ALL STORMS PASS

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Submitted Date 04/04/2019
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I loved you from the moment I met you. When your beautiful grey eyes met my gaze, I felt the world tilt. A sheepish smile crawled on your burgundy lips when you caught me staring. I prayed that you would talk to me as I walked up to you and asked some nonsense to start a conversation. You giggled, and my heart stuttered. Your long, chocolaty hair bounced as you threw your head back. I tripped over my words as I asked you to coffee.

On our second date, you told me about your job, and how you loved being a nurse; you loved helping people. I chuckled as you described your crazy aunt and how she'd never let any of the kids near the dishwasher. My entire body seemed to warm while I sipped on my iced coffee and gazed at you.

Once, we went on a picnic out on the lake. We drank cheap, sweet wine and laughed together as we told embarrassing stories from high school. You told me you loved to read and that your favorite movie genre was romantic comedies. I remember how tingles shot up my spine as you giggled and admitted you were cheesey.

You decided to move in with me, and I was so joyous. Every night, I held you in my arms, and dreamed of our future. We would stay up late and talk about conspiracy theories and our favorite constellations. You loved to look at the stars. We would lay under the black sky and stare in wonder at the twinkling lights. I'll admit, I found more wonder gazing at you.

You continued working at the hospital, and I began writing full time. You encouraged me to pursue my passion, and you pushed me to work harder by supporting and believing in me. I began to publish my works, and they seemed to do well. You told me how proud you were, and I told you that you were my beautiful muse.

We bought our first house together. It wasn't much, but we made it home. You made it home. We'd blast Queen on the stereo in the kitchen as we cooked together. You loved to sing along, and I loved to listen.

I brought you to the ocean; you'd never been. While I sat in the sand gazing at you, you plucked seashells right from the sea and collected them in a pail. You would wave your favorites in the air to show me your treasures. You were all the treasure I needed. One evening, as the sun began to tuck itself under the ocean's horizon, I brought you to the shores edge, and knelt on one knee. Your smile was so wide across your face that it hid your perfect dimples. You reached around my neck and pulled your body to mine. My heart swelled in a way I'd never felt before; I felt whole.

I'll never forget our wedding day. As you walked down the cathedral's isle, I felt a wonderful glow in my chest. You were my everything, and we declared our eternal love in front of God himself, who I'd never believed in. You loved Catholic churches, though.

Almost a year married, we found out you were pregnant. My heart once again swelled with joy, and you glowed like an angel. I remember how hard you read every parenting book you could get your hands on. A secret smile would curve on my lips as I heard you groan that each book contradicted the other. I loved seeing you preparing to be a mother.

At the first ultrasound, we saw our tiny creation. And somehow, just like all those years ago when we first laid eyes on eachother, I fell in love. You were so excited. We decided to keep the gender a surprise, which you seemed to regret every other day.

Your beautiful body contoured around our sweet child. You hissed about how fat you were, though I had never seen anyone more beautiful. One night you called for me in the kitchen, and placed my hand on your stomach. Our baby was kicking. The next day, I remember how beautiful your laugh sounded as you attempted to bribe the doctor to reveal the gender. She nagged at you when you half-heartedly tried to peak at the screen.

It was September. The leaves were beginning to change. You'd frequently wondered aloud how the death of leaves could be so pretty. I told you once that there is beauty in all aspects of life. Even death. We both smiled and drank our tea.

We only had a couple of months before our baby would arrive into this world. You were bustling around our lovely home, nitpicking anything that was out of place. You noticed you were getting much more tired than usual. You took frequent naps, and eventually didn't worry about cleaning. You chalked it up to all the energy this baby was burning.

It was a late night. We'd gone to bed hours before, after dining out at your favorite restaurant. I remember waking to you crying in pain, and then agony. I felt the wet sheets and wondered if your water had broke. As I pulled the covers off of me, I saw red pooling under you onto the mattress. You were screaming at me to get you to the hospital. I was terrified, but I hurriedly grabbed the keys, and rushed you to the car.

I couldn't have been going less than 90 miles per hour the entire trip. You exclaimed you couldn't bear the pain, and you grabbed my arm and clenched with every contraction. I was so scared. I tried my best not to look at you, for I couldn't bear to see your face twisted in agony. Just once I glanced over, and the seat beneath you was drenched red. I could feel the blood leave my face as a cold sweat overtook me. You were ghostly pale.

The nurses rushed you back to the operating room. I argued with one, to the point of screaming at him, to let me follow you. He asked me to sit down, that it's best if there is very little stress in your environment right now. I pleaded with him, I needed to see you. He insisted I wait. How could I wait? How could I sit down in that pasty white waiting room, while some romantic comedy played in the background, not knowing what was happening to my wife and child? But that's exactly what I was forced to do. Time was drudging by, and I couldn't sit still. My mind wandered in panic. Not knowing was driving me insane.

