The Hopes Within

fiction, miscarriage, creative writing, family, short story
Illustration by Allen B Thangkhiew

She held the letter close to her chest, close to her hammering angry heart. All those hopes and fears, all the excitement and all the worry, and all the heart-tearing love were now safely sealed in a plain white envelope. At first, she wondered if she should burn it but then decided not to. It would be too difficult, almost unbearable to see her sweetest dreams go down in flames all over again. Her heart was raging in her chest, beating so hard against her ribs, it felt as if it could break free any minute now. So what if it did?

She held on to her anger, but was somehow drained of the rest of her emotions. Empty. Like dust is sucked out of an old carpet by a vacuum-cleaner, so were her feelings taken away from her. The letter, being the consequence of her pain, was also the first step in letting go. Only a month had passed, and she still couldn’t believe it, didn’t want to accept it. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t.

And yet, it was. She could feel it in her every breath, her every movement. Her every heartbeat gave it away so loudly that she wanted to scream. And she had. In the hospital, she would scream for hours on end — at the doctors, at the nurses, at Jake, her husband. Sometimes she blamed him. He should’ve foreseen it. He should’ve taken better care of her. He should’ve been there when the tragedy occurred. She hadn’t been fair to Jake those past few weeks, but no woman is fair in grief. Deep down, she knew that if she didn’t blame him she would start blaming herself — and that would just ruin her entirely.

I know it isn’t anybody’s fault; these things happen. I just never thought it was something that could happen to me. To us.

Those were the lines of the letter she particularly hated, as though admitting there was actually no one to blame would make it hurt more.

The envelope was heavy in her hand like a deadly axe in the hands of an executioner. She sat on the sofa looking at Jake as he struggled with his own writing. He had never been good with letters. She wondered about the content of his pages. It was probably something simple but sweet:

I was so excited and scared. I wanted to teach you how to cycle and ski. I imagined your laugh would sound like Molly’s. I would’ve tried to be the best dad in the world.

How do you write a letter to someone who was a part of you, but never of this world? Instinctively, her hand went to her belly to protect something that wasn’t there anymore. And again, for the millionth time, the horror of it all struck her. The emptiness. She’d gotten so used to crying that she didn’t even notice tears go down her face in salty rivulets.

“Molly?” Jake must’ve heard her quiet sobs; he turned to look at her. His own eyes were moist with newborn tears.

“I’m all right. Go on.” She gave him a colorless smile. “Finish it.”

She closed her eyes tiredly. It had been a difficult month. A month of heartbreak, and tears, and pain.

She remembered it all like it was yesterday. Jake was at work, and she was having a nap right on that sofa. She woke up with a yell, as sharp pain twisted her belly. Instantly, she realized that something had gone terribly irreversibly wrong. She jumped to her feet to get her phone from the table. And as she yelled for help, she saw blood running down her bare legs and onto the white wooden floor.

Even now she could still feel it sometimes — the cold sticky wetness between her legs, and the overwhelming fear that came with it.

Oddly, the sofa had become her favorite place in the house. It had, after all, been the last place in the world where her angel’s heart beat. She would sit here quietly, thinking of the dreams torn and scattered— in the crib, on the sonograms, in the drawer full of baby clothes. Neither she nor Jake were ready to get rid of those things yet. She knew they would have to, and soon. The sofa would have to go, too.

“I’m done,” Jake announced in a broken voice. She opened her eyes and stood up. She looked over Jake’s shoulder, and a sad tender smile lit her face. They hadn’t picked a name. They were arguing about it from the start. Oh, how passionate, and happy, and stubborn they were. Never able to come up with a name that could satisfy them both. ‘Jaime’, it said on his envelope. ‘Kaitlyn’, she’d written on hers. At least they were both still stubborn; you couldn’t take that away from them.

There will be no would’ve-s here. I know you. You are beautiful, and smart, and stubborn just like your daddy and me. And you are loved like no other kid in the whole universe.

“Are you ready, sweetie?”

She wasn’t, but nodded and took his hand in hers. Her other hand was still ironed to her chest, with the letter clutched in it.

They had prepared a small pink box where the short story of their unborn child would find its resting place. The letters would go there along with a few sonograms and a picture of the three of them together — Jake, Molly, and the little bump with two names.

She put her letter in the box on top of Jake’s. ‘Kaitlyn’ stood out brightly against the white of the envelope. It seemed to have been written in tears and blood.

Author: Lada Redley

Lada Redley draws inspiration from her travels, experiences, and the people in her life. She writes both prose and poetry, and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster, London. You can follow Lada’s adventures on Instagram: @ladaredley.

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