I marvelled at the set of angel lights at the the beginning of each block, with another set of angels at the end, as I joined my friends at a pub.
It seemed right these angels should be here, watching over the revelry. As I later walked a block down in the early morning hours to catch a cab, I recalled my thoughts on angels as child.
Sometimes I had nightmares and I was too afraid to fall asleep. My Mom told me not to worry because God’s angels were always watching over me. Still, I looked to the corners of my room afraid because the corners were the darkest places.
Eventually, I began to imagine angels were there in these corners guarding me as I slept. If I woke up afraid I’d look to the corners of my bedroom ceiling and feel safe. Sometimes I dreamed I could see these celestial beings watching over me.
Going home that night in the cab I gazed at the angels made of lights, four of them guarding a street; I hoped the night ended safely for all.
Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for Friday’s music prompt, “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” by Rod Stewart. The song is loosely used in part three. Warning Part Three contains Adult Content.
“I Don’t Want To Talk About It” – Rod Stewart
Tallia drove back to Fairy Dust as fast as her Vespa would take her without losing the giant fish off the Vespa’s back compartment. She was feeling afraid because she knew Teegan would be nearly awake, but felt certain he would be in enough of a fog she would have time to make the potion he required. She prayed the tonic took his darkness away, the shadow that stalked him. But at the same time Tallia knew, the shadow was Teegan.
The presence of darkness lurked as Tallia quietly opened the back door, slipping inside her shop. She set the goldfish in his bag, down on a countertop and stood for a moment blinking tiredly. It was the middle of the afternoon and a wave of fatigue overwhelmed her. She had been up late thinking about Teegan, what he could have possibly done hundreds of years ago to be cursed so wickedly. She was thinking about him in other ways too, Tallia realized blushing.
She wasn’t sure what she’d do if Teegan knew she’d drugged him, what he’d say or do. She didn’t know how much in control Teegan was of his darkness right now. The wisest thing Tallia could do was make him his potion whenever he needed it, whatever kind of potion it was. She thought about the wisdom Teegan hopefully acquired in his centuries alive. Would it make him extra understanding?
Then again, she could be wrong. Some people never learned their lessons despite experience. Yet Tallia was sure, in Teegan’s startling green eyes had been knowledge of dark deeds and lessons learned with difficulty. The blackness in his gaze almost had the affect of repelling Tallia at first.
At the same time, his emerald eyes were seductive and drew her too Teegan. No matter his real age, he appeared to be in his thirties. He was ridiculously good looking in the truest sense. She could smell his particular pleasing scent from where she leaned against the counter in the back of her store. Where she put together potions and caste spells for magical items customer’s required.
Perhaps, it was her heightened sense of smell which brought to life Teegan’s addictive scent, or maybe her memories were more vivid due to her attraction to him.
Tallia jumped when a voice whispered in her ear.
“Where’d you go? How come my potion’s not made? I need it now Tallia,” he whispered.
“Yep, I’m awake, thanks for the nap by the way. Did you find out what you needed too? I see you got the giant gold fish. You’re worried about me and the shadow around me which makes you sick. You went and talked to Jude. He’s been around over a century. Old for most humans, but not as old as me, Tallia.”
“I didn’t talk to Jude, he’s in the hospital because he had a stroke and isn’t doing well,” Tallia sad with sadness.” I talked to his great-grandson Aspen. He run’s the store now I guess. He said you were cursed, that you did something terrible. That’s why you’ve so much darkness. How do you make it go away Teegan? What happens if you don’t take this potion?”
Tallia felt warm and comfortable and realized Teegan had moved to hold her from behind, his arms crossed against her stomach. Teegan’s head suddenly lay against hers and she could feel him sigh as if he could finally relax. Tallia had never been so near to Teegan, she felt dizzy in good way. It felt wonderful to be held so gently, though she wondered if Teegan realized he had moved to comfort her.
Moments later, Tallia felt Teegan’s lips firmly on the side of her neck, traveling up under her ear and sucking gently on her earlobe. His lips moved back down her neck to the v-neck of her sweater. He kissed her over her heart and Tallia shivered when his lips traced her neck, went over her chin, and landed on her lips. Her heart was racing, she felt hot and cold all over.
