heard me. We're all done. It's legal and binding and all that good stuff."
I feel a hitch in my last breath and then I burst into tears. Kerry quickly pulls her feet out of my lap and sits up, crushing me in a fierce embrace. She alternately smoothes my hair and kisses my forehead, rocking me back and forth and whispering into my ear.
"It's okay, Kim, we're okay. This is what we've been waiting for, the last piece of the puzzle, you know?"
I nod and reach up a hand to wipe my sodden face.
I think back to when I came so close to destroying everything not just having it wrenched from my hands but actively pushing it away.
Two days went by before I had the energy to even get out of bed. I wandered listlessly through the house, bare feet icy cold on the hardwood floors. I found myself in the kitchen, rummaging through cupboards for Kerry's bottle of Lagavulin. Just thinking her name sent shards of pain slicing along my senses. I poured myself a healthy glass and strolled back into the living room, not bothering to turn on the fireplace.
The rain beating down was a perfect compliment to my blankness. Idly I ran my fingers along the edge of the end table, disturbing magazines and papers. A small square of white fluttered onto my lap and I turned it over and over in my hand, mesmerized.
The phone rang, startling me, and I almost picked it up before I remembered that no one that I wanted to talk to would be calling me.
The machine beeped in irritation and a disembodied voice wafted through the air.
"Hello, Kerry, it's Dr. Padgett. Your results came back and everything is fine. Call me and we'll set up an appointment to talk about the next step. Okay, I'll talk to you soon, 'bye."
Sian is snuggled between us on the couch, my crying having woken her. I run my thumb along her chin and mentally kick myself for causing her to start crying, too. She opens her mouth and lets out a tiny sigh, a bubble of air pushing out and then collapsing. I swoon.
Kerry rises and begins to collect the detritus of our late meal, one of the perks of having a stay at home wife who can cook like a pro. She's taken an entire year of maternity leave so there is no worry that the fabulous meals will be ending anytime soon.
I lift Sian into my arms and carry her into the kitchen. We lean against the counter, both sets of eyes glued on the woman that stands at the sink rinsing dishes.
"If Sian could talk, she'd say, 'Can you blame us?' "
"Here Ker, you take her and I'll finish that."
"I've got it."
"Baby, you do housework and look after a newborn all day, not to mention getting up all hours of the night to feed her. You shouldn't have to wait on me, too."
She turns slightly and flashes a benign smile at the two of us.
I wait in bemused silence.
"One, you work all day and when you get home, I want you to spend as much time with your daughter as you can. Two, she's not a fussy baby and looking after her is a breeze, despite the enormous amount of laundry that piles up every day. I could do with less late-night feedings and more sleep but fuck it, I'll drop when I'm fifty. Three, I like waiting on you at least for the foreseeable future so get it while you can. Besides, you're officially on baby duty as of 5pm today, right? I have you in my clutches for the next three months."
"How can I tell that you're suffering from sleep deprivation? Fuck it? Excuse me?"
I start to laugh and there is a pause while she contemplates the matter. Her pondering doesn't last long and Sian gurgles happily when Kerry crosses the kitchen and lifts her hands to cover my face in soap bubbles. I swoop down and kiss her and we stand like this, our tongues gently exploring.
I pull back and blink slowly.
"Um, I think Sian's ready for bed, don't you?"
Kerry smirks at my blatant falsehood but nods.
"She's had a very strenuous day. Developing coordination, balance and proper motor skills takes it out of a girl."
I grin and lean in for another kiss.
"Let me feed her and I'll rendezvous with you in the bedroom in twenty minutes."
I finish up the last of the dishes and then take care of some case notes while I wait for Kerry to finish putting the baby down. It takes her thirty minutes to tear herself away from our beautiful blonde angel but it's worth it. When I arrive at the door to our bedroom she is on top of the covers, resting on her side, the soft glow from the bedside lamp playing across her nude body.
I stand and gaze at her for long moments, finally walking towards her and standing at the end of our bed. I kneel on the edge and reach out to grab a slender foot. My thumb traces aimless patterns on her arch and she giggles, then moans low in her throat. The sound runs from my ears directly down my spine and I feel my insides tighten and clench.
