Her World

by Rusty RedNightBird

Title Image. Vincent and Catherine in his chamber. She's reading to him as he lounges in front of the stained glass window.

 

Her world was dark; it was warm - in fact at this very moment it was just right. She heard the sounds from outside and wondered if she’d ever see who or what made those sounds. Yet curiously every day the space around her grew smaller.

In the beginning there was a burst of energy. She had been nowhere, and suddenly ‘zap’ she was aware of floating . . . the darkness an eerie comfort.

‘I’m going to be as big as zeppelin!’ Mommy giggled softly into Pappa’s ear. Then ‘it’ happened!

That was the initial feeling she sensed from Pappa, he drew close to Momma’s ear and kissed her, ‘How else could you hold all of our love? This child, our child is a gift’. She knew immediately that she had come from singular parents and that she would always be cherished. She knew how her Mommy’s heart fluttered above her own head when Pappa held her close, the vitality of their love fairly sparked between them constantly.

She seemed at a cross roads of a highway. From then on there was his gruff and deep voice, whose soul harbored his concern and confusion. She felt this masculine energy prodding for ‘my Catherine’ and she knew within her tiny thumping heart she was not his Catherine. The level of his confusion would undulate in relation to the constant reassurances of a particular older pair of voices.

From the other route, she felt the warm comfort of surprise and discovery. This was surely the heart and soul of the woman who carried her securely within her. She especially liked it when the person who called herself ‘Mommy’ moved along the paths in the sun. She felt the warmth soaking through her ‘Mommy’s’ skin and she could feel the delight in the rhythm of her movement.

Today there was a new voice, lyrical and dramatic, ‘Girlfriend, you have gotten yourself into a family way! Please tell me he is everything you wanted in a man.’  She felt the warmth of another person, someone animated and spirited from the hug Mommy shared.  She couldn’t help but listen; besides she wanted to – everything this Edie said made her Mommy giggle and rub light circles over her pregnant belly. Then a second pair of hands joined and she felt the tremor of Edie’s giggle, she kicked back and withdrew the fist from her mouth to smack at all those hands. Did they feel her? They both giggled harder, she felt they did. But the fun ended and she heard their whispers as they hugged and parted.

She could sense Mommy ambling slower, until she stopped completely. The space was quieter than the street and she recognized the music, Mommy was getting a milkshake! She loved them as much as Mommy! ‘Sorry it’s just vanilla, little one, Father said I need to cut down on chocolate right now!’ Catherine sucked the cool and creamy delight down as she caught the feeling of a foot or was it a fist? In the Big Apple the sight of Catherine resting in the booth with her feet up on the other side of the booth seemed like an admonition to sit down, world, gather your thoughts and count your blessing!

At the sound of the straw sucking the cup she knew the milkshake was gone, it was time to get moving, and she recognized the sounds and wondered where they were heading. She could sense her Mommy’s spirits long before she knew who Mommy was, long before she knew the touch and sounds of her Pappa. Sometimes in this place Mommy would tell her stories of Pappa, before he was a Pappa, when he would visit on the balcony.

Now Mommy used this place to sit in sunlight and share the blessed warmth with her. That’s where Mommy would sneak tiny bits of chocolate called kisses. ‘Not too many today, little one, but these are the only kisses I can share right now!’ Mommy hugged her belly and she felt the love, she yearned to feel the softness of her mother’s hands without the watery barrier between them.

Oh, how Pappa loved them! The timbre of his voice travelled unswervingly to her little heart. She could remember the welcome strength in his palm the first time Mommy drew his hand to the place where she grew.  She heard his rasping voice, and his spirits came to her too! She knew everything was right in their world when Mommy and Pappa were in water, warm and wonderfully fragrant. Barely recognizable as a pregnant woman, Pappa held Mommy on his lap as his palm rested on the tiny pooch of her tummy.

‘Right now, our child floats,’ Pappa stood and held Mommy to float in the water, ‘very much like this. He’s warm and safe and comfortable.’ That’s when Mommy must have given him a shrinking look, ‘He? How do you know it’s a HE? She could be fair haired and noble like her Pappa!’

