Past Returned

April 14, 2011
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He whispers that he loves me as he kisses my neck, deliberately sliding his hand down to stroke the small of my back. I sigh in pleasure and pull him closer. Outside, rain splatters the grass and I can hear the pit-pat of it on the roof above, just barely audible over the sounds of passion and love erupting from within this room. The stars and moon are the only light through the un-blinded window, and my heart races to the beat of the night.

“More.” I whisper. I want so much more of him. To take him in and feel the truth I’ve known for so long; that our love knows no boundaries, together we can touch the clouds and race across the ocean, our power and strength is unmatched and no one can take that away.

“More.” I gasp.

I wake, sweating, to find that once again my memory has cracked through the walls of fear and pain, and I ache for him once more. That night, so long ago, was the beginning and end of everything I hold dear.

Camille is crying.

I push the covers off of me and hastily get up to pull her out of her crib.

“Shhh.” I say, picking my ten-month-old daughter up and holding her close against me. “I’m here. It’s ok. Shhh.” Sitting on the edge of my bed, I rock her back and forth; humming a little lullaby I remember my mother used to sing to me, though the words are foreign. Soon, Camille is again asleep, and I remain there on my bed, rocking her for a while as I stare at the beautiful baby in my arms. Cute little black curls cover her tiny fair head, and a small smile is spread across her glowing face as she sleeps.

I did the right thing.

Soundlessly, I rise and gently set her down in her crib again. Born February 12 of my senior year, Camille is the greatest joy of my life. I was seventeen. And now, ten months later, in December, I have mid-terms all week and she’s still the best choice I have ever made.

There is only one thing I wish I didn’t have to do.

Her father doesn’t know about her.
He doesn’t know because I kept her from him.

He was twenty-two years old on that fateful June night, and I had no choice. My father was led to believe I did not know who the father was, and I ended my relationship with John. For the many months that I was pregnant with Camille, I told myself that I was doing the right thing by keeping her from him and protecting him.

But now, on nights like this when I stand over her while she sleeps, I wonder if perhaps he should know. I know he’d be here; her father. But he’d never forgive me if I told him now. “You had no right!” He’d say. No, no he wouldn’t say that; he’d be so kind and forgiving that I’d never forgive myself. “I understand why you did it. It doesn’t matter now, we’re here together. That’s all I care about.” That’s more like him.

That is… unless he’s moved on. Hell, he was a law student then, he’s probably graduated by now, moved to some small town and set up a firm and fallen in love again. I’m most likely just a distant memory. If I told him now, it would ruin everything he's worked for. I can’t do that to him. That’s one of the main reasons why I ended it. So he could move on and live a happy life and not worry about the legality and sorrow that a relationship with me brought.

I have to forget. I have Camille now and that is all that matters. I have to be there for her, let her be everything to me. I’m an archaeology student at Weber, I work as an intern at the museum, and I have to keep doing it for her. She has to have the perfect life. She needs me to give her that life, like I did when I gave birth to her. There’s no time for me to miss what I destroyed.

“Camille! C’mon honey, you’re going to be late for your first day of school!” I shout in the direction of Camille’s bedroom while I dry my hands with a dish towel.

With her curly black, lengthy hair bouncing in rhythm with her pink Strawberry Shortcake book bag, she comes running into the kitchen, shoelaces clicking on the floor.

I giggle when she reaches me with a pleading look in her green eyes. I’ve been teaching her how to tie her shoes, but I’m guessing that today she’s too nervous to take the time to do it herself; she can do it, but she takes her time. Bending down, I quickly tie them for her.

“All set?” I ask, straightening into a crouch so that I’m eye-level with my five-year-old darling. Looking over her, I make sure she has her sweater on, shirt tucked in, and belt on. She’s starting kindergarten at Linchwood Elementary, and unfortunately, just like at my old elementary school, she has to wear a uniform: white polo shirt and navy, khaki, or black pants; no jeans. At least she isn’t like her mother in the way of making a mess on everything white within a five-foot radius. Cam is very neat and tidy, quite the polite young lady already.

“Yes, mama.” She tries to smile.

“Awe, don’t be nervous sweetie; everyone is going to love you.” I kiss her on the nose so I don’t embarrass her in front of the other students when we get to the school…even though I know I’ll probably do it again anyway. My baby, going to school.

She seems to actually smile a little, so I grab my purse of the hook, take hold of her hand, and lock the door behind us as we leave the apartment and enter the street. The school is close by; just four blocks from the apartment, so I’ve made sure that I don’t have to go into work at the museum until after I have time to walk her to school. Corey, the curator, wasn’t exactly thrilled at the idea of me needing a new schedule, but as a parent of four children, he had to understand.

When we arrive at the massive red-brick building, I walk her into the front office and pick up the slip of paper with the room number of her teacher. She squeezes my hand tighter as we near the classroom.

“Don’t be scared,” I soothe, “your teacher is a nice man and all the other kids are going to be just as scared as you.” We reach the door and I bend down to hug her tightly and kiss her on the forehead.

“I love you so much Cam.”

“Love you too, mama.”

Straightening, I knock on the door.

Shock and horror fill my heart when he opens the door.


John’s older brother.

“Dianna?” He recognizes me immediately.

“Andy, hi.” I try to smile and pretend my voice isn’t shaking. He looks down at Camille and recognizes his brother’s features almost instantaneously.

“This is…” He starts to question.

“Camille, my daughter.” Looking down at Camille, I introduce her to her teacher. “Cam, this is your teacher, Mr. Thompson.”

Oblivious to the fact that this is her uncle, Cam introduces herself politely.

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Thompson, my name is Camille, but mama calls me Cam.”

“Nice to meet you, Cam.” Nodding at me so that I know he means for me to stay put, he kneels down to Cam’s level. “Why don’t you run inside and pick an empty cubby hole for your book bag?”

“Ok.” Without hesitation, she runs inside, past him.

Standing up, he looks at me seriously.

“I take it-”

“Please don’t tell him. He can’t know. Not now.” The words come out rushed and run together.

“Why shouldn’t I tell him?” He closes the door behind him. “Do you have any idea what you put John through? He questioned himself, every decision, for years. Trying to figure out what he did wrong; why he somehow managed to push you away. Now, to find out you left him because you were pregnant with his beautiful little daughter?”

“Do you have any idea what I went through?” I defend myself. “The emotional turmoil of having to protect him and take care of my baby and survive my parents and go to school at the same time? Every night I questioned my decision. But I couldn’t tell him. I knew he’d want to come back; be a part of her life. But if he did that, does that, he’ll go to jail. What happened was illegal. Period. I can’t change what’s been done and he and I are strangers now; if he tries to come into her life it will be awkward and confusing for all parties involved.”

I’m shaking now; terrified that he’ll see through my act; my fear of seeing John again and facing his rightful fury and despair.

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Alise said...
Apr. 22, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I love it:)

What happens next?

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