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Author's note: I wrote this story as a final assignment for my high school Writer’s Craft class. We were asked to write a short story in the genre we had done our previous project on. My genre was fantasy; however I also incorporated qualities of the romantic genre as well. My inspiration for this piece came mainly from my fascination with wanting to visit myself as a child to see how much I have changed. When it comes to the romantic components of this piece, Keira and Isaac’s relationship was inspired by my relationship with my boyfriend. Isaac’s character is extremely similar to him. Also, the way Keira and Isaac interact with one another was influenced by the way my boyfriend and I interact with one another, which I think makes for authentic dialogue. I hope that people will get some enjoyment out of this…and that is all I can really ask for.
“Mister and Misses Harrison,” the doctor began, staring down through a pair of rectangular spectacles at a collection of papers in her hands. “I have good news. Looking at your test results here, there are no physical problems permitting you from conceiving.”
“Oh thank God,” Keira sighed as she placed a hand against her throbbing heart. It slowed slightly. “Thank you, doctor.” Her eyes began to well up with tears as her husband removed her shaking fingers from her chest and intertwined them gently in his.
“See, my love,” he said. “There is nothing to worry about. It will happen. It has only been a year. Perhaps it is just not our time yet.”
She looked up at him through a pair of sparkling hazel eyes. She fought with all of her might to avoid allowing those sparkles to leak and fall down her cheeks. Crying in front of people had always made Keira uncomfortable. Gazing at her husband’s confident smile and that adorable dimple it had formed, a wave of pleasant warmth washed over her. Her toes unclenched, her shoulders relaxed and the dizzying feeling in her head began to subside. She discreetly wiped away a tear building in the corner of her right eye and swallowed easily with the realization that the lump that had been in her throat had disappeared.
“Maybe you’re right, Isaac,” she said almost in a whisper. She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. “Our time will come.”
“There could be other reasons why you have not been successful that have nothing to do with your physical health,” the doctor continued. “Factors such as stress or a possible psychological issue can interfere with your chances of conceiving. Unknowingly, you could be telling your body that you are not ready for a baby quite yet. It may not be conscious, but your body responds to these messages.”
“A psychological issue,” Keira repeated as though the words sounded funny on her tongue. “I’m not quite sure I understand.”
“It may not apply to you,” the doctor assured her. “It is merely a possibility. There have been many cases in the past where women with childhood issues have unconsciously prevented themselves from having children. They fear their own children suffering the same fate as they did and thus their bodies keep them from becoming pregnant as a type of defence mechanism.”
“I had a happy childhood,” Keira looked from the doctor, to her husband, and then to the doctor once more. She tossed her curly brown hair over her left shoulder to allow the air conditioning to cool down her burning neck. “I mean, I may not be able to remember much of it but from what I do remember, I was more than happy.”
“Well then it is probably just stress-related,” the doctor stood up, indicating that their conference was over. “My advice to you, Keira, is to take a day or two off from work to relax and recharge your batteries. Perhaps it could help if you stop trying for a while as well. When it comes to babies, people seem to have the most luck when they’re simply enjoying their relationship.” She laughed warmly and escorted the couple to the door of her office. “If you have any more questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call.”
“Thank you so much for your time,” Isaac said as he stepped out into the hallway. Keira followed closely behind him with her hand still wrapped in his. She felt her hot cheeks and wondered for a moment if she could be getting sick.
“Yes, thank you, doctor,” she said weakly.
When they had reached their car, Isaac turned towards Keira. She was focusing on what appeared to be the glove box, her eyes wide as though displaced from reality. The only part of her that was moving was her fingertips against the leather seat.
“Sweetheart, are you okay? Smile, love! There is nothing wrong with us!”
“I know, honey,” she began, placing her hand on his shoulder. “I am thrilled, I really am. I just feel like the reason we don’t have a baby by now, or at least on the way, is because of me. What am I thinking or doing that is keeping this from happening? I don’t understand.”
“Keira, it’s not your fault. Please stop blaming yourself. Do what the doctor told you. Take the day off from work tomorrow. Relax! Enjoy the beautiful weather we are having. I heard it’s supposed to be a scorcher.”
She shifted her focus from the glove box to her husband’s face and forced the corners of her lips to curl into a feeble grin. “Thanks love. I guess I could just leave my exam reviews with a supply teacher tomorrow—give the kids a work period.”
“There you go!” Isaac exclaimed as he pulled out of the parking lot. “We will have a baby someday, Keira. I promise.”