Teegan bit her lip gently, seeking access to her mouth. His tongue met hears with need. Tallia couldn’t think, could only feel. Her connection with Teegan was something new to her. This sense of knowing him and recognizing him, beyond the physical sense. In her mind, she could feel him encouraging her to relax.
“I’ll take care of you,” he whispered.
Teegan kissed Tallia until she was breathless, his hands massaging her stomach, sides, and hips. His hand moved up to squeezing her breast over her sweater and short coat. She moaned when he broke off his the kiss leaving Tallia wanting. He breathed in the crook of her neck, his hand not moving, but not leaving either. It seemed as if hours had passed but it had only been minutes.
Teegan collected himself and moved a distance from Tallia as he spoke: “Tallia, I can’t. I want to, but I shouldn’t have done that; it confused you. I need you to make my potion nowplease. You’re the only one who can do it. It has to be one of your bloodline. And if you don’t I’ll turn evil. I’ll be a curse myself, a terrible man. I’ve done such evil because I’m cursed, or was before your gifted ancestor came up with this potion. It’s the only way to keep me from turning, Tallia. You and I, we’re tied together because of your ancestor. You remind me of her,” Teegan remarked.
“You need to tell me the entire story. This isn’t fair Teegan. Of course, I’ll make the potion. But my Aunt never told me any of this. The cancer took her a way in so little time. I need more answers from you,” Tallia pleaded.
“I don’t want to talk about it Tallia. Make the potion. You’re breaking my heart here,” Teegan said rolling his eyes.
“What if I don’t?”
“I’ll be evil, as I’ve said and as I’m sure Aspen told you. I’ll hurt you, probably kill you, and I don’t want to do that. If I kill you, I’ll be evil forever — until someone kills me. You’re the last in your line. Make the potion, Tallia, we could be happy.”
“Tallia, make it now! You know I’m not trying to deceive you. You can feel it.”
“Yes, you’re right. I do feel you’re being genuine. I’ll make it as fast I can.”
Tallia gathered all the ingredients she had laid out earlier and brought them to an extremely large mixing bowl. She measured all the ingredients into the bowl quickly and accurately, barely thinking. She followed the directions in Aunt Willow’s tome and chanted the right words when she needed to say them. Pouring out the water of the giant gold fish’s bag in a sink, she slid the giant flopping gold fish into her bowl. With wide eyes she watched the potion simmer and turn scarlet.
Aspen had been right, the goldfish was a sacrifice of life. Although a mouse or anything small would’ve done the job, but her ancestor’s writing said the giant goldfish was preferred. Tallia strained the chunks of ingredients from the mixture; the goldfish had disintegrated.
Tallia pulled a beer stein out of her cupboard to Teegan’s surprise. She poured half of the scarlet liquid into the earthen beer stein. Teegan had been watching Tallia create the potion the entire time. He hadn’t said anything, only watched her, familiar with her actions. He’d probably watched her Aunt Willow and her Great-Aunt do the same. And many of Tallia’s ancestors, if she could believe his story.
She turned around from the giant bowl and found Teegan beside her, leaning against the counter studying her. His hand moved, pushing her light purple-grey hair behind her ear. He was so much taller than her, Tallia thought.
Teegan smiled when she offered him the beer stein.”Where’s yours?”he asked her.
“Where’s my what?”
“Yourhalf of the potion? You have to drink it with me,” Teegan told her.
Tallia was about to protest but he was gazing at her in a particular way. She noticed the pain usually hidden in his eyes present. She felt it through herbeing and it softened her heart; her protests crumbled.
” I wish I wasn’t so intuitive, Teegan. You do really need me to drink your tonic with you? Do you promise I’ll be okay?”
“I promise. Your Aunt, she was always fine. You’ll find it invigorating actually,” he said.
Tallia nodded reading what Teegan had told her in the tome beside her on the counter. How did she miss that direction? Peeringup she noticed him pouring her a beer stein of the remaining liquid. She took the potion from him, grimacing because she knew the ingredients in it. She tasted a bit of the potion, testing the flavour. It tasted like cinnamon and a woodsy red wine. How could that be?
“Bottoms up?” Teegan said holding up his stein.
Talia clinked her stein with his, “Slainte,” she said.
