out into the cold, the margarita sloshing over the edges of the fragile glass. It ran over his fingers, causing him to cuss and switch hands quickly. He wiped his now sticky hand on his right pant leg, looking around in the dim light of the house to find her. His best friend had designated the him the task of making her another drink. Although, he did it begrudgingly since he was sure she had one too many drinks already.

He stopped cold, the wind slapping him in the face and his eyes widening at the sight of her still body slumped on the deck. He tossed the drink without thinking, the glass shattering on the steps that led to the front yard.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” he fumbled, grasping her slender shoulders and giving her a slight shake.

Ribbons of tears were hardening on her cheekbones in the bitter night and she blinked up at him through smudged mascara.

“What?” she whispered, clutching his wrist.

“Are you okay?” he asked again, kneeling down.

I don’t belong.”

He blinked, looking at her in the pale light. The sadness in her voice rang in his head, sending chills up his spine. Her face was flushed, and her eyes swimming; their deep blue taking him to the shore, a cool wave-filled beach. She was beautiful, stunning in a way he could never quite put his finger on. Their short, quiet talks had always grounded him. In her sober moments, he would delve into any light-hearted subject just to make a joke and hear her laugh.

She gripped his wrist tighter, “Say something. Tell me I belong here, somewhere, anywhere.”

“I know where you belong,” he croaked, his throat catching. “Where you’ve always belonged. I can see it in your eyes, it’s the constant flicker of a dying candle, but, I have no doubt that it could ignite and you would finally feel at home.”

She closed her eyes, turning her angled face away from him. More tears began pouring down her cheeks and her shallow breathing accentuated her broken state of mind.

He took a deep breath, glancing back at the doorway and biting his lip before leaning forward. He collected her in his arms in one fell swoop, one arm around her back and the other clutched under her legs.

“I know where you belong.”

He strode forward into the house, the music blasting in a deep melody that made him cringe. She gripped him suddenly, tightly, her fingers entwining with his jacket.

His best friend was laughing loudly, his arm strung around another girl. He glanced up after his ringing chuckle and caught sight of them in the doorway. He lifted his arm from the girl, who looked puzzled, and began walking quickly toward them.

“What happened? I thought she was having fun? What’re you doing? I’ll take her.”

I’ll take her.

He stepped back, “No. You won’t.”

“C’mon now. I know how to take care of her when she has one too many-”

He stepped forward, shouldering his friend and walking onward.

“What the-?”

“This isn’t the best side of her. This is when she feels the most alone. Can’t you see that? Of course not!” he yelled, tipsy party-goers now turning to look at them walking past. The music was still thumping, but, his ears were ringing from anger. Each step drew him closer to her room, the room she shared with her daughter. The small, dainty angel that was currently out of town visiting family. He had never seen such a perfect creation until he held her small hand to cross the street and heard her tiny voice shout with glee.

He pulled his mind from those happy memories, back to the task at hand. His best friend was shouting now, but, he didn’t care. He kicked the bedroom door shut with one decisive motion, and locked the door with a sharp click.

The room was a mess. There were books, clothes, toys, and electronics thrown about. Blankets were askew on the toddler’s crib, and there was a smell of flowers emanating from a large vase on the desk in the corner.

“Thank you.”

He looked down to see her blue eyes staring up at him.

“You’re welcome,” he whispered, laying her on the bed and untying her shoe laces.

“You need to know, you have to know something..” he started drawing back her bedding, sliding her legs into the cool sheets.

“What is it?” she said hesitantly, leaning back on her pillow, her hair falling in waves. The moonlight brought deep ambiance to the room. A surreal feeling of both sadness and joy. At least there was light, despite the dark.

“You belong. You have always belonged. I have always believed in you. And, I’ll tell you why..” he reached beside the bed.

Her eyes were closing now, her eyelashes fluttering with struggle as she forced them to stay open.

He had something in his hand now, he gripped it tightly for a brief moment. He ran his thumb over the soft fur, one corner of his mouth curling in a crooked smile.

He sat next to her on the bed, leaning forward and placing the item on her chest, right over her heart.

“Her.. it’s her favorite plush,” she whispered, “I miss her.”

“As you should.. She is your home, your beacon in the storm of life and she will always be where you belong.” He said firmly, running a thin finger along her hairline to sweep a long strand from her eyes and tuck it behind one ear. “Please, don’t ever wonder again.”

This was the best side of her. That small child was the best part of her.

Motherhood is raw, it’s real.

The only show worth watching.

Two heartbeats make one.

 

Caitie

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