The next morning at a little after seven, Keira woke up to the familiar smell of coffee wafting from the kitchen. Her husband had been awake for well over an hour. The night previous he had instructed her to try to sleep in until at least nine, but Keira knew herself well enough to know that that wouldn’t happen. She had been awake since Isaac’s alarm had gone off at six. Waiting patiently for the sound of the garage door slamming to signal that he had left for work, Keira propped herself up with her pillow and began to plan out her day.
Maybe I’ll do some gardening in the backyard…put some music on and get some sun, thought Keira.
Keira waited until she saw Isaac’s car leave the driveway before she deemed it safe to turn on the shower. Her irregular sleeping habits had always been a prime concern for Isaac and she couldn’t stand to cause him unnecessary worry. He had been suggesting that Keira should take a day off long before the doctor prescribed it. The thought of Isaac’s troubled eyes fixed upon hers after discovering that she was awake gave Keira shivers, but she figured she knew what was best.
So, she continued with her day.
Before she stepped outside into the surprisingly blazing morning sun, Keira noticed a note on the refrigerator:
If you are reading this before 9:00 AM, GO BACK TO BED! I love you very much. Have a great day! XO Isaac
Keira smiled. She grabbed a pen from the desk drawer and responded to the note on the bottom:
You will never know! But I will be good, I promise. I love you too! XO Keira
Keira knew that she would probably be around when Isaac noticed her response, but she didn’t care. Ever since they started dating, they’d always left notes to one another for the other to find. Sometimes it was a tiny sticky note on the bathroom mirror with a reminder to take out the garbage, sometimes it was a long letter on the kitchen table that Isaac left before leaving to go on a business trip. No matter what the message said, no matter the length— not one note was ever left unanswered.
Once she retrieved her gardening gloves from the garage and her radio from the basement, Keira got to work pulling weeds in the flower bed in her backyard. With her knees in the boiling earth and sweat trickling down her palms, Keira’s arms shook with each effort to extract the unwanted plants. After being outside for only ten minutes and with a pile of a mere three flowers, Keira’s face and neck were already drenched. She quickly ran into the house to grab a spray bottle of cold water from the kitchen to cool down her burning skin. Panting, Keira frantically applied the freezing water to her face. Relief came instantly, but the constricting feeling in her lungs refused to subside.
Heat waves danced through the flower beds and kissed the tips of the grass blades. Every so often, Keira would look up from her work and become entranced by the effortless swells of warmth before her. A few times she believed to be able to see happy chortling babies riding on top of the waves, smiling at her.
She tried to focus on the music from her radio—continuously telling herself that she was almost done—but the garden was in such disarray that she knew it would be a long while before she was satisfied with her work.
Just a few more and I’ll be finished, she repeated over and over.
With a nauseous sensation building in the pit of her stomach, Keira stood up from her crouched position in the flower bed and began making her way towards the backdoor of the house. She wondered for a moment if she was about to be sick. Clutching her mouth with her left hand and gripping her stomach with the right, Keira broke out into a run. Weakly pumping her legs with only a morsel of strength, all she could focus on was at least getting to the sink. If she could not manage that, she would make do with the wheelbarrow resting on the side of the house. She was just about to grip the handle of the screen door before blackness settled in front of her eyes. Keira’s head slumped back, her knees buckled and her ankles weakened under the weight of her exhausted body.
Keira collapsed with a loud thud in the parched earth. The surrounding waves began to close in on her fragile body, caressing her face and flowing through her matted hair.
It was not a moment later before Keira opened her eyes once more. Fuzzy, incomprehensible images crawled in front of her line of vision as she continuously lost and gained focus again. Keira reached out to take in the feeling of the ground beneath her. It was rather soft and almost pleasing to lie upon. Running her fingertips up and down the familiar surface, Keira concluded that she was resting on…a carpet?
Sitting up slowly, Keira attempted to take in her surroundings. Everything was dark around her except for a tiny light in the corner of the room. Squinting as her eyes struggled to adjust; Keira began to crawl on her hands and knees to the source of the light.
Am I headed towards my death? Keira wondered. Is this that light that everyone tells you about? Aren’t I supposed to turn away?
As she got closer and closer to the entrancing glow, Keira dismissed her suspicion when she noticed the tiny plastic moon that it was encased in: a child’s nightlight.