Teegan’s potion was easy going down. Tallia could feel a lightness, as if her cares were floating free. She felt energy, Teegan was right. His potion did feel invigorating. Her mind felt intensely perceptive as well. Swallowing the remenants of the liquid she saw Teegan had already finished his.
“Better, huh?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s amazing stuff,” she said peering everywhere, everything around her was completelycrystal clear. Her early fatigue was gone. Tallia noticed Teegan’s dark circles had faded. He appeared younger, his few wrinkles smoothed out. He was gazing at her again in certain way, and she knew from the flicker in his green-eyes what he wanted. Tallia felt almost drunk, except the potion made everything feel real.
She laughed aloud and Teegan frowned,”What?”
“No you’re not getting that from me,” she said.
“It wasn’t difficult to get a kiss and more from you before. You like me. I can tell, I like you too,” Teegan said, eyes darkening and meeting her own.
“No,” Tallia said laughing again. “You have to earn it. Take me out. Tell me about yourself and my ancestors. Did you sleep with one of my great- great – female relatives?”
“Don’t you feel like you’re burning up inside? I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t . . .” he said approaching Tallia, following her as if she were prey. “I slept with the first of your ancestors I knew, she was my . . . my woman, for a while. But she died and we never had a child.”
Tallia backed away from Teegan smiling, wary but turnedon at the same time. He was irresistible and Tallia found herself trapped against a wall. She laughed more as Teegan stripped off his shirt and unbuckled his belt. Her mouth ran dry seeing his finely sculpted body. He grinned and grabbed both her hands, holding her hands above her head. Tallia whimpered and Teegan chuckled.
“I’m not, I’m not a one night type of girl and you’re . . . you smell so good. But you’ve lived so much longer than me, what could you possibly see in me,” she murmured.
“You’re not one night Tallia. I was thinking many many and I see you’re beautiful and gifted; you’re also intelligent.You didn’t immediately trust me.”
“Okay . . .” Tallia began but Teegan’s lips roughly met hers and she gasped as his tongue invaded sliding against hers. His hands were everywhere beneath her shirt and bralette. Then her shirt and bralette were gone and his mouth was there and she couldn’t contain her cries. “Oh no . . .”
He removed his mouth breathing hard, “Stop?”
“Oh please no!” Tallia said.
He chuckled and continued loving her with his mouth. “Teegan . . .” she whispered, feeling her body melt into his.
He pulled off the rest of her clothes, kissing her slightly round stomach and turning her around to kiss Tallia all over back and to her surprise, over her hips and bottom. His fingers found her center and rubbed below, circling her sweet spot, his thumb pressing against her.
“Please please. . .”
Teegan kissed her bottom again and turned her around so his head was level with Tallia’s belly button. He kissed her stomach before thrusting two fingers into her core, she shook and nearly screamed. It hurt but it was okay because the pleasure of his fingers going in and out of her was intense. She wailed when his fingers took her over the edge.
He kissed her, his lips and tongue centered on her core. The sensations Tallia felt were indescribable. Teegan was teasing her, he knew she need to come again but wasn’t letting her; he was making her wait for him. Teegan removed the rest of his clothes and gently lifted Tallia’s body onto the counter. He pushed both his fingers inside her again, adding a third.
“I’ve never . . .” she whispered suddenly shy.
“At your age? I’m flattered, no one values that these days,” Teegan whispered.
Tallia flushed, “Well it’s complicated. It’s gone but, I never had sex.”
“What do you mean?” Teegan asked stopping. His voice sounded grim.
“Don’t stop, don’t,” Tallia begged.
“Okay, but I will kill whoever did it to you,” he promised.
Tallia believed Teegan, he appeared dead serious even though they were having sex.”It’s fine,” she mumbled. “It was a university party. I was too drunk and fell asleep and he was there sometime. When I woke up he was gone and I hurt,” Tallia admitted anxious for Teegan to continue loving her.
“Are you okay, are . . .”
“Please don’t, don’t stop. Please I need you.”
Teegan nodded, understanding. “You’ve got me,” he replied.He guided himself to her entrance and gently pushed inside.
“Good, more.” Tallia said gripping his sides until Teegan was completely inside her. It stung and hurt but it was also the best feeling she could imagine when he began to move. She wrapped her legs around his waist and he whispered dirty things in her ear, all the things he wanted to do to her.
