She stared into the blackness of the canyon imagining the number of jagged rocks and boulders that lie below. The moon was obscured by dark clouds, but she could make out the faintest outline of it’s fullness.
This canyon wasn’t new to her. She and Hugo used to hike it’s trails with their two golden retrievers, Rusty and Misty.
She’d met Hugo in 7th period geometry. During class testing, she’d lean back and stare at the blackboard while twirling her hair around her pencil so he could peek at her answers. She always thought of it as the reason they had fallen in love. Her love of numbers, formulas and theorems would serve her well when she went on to study biochem at university. Her degree lead her to become a pharmaceutical researcher.
She wouldn’t see Hugo again until their 10th high school reunion. They would fall in love again. Start a life in a small home on the outskirts of her hometown. She would eventually leave her career to raise their first daughter, Lily. Lily is as peaceful and beautiful as her name. She’s a natural peacekeeper. She’s sure Lily is genius since she uttered her first words at five months old. There was never a day she didn’t beam down at Lily and think, “I done good.”
She loved her life. She couldn’t believe anyone’s life could have more perfection than her own. She had the best man she could imagine. A man who came home every night and made sure she knew that she was his and he was hers.
Lily’s first day of kindergarten came and she excitedly took Lily to Ms. Ariana’s door. Planted the sweetest kiss right onto Lily’s tiny lips. Lily smiled and waved goodbye to her mother. Lily was taking her first steps towards independence. With that she smiled, but her smile melted a little as she stopped to think that Lily was no longer a baby. Lily was a little girl. All the love she had welled up into tears in her eyes. She wasn’t sure that she was ready for Lily to be a little girl.
Lily graduated kindergarten acing coloring and advancing to first grade reading and math. She had never been more proud of Lily, but something inside her was weighing her down. She had stopped eating, she was moody and her butt was gigantic. She’d never felt this way before. Helping Lily excel at everything had been her focus. She’d missed she hadn’t had her period in months. Between Tutus and Tiaras and soccer games, she’d denied the fact she could be pregnant.
Sterling Christopher was born two months after the denial had finally worn off. Sterling was stubborn, refusing to exit through her birth canal after 36 hours of hard labor. Her doctor finally convinced her to give up on the idea on a vaginal birth. She was rushed into surgery and her 9 lbs 6 oz baby boy was born less than 15 minutes later.
He was whisked away. He hadn’t cried when he entered the world. But she wasn’t concerned. She didn’t know if it was the medicine, but there was no huge crushing need to see Sterling’s face nor count his little toes. And when the nurse finally returned to see if she wanted to breastfeed, she took him in her arms and shoved her nipple into his mouth. All the while, she was staring intently at a spot on the wall. She never peered down to examine her baby. This puzzled the nurse, but he was latched on correctly and seem to be eating fine. So the nurse left satisfied that Sterling was well cared for.
She couldn’t explain it. This time, she didn’t feel like a mom. She felt like a stranger was using her body for sustaining their life. She kept telling herself that this was her son, but it wasn’t registering. When her mom came to visit, she told her about her feelings. Her mom said, “Don’t worry, it will come.” And her best friend told her the same thing, but it wasn’t coming. In fact, her detachment from Sterling was turning into resentment.
Day after day, she kept wishing for him to disappear. Until tonight, she’d swaddled him tightly and put him into his cradle, kissed her beautiful Lily goodnight, and told her husband, Hugo that she was going for a drive.
And that’s how she ended up at the edge of her favorite canyon, pondering how much jumping would hurt. Would she just get pierced somewhere vital and die instantly? That’s what she needed. Her newborn son and daughter would be fine without her, she reasoned. Hugo will take care of them and he’d eventually find love again. Her role in the family wasn’t that hard to fill. A maid and a bottle could do her job. Her biochemistry degree sat in a box somewhere in the basement. The only title she had was Mom. She wasn’t sure that title fit her any more. She wanted to feel love for her family, but all of them sucked the life force out of her. What was once fulfilling was now painful and invasive.
How many heart shaped sandwiches could she make for Hugo and Lily before she just wanted to throw them against the wall? How many more school functions would she have to sit through awkwardly not wanting to meet anyone new? How many times would Hugo make a pass at her while she was still wearing maternity pants? She wanted no part of the life she built. And she definitely didn’t want to clean dog poop out of the crate again tomorrow morning, before dressing the baby and taking Lily to school.
She began to inch closer to the canyon edge. Contemplating the release she would feel with death when the clouds parted and the full light of the moon seemed to warm her face. It felt as though the moonbeams were caressing her tear stained cheeks. And she felt an overwhelming sense of peace and love. Her feet carried her backwards and she followed.
She looked up to the moon and said, “I am Addy Mae and I want to live.”
Addy Mae jumped into her car and drove away!
Copyright Nicole Henley, 2019