Chapter 38: Climax
"You don't have to take everything. You know that you can still lay your head here or hang out in your old room," Mom said as she helped me carry a few empty boxes up the stairs to my old bedroom. It was officially my old bedroom now. I had graduated and had a baby. In my eyes, I was officially an adult and the more time I spent at my parents' house, staring at the walls of my room, the more I came to terms with the fact that it was time to put away childish things and move on with my life. This would be like a fresh start. Of course, my mom was going to go insane because of empty nest syndrome, but it was time to close this chapter for good.
"Yes! Take everything you need so we can finally put the screen back in that damn window the right way!" Dad shouted from downstairs. "SHUT THE FUCK UP SHAWN!" Mom barked. I giggled. He was never comfortable with the fact that I could pop the screen out like it was nothing and just crawl right through the window. He was always waiting for the day that a stranger caught on and broke into the house. Mom was having a hard enough time with the decision that I made and he wasn't making it any better.
"I'm a big girl now Mommy," I said, batting my eyes sarcastically. From behind me, I could hear her sniffle. I looked over my shoulder to find the sight of her patting her eyes with a tissue. "Mom!" I shouted. "You haven't called me mommy in years," she said with her voice cracking. "I'm only moving ten minutes away," I said with a chuckle. She continued to pout and I continued to laugh. "You'll understand when Fauna gets older," she said as she patted the remaining tears from her eyes. I had a feeling that those words were going to haunt me for the rest of my life. I was already shook that I had a daughter and even though she was only a little over a month old, I was afraid of how badly my karma would come back around. That was one of the first things Mom told me about when I came out about my pregnancy. If you gave your parents hell, when your time came to have children, they would be twice as bad as you were.
"I'm sure I will. Come on, I have stuff to pack before Danny sends out a search party out to look for me." She got herself together, holding her head high as she marched down the hall to my room. "I could always hold you and Fauna hostage," she said with a wink. "I did my eighteen years. This birdie has to leave the nest," I said playfully.
I pushed the door open with my foot to find my room in the exact same condition that it had been in for as long as I could remember. Everything had remained tidy and untouched. I could tell that Mom had been organizing things in there. My books were neatly stacked from smallest to largest. My Christmas lights were neatly pinned around my window in a near perfect line. My bed was made with not a wrinkle in the bed skirt and the sheets looked like they had been pressed flat. Whenever her anxiety was tearing her apart or when she was pissed off, she would clean. I knew that this had to have happened because of what we thought was my brush with death and my graduation.
"I've got to grab a few more boxes. I'll be right back," she said as she sat down the boxes she was already carrying. When she slipped out the door, my emotions hit me like a hurricane. I took the time to take one final stroll around my room to take in the sight of everything that had a hand in my life and personality starting back when I was thirteen. An Edgar Allan Poe poster always hung right above the head of my bed. Sometimes when things would get rough, I would take to consulting with the poster to help me navigate the rocky waters of being a teenager. I always find myself saying, "What would Edgar do?" when his poems and short stories about death, darkness, and depression always seemed to be a bit counterproductive when I was fighting to get better. It seemed silly back then and it may have seemed silly now, but it brought me comfort.
The same went with curling up in bed at night with the only light in my room coming from the string of lights. The soft lighting was incredibly calming and sometimes that was the only thing that could pull me out of an anxiety attack. It was even more relaxing when I would crack open the window at night and dangle my legs while sneaking a cigarette or two. It was perfect when it came to winding down for the night. The only downside to it was the time that the tacks had fallen and I ended up getting tangled in them like a fly in a spider web when I was sneaking in one night. It didn't help that I was drunk off my ass and almost killed myself when I had to climb the tree to get to it. I was thankfully that Mom had taken to making sure they didn't fall and hang over the window.
My phone buzzed in my pocket, pulling me from my stroll down memory lane. I looked down at the screen to find that the call was coming from an unknown number. "Let me fucking guess,"I said as I shook my head. My thumb lingered over the button to answer it. I already knew that it was probably Dean. The fucker tried to kill me and he still didn't want to leave well enough alone. I figured I would do him a favor by not pressing charges, but this was getting ridiculous.