Overwhelmed by a blinding need to possess her, I grasp her ankle and pull her toward me. She falls silent and bites her lower lip between her teeth, watching me with dark eyes.
I reach to the head of the bed and drag a pillow to her side, encouraging her to lift her hips while I position her. When she is settled comfortably I scoot back and lower myself to her spread thighs.
My first taste of her is tentative and gentle, exploring rather than inflaming. She runs her hand through my hair, occasionally lifting her hips to my ministrations and making it increasingly difficult for me to adhere to my steady and even pace.
I pull away and slowly run my hands up her legs, my eyes following. She whimpers in frustration. My hands drift higher, running the backs of my fingers over her ribs, pausing to measure the slow thud of her heart. I gently cup her breasts, larger now and so very sensitive, and she growls at me. Startled I look into her eyes.
She is annoyed at my delicacy and with a gulp I realize that I've enflamed her only to back off when I should be getting aggressive.
She presses herself forward into my hands, sitting up and manoeuvring me backwards until I'm stretched out, my head barely on the edge of the bed. I release her breasts and reach down to unbutton my blouse but she slaps my hands away. She is pissed off now and I open my mouth to placate her but she's having none of it.
"Dr. Kimberley Chamberlain Legaspi, if you don't stop teasing me and start fucking me, you'll be sleeping on the couch while I find some batteries, understand?"
"Can I watch?"
Her eyes narrow dangerously.
"Wrong goddamn answer."
I crane my neck up and wrap my mouth around a nipple, rubbing the flat of my tongue back and forth over its tip. She shudders and releases a shaky breath and I grab her hips and pull them closer. I move my mouth away just long enough to give her one simple direction.
"Unbutton my shirt I want to feel you."
Her fingers tangle in their haste and she groans, grabbing my shirttails and lifting them to expose my stomach. She lowers herself just enough to drag her wetness across my skin. I return to her breast, hearing her gasps of approval. She tastes sweet and I suck greedily, feeling the warmth flood my mouth and throat.
I run my hand down between us and she rises up, granting me entry. Three fingers push inside her and she accepts me easily, wide open and urgent. Liquid heat surrounds my fingers and I add another, slippery and sliding deeper. I switch my oral attentions to her other breast as she begins to grunt with every thrust of my hand. I gather my thumb in close and begin an insistent pressing into her. She stares down at me, watching me feed from her. I raise my other hand to her face, her cheeks stained a heated pink.
I close my eyes and let the sticky sounds of our coupling overwhelm my senses. I devour her as she drives herself down onto my fist, engulfing me, nourishing me, healing me, pushing me to the very edges of my being.
Her climax rolls over us both, the sensation of her muscles grasping my hand making me come, hard. She floods and sighs above me and each small convulsion releases my hand. I roll us over and reluctantly remove my mouth from her breast, gently licking at the last traces of her milk.
I feel a sudden urge to pee and I get up and pad to the bathroom, stripping off my shirt as I go. I make short work of my jeans and underwear, leaving them in a heap by the bathtub. I make a mental note to pick them up in the morning, Kerry's comment about the mysteriously expanding laundry running through my head. When I'm done I wash my hands and then walk back into the bedroom. The bed is empty but I know where she is.
I walk up behind her as she leans against the baby's door. She half turns, making a shushing motion with her finger against her lips. I wrap my arms around her and peer into the room. Sian is fast asleep, a tiny giraffe clutched in one hand, her blankets kicked off and pushed to the end of her crib. I release Kerry and walk over, pulling up the covers and tucking them under Sian's chin.
"They'll only end up at the bottom of the bed again."
She's right but I can't help it, I have to fuss or she won't grow up to be President.
I pat Sian's leg and then turn to face Kerry, sticking my tongue out at her. She smiles lazily.
"Come over here and do that "
I just grin at her as I usher her into the hall and she turns to head back to the bedroom. I reach out and grab her forearm, pulling her around and against me, then move her against the wall. Before she has time to think about what's happening, I slide down her body and press my lips between her legs, a kiss and a promise, nuzzling at her folds.
