I want to take time out right now from the Fairy story to reveal a Stewart Sternberg assignment. Part 4 of The Fairy will be posted either Thursday or Friday. Enjoy!
She killed her baby without realizing it. By the time she looked down, saw the pillow crushed over her infant's face, and lifted it off with a horrified shriek, little Becky was dead.
"No." She gasped.
"No, no, no."
She picked the baby up in her arms. She gave her mouth to mouth. The baby didn't so much as twitch or whimper. Little Becky was dead. Tears cascaded down Holly's face.
"No." Holly repeated. She placed her daughter's body back in the crib.
"Oh Jesus." She looked around the nursery as if seeing it for the first time. The walls capered with Looney Tunes characters. Here Bugs Bunny leaning against a mail box, chomping ona carrot. There Tasmanian Devil whirling, nothing visible but a foot here and a hand there, and his devilish eyes.
Holly didn't even remember walking in the nursery in the first place. Last she knew she had been sitting on the couch, watching Days of Our Lives, and crying for no God damn reason. So how the hell did she get up here without being aware of it?
Holly shuddered. Her right eye twitched. Her mouth opened, closed, opened, like a fish finding itself stranded on shore, struggling to breathe. A low moan escaped that fishy mouth. Her heart throbbed monotonously in her chest.
She turned away from her dead baby and left the nursery, eyes vacant, tears streamed her haggard face.
A few minutes later she sat on the living room couch, her husband's 12 gauge shotgun between her legs, muzzle pointed straight up at the ceiling. She wept.
Holly wept for her baby, the one she brought into this world, the same she had taken out. She wept for her husband, Rick. Oh what a good man he was. She wept for herself.
Normally St. Patrick's Day was a fun holiday. And with her being part Irish, she celebrated it full heartedly. This was the first time she ever hated the national holiday.
Holly lowered the barrel, and tilted the gun so the barrels' maw aimed at her head. She sighed, and opened her mouth.
When her teeth clacked against the steel barrel, she began to sob even harder. The taste of gun oil and cold metal filled her mouth. Her tongue quivered. Her eyes floated to the photograph on the wall just to the right of their newly bought plasma TV. Becky, fresh, and still flushed from birth. Her eyes were closed, mouth slightly agape. Her little red lips glistened. Oh God, she had been so beautiful.
Holly slipped off her slipper and brought her foot up to the shotguns' trigger guard, paused, and then slid her big toe through the trigger guard. Her eyes fixed on Becky there on the wall. Tears spilled down her cheeks in mini rivers. Then-
Just before her big toe moved to pull the trigger, a baby began to cry.
Holly froze, holding her breath. Could it be? Was Becky really alive?
Holly wasted no time, she removed the shotgun barrel from her mouth. Her toe slipped away from the trigger and she set her foot down on the coosh carpet. Heart thrumming wildly, she put the gun down on the couch and stood up.
The crying lifted in volume just then. Oh Jesus, please, she thought as she stumbled out of the living room and to the stairs. There she paused to listen. A smile lengthened on her tear-wet face, because the crying came from upstairs.
She scrambled up the stairs, sobbing with joy.
"I'm coming! I'm coming sweet heart!"
Holly tripped, stumbled down a few steps, got up and raced to the top/ She turned left and stopped. Listening, she knew exactly where the crying was coming from. The nursery. Holly sprinted to the doorway, hesitated, and then ran into the small room. She trotted over to the crib.
"Mommy's here, sweetie. Mommy's-"
Becky still lay as Holly had left her. Lifeless, and still purple, mouth gaping , as if still trying to suck in air. It was from there, that sweet tiny mouth, where the crying came from. Holly backed away, shaking her head.
"No." Oh God. Nooo!"
She backed away until her butt struck the changing table. Holly screamed. She screamed, screamed, her baby was dead, dead, dead, still crying but dead, screamed-
Hon? Hol? Hey!"
She snapped awake, screaming. She sat up.
"Whoa, whoa! Hey! Holly, Holly! Easy!"
Hands groped her, then drew her into a warm, familiar body. The screaming stopped and she glanced around, suddenly lost.
"Shshsh." It was just a nightmare." Her husband, Rick's, voice, soothing, loving.
"It's okay. you're all righ-"
"Becky! Becky! Oh God!"
Holly burst out of bed. Yes. She was in her bedroom now. It was dark..night. But how? It was around noon when-
"A dream! She cried as she raced down the hall.
From behind her-
"Holly? Quiet you'll-"
"It was a DREAM!" She declared to the gloomy hallway. Tears bulleted down her face, but she didn't care.
She burst into the nursery, flipped on the light. Almost instantly after, a baby began to cry. She stood, watching a small bundled figure as it squirmed. Holly went to the crib, and looked down at the writhing baby. It was Becky, her, Becky, alive; alive and screaming her pretty, sweet head off! What a beautiful baby.
A firm, but very gentle hand, swung her around. Rick stood, frowning, but his eyes revealed only concern, not anger.
"She's alive! She's all right!" Holly shouted over Becky's bawling.
Rick's eyes drifted to their baby in the crib and then back to her.
"Of course she is." He said. Then asked-
"What was your dream about?"
Holly turned to look at her daughter, still crying, and smiled.
"Nothing important." She said.
"Nothing!" She shouted, giggling.
Holly went to her baby, and lifted her out of the crib.
Rick stood back, dumbfounded. He watched her cradle Becky and wondered just what that dream had been about. Because Holly hadn't so much as looked at Becky, until tonight. The doctor said she's need a close watching, and time to really see her baby, to love her baby. Now, however...now she pulled out a breast from her nightgown for their baby girl to suck on. And so everything was just fine. Everything was renewed.
Postpartum's a bitch, he thought absently...yes it is.