"Hello," I answered politely. There was a pause for a second. "Hello?" I said again, sounding a little less polite. "Syd," he said slowly. "Yes? This is Sydney," I replied. I heard a few sniffles followed by the sound of him clearing his throat. I could already tell that this was sober Dean. "I know you don't want to hear from me." I rolled my eyes and shook my head. "You're right. What do you want? I didn't press charges on your ass for trespassing and trying to kill me. Why are you calling me?"
There was another long pause and I was beginning to run out of patience. "I- I love you. I need you in my life to keep me alive. I've been so lost without you," he finally said. I scoffed and then he paused. "Look, I'm not gonna keep playing this game with you. You hurt me and it cut me deep and now I've finally got a life to be happy about."
"You weren't happy with me?" he asked. I stopped myself before answering. I wanted to end this right without any bad karma coming back on me. I could have been taken before it was my time to go. I could have been taken from my daughter and she would have had to grow up without a mom and that was more than enough to be angry about. But I knew that the more I fed into his bullshit and the more he got a rise out of me, he would never stop. I didn't have the energy to care and I had to make sure he knew that.
"No. I was miserable and lost. I lost myself in you and it almost drove me insane. You let me lay in a hospital bed and just let everyone in Welch think that I was a monster. You let those people believe that I got rid of my own flesh and blood out of spite," I said, trying to remain calm. A lump was rising in my throat, but I kept telling myself that I would be okay. I had to get all of this off of my chest and remaining calm and in control of my emotions was the only way that I was going to accomplish that.
"I didn't know that it was a miscarriage," he lied. When I couldn't get in touch with him while he was on a bender, Jamie and Mel did everything they could to track him down for two days and still couldn't find him. "I know you're lying," I said without thinking. He paused again. "My baby died too. You think I didn't care?" he said as he raised his voice a little. I shook my head, running my fingers through my hair in an attempt to calm my nerves. This was the very first time that we had ever actually talked about the miscarriage, but it was far too late for apologies.
"I realized my mistakes and wanted to be there for you, but then you found him. We had our fights and break ups, but he left you too. What makes him better than me?" I could feel the slow burn in my chest and it was about to become much harder to control my anger and keep from flying off the handle.
"Dean, this is over. It's been over for a long time. We've almost fought to the death and we did so much shit to hurt each other that we practically became strangers. I loved you with everything I had, but you didn't love me. You only loved making me angry and making me feel every type of pain you can think of." He was crying softly on the other end and I knew that this was just another tactic to try to get his hooks in me again. I refused to feel bad for tearing into him and telling him nothing but the truth. I was even more proud of the fact that I was doing it in such a mature way.
"Danny is my future. You and I can never be together again. I have to grow up and move on and so do you. I wish you the best, but goodbye." I didn't even wait for him to respond before I hung up. I realized that I was shaking and the palms of my hands were soaked. I couldn't believe that that had just happened. I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath, and enjoyed the feeling of what felt like fireworks going off in my chest. It was like I had finally defeated my boss battle.
"That's my girl," I heard Mom say from behind me. I turned around to face her as she stepped into the room with a smile on her face. "That's how you put someone in their place and burn bridges, my love. You don't know how proud I am," she gushed. I threw my arms around her, pulling her into a warm embrace. Only a single tear rolled down my face. She couldn't see it, but somehow she knew. I was finally able to breathe. That door had finally closed and the weight had been lifted off of my chest. Any and all ties to Dean had been severed the way they should have been a long time ago.
She pulled away from me, staring into my eyes and I knew that she could see that my imaginary chains had been broken. She took my hand and pulled me over to sit down next to her on the bed. I was getting nervous again because she only did this when she wanted to have grown up conversations with me.
"Mom, I don't need you to give me the talk again. I believe it's a little too late," I said trying to lighten the mood. "I believe it was too late when we had it the first time," she said raising an eyebrow at me. She was right. Mom didn't have the talk with me until I was sixteen because like I said before, she never learned anything like that from Tess. Talking about sex was forbidden.