She felt his rhythm increase and her own body released again, more powerfully this time. She felt the final pushes of him in her body as he came. Teegan breathed heavily, holding Tallia and kissing her forehead.
Then, Tallia was crying, amazed tears were falling down her face. But Teegan gently hushed her and kissed her tears. It was hard for her to believe Teegan could ever be an evil monster. Tallia needed to know more about his past, when he was ready to tell her; she hoped it was soon.
Alice was home from school. She hated boarding school, but she hadn’t had a choice. Her father had insisted his daughter have the best education a girl could have. This meant school was not merely academics as it was for boys. Her boarding school was an all girls boarding school and a great deal of focus was put into “the finishing school” aspect of education for women.
She needed to learn how to be a proper hostess and wife; those were the ideals of the Victorian woman. She needed to be the angel in the house, the moral compass of her household.
Alice spent countless classes based on the proper religion for an English girl. The God her school taught about, was an an angry God; judgemental and all powerful. He didn’t seem particularly forgiving. But she was told doing her duty as woman would make God happy.
Alice and her best friends Margaret and Prudence, often liked to cause trouble. They played tricks and sometimes skipped their more tedious classes. The girls were often punished with rulers smacking their hands soundly until they couldn’t feel them. Or writing lines of verses from The Bible until their fingers were too numb to write or days.
All in all, the school couldn’t punish Alice and her friends how the would’ve punished other girls. Her and her friends were daughters of enomoreous patrons of the girl’s school.
That being said, Alice was excited to go home for the summer. She thought fondly of her childhood, her dreams that always wandered to her childhood fantasy world Wonderland.
When the carriage dropped her off, Alice approached her home with a bit of trepidation. Her mother had been angry she had left flowers all over the headmasters office. The man had almost had a heart attack and Alice had laughed and laughed when she heard what he discovered. Bringing her suitcase with her, she opened the front door.
Suddenly, the house started to move in various directions from the front entrance. Staircases opened from every way, along with doors leading to God knows where.
Alice had a peculiar feeling, she was travelling back to her childhood world. Staircases continued to rumble and groan as they moved. Leaving her suitcase, Alice jumped onto a staircase leading to a familiar giant golden door knob with a large decorated keyhole underneath.
Suddenly, the door knob sneezed. “You again. I thought I’d seen the last of you.”
“Alice, yes? I remember. I had a cold last time you were here too; although, you’ve grown since then. Thinned out too, you were a bit fat for awhile, all that bread.”
She gasped, “Excuse me, the ideal woman these days, has a round body with childbearing hips, my teachers told me and my mother agrees. And you aren’t even real. I’m dreaming.”
“I wish the staircases would stop moving and the rest of the house weren’t so confusing. I have no idea where to go and I really was looking forward to a nap, ” Alice complained.
The giant door knob sneezed again. “No Alice, I know you and you know me. You know us all. It’s been a while and you’ve blocked us out. We tried to visit, but you convinced yourself we were all childhood dreams, despite having been to Wonderland twice.”
“You do play delightful tricks at school, I must say –you, Margaret, and Prudence. You should’ve brought them along . . . Then again, they wouldn’t believe Wonderland is real either. They don’t believe in magic, but you do. Oh, you deny it Alice but you do believe. You wouldn’t be back here if you didn’t,” the door knob lectured.
Alice stomped her foot, “You’re not real.”
“I am indeed, open me. Better yet, have some of that bread you like so much, in your left pocket first; it should do the trick.”
She gasped and frowned when she put her hand in her pocket and found the delicious bread. She nibbled on the edge. Alice hadn’t realized how hungry she was. She took a bigger bite of bread and sighed with pleasure.
“Not too much,” the door knob cautioned. She sniffed and raised her nose at him; she had shrunk in size considerably. Carefully, Alice turned the icky runny door knob nose, she needed no key. She stepped into another world; wiping her hands on her skirt, before gazing up in shock.
Alice truly was in the Wonderland of her youth. It appeared to be the same as she dreamt it to be. A path lay in front of her and she saw her body had become small. The grass and foliage around Alice was lush and towered over her.
She started to think of her old Wonderland friends when she came upon a catapillar on a large mushroom.”But you’re a butterfly now,” she said to the catapillar without thinking.