I lap at her, pausing occasionally to thrust my tongue deep inside her. She frantically clutches at my hair, alternately trying to squirm away from my relentless pursuit and push her hips closer. I am not in control, far from it, and the taste of her salty wetness against my tongue sends me spiralling higher. She is the source of everything that is precious to me my love, my family, my very existence. This thought ricochets around my head as I fuck her with my mouth.
She sags lower, her legs shaking with the effort to remain standing while I consume her. I am insatiable and the evidence of her orgasm gushing into my mouth does nothing to abate my lust for her. I press on, sliding a finger inside her to curl and stroke while I rasp my tongue against her clit. She raises my free hand to her mouth, sucking on my fingers, desperately trying not to cry out as she comes again.
I finally manage to rouse myself from my intoxication, gradually slowing and placing gentle kisses against her feverish skin. Her legs give out and she slides down the wall, breaking our contact. I clutch her hands and lean forward, kissing her deeply, sharing her flavour. She moans into my mouth and the hairs on the back of my neck rise in anticipation. I feel flushed and almost sick and it takes all of my willpower not to pull her down and begin again. I start to shiver uncontrollably and she gathers me into her arms and pulls me into her lap, rubbing my arms and whispering to me.
"Come on, baby, let's get you warmed up. Come on, that's it."
She helps me to stand and I wrap an arm around her waist, steadying us both as we stumble back to bed. We crawl under the covers and I tuck myself against her chest, exhausted and replete. No words exist to describe how I carry her in my soul but I murmur into her skin as we finally succumb to sleep.
The phone started ringing again. Every time the machine picked up there was a sigh and then a click. I was trying not to give in to the powerful urge to go back to bed and the phone was keeping me alert, which in turn annoyed me. When it started to ring again I made an angry grab for it.
There was a long pause and I started to hang up but someone finally spoke.
Everything shut down at the sound of my mother's voice.
"I know you're still there, I can hear you breathing."
"Mom, this isn't a good ti-"
"How are you, Kim?"
"You sound terrible. Tell me what's happened, please. Are you okay? Is Kerry okay?"
"Nothing's happened, we just Christ, nothing's wrong, Mom."
I ran my hand through my hair and blew out a heavy sigh.
"I talked to Kerry about twenty minutes ago."
"I was trying to track you down and you weren't at work and no one answered at home so I tried her at the hospital."
"Did she ask you to call me?"
I felt a spark of anger flare in my chest.
"She didn't mention you at all and that's why I'm calling."
She let the silence stretch out and I knew I'd have to answer her eventually.
"She uh, she's staying at a hotel for a couple days "
My voice got smaller and smaller the more I talked and I finally lapsed into silence. There was a slight whine to the connection and I focused on it carefully.
"When did you talk to her last?"
"Uh what day is this..?"
"Kimberley, what's happened? God, tell me you didn't break up."
"I don't know, Mom, I honestly don't know. I'm not feeling well and we argued, I don't know things are kind of crazy, umm, I can't even remember what we argued about."
"Baby, you need to tell me what's going on. Kerry sounded so flat on the phone it was scary to hear her."
"Mom, I thinking I'm going crazy."
I whispered into the phone, terrified that raising my voice would jar something loose inside of me.
"Kim, baby, do you want me to fly out? I can be there in-"
"I need you to talk to me, Mom. Tell me what's wrong, tell me why everything is wrong. I hurt, Mom."
"Sweet baby, everything's going to be fine."
She paused to collect her thoughts and miraculously, I didn't hang up.
"She loves you so much, Kim, so much. You're her world, do you know that? The beginning and the end of her world."
"She left me, Mom. She packed a bag and she told me that she'd phone me and let me know where she'd be staying. Why would she do that, Mom?"
I started to cry and my mother's voice rushed in to comfort me.
"She didn't leave you, Kim. She would never leave you. I think maybe things got too big for her to fix and she didn't know what to do? I think she thought that this would help you somehow."
"I can't have children, Mom."
"Oh sweet baby, yes you can. Maybe not the way you planned but yes, you can. Kim "
I gripped the phone tighter.
"Kim, do you do you blame Kerry for the miscarriage?"