"Anyway, you've accomplished so much within the past year and believe me, no one is happier than I am about you cutting Dean out of your life. It's been a long time coming," she started, "but you have to be honest with yourself. You haven't cut all ties with him." I stared at her with my eyes screaming, "Don't say what I think you're going to say. Don't make me do what I think you're going to make me do." Her eyes darted across the room to my desk. I knew exactly what she was looking at and I was too proud of holding my emotions together to look in that direction.
"Mom, please," I said slowly. Any moment now, the water works would begin and I didn't know if I was capable of handling a full blown mental breakdown today. "Sydney," she said, placing her hand on my knee. I closed my eyes, squeezing them shut. The more I would have looked at her, the worse it was going to get. "Sydney," she said again firmly as my body began to tremble. My eyes remained closed and I furiously shook my head, wanting it to all go away like it was monster hiding in my closet. The whole time, I thought that dealing with Dean and ending things once and for all was my boss battle and biggest obstacle on the path to having a better life. He wasn't.
The cremated remains of my eight week old baby within the tiny silver urn engraved with a large heart on the front was. It had been this whole time.
"Sydney Gayle!" she snapped, seizing my chin in her hands, forcing me to open my eyes. The tears began to fall. "When I found out that I was going to bring you into this world, you were everything my heart could ever want and need and I was scared for you," she said forcefully, using her motherly tone. "I never wanted you to cry, but I knew that you would. I never wanted you to hurt and feel any kind of heart break, but I knew you would," she said more calmly. "I knew all of that before I even met you and I was terrified to my core. But I knew that you would be strong. I named you Sydney Gayle because I knew that you would one day be as strong as the winds that haul everything away when they come through. You'd be strong enough to demand everyone's attention and storm your way through life to accomplish any and everything that you could ever want. You would not be just another leaf flying around in the chaotic weather happening around you. I made you and birthed you and I'll be damned if I sit back and let you be weak or cower in fear. You are strong," she said raising her voice a little.
Tears were rolling down both of our faces when we heard a knock at the door. Both of our heads snapped to find Danny standing there for whoever knows how long. "Am I interrupting something?" he said nervously. Mom turned her head back to me, seeing the panic still in my eyes. She turned back to him with a smile before pushing herself off of the bed. "No. Not at all." She walked over to him, patting his shoulder as she stepped out of the room. "I'll just let you two have some alone time! Where's my baby?!" she screamed frantically as she made her way downstairs. "Shawn has her!" Danny called back.
Being alone with Danny was worse than being alone with Mom. My stomach was in knots and I felt sick just thinking about having to explain to him why Mom and I were bawling our eyes out when we were supposed to be packing up my room. As much as I wanted to pull that finally skeleton out of the closet to deal with, it was time. I couldn't hide it and act like it never existed. After the miscarriage, I didn't care what they did with the remains when I got out of the hospital. I didn't even know that such a tiny fetus could be cremated. Mom talked me into it and she talked me into going with her to find an urn. She always told me that it would help me cope. The longer I was lost in shock, the harder it was going to be for me to let go of it all and move on.
"What happened?" he said as he walked over to me. I hung my head. I had finally stopped crying and I knew that it was going to start all over again as soon as I looked at him.
He was dressed to make me smile even though he didn't know that he was going to walk into a storm of emotions. From the corner of my eye, I could see him in a black t-shirt that fit him well, contouring his upper body with a pair of dark jeans. He smelled like he spent hours in the bathroom preparing for a date that would make or break our relationship.
He crouched down in front of me and gently placed his hand on my cheek. "You know you can talk to me," he said calmly. Hearing his voice was everything I needed to make my soul feel better. "And I know you'll listen," I said with a smile. I held his head with both of my hands and placed a kiss on his lips, holding him there for what seemed like forever. Our lips broke apart and I rested my forehead against his in an attempt to prepare myself to explain. "Take your time, baby," he said reassuring me that he would try to be understanding. I breathed slowly and stood up from my bed, walking past him to get to my desk across the room.