The catapiller sniffed at her and took a long drag from his hookah. “Whoareyou? Have you figured it out yet? Time does pass. My great-grandfather spoke of you. Time doesn’t move so fast here. He’s out flying about and I’m waiting until I can fly too. Why have you returned?”
Alice blinked rapidly. “I don’t know. I went through a doorway talked to a door knob, shrank, and now I’m here. It’s not a dream is it?”
The catapullar laughed, taking another drag. “I assure you. It’s all quite real. There’s a pathway going that way,” he pointed to his right. “You should go there. It leads somewhere important.”
“I see it’s a dock and we’re below it. It’s so large. Should I go below it in the sand? Or should I grow larger and go ontop of the dock. It’s quite big when you’re only six-inches tall.”
The catapillar laughed, inhaling his hookah promptly after . “There you go insulting those of us only six-inches tall again. Do you have bread in your pocket to grow taller?”
Alice searched in her right pocket, “No bread but I think the mushroom you are laying upon has one side which will make me larger. Alice ate of one side which made her shrink more, than climbed up the mushroom to eat off the other side. She grew until she was her normal size again.
“Curious and curiouser,” she said. “This is all too familiar. I hope there’s no seagull who thinks I’m a serphant ready to eat her young.”
“You can say that again,” the catapillar said smirking. He bowed his head as Alice walked off, having shoved a piece of mushroom in her right pocket for future use.
She walked ontop of the dock until there was nothing but a short stairwell leading to a row boat in the sea. She recalled this moment in her second journey to Wonderland. But there should be a sheep somewhere she reasoned.
On que a sheep appeared and they both rowed off into the sea, but it wasn’t really a sea. Alice thought it was more like a river. The sheep said: “Bahhh,” then smiled at Alice.”Hello Alice have you learned to feather yet?”
“Oh, that’s a rowing term. I understand now. Same with catching a crab. I was so young then, sheep. I reached for those rushes remember? They’re still look and smell lovely. You can never catch the most beautiful ones, they are free.”
The sheep bleated and sighed. “Do you ever think, Alice, that beauty is not meant to be tamed or kept?”
“It’s a curious question coming from a sheep. But I think beauty should be left to exist and shine. You’re saying I should leave the lovely smelling rushes alone?” Alice asked.
The sheep sighed again. “I’m not talking about rushes. You should pay attention Alice. That school you go to and those Victorian norms and rules of society, do you think they’re all correct? Do you believe everything you are taught without question?”
Alice wrinkled her forehead and thought. “No not really. My bestfriends don’t either. It’s why we play tricks, skip classes, it’s why I sit in class bored. I do not want to be a proper woman, a tamed or kept Victorian housewife with her brood of children. I don’t want to think God is always angry and mean; I think he’s benevolent too.”
“Ah, I didn’t think you agreed with your education. I think in the future things will be better, only wait and don’t grow-up too much. Don’t forget Wonderland –we’ll see you when you dream. We need your wildness, Alice.”The sheep bleated again and Alice instantly, woke up.
She was riding in a carriage to her house for summer vacation. She attempted to remember her dreams. Alice swore she dreamt of Wonderland vividly. But all she could remember was a sheep telling her to stay wild and untamed. She grinned thinking of the tricks she played at school. She wasn’t a tame women yet; never if she had her way.
Nina and Rianne stood in the kitchen preparing a mid-afternoon supper for John’s family.
“What are you cooking?” Rianne asked
” Marinated vegetables and baby potatoes. I’ve got a couple salads I’m working on, a Kale salad and a Chinese Noodle Salad.What kind of chicken did you decide to make?”
“Oh, uh spinach and goat cheese. The goat cheese hides the spinach. It’s tasty, and Sam and Eric don’t notice the spinach in it.”
Nina and Rianne heard Edith gasp in the living room and they turned to observe John from the kitchen island, explaining to Edith, Robert, and his brothers, where he had been the last four-months.
Nina had decided John needed to be alone with his family when he told them what occurred. She wasn’t entirely sure what parts of his experiences, John wanted to share and which parts he was keeping to himself. She would ask him tomorrow when they were alone.
Nina filled Rianne in on John’s experiences, speaking quietly, her voice not much above a whisper as they chopped fruit for dessert. She knew Rianne would hear about what John said from Jasper on the ride home.