A few painstakingly slow hours later, a middle aged man in pale green scrubs came into the waiting room, and his eyes locked on me. A bolt of lightning struck down my spine. He asked me if I was your husband; I nodded, barely able to breath, let alone speak. He sat down next to me, and met my eyes again. He explained to me that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck, and did not survive. He suspected the baby had died days ago. I blanched, and the walls began to spin. I tried hard to focus on his words, but the world in front of me felt so surreal, I couldn't even believe it was true. Surely our baby was fine. Surely this was a joke they played on every first-time father. The vision of dark crimson oozing on the passenger seat brought me back.

I couldn't even ask the question. I couldn't bear the answer. He analyzed my expression, and then cautiously explained to me that you were still very ill. You were alive, though. Bittersweet relief flooded through me. Our baby hadn't survived, but you had. I couldn't bear the thought of losing you. The doctor interrupted my thoughts, and explained that you had developed a severe infection. So severe that they had to perform a hysterectomy; otherwise, the infection could have spread to your vital organs. A wave of despair crashed over me. He gave me a moment to process, and then told me I could see you. I nearly flew out of my seat. I had to see you. I had to touch you, to know that you were still here in this hospital, to know you were truly alive. A petite nurse appeared behind the doctor and led me to you.

When I entered the ominous hospital suite, it was too dark to see your lovely face. You were looking down, away from me, so that all I could see was your curly brown hair. I was so scared, but I needed to see you. I called your name, and for a few seconds, you didn't respond. Finally, you turned your head towards me. As I strode over to you, I first noticed how pale you still were. My chest seemed to cave in in itself as I looked at you. Your stormy gray eyes - ringed with red from tears - were hazed and dull, as if you were just a fragile, lifeless doll in that bed. I couldn't speak for a moment. I felt as if I would shatter to pieces of I did. I tenderly walked closer to the bed. You had a bundle of blankets in your arms, holding them tightly to your chest, as if they were an anchor holding you to earth. I carefully sat beside you.

"A boy," you whispered so weakly that I could barely hear you. Your voice was void of emotion; hollow and lifeless. My eyes began to sting. You turned towards me, to show me our beautiful, precious child. A boy. Our boy. His translucent skin was tinted slate blue. His eyes were closed, as if he were just sleeping peacefully. His body was so tiny and fragile, so much smaller than it should have been. I fell to my knees, in front of you, my love, as we both wept tears of despair. Our hearts were no longer whole. He'd taken half of each of us when he left.

They discharged you from the hospital two weeks later. You were to be on strict bed rest. It wouldn't have mattered, you chose to lie in bed and sleep the day and the pain away. You didn't talk to me about it, or anything really. I would come to lay with you, but I could feel you stiffen as I pulled the covers back. I knew you needed time; we both did. But you had changed. Your tone became stoic, and you couldn't even look me in the eye.

I begged you to wake from this haze. I forced you out of bed, and showered you. You were almost catatonic in my arms. I helped dry you off, and dressed you. Still, you said nothing. I held you in my arms and rocked you, I pleaded for you to tell me what I could do. You just said you were tired, and asked me to take you back to bed.

January came and went. Everything was a blur - muddled with crippling despair and guilt. You had begun to get out of bed, and you even began working again. I watched as you trudged your feet forward through the cement. Nothing was normal, but we pretended anyway, for the sake of attempting to feel okay again. We ate together, and slept in the same bed, but it was as if we were strangers. The beautiful woman with gleaming grey eyes was now a hollow shell. You were sinking, and I couldn't seem to pull you up to breathe. You stopped coming to bed at night. In the morning I would find you on the couch, clutching a pillow close to your chest.

My heart felt hollow; a black void that seemed to drain every last bit of me that it could grasp. I stopped trying to make you come to bed with me. We no longer cooked or ate together. You worked late nights, and I stayed locked in the office trying to find the motivation to write. I couldn't take the silence and bitter agony in the house anymore.

I left you there. I moved into a small apartment, to give ourselves space. When I first proposed the idea to you, you seemed indifferent and just seemed to accept it. It's not what I wanted, and not what you needed, but I felt suffocated by the void of emptiness in our home, and in our souls. I would try to call you. Sometimes you would answer, but your tone was detached, and you'd never say much. Sometimes you wouldn't answer at all. Each night, I'd lie awake staring at the dark ceiling and thinking of your smile, and how I hadn't seen it in so long.

I tried to go back to my normal life. Writing became virtually impossible; I couldn't think of anything but my sorrow. I remember writing aimless ramblings that would flash in my mind for only a second, and continue until something stuck. Nothing ever did.

We talked less and less. I would come to your door - our door - and you would speak a few words to me that I cherished. They'd always be small talk, never the truth. But I still loved hearing your voice, and seeing your face. I never asked to move back in, and neither did you. I never offered to stay the night. I didn't want you to feel obligated. I wanted you to have your space. I began visiting less and less.

