A short story about overcoming despair…
A Light Inside
Her hand felt safe and warm as it lay cupped inside his. She had woken again. Beads of sweat danced along her brow in the lamplight, she lay motionless, disoriented yet acutely aware of everything. The small flame flickered, trying to escape the walls of glass that held it firmly in its place. Her eyes watched as the orange glow shimmied erratically, daring to disappear as it remained trapped within its prison cell. She felt exactly the same; fighting against the space in her mind that threatened to distinguish her. There was no light left inside of her, only a small flicker like the flame opposite. She willed the light to fight and remain until morning lest she wake again and the darkness engulf her. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to listen to the rhythmic sound of his heart as she rested her head upon his chest. His fingers opened slightly but her hand remained firmly cradled inside his.
‘Come in. Come in.’ The voice echoed through the doorway as her knuckles left its cold touch.
The frame squeaked as it opened, a dull echoing sound. Her small, tentative steps guided her inside and the words gushed from her lips before she had even sat down.
‘I saw her again.’
She let the words hang in the air before sitting on the edge of the designated seat. The woman opposite shifted her glasses back up her nose as she looked over.
‘Shall we talk about it?’ She asked.
‘I guess so.’
Silence surged through the room. She sat still, watching her hands as they neatly folded and unfolded themselves upon her lap. Glancing up, she saw as the spectacles slipped back down to their original position.
‘I see her face in my dreams and when I wake up she is still there, lying next to me, frozen. A face so full of beauty and yet so haunting. The image of that face will never leave me. I know I will see it forever and yet all I want to see, the only thing I want to remember is how beautiful she was. Beyond words beautiful but that image, the memory of her; it’s gone.’
One silent tear drifted gracefully from her eye, stopping at her cheekbone where it dangled daintily. She wiped it away hastily. Tears meant it was real and reality was unbearable. She took the deepest of breaths, from the very bed of her stomach and let her body relax as her whole torso inflated. Once the air had been released from her lungs and passed discreetly through her nose, she carried on.
‘But I am OK.’ She told the disbelieving woman sitting opposite her. My new boyfriend keeps me sane and he has given me life again.’
The next hour was spent talking about just how absolutely fine she was with vivid tales of her boyfriend’s kindness, love and understanding. As the session drew to a close even the counselor was convinced.
She woke with a start knowing something was wrong. Her whole body pulsated with the knowledge and yet she didn’t even know that there was a problem. Sleep had evaporated in an instant. Turning to her left she called out her daughter’s name. There was no response. Her daughter was in her arms within seconds. She continued to call her name, pure panic enveloping her body. A natural response took over and she put the child to her breast. The small baby did not respond. Her fingers softly caressed her daughter’s lips wanting to coax them open but they felt stiff and strange, unmoving and immobile. She willed the baby’s mouth to open but it stayed as it was, completely shut. She jumped up to switch on the light and gasped as she looked down at her baby’s frozen face. All hope was lost, she knew it in the very core of her being and yet she still bent down and placed her ear against the baby’s tiny chest. There was definitely a heart beat, she was sure she could hear it. A tiny ticking sound from deep within.
Jumping with a start, her eyes burst open and she saw the flickering flame of the oil lamp as it lit the room. She turned to her left and saw him lying there peacefully, not a care in the world; his arm still wrapped around her, holding her tight. She wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead and stared at the illuminating beam of light that rose high above the lamp. Her eyes wide, her mind imprisoned with darkness.
Her strawberry blond hair glistened under the moonlight as her silent steps left footprints in the sand. She walked slowly, a fragility to her movements like that of a china doll afraid of falling in case it should break into a thousand pieces. Her breath blew in wisps around her as she reached the water’s edge. The sea a mythic black mirroring the pale white moon along its surface shone as she approached it, inviting her to step softly amidst its waters.
She obliged willingly, each small step bringing her closer toward its belly, to its very centre where the moon silhouetted along its shiny glass-like surface. She stood just outside its outline, hesitant now to continue. Turning her head, she looked back in the direction she had come and saw him standing in the distance. His eyes like two pools shining bright blue beneath a sunny sky pierced her own. She felt him then, inside her like he had opened her up and carved out her soul, joining it to his as he stood there staring deeply into her eyes. His dark auburn hair, almost dark enough to seem black, blew around his face as the wind weaved through it. He waved, a small movement from side to side, barely noticeable as a smile upturned his lips and his glistening white teeth shone beneath them. He motioned her to join him on the soft yellow-white sand.
She turned her head away, a tear falling from her deep blue eyes. She hadn’t meant him to find her but he had found her all the same. If he had known, if the words had aligned with her lips and poured from them, she would not have been able to pretend it wasn’t true. So, she had said nothing and in return her silence had left her burdened and alone. Her foot rose gently and stepped delicately into the outline of the moon, closely followed by her other and as her two feet came together, she allowed herself to fall; plummeting into the waters depths, sinking below the waves that had risen up high beneath her.
Her breath came in short spurts as she gasped for air and reached out her arms, fighting to break the surface but the once still waters were silent no more and they raged around her like a caged animal in defiance, dragging her further and further downwards. Her body span around in circles, tumbling and revolving until she reached the seabed and lay frozen. Her head tipped backwards as she lay floating, conquered yet calm. Limitless amounts of time seemed to pass her by as she lay, motionless, her mind and soul liberated at long last. No thought, no time, no meaning until a fluttering sensation roused her very spirit into action. An eruption exploded in her abdomen, awakening her senses as her body answered its calls. Her eyes widened as she shot upwards, reaching out to find the water’s surface. She was too far below it and her lungs were long ago empty of air. She yearned for her legs to regain power as she tried to kick her way upwards. Her hand fumbled high above her head, groping for anything, something to hold onto.
She gasped as her head broke the surface, willing her body to take in every bit of air that surrounded her. His hand was clutching hers and its hold did not waiver as the waves smashed themselves around them both. He took her into his arms and beat the ferocious waves away with every step, making his way to the white sand in the distance. She clasped her hands around his neck, a new strength revived within her.
‘Hello little one,’ she whispered, her hand caressing her stomach.
A small light was growing in the darkness, illuminating her soul. A smile began to form against her lips as she whispered again.
‘Hello Lucas. I’m your Mummy.’