I started crying harder and it took everything within me not to implode right there.
"Mom, she's 42 years old, she shouldn't have to bear children. The chance of a miscarriage, developmental problems for the child, not to mention the risk to the mother "
I waited in silence.
"It wasn't your fault, either."
Her words felt like a slap across my face and she didn't bother to wait for my false assurances.
"It's not your fault that you can't have children, Kim, and it doesn't mean she loves you any less. You're not something that's broken, that needs to be fixed. Kerry didn't lose your baby because she was forced to try and do something you couldn't. It just happened. It was a terrible, terrible loss and there was no sense to it, it it just happened."
She took a deep breath before speaking again.
"Kim, you know I love you with all my heart and I'll always love you and support you and be there for you. You know that. But before you and Kalvin were born there was just me and your Dad. Long before we ever had you, before we'd even considered having children, your Dad and I were a family. And that's what you and Kerry are. A family. There's a hole in your family right now and you didn't cause it and Kerry didn't cause it but you need each other to be able to fix it."
"If we lost another baby, I don't think I could survive it, Mom. God, if something happened to Kerry "
The pain from that thought threatened to undo the subtle wash of relief I was starting to experience and once more, Mom stepped into the breech.
"Whether or not you ever have children, that fear never completely goes away. That's part of the deal, Kim, and there's no way around it."
I closed my eyes and tried to slow my ragged breathing.
"I will miss your father for the rest of my life, Kim. It's a tear in my heart that will never heal. But it feels good to remember him and remember how happy he made me and I want to feel that for as long as I can. But to do that, I have to keep on living. You can't just stop, Kim, you can't. It wouldn't be fair to your baby but most of all it's not fair to you and Kerry. You deserve to be happy and what you're doing right now isn't making you happy. It's not solving anything."
"I don't know what to do."
This last admission started her crying too and I felt guilty and miserable and more lost than I'd ever felt in my life.
"You need to grieve. I know it feels like that's what you've been doing but you haven't. You've been taking all your hurt and your rage and shoving it down deep inside and you can only do that for so long before it starts to poison you. And you need to grieve with Kerry because it's poisoning her, too."
"I know she's hurting, Mom, I know that. I can barely keep myself functioning, how am I supposed to help her? I can't do it."
"You can, Kim, but you have to let her help you, you have to go through this together. I know you can't see it right now but if you just let her lean on you, you'll be able to support her. And that will give her the strength to do the same thing for you. And it will get better."
"This is all my fault "
"No! It isn't anybody's fault. It's completely understandable that you don't want to deal with this. It's painful and I wish I could tell you that the pain eventually goes away but it really doesn't. It just it becomes a part of you, Kim, and you learn to live with it. And eventually it doesn't hurt so much and you just you go on."
"Mom, how come this feels so different from when Daddy died? How come I can't remember ever feeling like I just "
"Kim, your Dad thought the world of you. You were his baby girl and that wouldn't have changed if he'd live to be a hundred. You two did everything together. You were sixteen when he died and it was a terrible shock but I think somehow you were always able to appreciate the time you got to spend with him instead of dwelling on what was taken away. Do you know what I mean?"
I nodded and wiped my nose on my sleeve. She continued as if she'd seen me.
"Every instinct that women have is geared to protecting and nurturing and loving their children. It's a huge, almost frightening thing when you first feel it and once it happens, it doesn't just go away. Every part of you is crying out to take care of your child and it's just very, very sad, Kim, that you were denied the joy of getting to know your little girl."
My little girl. Hearing the words sent me into another round of crying and Mom just waited patiently on the other end of the line. It took about fifteen minutes for me to cry myself out and then one thought stood out clearly in my mind.
"I need to talk to Kerry."
"Oh baby, I know you do. You always have, you just didn't know how to get there. And it's okay if it takes some time for things to right themselves. Our conversation is just the start, Kim. Don't be too hard on yourself or expect too much right away."
"I love you, Mom, so much."
"I love you too, Kim, and I love Kerry. Will you please tell her that for me?"
"Of course. If she'll talk to me."
"Don't do that, Kim, of course she'll talk to you."
"I'm gonna hang up, okay? Thanks, Mom, for everything."