Take your time.
With my hands shaking, for the first time in over a year, I rested my hand on the urn, feeling how cold the silver was. I couldn't help but compare holding this baby to holding Fauna. All I had ever been able to feel about this baby was pain, sorrow, and regret. The only physical contact that I ever had was holding it in my hand while sitting in a pool of my own blood and eventually holding the cold silver container in the palm of my hand. It was so incredibly tiny compared to the urns you would see when an adult was cremated.
Lost in thought, I used my index finger to trace the heart on the front. I couldn't take my hands off of it. It was like I was searching to feel something other than the ice cold metal or get some kind of response. I knew that I would never have that and my heart broke. Fauna was always so warm and soft. Sometimes I wanted to pull her little body into my arms, squeezing her, and never let go. I would never get that with the ashes of the baby that had been put to rest in this urn. Fauna wouldn't have a big brother or sister to follow around like they were her hero. I didn't have this baby around long enough to teach me how to be a mom in order to feel confident about my parenting when Fauna finally came along. My parenting skills weren't bad, but I still felt disappointed that so many experiences as a first time mom had died that morning when the baby was expelled from my body.
I felt the warmth of Danny's chest pressed against my back with one of his hands resting on my shoulder. "A lot of people just see these tiny humans as nothing more than what you find in Human Anatomy books. I used to think that too," I said with the tears beginning to roll down my cheeks again.
"I didn't know you could cremate a baby after a miscarriage," he admitted. I continued to trace my fingers around the urn. "I didn't either. At the time, Mom said it would be good for me to have him cremated. She said I needed the closure." Suddenly, I realized that I had used a pronoun for the baby, something I had never done before, but honestly, I had never had the courage to speak so openly about it all. I didn't even think that I had the strength to get to that point.
"He?" Danny said with a smile. I shrugged. "There for a while, I would always picture what it would have been like to hold a bouncing baby boy in my arms with a patch of black curls on top of his head," I said cheerfully. "I've just always thought that it would have been a boy, someone that I needed to teach me how to love." Danny leaned forward, wrapping his arms around my waist and resting his chin on my shoulder. "He and Fauna would have both been lucky to have you as a mom. Our girl has all the love she could ever want or need," he said happily. I took the plunge and wrapped both of my hands around the urn, slowly but carefully lifting it off of the desk. "You don't have a reason to feel guilty anymore. I'm here to help you heal, just like I've always been," he reassured me.
The two of us stood there, staring at it. I was in total shock when I felt a few small wet spots on my shirt. Danny had tears rolling down his face. I had come such a long way and made it through things that were enough to kill anybody else. But Mom was right. She had her heart set on making sure I was strong enough to endure it all and being strong was the only thing that I knew. Over the years, it was finally coming natural to me and I was thankful that I had people surrounding me that refused to let me fall. Danny had come back into my life at the perfect time and fit right in with everyone else. Maybe we weren't meant to take on the world when he left the first time, but there wasn't a doubt in my mind that we would do it effortlessly now. He wasn't like everyone that I had grown up around in Welch. He knew that the miscarriage had almost destroyed me mentally and refused to believe any of the bullshit rumors going around town about it.
With him, it was always about me and who I was, not what people had to say about me. He was my shoulder to cry on at the time even though I was in no condition to give him the love and affection that he deserved. Everything had come down to this because I couldn't imagine a life where I didn't love him and with out having him by my side.
"I think I can let go of it all now," I said proudly. The tears stopped flowing and I was smiling because another door was closing for me to move on with my life. I had forgiven myself, let go of the one person that had a hold on me and the anger that came with him, and I had the love that I had been blindly searching for after all these years.
I lifted the urn, feeling the weight in my hands and analyzing it in a way that always terrified me. I held it closer to my face, pressing my lips on the surface, expecting to feel a chill on my mouth. But my entire body felt warm and at last, I was able to rejoice because this was the closure that I fought for without it even registering.