Keira gasped loudly. As her eyes adjusted further, she was able to make out the silhouette of a dresser, a toy box, and a crib containing a toddler of almost two years old. She was sitting behind a row of bars with her tiny nose poking out from in between them. From what she could see, the little girl had curly hair and was wearing a long nightgown with buttons running down the center.
It took one more blink of her ill-adjusted eyes to realize who the baby was.
Before she could breathe a word, the little girl began to laugh and clap her hands. She lifted her tiny arms into the air to indicate to Keira that she wanted to be picked up. With tears fogging her vision, Keira obliged and hugged the baby close to her chest. She spun her around the room, lifting her into the air and catching her before she could touch the ground. The little girl laughed and screamed. With her heart beating wildly inside of her chest, Keira put the small child back into her crib.
“More!” she cried, jumping up and down.
“That’s enough…Keira,” said Keira. “It’s time for bed. Your mommy and daddy probably heard you making all that n—”
But before she could continue, Keira was interrupted by a thunderous outburst of voices coming from downstairs. She could hear her mother cursing in between choked sobs and her father’s booming voice accompanied by ground-shaking stomps.
“Well then why don’t you just leave?”
“I’ve been trying to leave ever since I married you!”
“No one is stopping you! There’s the door!”
“I’ve been waiting to hear you say that for seven years!”
Trying to cover the baby’s ears with her hands cupped over both sides of her head, Keira shuddered at the piercing cries of her mother. A few disturbing crashes vibrated up the stairs and shook the bedroom. Then, with one powerful slam of a door, the noise stopped as though it had never started.
The baby girl looked up from her crib at her much older self and began to cry. It was a cry so incredibly deafening that it could easily drown out the hollering and screeching of two adult voices combined.
Keira stared at the door, expecting one of her parents to come to the rescue of her infant self, but nobody came.
“Shhh, Keira,” she said as she lifted herself out of her crib and combed through her tangled curls with her fingertips. “Everything is going to be okay. They love you. I know they do.”
As she said this, Keira realized that she was trying to convince herself of that, too.
Keira rocked the baby girl back and forth until she fell asleep. With one hand under her head and the other beneath her back, she gently placed her into her crib.
With a soft kiss on the forehead, the floor beneath Keira began to spin. All of the furniture in the room became a blur of darkness as the scene in front of her disappeared.
Keira placed her hands over her eyes and tumbled to the ground. She could feel a warm breeze tickling her skin. Fragments of bright light poked through the cracks between her fingers and the feeling of hot, velvety sand warmed her bare legs. Not too far in the distance, a bicycle bell was ringing and the chirping of birds could be heard overhead.
“Mommy, daddy, look at me!”
The voice was coming from not even a foot away. Keira removed her hands from her eyes and looked around. She was sitting cross-legged beside a swing set in the middle of a playground. There was a boy of about seven years old laughing and swinging beside her.
“Hello there,” he said between giggles. “Are you lost or something?”
“Me?” said Keira, surprised by the boy’s question. “Umm, well…I guess you could say that. Do you mind telling me where I am?”
“You’re at the park!” exclaimed the boy as he jumped off the swing. Landing gracefully on his feet, he bowed and flashed a curiously familiar smile. “Where did you think you were?”
“I’m not so sure,” said Keira, distractedly turning her head every which way to try to figure out where she had seen this place before. She quickly realized that it would probably be best to feign composure. She didn’t want to frighten the little boy. “Wow! That was quite the trick you did there!”
“Thanks! Want to see me do the monkey bars? I can go all the way to the end and back!”
Before Keira could respond, the little boy was already racing towards the jungle gym. She ran to catch up with him. Standing beneath the monkey bars, she noticed a young girl about the same age as the boy hanging on the first bar. She tried to reach for the next bar, but quickly drew her hand back to the first. Furrowing her eyebrows and biting her bottom lip, the girl swung backward and landed on the edge of the wooden platform.
“Are you going to go?” the boy asked.
She looked down at the sand through the cracks in the platform. “No. You go ahead. I can’t do it.” The girl’s curly brown hair whipped in front of her face as she sat with her legs crossed at the top of the slide. She rested her hands beneath her chin as her eyes started to fill up with tears.
“Sweetie, are you okay?” Keira asked. The little girl looked up at her for a brief moment and then looked back down. The flash of hazel was all she needed to prove her assumption. “Do you want me to help you get across?”
The little girl turned away to wipe her tears and then slowly faced Keira again. A timid smile was creeping up on her face as she nodded.
