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Only a Dream

By , Pond Creek, OK
Only a Dream

Giselle had to reach over and touch her baby one more time just to make sure she was actually there, sleeping in the car seat next to her. She feels real enough, Giselle thought as she traced her finger over the baby’s smooth, rosy cheek. She had already memorized every line of that little face and still had trouble believing that something so perfectly formed could really belong to her.

From the driver’s seat, Jack watched them both in the rear view mirror. “Don’t wake her up again,” he told Giselle, but it was already too late. The baby blinked her sleepy, dark eyes in confusion, but she did not cry as most newborns would have done.

Giselle had never met a baby so quiet. Even when she’d come out of the womb, only a couple hours ago, the baby had hardly complained. Her silence had nearly scared Giselle to death. She just knew that something had gone wrong during labor and that her child would die before she could even open her eyes and see the world. Giselle refused to be convinced by Jack, or even the doctors, that the baby was, in fact, perfectly healthy until she was able to hold her herself. Giselle had to hold her, to touch and feel her, in order to be sure that she had really succeeded in giving birth to her own child. She would have held her on the car ride home, even, if Jack hadn’t been so insistent on the safety of the car seat.

“I’m sorry that I woke you up,” Giselle told the baby, who whimpered in reply.

“No, no, no, it’s all right! We’re almost home, and there’s a brand new bed there, just for you to sleep in.”

Jack chuckled, “Geeze, Giselle, you need to calm down.”

“I know, I know,” she said, “but I’m just not sure if I deserve her.”

“Why wouldn’t you deserve her?”

“I don’t know, but whenever I miscarried the last two it made me wonder if it wasn’t something that I may have done wrong.”

Jack turned slightly in his seat so he could look at Giselle out of the corner of his eye. “Giselle,” he said, “no one deserves her more than you do.”

A brick, two-story house materialized into the car’s viewpoint and, almost by reflex, the couple became silent. It was the kind of house that one would expect big families of four or five to live in, but instead a solemn stillness seemed to hang over the house. Its darkened windows gave the impression of eyes that looked down sadly as Jack pulled the car into the driveway. Giselle hastily began to unbuckle her seatbelt. She couldn’t wait to hold her new baby again.

We’re here,” Giselle announced, lifting the infant out of the car seat.

The baby cooed and pulled on Giselle’s hair while Jack helped them out of the car. Giselle giggled in ecstasy and held the baby closer; this was the daughter she’d always dreamed of but never thought she’d be able to have, and now she was going to show her her new home! Giselle was practically running toward the front door.

“Be careful!” Jack warned.

“Why? It’s not like I’m going to drop her!”

“Well, I hope not!” Jack replied with a laugh.

He held the door open for Giselle and she stepped into the entry way. Sunlight streamed in after her into the darkened house, dispelling the shadows and causing the hardwood floors to sparkle. Giselle was already imagining the sound of laughter and pattering feet echoing through the hallways and breaking the current silence that had lingered there too long. The thought made her smile.

“Ready to see your new room?” Jack asked the baby. She blinked apathetically.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

Giselle started to follow Jack toward the staircase when she felt a sharp pain stab her body. The baby began slipping out of her arms and Giselle struggled to keep hold of her as she doubled over in pain. The floor boards fell away into a black abyss, the staircase was crumbling into nothing, and Giselle could feel something warm and sticky trickling down her legs.

“Giselle!”

Through her clouded vision Giselle could make out Jack’s alarmed face hovering over her own. He was shaking her.

“Giselle, honey, wake up!”

She realized that she was lying in her bed with her arms stretched out before her, cradling the empty air. Her nightgown felt wet. Giselle jerked the covers away and saw a big, dark stain creeping across the bed spread. She stared at it silently.

Jack was already at her side trying to lift her out of bed. Giselle tried to stand on her own but her limbs felt so limp and hollow that she collapsed back onto the bloody sheets. She clutched them to her as tears rolled down her face.



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