Jasper had brought his two small sons with him and Rianne. Sam and Eric excitedly, hugged their Uncle John when they arrived, nearly catching Uncle John and Aunt Nina half-naked. Nina and John had been quick to adjust their clothes and appear decent. It had been difficult given the time they had been apart.
“We thought you was never coming back.” Sam told John. “Grandma said you went to heaven but Rianne said Grandma didn’t know. She said you were coming back soon. Right Rianne?”
“Yes, Sam. And I was right wasn’t I? Uncle John is home.” Sam nodded enthusiastically unwilling to let go of his Uncle. His little arms clung to John’s neck and played with the silver chain John wore.
“How come you were gone?” Eric asked. He was the younger brother.
“I was sleeping Eric. I was so so tired. When I woke up I was on a beach and I met a man who helped me come home. Then, this morning I saw your Auntie Nina and she was so pretty and happy to see me. I’ve never seen her so pleased.” John said trying to keep his story simple.
“Did you get the witch?” Sam asked John. John looked at Jasper wondering what he should say.
Jasper chimed in: “She wasn’t a witch, only a bad woman. But she’s gone right?” Jasper asked staring at John who nodded encouragingly.
“Let’s go play in the living room with your trucks. While you play, I can tell the grown-ups what happened in detail.” John said cheerfully, he glanced back at Nina tiredly. She knew from his expression he wanted to relax and be alone with her.
Nina, however,knew John’s family needed an explanation. They needed to know why it seemed he had come back to life after dying. They needed to see John was alive and touch him for themselves.
Jasper coaxed Sam to let go of his Uncle John and play with a new construction truck with Eric on the living room floor. Edith hugged John hard and kissed both his cheeks. Hear head barely reached the middle of John’s chest.
“Nina and Jordan kept saying you’d be back. I didn’t believe them. I thought they’d only a wing and a prayer. But you’re here and you look amazing. You’ve a healthy tan and you appear more rested than I have seen you in years. Does this mean your curse is broken and you can be together with Nina now? Will your curse ever effect our family again?” Edith asked, hope in her voice.
“Please Mom, everyone, sit down.” John’s family surrounded him as he sat on a couch. Nina heard John say, “Yes, the curse is broken. It’s why I’m back. As in fairy tales, well almost, Nina and I get to be together now and they’ll be more horrible events occurring in my life or yours.” Edith squealed and John’s Dad, Robert patted him on the back cheerfully.
“Good news son. Very good news. We need to hear the whole story. Everything from the night you left on Jordan’s motor boat to go find the dagger in Talise’s cave. We’ve heard what happened from Nina and Jordan. We need to hear your version now and why you let us think you were dead.”
John appeared shocked: “I didn’t have much choice in the matter, Dad . . .”
Nina returned to chopping fruit in the kitchen. Pulling out an ice cream cake to sit and thaw a bit for dessert. She tuned out John and his family, having heard and talked about that awful night with Talise in the Sirene too often in the last few months.
John’s return from the in-between place of life and death had been Nina’s and John’s conversation topic all day and Nina was sure John’s family wouldn’t be able to stop talking about what happened to John for many months to come.
Rianne put her chicken into cook in a second oven in John and Nina’s kitchen.
“John’s place is beautiful Nina. Right on the beach. I have to say it was no hardship visiting you here when you feared John wouldn’t come back. Even though I had to do the grocery shopping and the cooking to make sure you ate at first, it was worth it to walk down the beach and watch movies on a giant cinema-like room downstairs.”
Nina put her hand on Rianne’s arm and squeezed it gently,”I’m sorry I was such a pain. I know I was miserable to be around for months on end. Something inside me always told me to keep having faith and believing. I’m still shocked to be able to say this, but I was right; John came home.”
“It sounded like he had to learn a few vital lessons first,” Rianne remarked. “From what you told me, it was John who didn’t have faith the curse would be broken. He couldn’t come home to you unless he believed their was benevolent magic working to break the curse so you too could be a couple and live a normal life.”
“Yeah, it’s exactly what John told me Norman said to him. I can’t believe Norman was the homeless guy who saved you.”
“Me neither,” said Rianne. “But I think we had God looking out for us. Or He had someone keeping watch over us all in Norman. It’s nice to know someone up there cares what goes on in our lives.”