That’s when she felt a silence build between them, an uncertain static that was finally punctuated by Pappa’s reply, ‘You’ve shown me the error of my thoughts, and should our child be like me, he or she will be loved abundantly.’ That’s when she felt that charge from both of her parents that proceeded through a lingering soft togetherness and a lengthy, tranquil sleep.

It seemed like forever that their ‘happy life’ followed this loving and predictable habit, yet one day when she woke her immediate world seemed to be skintight. She was too big to stretch out! She felt the urge to stumble and somersault, only to fight her way around her Mommy’s ribs and cause Mommy to cry out, ‘We have a tap dancer on my bladder!’

One evening she heard the laughter of so many women, and Mommy nearly jumped out of her skin at them yelling, ‘SURPRISE’. Pappa guided her to a rocker, and the child within her felt the overwhelming swell of emotions from this room. Was Mommy crying? She wanted to be there, she wanted to see the people who brought her Mommy to tears. ‘Oh, little one, it’s a celebration just for us!” She leapt at her Mommy’s words, impatient to know what a party was, but it sounded wonderful!

Home in their chamber alone, although they each blinked back sleep, Pappa approached Mommy with an oddly wrapped package. ‘Catherine, he was specific that this gift be shared in private. It was sent through Peter.” She knew Doctor Peter’s hands as uniquely as she knew her parents’ touch.

‘Vincent, who is it from?” She felt a package move into her Mommy’s arms, something long yet not terribly heavy.

Her Pappa’s voice was deep and soft with a particular jocularity that she recognized at certain moments, ‘A gift from Joe Maxwell, and he was emphatic it be opened tonight before the two of us.’ She felt the bed lower from Pappa’s welcome weight. She felt his anticipation at opening the gift with Mommy.

 

As the gift lay across both their laps Mommy opened the card,

‘To a singular couple about to have a cherished child.

Remember Uncle Joe when the boys of summer come out to play, and whether it’s a Joe or a Josephine, I’ll be happy to supply the glove once we know whether I need to buy a leftie or a rightie.

Love,

Uncle Joe

P.S. I’ll be happy to hold that little hand on the ferry all the way to the Statue of Liberty! ’

 

She could feel the humor in her Pappa’s voice when both of them pulled back the paper, ‘No doubt this will be something Joe looks forward to sharing.’  Mommy laughed until her tummy shook, as this unlikely couple took in the sight of a Little League sized baseball bat and spongy ball.

Once again their contentment drew them into a lover’s embrace and they slept – well they began to sleep. She, the subject of these months of doting and good nutrition and rest, was bored! She was tired of the dark; she wanted to see the ‘sparkle’ of the lights Pappa spoke of from the balcony. She wanted to taste a chocolate kiss first hand! She twisted and lurched, tired of ‘standing on her head’ for these past two weeks. It nearly took her breath away as she felt everything tighten around her.

Somewhere in the middle of Mommy’s dreams of swimming, Pappa woke suddenly and rolled away from what was decidedly a warm pool in their bed. The excitement streamed between the three of them, anticipation fueling every breath. Unwilling to leave Mommy’s side, Pappa breathed with her, coaching her through each crescendo of discomfort. Expertly Pappa cleared the bed linens and spread covers over their bed.

She felt their suspense would soon end, she felt in her little soul that they were as excited as she!   She knew they were adamant about their child being born in this very chamber, where Pappa had nursed Mommy back from a terrible time. This was the very place where she realized she had a delightfully tasty thumb, most of the revelations of her life were discovered right here.

When the ringing pipes announced 6:00am, Pappa left Mommy’s side to send a message. “Father from Vincent - Catherine in labor – please come with Mary”

Hours later as the pipes rang out the lunch call she decided this was frustrating; she toiled so diligently to move toward the sounds of the chamber. It seemed like she would work her way forward only to slip back into her home for the past 40 weeks. She wanted to be there, now! She knew she was causing them to worry, between the three of them the emotions battled, pinging back in forth with a wild cacophony. With a furtive blink she understood she shared most of the same frustrations with her Mommy, both of them were growing tired and what Mary called ‘Cranky; but this is normal, Vincent. Transition isn’t a pleasant time.’