“Hey, watch me!” the boy volunteered. “I can show you how to do it!”
He jumped on the first bar and swung his arms to the next bar and the next, all the way to the end and all the way back. When he landed on the platform, he bowed. “See? It’s easy!”
“Great job—” Keira paused. “Sorry, what was your name?”
As the boy climbed across the monkey bars once again, he called out, “Isaac! What’s yours?”
Finally, it all made sense.
“I’m…Keira,” Keira replied, trying to keep her voice even.
“Hey!” The little girl jumped up from where she was sitting and revealed a mouth of missing teeth. “My name is Keira, too!”
“That is so awesome!” Keira exclaimed, feeling a lump form in her throat. She swallowed it away. “Are you ready to try the monkey bars again?”
“Do it! It’s easy! I’ll do them with you!” Isaac yelled excitedly.
“Okay, I’ll try again,” Keira answered, grabbing onto the first bar for a second time. She peered down timidly at the sand beneath her. “Could you hold my legs, Keira?”
Keira stood beneath little Keira and held on tightly to her knees. “Are you two ready?”
“Ready!” they shouted in unison.
Just as they were about to reach for the second bar, a loud voice rang out through the playground. “Keira Michelle, get down from there! It’s time to go!”
A middle-aged woman with flushed cheeks and tears collected at the base of her chin appeared beside the jungle gym. She had her hands on her hips and tapped her foot impatiently against the sand. “Now, please.”
“Why are you crying, mommy?”
Keira let go of the little girl’s legs and looked across to the other side of the playground. Sitting on the park bench was her father, glaring towards her mother with his arms crossed.
“Never mind why I’m crying. Mommy is fine. Let’s go.”
“Five more minutes, please?” she begged, pointing her finger towards Keira. “She is going to help me do the monkey bars!”
Keira’s mother turned in the direction of her finger and rolled her eyes. “Keira, don’t you think you’re a little too old to have imaginary friends?”
Little Keira and Isaac looked at one another incredulously. “But she’s right there!” Isaac shrieked, pointing in the same direction as Keira.
“I don’t have time for this!” Keira’s mother yelled as she grabbed Keira by the wrist. “If you don’t get down from there right now you’re going to your room for the rest of the day!”
“Bye, Isaac,” she said as she slid down the slide with her head down. When she walked past her older self, she whispered, “Bye, Keira.”
Isaac stared perplexedly at Keira as her younger self marched solemnly down the path with her parents. He shook his head three times and then blinked another three times before he finally spoke:
“I hope Keira is okay.”
Just as quickly as the dimple in his cheek had disappeared when Keira’s mother had pulled her away was as quickly as Keira vanished once again.
She was spinning, this time faster than ever before. With one final spin, the sand beneath her turned into grass and the playground surrounding her morphed into a house. Lying dizzily before the back door, she looked up into the sky. Cascades of pink, orange and red were illuminating the clouds as the sun sunk lower and lower behind the trees. Trying to steady herself as she got up, Keira heard the garage door opening. She brushed off the dirt from her clothes and carefully walked into the kitchen. She rinsed her face with cold water and then started to look through the fridge for what to make for dinner.
“Honey, I’m home!” Isaac called in a sing-song voice. He was whistling the Happy Days theme song. Keira laughed.
“How was your day, love?” she asked as he kissed her on the cheek. She had decided to make pasta and was filling up a pot of water.
“My day was as it always is,” he said. “Lots of reports, lots of paperwork…lots of crap! The better question here is how was YOUR day? I can see that you read my note! But did you actually sleep until nine?”
“Well…” she began. “I tried to. I really did. But once your alarm went off I couldn’t fall back asleep.”
“I’m sorry,” he said as he began rummaging through a high cupboard. “When did you get out of bed, then? And what do you think of penne for tonight?”
“Don’t be sorry! I had a very good day. You were right…I needed that. I was out of bed around the time you left for work,” she mumbled and then added, “Penne sounds good.”
“I was right?” Isaac placed his hand over his chest. “I can’t believe this! I never thought I’d see the day!”
“Ha, ha, ha,” Keira rolled her eyes as she turned up the heat on the stove. “But in all seriousness. I have a really good feeling about this whole baby thing.”
“Do you now? What gave you this confidence? Do some soul searching this afternoon?”
“You could say that,” Keira said as she tried to conceal her smile. “Hey, Isaac?”
“You’re really good at the monkey bars. Could you teach me sometime?”