"You're welcome for everything. If you need to talk some more, please call, okay? Day or night, I don't mind."
"I will, I promise. I love you. 'Bye."
I set the phone down and stood in the middle of the living room, twisting my hands and trying in vain to organize the thoughts that were racing through my head. Try as I might I couldn't follow anything long enough to make a decision. The path that had seemed so clear while I was talking to Mom now seemed fraught with pain and anger. I began to feel lethargic and I contemplated heading back to bed but a sudden burst of clarity cut through the ether.
There would always be a better day, a more appropriate time, moments when I would be more eloquent and less damaged. And if I simply waited for one, I would slip beneath the waves, submerged and gone to rust.
Unsure of what I would say once I got there, I grabbed my jacket and my car keys and headed for Kerry's hotel.
My eyes slowly open and I squint in the growing light of the morning, letting my lids close again. I drift like this for hours, maybe longer, until I become aware of two distinctly different breathing patterns. I roll my head on the pillow and find myself face to face with the most beautiful green eyes I've ever seen. Kerry has risen some time in the early morning to feed Sian and as is her custom, she's bundled her between us and then gone back to sleep.
I reach up and rest my hand lightly on the top of her downy head. She crinkles her face up into a happy baby smile then reaches out with a tiny hand. I let her wrap her fingers around my thumb and we amuse ourselves for a long time, me tugging lightly, her loosening and tightening her grip.
"I love watching you two."
Kerry is barely awake and her voice is thick with sleep. She smiles at me when I dart a glance up at her. I return my gaze to our exquisite baby and try once again to fathom how I got so goddamn lucky.
"What did I do before you?"
I have asked Kerry this question countless times but she never answers me.
Traffic was rushing at a dizzying pace despite the torrential downpour. I raced along Market, heedless of my speed or safety. Each mile that brought me closer to Kerry also drove every thought from my head. I had set out with little idea of what would come next and even that was disappearing.
I slowed to a stop in the intersection, impatiently tapping the steering wheel while my signal clicked noisily. The approaching cars waiting to turn blocked my view of traffic and I leaned forward in my seat, straining to see an opening. I inched forward, counting cars and then gunning the engine to squeeze through a momentary gap.
A blaring noise whipped my head to the right. I jumped on the brakes and caught a flash of green and the white face of someone behind the wheel as I narrowly missed broad siding an oncoming car. I waited until the intersection was totally clear before attempting to proceed again. When I was safely through, I drove half way down the block and then pulled over.
I flung open the door and lurched out and around to the back of the car. I leaned over and threw up, resting heavily on the trunk with a shaky hand. I straightened and immediately started to gag, bending back down and vomiting again. I slid down and sat on the bumper, taking shallow breaths and wiping the sweat from my face.
Knowing that if I waited until I was steady I might never move again I stood and made my way back to the driver's side. I slid into the seat and rested my forehead against the wheel for a final recovery. I was careful to check over my shoulder before pulling back into traffic.
"It's your first day of freedom, what would you like to do? Anything you want, just name it and it's yours."
I giggle at Kerry's pronouncement and Sian takes the opportunity to put her fingers in my mouth. I munch on them contentedly while she squeals and chants a litany of yi-yi-yis.
"Maybe I should try that diet."
"Not actually eating anything, just snacking on Sian's fingers. God knows I could start losing some weight any time now."
"I think you look good."
Kerry rolls her eyes and returns to reading the Saturday paper.
"No really, Ker, you look good. Come on, you're 42 and you've just had a baby. Obviously you're not gonna look like "
I rack my brain trying to think of an annoyingly skinny woman but nothing comes to mind. I shrug and raise my eyebrows helplessly. Any chance I had of scoring a few points passed when I opened my mouth and I just look at her, trying to communicate as much love and adoration as I can manage.
She's not buying.
"Ker, you know I love you."
"Yes I know; that wasn't the topic but thanks just the same. Right now, however, I'm not a hundred percent with how much I love you."
I stand up and deposit Sian into her lap.
"Look into those baby greens and tell me a little extra weight wasn't worth it."
"Mama never learned how to play fair did she, precious girl? Hmmm? Did she? No, she didn't."
