The nurse shoved the bundle into my arms and turned away, her steps long and brisk. “Everyone deserves a chance,” was what she announced as the door snapped her out of the room.
I stared after my nurse for a while, into the space I wished for her to continue to occupy. The blue of the walls became one with my mind, a slate of numbing reality. I felt the weight of the thing snuggled in between my elbows the way Happy would arrange herself when she was a pup. Happy was cute. Happy was innocent. This thing was neither.
A low cry sounded from within the folds of cotton. I bit my lip as the whine grew in length, and tried blocking it out with the use of the minute hand approaching ‘12’ as my metronome. The ticking of the clock resounded within my head, a steady heartbeat of an anchor, building in volume to a deafening toll. My eyes were closing, allowing the thumping of blood and time to overwhelm me in persistent, deadening waves. Then a little hand rose, grasping, breaking the surface of my escape. Trying to find someone. Trying to find me. And I looked down.
The baby on my chest was small, with full cheeks that blossomed with rose color. Blonde curls had already started twisting from her head, defying gravity the way they rose straight up like spiral staircases. Absentmindedly, I ran my fingers through them, letting loose a laugh when they bounced around like dainty little springs. She giggled with me, and it was the purest of sounds, like hand bells being rung by white-gloved angels. Her reaching hand found my face and she giggled when it came away wet. My blurred eyes searched hers, a wide and wondering brown that challenged the world for adventures. Eyes that were innocent.
The monster that siphoned her was nowhere to be found in her persona of softness, in the nuzzling of the pink blankets that tucked her away. I smiled. She was my daughter, not his. She was my daughter, and I loved her.
© 2016, Annalie Buscarino. All rights reserved.
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