Although Mary’s voice was softly comforting most of her short life, she really didn’t like being called cranky and figured Mommy didn’t either!  At Mary’s suggestion, Pappa climbed into the bed behind Mommy.  The day’s struggle had carried her head to where she felt the kiss of cool chamber air. It wasn’t the warm cocoon to which she was accustomed. She had been there wedged tightly in this tunnel for too long! She balled her little pink fists and twisted her narrow shoulders; symbiotically Mommy caught carefully parceled breathes and drew her knees up along with Pappa’s.

‘Once more, Catherine,’ the older man’s voice commanded, and with a few more ‘once mores,’ she felt the cool relief of fluid falling away from her tiny body. Air burned her lungs as she hiccupped her first breath. Tiny lungs inflated only to expel a sound bigger than her 21 inch body. Caught carefully in welcoming hands. her eyes blinked in the softly lit space.

She blinked back at two new faces; she pursed her lips at the man who stared at her over his spectacles. A halo of chamber light encircled the pair, were they angels on earth for her? “Catherine, you have a daughter!” Mary’s voice cried joyously.

Where were Pappa’s twinkling lights? Who was this person pulling her arms and legs – regarding every inch of her? Now firm hands were washing and inspecting every flawless inch of her. She listened to their ‘assessments’ and grinned at their declaring her perfect in every way. Of course she was, she grinned to herself, she had perfect parents! Now where were those perfect parents? She wanted to see their faces.

She heard that voice from across the room, clearer now in its silken huskiness. She squirmed on the cold table to twist to see her Pappa. Immediately she saw the eyes of love, deep blue and eager to see his child. Tiny fists flew in the air reaching, grasping for his long golden hair. While she was mesmerized by words she didn’t quite understand, the older couple diapered and swaddled her, finally lifting her to Pappa.

Mommy’s voice queried, ‘Vincent?’ while Pappa grew accustomed to her tiny size She filled the crook of his arm, her tiny bottom on his palm. His world suddenly contained only the two of them. He seemed propelled into their future as he visualized her teething, her walking, and her laughter. ‘VINCENT!’ Mommy’s voice chastised, and her tone snapped him out of his reverie.

“Yes, Mommy, I must beg your pardon. I believe I have looked into the eyes of perfection.’ Vincent held his newborn up in her Mommy’s general direction, and Mommy adored this precious sight. Catherine, the socialite’s daughter, smirked at how many times this special child would wind this mighty man into a “merry war”. Though weary from a day’s labor, she threw her arms wide open to invite them to the hastily freshened bed. There Catherine, the new Mommy, sat back on fluffed pillows and drew shaky legs up to make room for the two most important people in her world.

‘Catherine, look at her.’ He traced the child’s delicately arched brow with the back of his pinkie. As his knuckle drew over the tiny shell of her pink ear, his smile grew. Catherine debated her immediate need to hold her daughter. She had been graced with carrying their love for months; how could she burst Vincent’s first moments?

‘Oh, Love, there is no love as pure as of a father to his daughter.’ Their eyes met over their daughter’s golden head and Vincent leaned close to press a gentle kiss to Catherine’s forehead. ‘With you, Catherine, I found my desire; yet to my daughter- I have no words.’

Hungrily she scented her Mommy, to let out a squeak that grew to a bellow. Catherine felt the tingling in her breasts and drew her newborn to her first meal. With a bit of shyness Vincent looked away for a moment, catching the blessed expressions of his Father and Mary. With a silent nod they left, drawing the tapestry over the wide door. Then his loving gaze returned to his women . . . .  His wife and his daughter.

While her tiny lips worked for her meal, her parents measured her similarities to each of them. Tufts of golden hair dried into curls. Little fists spread open to pat her mother’s breast, revealing accentuated nails, while the soft planes of her kittenish nose allowed her to nuzzle closer to breastfeed.

‘I have words, Vincent.’ Catherine blinked back happy tears.  ‘I lived, yet I wasn’t truly alive. I nearly died, you brought me back. I carried our dream and waited for this perfect moment, not understanding how it would crystalize. ’

Vincent answered her in the time she needed to draw a tearful breath, “As you saved me, my Catherine.’

Their heads nodded in agreement over their babe, and Vincent slid beside his love, ‘joyfully in the blink of an eye we went to sleep and woke as parents.’  As they had admired their child, she had fallen asleep, her unique lips glistening with her meal’s remains.

This child’s world had expanded, two had become three, and love had truly made its victory.

 

 

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