Sian stares at her in rapt fascination. I leave the two of them to their lopsided conversation and head to the kitchen to start breakfast, calling back over my shoulder.
"I don't really have anything in mind, Ker. How 'bout we just hang out and see if anything comes up."
I pause at the stove and consider what I've just said. I go back and peek around the corner.
"You probably wouldn't mind getting out, huh?"
She looks at me sweetly.
"A walk later, after breakfast?"
"Sounds good. Thanks."
I grin sheepishly and turn back to begin the first of three months worth of pampering.
Kerry had perversely selected the room furthest from the elevator and I shook my head imagining her crutching along after a hard day's work. I reached up and gave the door a tentative knock.
I knocked again, louder and longer. I thought I caught a brief shuffling sound from inside and I waited but she didn't come to the door. Whatever courage I'd mustered back at the start of my journey was gone. Deflated, I turned and headed back to the elevator.
I pressed the down button and stood there for a minute before I realized I was being an idiot. I ran back to her room and pounded on the door, yelling loudly.
"Kerry, open up, I have to talk to you."
I heard the shuffling sound again and I gentled my voice for my second try.
"We need to talk, Ker. Please baby."
The door opened wide and I stared, appalled. Kerry looked like she hadn't slept in months. There were dark circles under her eyes and her skin was a ghostly white, the veins in her hands standing out in bas relief.
I closed my eyes as the truth dawned. A week apart hadn't put her in this condition. She'd been like this since she'd--since we'd lost our baby.
I just hadn't noticed.
I lost it, standing in the hall of the Hyatt Regency crying so hard that I couldn't catch my breath. The anguish in my soul rose up into my chest and squeezed at my heart. I reached out, blindly trying to find an anchor and that's when she took my hand.
I lounge on the front steps, watching Sian roll back and forth on her blanket. She brings her foot to her mouth to sample a toe, then lowers it and resumes her rocking.
The screen door opens and Kerry steps out onto the porch, handing me a glass of lemonade. She awkwardly lowers herself to sit beside me and I automatically reach out and steady her. Sian ceases her sideways motion and peers up at us.
I motion Kerry to stay put while I walk down the stairs, gathering Sian to me. I deposit her into Kerry's arms but she squirms and kicks and starts to fret.
"She wants you, Kim."
I turn startled eyes to Kerry.
"I'm plain old Ma, remember?"
She hands Sian to me and the fussing immediately stops. I look down at the small form in my lap and frantically blink back a sudden rush of tears.
"When I talk about you, which is all the time I might add, I always call you Mama. She's not stupid."
Kerry says this as if it's the most natural thing in the world. I turn to gaze at her smiling face and she reaches out and places a hand behind my neck, pulling me into a tender kiss. She releases me and leans our foreheads together.
A deep breath and then she plunges forward.
"I want to have another baby."
I jerk my head back and stare at her.
"Not right away, maybe when Sian is about a year and a half old?"
"There's nothing to be afraid of, Kim, I promise. We'll take every precaution. I know it'll be harder and there'll be more risks but we should have more babies together. We're going to raise such wonderful children and they're going to change the world. You know?"
I cannot tear my eyes away from her beautiful face.
I don't think I can ever find the words to tell you
I see us years from now, sitting together on the green lawn, my head in your lap. It is a beautiful summer day, one of those days that you only get once or twice in a season. No sights and sounds of the city around us, no pressing commitments or obligations, just acres of blue sky and yards of grass...that raw, milky smell of pulled dandelions hanging in the air. You are reading, I am dozing and the occasional drone of a lazy fly or sudden flap of a startled bird are the only things disturbing the hush of silence. My hand is idly resting on your elbow and each time you move your arm to turn a page, my fingers drag lightly across your skin, absentmindedly kneading the tender landscape. It comes so suddenly that I almost fail to recognize it--the startling realization that the direction of my life was inexorably altered when I met you; that no matter the years and changes to come, you are the story of my life.
"Hey, where'd you go?"
"Nowhere the future."
I cannot keep the wonder from my voice.
"Yes. Always yes."
Return to ER Fiction
Return to Main Page