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“Mmmm…” Sophia licked her lips and let her seventeenth chocolate wrapper fall to the carpet from the queen-sized bed, swathed in silk sheets. She savored the taste of the creamy, sweet concoction of cocoa and sugar as it melted in her mouth and flowed to the back of her throat, coating her tongue in a layer of rich perfection. Greedily, she grabbed another box of the heart-shaped chocolates that her husband, Jack had given her for Valentine’s Day and ripped it open, taking another piece and shoving it into her mouth, half out of her insatiable craving for anything sweet that had completely possessed her rational mind since her morning sickness had subsided, and half out of a need to eat and quell the feelings of bitter disappointment, coupled with never-ending anxiety that bubbled in the pit of her stomach and seemed to have emanated a dull ache throughout her system.
She bit her lip, crushed her eighteenth wrapper in her fist, and leaned back into her fluffy pillow, closing her emerald eyes and trying to escape for a moment into her memories…
In the past, their Valentines Days together had been so special, so passionate—Sophia smiled wistfully as she remembered their senior year, when they had shown their love for one another for the first time, and the year next, when Jack had blindfolded her and surprised her with a trip to the Eiffel Tower, the wonder she’d dreamed of seeing since she was a little girl, and they’d made glorious love under the stars. Everything always seemed to melt away when they made love together; in retrospect, she realized how invincible they’d felt together when they were younger, before she had fallen pregnant by accident. This year, a carefree celebration of their relationship seemed out of place; since Sophia had stared in utter shock at that faint pink line, it seemed as if they had both aged ten years; Jack put on a brave and concerned face, but his anger at the situation was only too visible to Sophia, and she couldn’t go more than a moment without feeling overtaken by the terrible fear of her eventual consequence. How could they be parents, keepers of an innocent, helpless baby, when they were so young, so unprepared for the greatest responsibility that could ever befall them?
He stirred just then, tearing Sophia from her depressing thoughts, as if he were about to awaken, but sighed unconsciously and rolled over, falling back into the glorious state of sleep; at least he had these precious hours to lie in unperturbed bliss while his mind roamed elsewhere, outside the realm of reality. She looked over at him; he always looked so childlike and innocent when he slept, a peaceful expression on his thin face, his lips curved into a slight smile.
And so beside her Jack slept, breathing softly, his black hair a stark contrast against the silky white pillowcase. Sophia reached out to slip her fingers through his soft mane, and a pleasant tingle shot up her arm as she did so. She smiled for a moment and then placed her hand on her belly, which had blossomed into a little round bulge as she hit the five-month mark in her pregnancy.
Her child was not to arrive until mid-June, for almost four more months, and yet, for all the anxiety that pulsed within her, all the fear that overcame her newly 20-year-old self when she looked down at her growing stomach, a strange feeling overcame her. Was it anticipation? Anxiety? Excitement? Or was it merely curiosity that filled her with a longing to know what it would be like to nurture and raise a baby, one that came to be because of the love that she and Jack shared, a love Sophia knew they would share forever? Immersed in these musing thoughts, which floated in and out of her tired mind, Sophia leaned back against her pillow and reached for another chocolate, biting into the center to ensure it was not one of the dreaded coconuts, before stuffing it into her mouth.
And right then, as she laid in bed, now plucking the last piece from the crimson, heart-shaped box, she felt it, the tiniest jolt, a flitting poke in her midsection, and she froze in realization of what had just occurred…
The magnitude of such a miracle pounded over Sophia in that moment, as she laid there, still and silent in the night, and another little flutter, soft and evanescent like the touch of a butterfly, flitted in her stomach again. It felt as lovely as a sweet kiss, as soft as a feather, and it filled Sophia’s heart with an inexplicable feeling of having been lightened tremendously, as if she were soaring through the sky, up to the highest cloud where all her troubles would be swept away. It was as if a beam of light had just shone down upon her in all of her distress, a gentle hand of hope had brushed her shoulder in comfort to tell her that everything was going to be all right.
Sophia smiled through the tears that now moistened her cheeks and giggled, for what felt like the first time in so many weeks, since that dreadful morning when she had discovered that she was pregnant, at the tender age of twenty.
“Sophie?” Jack mumbled groggily, rolling over and arching his lean back, “You alright?”
He opened his eyes, brown as the chocolates now swirling in her stomach and looked up at her; he must have heard her crying.
“I’m fine, Jack,” she said softly, wiping her tearstained cheek with her wrist and lowering herself under the pale duvet. She wriggled close to him, and he simultaneously slipped a strong arm around her. She buried her face in his warm, firm chest and he brushed his lips against her, bestowing a soft, fluttering kiss upon her forehead.
“Love you,” he murmured sleepily, and Sophia felt an odd feeling of peace wash over her being as she intertwined her hand with his and allowed the pleasant warmth of his body to begin to lull her to sleep.
“Love you too,” she whispered back, her final tear falling onto the silk sheets. She'd told him she loved him, and meant it with her whole heart, so many times before, but this time the words transcended their previous meaning, because her sudden awareness of what they had truly created together surpassed everything else in their rich past.
And just then, as she was inches away from drifting into dreamland, she felt it again, that sweet sensation, a tender little flutter…
The kiss of her little child.