It was Saturday evening, and the late summer sky was flushed pink while the sun set. The air was beginning to become crisp, and I could feel the chill in my bones. It had been a few weeks since I'd seen you. You never texted much anyway, but you'd still reply within the day. I asked you to dinner, if we could have a night together. Two days had passed with no response, and I decided to stop by the house, with a bouquet of lilies - your favorite.

Your car was in the driveway, so I knocked on your door, expecting an answer. I waited there, knocking occasionally for five minutes. When you never came to the door, I began to worry, so I unlocked it with my key. The house was dark and chilling. I called your name; silence was the only answer. I walked into the kitchen, and then the dining room. There was a dirty dish - as if you'd finished dinner - and an empty wine bottle next to a goblet we'd gotten as a wedding gift. I called your name again, and still nothing. I checked our bedroom, and then both bathrooms. What had happened? I began to panic; had you been abducted? Perhaps a friend had picked you up? My mind fought itself as I continued calling your name.

After I had looked in every other room, there was only one left. Our son's bedroom. I hadn't been in there since before… I shook my head and squeezed my eyes shut, as I imagined the pale yellow paint and happy frogs dancing along the walls. I knew it was going to hurt to see, but I mustered the strength to push open the door.

Everything was just as I had remembered it. I took it all in for a moment. My eyes swept to the cradle for only a moment. My chest began to ache as I was reminded of the void our son left behind.That's when I noticed you sprawled on the floor, your beautiful brown curls obscuring your face. I cried out your name, but you didn't react. I ran to you, and dropped to my knees. I grabbed your shoulders and flipped you over. There was vomit smeared on your pale face. I begged you to wake up as I shook your shoulders. Your skin was cold. I screamed your name over and over, hugging you to my chest. It couldn't be real. You would wake up, drunk and in a haze. It had to be a nightmare. It couldn't be real. I called 911, my voice so thick with tears that the operator could barely understand.

I hugged you to my chest, praying to the God I'd lost faith in to save you. I rocked you in my arms and sobbed. How could this have happened? Oh God, why?

The paramedics arrived in minutes. They nearly had to rip me away from you; I couldn't let you go. They advised me to leave the room, that I didn't need to see this right now. I shouted I wasn't going anywhere. I watched as they examined you, and listened for your heartbeat. They pulled your eyelids back and shined a bright light into them. The sight made my stomach twist and my world spin. Your beautiful grey eyes were dull and glazed over- lifeless. The paramedic looked back at me with a grim frown on his face. My knees gave out, and I sobbed as I crashed to the floor.

They explained to me that they needed to take you away. I could barely understand, just that they were trying to take my beautiful wife from me. I argued and shouted, until the female paramedic grabbed my arms, and stared into my eyes, tears pooling in her own.

"We will take good care of her. There are things that need to be figured out. I won't let anything happen to her." As she said the words, my shoulders sagged and my head dropped as tears fell to the beige carpet. They forced me out this time, though I didn't put up much resistance. I couldn't look anymore. I walked to the living room and slumped on the couch while tears streamed down my face.

I should have called more. I should have visited you, even though you seemed indifferent. I should have been there for you. The guilt caused a knot in my stomach and an ache in my chest. Not you. Not my beautiful wife. We were going to grow old together. We were going to have children and watch as they discovered the world. I clutched my head in my hands. I should have stayed and taken care of you. I was selfish, and ran away from our pain, leaving you to cope alone. I let you die.

Incoherent sobs filled the living room as I continued to register what had become. I couldn't understand why this had happened, or how I'd missed the signs. I could have saved you, but I let you drown. Another ache clenched my heart so tight I thought it would burst.

After about 30 minutes, two of the paramedics came down with a stretcher that carried a white blanket on top of a body. Your body. My heart and soul. I watched them take you out the door and load you into their truck. More tears streamed down my cheeks as I tried to anchor myself to the ground, but instead felt as if I was sinking into a black hole that would swallow me up.

Another fifteen minutes - or hours - later, the female EMT approached me with a disheartening look on her face. She quietly sat down on the couch next to me, and stared down at the ground for a moment. Eventually, she looked back up at me; even more tears had welled in her eyes.

"She left this," she murmured tentatively, and handed me a piece of notebook paper folded in half. I stared at it, unsure of the emotions that clattered my brain. Gently I unfolded it as the girl looked away. On it was your sloppy handwriting in black ink that had been distorted from what looked like tear drops. Five words and a shattered heart was all you had left me.

Bury me with my baby.












 

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  • Tomas Chough 12 months ago

    Intense story. The way it all spiraled out of control really sucked me in. Great job and thanks for sharing!

    • Natalie 12 months ago

      Thank you for your feedback! This is not my genre, I'm trying something new :)

  • Kiersten Felch 12 months ago

    Heartbreaking, simply heartbreaking.