Title: Another
Author: Dana Drives (Lil XPhile)
DanaDrives@aol.com
Disclaimer: I didn't create them. There you go.

Summary: A post-Emily short

Special thanks to NojoRojo for the encouragement. Send this anywhere you please- ATXC, Gossamer and the like- just please keep my name attached.

 


I see her in my dreams. Not just the way I *saw* her, but the way I want to have seen her- happy, full of energy, sleeping peacefully, playing like any little girl.

Every night she comes to me, soft and fresh-from-the-tub sweet. I see myself holding her, reading to her, pulling the covers over her sleeping form. Watching her, safe and whole...

And every morning I wake up and face the reality of what is. She is gone, gone from me, from everything- and I take less and less comfort each day from the belief that she is at peace. My heart aches for the child I never really knew, the years we never had, and the future that is not possible for me.


She is not fine. She is dying inside, as surely as when cancer ravaged her physically and spiritually. There is so little left- so much less than on the day the child was buried. Each day I see her hollowed out a bit more, one more drop of her essence a little less bright, one more staring-into- something-I-cannot-see moment.

I am afraid for her. And for myself. The web into which I've pulled her, the life she must live because of me, they are destroying us alternately and completely. I want to protect her- but protecting her seems only to destroy her further.

I have secrets. Things she should know. But how do I tell her when I know that the knowledge will only cause more pain, more anger, more of that which is killing her as surely as the disease she has conquered?


I bought a frame today. A small, silver frame to sit on my desk- or near my bed. Perhaps I'll copy the single photo and place it in both spots. She is my only child- and will never grow beyond that photograph. No matter what happens, I will be Emily's mother- though Emily will never know it. I deserve the small comfort of a photograph, don't I?

Two frames. And two pictures.


A photograph appeared on her desk today. The child smiles brightly over the birthday cake and looks for the all the world normal, healthy, alive.

And she is the image of my partner- who is each moment becoming less of each of these things. Do I dare to share what I know- the possibilty of a tube somewhere, uncorrupted and filled with potential? Could I take her to that point without being able to complete the journey, to place the reality in her hand? How many dreams can one person stand to lose before she crumbles completely?

And is it really my place to decide for her?


I wonder what would have happened had I not survived? Would I have met her- recognized her and known her- on the other side? Will she, now?

Can I stand the wait? For the first time since I received my reprieve, I find myself wishing that it had never come...


There are others like Emily out there- of that I am certain. And the possibility that one day we will stumble across another haunts me, terrifies me. I have to share what I know. I cannot look into those eyes again and offer the excuse of protection as explanation for my dishonesty.

But what if I'm wrong? What if there *are* no unused pieces of her? What if all of her stolen children are out there- painfully thrust towards the same awful fate? What if I'm wrong?


I find myself unstable, incoherent, lost. I cannot choose clothing, or shoes, or food from the market. Each choice seems impossible, weighty, too heavy for me to bear. I saved my daughter from the life that I now am forced towards- sickness, loss, grief...

I am too alone to continue. I am too weak to let it end. I have been in bed for days now. I am dirty, numb with a howling grief I cannot deny, dark at my innermost core.

I wait for her to come to me again, but I do not sleep. I lie awake and watch the moments of my life tick by in the red glow of the clock, feeling the noxious cloud of pain envelope me. There is no hope. No reason to continue.


She is lost to me. I stand at her bedside and speak to her, not sure that she sees me or knows I am there. There is no biology to her illness- her mother says her heart is broken, but that she will come back eventually.

I cannot help but wonder. And begin to look for another.


She came to me again. I saw her in the dim light of the early morning, standing with him, holding his hand. She walked to me, touched my face, stood so close that I could smell the baby-sweetness of her breath, kissed me gently and told me in her little way she was fine, that she was happy. She didn't stay- couldn't stay, I know- but she was smiling.

And she told me that there is another. Someday, I will see her face again, in a child conceived and born of love and need and hope.

 

The End

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