Haven’t posted in a bit, for assorted reasons. But still among the living. Tinkering with something. Have an excerpt, if you like…
When James took Lilly away, I thought I would die. Nothing mattered, anymore. She’d been my whole reason for living, my light. I was a wreck; nothing could console me.
I think I pulled all of my hair out. That’s what I figure, anyway, from the scars on my head and the fact that the police found me bald. I did other things, too. Hurt myself. I’ve still got all the scars.
I waited. It felt like years, where they kept making me visit the doctor, kept sending neighbors over to check on me, made me take all those pills. Very long, dark, years.
But then it finally happened. The thing I’d been waiting for, even if I hadn’t wanted to admit it to myself.
My daughter came back to me. Just like I remembered her. Her hair was a little longer, and maybe her features had shifted a bit, but it was still her. I recognized her right away, lying in her crib, so still and perfect, one hand curled up under her chin, the other sprawled out behind her.
She looked just like she had the night James took her. At first I thought I was dreaming, remembering that night. Any minute he’d blow past me and pull her out of the crib and out the window.
I braced myself for the impact, James’ body against mine, that didn’t come. After another moment, I realized it wouldn’t. How could it? James was gone, and this was no dream.
There, on one of the crib’s legs, was the evidence. A streak of blood, from when I grabbed it to pull myself up that night. And over there, the gouges in the wooden frame of the window, when I lunged for it and yanked it open, trying to stop James from getting away.
But little Lilly, she had come back to me. Finally, as though realizing I was staring at her, she opened her eyes and turned her head towards me. Her fist was in the way of one eye, but the other was warm and shining, a pearlescent green that had haunted me every minute of every day since I’d seen it last. The corner of her mouth twitched in a smile, and a gurgling sound came out, her version of a laugh.
I saw that something else had changed; her teeth had started coming in. Little white pickets, pushing through the flesh of her gums. It must have been painful – maybe even infected – because they were terribly reddened and swollen. But it didn’t matter. My daughter had come back to me. And no one was going to take her away ever again.
I went to her, and fetched her from the crib, and held her against my breast. I took a deep breath, expecting that amazing scent, the one only a mother really knows, not matter how much she tries to explain it to someone else. Fresh baby-head. Instead I got a wallop of stench, rancid and wild. She was leaving thick, muddy streaks on my shirt as she squirmed and rooted for the nipple. And why not? James couldn’t have been bathing her, and whoever had finally delivered her back to me had surely wanted to make sure she was returned as quickly as possible. Knowing that a mother – a good mother, a real mother, like me – would want to bathe her child, to scrub every inch of her and make sure she was alright.
Another reason for the bath: Lilly was cold. I don’t know how she wasn’t shuddering herself half to death, grinding her lips and tongue to ribbons with those shiny nubbins that had grown from her gums in her absence. It was like holding a block of ice. But filthy as she was, maybe it was insulating her somehow. Or maybe she was too shocked, to happy to be home where she belonged.
Thoughs, opinions, critiques, flames? Leave ’em in the box below!