Chapter 2:


Memories of Warmth

I awoke from a sudden lump of weight dropped onto my stomach. Wincing initially from the twenty-some pound creature pouncing upon me, I quickly forgave the little one as I wrapped my arms around him.Bookmark here

“Mommy, mommy, wake up time!” His little hands gripped the shirt around my collar shaking me gently but fervently.Bookmark here

His blond, curly locks of hair were different from the brown, straight tresses of my own. His eyes a vivid green in contrast to my bluish irises. Perhaps, he got it from his father, but that man mattered little to me. These eyes were adorable in their own way.Bookmark here

My hands slinked down to the hem of his sweater, and with a sneaky grin, I dove them underneath and planted them onto his steaming, jiggly sides.Bookmark here

“You’re soooo warm, Devin!!!” I cried out as he burst into giggles, trying to fight off my frigid hands.Bookmark here

That was our morning ritual. He almost always woke up early, beckoned by the crack of the morning sun. Meanwhile, I preferred to bury myself under the layers, blocking out the cold of night. In that case, he would ceremoniously arrive to stir me. And I would steal his body heat in return.Bookmark here

As he scrambled away from the Cold Mommy Monster’s hands, I watched him bolt through the door before he timidly peeked his head back through the doorway.Bookmark here

With a smile, I waved at him. “Mommy just needs to get ready before coming down, okay?”Bookmark here

A simple nod in response, and he walked gingerly back to his room like a good little boy. I sat up from the bed and brushed aside the lingering remnants of that dream. It had been three years since that frigid night. And I had vowed since then that we would never be cold again.Bookmark here

Not long after dawn broke, I cajoled a passerby into taking us into town. The sight of a new mother walking alone with her newborn tugged some heartstrings, I suppose. But more importantly, we could finally pay for passage to take us far, far away.Bookmark here

I walked out onto the balcony, seeing nothing but trees everywhere I looked. This small cottage in the middle of nowhere was where we called home from then on. And it had been nothing but bliss since then, the city and its people a distant memory from before.Bookmark here

Life out here was simple, its people too. They were willing to give handouts to a single mother who had nowhere else to go, and in time, some makings of a life emerged from it. I couldn’t help but grin whenever the bright sun cast its glow upon my face each morning. Each miracle of a day it would start out as.Bookmark here

Walking back inside, the typical ritual of getting ready was a bit more rushed. Brushing teeth, combing hair, freshening up – all done at super speed because Devin was an impatient one. But when I pulled off my shirt, I couldn’t help but pause…Bookmark here

My hand traced across the scar, an inch below my navel. An ugly reminder of a pregnancy gone wrong. A bitter memory of a child initially unwanted, created unwillingly. It was the sole blemish on an otherwise wonderful day.Bookmark here

For just a moment, those scenes would creep up on me.Bookmark here

The lecherous grin of someone unknown, the wooziness of eyes blurred by drinks, and an overall sense of utter fear… whether that it came from the man himself or the uncertain future that he had left with me, I no longer cared.Bookmark here

But from that one experience, a life was born. One that I had no idea what to do with in the beginning. The mood swings, the morning sickness, and eventually, the little knockings inside myself – they only added to the ordeal. Constant reminders of that night where I was used and tossed aside.Bookmark here

I am in no shape to care for a child.Bookmark here

That was my constant worry. But society told me ‘no’. That I had to keep it. That everything was my fault, and that the responsibility was mine for the rest of my life. My body and my future were not for my own choice to make, but for those who knew nothing about me, about my circumstances.Bookmark here

I hated it. I hated having it so much!Bookmark here

My hand scraped across the blemish left behind by the C-section. The harrowing reminder of a laborious delivery. The nails on my fingers felt like they could carve right through that slit once again.Bookmark here

“Mommy, are you okay? I see blood…”Bookmark here

The voice of Devin broke me out of that dreary thought. I looked down to see a trickle of red flowing down. Quickly, I grabbed a tissue to cover it.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, I just scratched an itch too hard.” I bent down to his eye-level. “Mommy is perfectly fine. Especially with you around.”Bookmark here

That was not at all a lie.Bookmark here

Sadness and stress had overwhelmed me, right up to the point of birth. But when the doctor decided to carve my baby out, to pull him from my body due to the complications, it was then that I realized something.Bookmark here

I feel so cold now…Bookmark here

Cold. My body was numb from just about everything – the pain, the anesthesia, and the anticipation of having this thing finally out of me… But then, it was as if the sun was hidden behind the clouds. Like I no longer basked in its light, one that I had taken for granted.Bookmark here

The child was warm, almost blazing hot compared to me. But before my eyes could take in the bundle of warmth in my arms, they stepped in again. The feeling of comfort was stripped from me and left the room, to do their tests.Bookmark here

It was supposed to only be for a few hours. To ensure that he was healthy and stable. But then, hours rolled into nighttime, and then the sun creeped by again. And still, the child was nowhere to be seen.Bookmark here

“Be patient with us. We are doing everything we can,” they said. And so, I waited… and waited. Beyond the glass walls that kept me from him. From his touch. From his warmth. All I could do was stare listlessly at the tubes protruding from his body.Bookmark here

From the window of my room, I counted on my fingers the number of times the sun poked through. Soon, the second hand was used, and then, back to the first. Eventually, I had given up, resigned to the punishment that I had been given.Bookmark here

I hadn’t wanted him to begin with… but now, everything was different. He was mine. A part of my body. And it felt so empty without him. I shivered and tucked myself deeper in the thin fabric they called blankets.Bookmark here

Enough time had gone by that the wound from his exit no longer hurt. But I wouldn’t allow for it to be forgotten. I clawed at the stitches, marred them until they bled again. And it didn’t heal properly… exactly as I wanted. I wouldn’t let it disappear just yet. Not until he was back in my arms.Bookmark here

I felt a small hand placed atop my own. I looked down at Devin, who was gingerly stroking my hand to calm it, like I had always done for him as a baby. That gesture of comfort, ingrained through many sleepless nights, was all he knew to please another. He could tell when Mommy got a bit pensive.Bookmark here

Shaking my head of those thoughts, I was ready to begin the day.Bookmark here

“Hey Devin, what do you want for breakfast?” I asked him with a smile.Bookmark here

He simply stared back, dumbfounded. Perhaps, choosing wasn’t going to happen without prompting.Bookmark here

“How about… pancakes?”Bookmark here

His little eyes sparkled instantly. Wide and green, like a jewel of the Orient. A dribble of drool was bound to follow, but any sign of it was lost as he dashed out of the bathroom and beckoned for me to quickly follow.Bookmark here

My smile widened. How easy it was to change the topic for him.Bookmark here

If only it was so easy to forget like a child…
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