“So, what’s new with you and Jasper?” Nina remarked changing the subject. Rianne sighed gazing at Nina with sad chocolate brown eyes. They reminded Nina of the eyes of a lab dog begging.
“It’s, it’s okay – only, when John was missing, it was hard on us. Especially with Sam and Eric. You know how all three Eric brothers are close and have always been. When Jasper thought John was dead, it was as if a piece of himself died with John.”
“I don’t know how to explain it well, but Jasper’s been cold. Really cold. He didn’t want me to come over often. Partly, why I ended up staying with you so much was because Jasper didn’t want me there. And I would go home and there would be this yawning emptiness in my condo. I couldn’t bear it.” Rianne said softly. She wasn’t a crier but Nina knew her friend was near the point of tears..
“I loved it when you came over Ri. I wish you would’ve said something about was happening between you and Jasper. I love you and care about you and I want you to tell me what’s wrong even when I’m not in the best of places myself.” Nina said quietly.
“I know you didn’t want to burden me, but it would’ve helped me keep my mind off John, listening to you and finding a way to help Jasper open-up to you. And I think you would’ve felt much better too, not keeping this trapped inside.”
“Shhhh” Rianne said suddenly. Jasper was staring at Rianne while her and Nina talked and the chicken baked.
“He can’t hear us,” Nina said.
“I think he knows what I’m talking to you about.”
” How could he know. Besides, John’s back now. Things will become better between Jasper and you too because he won’t be mourning his brother’s death.” Nina remarked confidently.
“Maybe,” Rianne said unconvinced.” Death is a tricky subject with Jasper. His first wife, Sam and Eric’s mom, died of cancer a few years ago. I don’t know if he’s ready for a serious relationship with another woman yet. I thought so but now, I’m not so sure.”
“But it’s been five-years or so hasn’t it?”
“I don’t know he won’t talk about his wife, not at all. I know his boys come first and before that night with Talise, we were practically living together. We were seeing how the boys liked it if I lived with them.” Rianne said, tears starting to fall without her being aware of them.
“Now, I wouldn’t even consider sleeping over at Jasper’s house. It feels as if there’s this big angry river between Jasper and I and I don’t know how to jump over it or swim through it. I miss playing with Sam and Eric so much.”
“It will work out Rianne. It will get better, I know it will.” Nina said encouragingly. Rianne sighed, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand and checking the chicken in the oven cooking.
Nina sighed. John and her might have at last found happiness together. But it seemed those closest to them, weren’t happy at all. Nina felt awful Rianne hadn’t thought she could share her problems with Jasper with her, the past few months. She had been too consumed with thoughts of John and too selfish to be a reliable friend to Rianne.
Nina hugged Rianne after she had taken the chicken out of the oven to let it cool a few moments.
“I’ll help you get through this Rianne. You’re my best friend and I’d do anything for you. You’ve helped me so much since I’ve met John and suffered too much for it. You can stay with John and I as long as you want.” Rianne smiled.
“Won’t John mind?”
Nina laughed, “he doesn’t have a choice, but he doesn’t know that yet.”
Rianne smiled but Nina could tell her smile was forced. She studied Rianne for a moment as she transferred the chicken into a serving dish. Rianne wasn’t saying a great deal of what was going on between her and Jasper, and Nina knew it.
Shane’s bedroom felt empty and cold, as if every bit of warmth and life had been sucked out of it. It was hard for Kristen to believe, only a few hours ago, her darling boy had been rolling around on his blanket.
One minute Shane had been gurgling and laughing as he held his ABC’s book on his blanket and the next he had fallen asleep peacefully on his back.
Except, Kristen thought, tears streaming down her face, Shane never woke up. Kristen thought Shane was still asleep but when she touched his tiny body he wasn’t breathing; she called 911 hurriedly.
A kindly EMT, Patrick, comforted Kristen.”There is nothing you could have done that would have saved Shane. We don’t know a lot about why babies die from SIDS in their sleep.” Patrick added.
“Still, I should have paid better attention to him . . .” Kristen sobbed.
Patrick looked at Kristen and held her hand.” You’re a parent Kristen and you’re human. You did the best you could,“nothing, especially taking care of a baby, “is ever as easy as it looks.” Parents have no control when a baby dies suddenly so please don’t blame yourself. Grieve, and if you like, have the courage to be a Mother again.