Disclaimer: I own only what is mine.
The Photo Album
"Daddy, daddy!" cried the five-year-old, "Lookit what I found!"
Jimmy looked away from the daily paper to see what his daughter needed to show him. She was smiling up at him with her mother's green eyes crinkled in delight. She was holding up a dusty old book proudly.
"There's pictures inside." She proclaimed proudly.
Jimmy's voice caught in his throat when he realized it was his old photo album. "Where'd you find that Jenny?"
"It was in the back of the downstairs closet! I found it all by myself. Can we look at it? PLEEEASE?"
Jimmy sighed and put away his paper, "Sure we can honey."
"YAY!" The child squealed in delight and climbed up on her daddy's lap, settling into him. Jenny opened the book, coughing mildly at all the dust.
With her pudgy finger, she pointed to one picture. It was of him and Cindy on their wedding day. She was smiling at him and shoving cake into his face. He was attempting to stop her. "Daddy, who's the pretty lady next to you?"
- It hadn't been a very fancy reception. Actually it hadn't been fancy at all. But that's what they had wanted; a simple reception with all their closest friends and family. Well, his family. Cindy's family had refused to come, saying that Cindy could do better. She had always said that Jimmy was the best there was.
She had looked radiant that night. Her eyes had twinkled with laughter as she talked and tittered with everyone there.
"Jimmy, come on! It's time to cut the cake!" Cindy had beckoned him over, pretty smile adorning her face.
Slowly he had gotten up and walked towards her. "Hurry up!" she had proclaimed. He had walked deliberately slower until she had lost all patience, ran over and dragged him over to the table.
"Impatient aren't we? Geez, Cind I think you could've waited a little longer."
She had childishly stuck her tongue out at him and he had reciprocated. "Come on, I wanna cut the cake."
He had gone to pick up the knife, but Cindy had opted for a faster method. Grabbing a chunk out with her bare hands, she had attempted to shove it in his face. He had tried to stop her, but eventually she had gotten him. He had repaid the kind gesture and soon all the guests had joined in a full-fledged cake war. -
"Honey, the pretty lady is your mother."
Jenny looked up at him with wide innocent eyes, "Where is she now?"
"She's," he choked on the next word, "dead."
"Oh." The little girl averted her eyes from her daddy's sad face. "Did she love me very much?"
"She loved you more than anything else in the world."
"What was she doing in this picture?"
Jimmy followed the child's gaze to the next picture. It was of Cindy, wearing old ratty clothes and holding a paint brush. She had a huge smile on her face and once again Jimmy noticed the light in her eyes.
- "Remind me again why we can't just pay a professional to paint the room?" Jimmy had grumbled.
"Because," Cindy had giggled, "it's loads more fun this way!"
"Then why are we painting by ourselves?"
She had sighed impatiently, "I already told you, Sheen and Libby are still on their honeymoon and Carl can't take a break from his llama farm during breeding season."
He had stopped painting for a while to look at her. Her hair had been falling from it's messy bun and it fell across her face, obstructing parts of it from his view. She had a smudge of paint on her nose and it gave her an innocent look. Jimmy hadn't been able to resist smiling at how serene she had looked rolling the paint over the walls.
Cindy had spotted him smirking out of the corner of her eye. "What're you laughing at? We have work to do. There's no time for jokes." She had shook her paint brush at him, scolding him, as one might a child. That was when he snapped the picture. -
"Daddy, what's wrong?" Jenny asked, gently touching Jimmy's cheek. "Why are you crying?"
Jimmy was surprised to find a moisture on his cheeks. "Because, Jenny, I loved your mommy very much."
Jenny looked sad for a moment, and then brightened up. "At least you still have me, right?"
"Yes, I do. And you were the best thing your mommy gave to me."
- "Come on, Cind, you can do this."
"SHUT UP! I'd like to see you try to do this." Cindy had been lying on the hospital bed, forehead sweating, with a look of immense pain on her face.
Jimmy had held up his hands in surrender, "Alright. Let's calm down."
"CALM DOWN! You expect me to calm down when I have a person that's going to come out of me?"
If Jimmy hadn't known her as well as he did, he never would have realized how scared she had been. After all, she was now going to be responsible for a life. "Everything's going to be all right. Just calm down."
"I AM CALM!"
The doctor had stepped in, "Perhaps it would be best, Mr Neutron, if you stepped out of the room during this process."
A look of anguish had come upon Cindy's face, "No, no. Don't go. I need you here with me."
He had grasped her hand, "Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere." -
"Why isn't Mommy here with you and me? Where did she go?"
Jimmy had always known the day would come when Jenny would ask about Cindy. He just wished it didn't have to be so soon. "Jenny, your mommy's up in Heaven with the angels."
Jenny looked up innocently, "Is Mommy an angel too?"
"Yes and she's the prettiest angel up there."
"Why is Mommy in Heaven?"
Jimmy squeezed his eyes shut and breathed deep, "Because she got hurt real bad."
- He had been sitting by her bedside for days. Jenny had been nestled in his lap, too little to understand what had gone on. In her coma, Cindy had looked peaceful, as if sleeping. Only the various tubes and needle pressed into her, gave away the true nature of her sleep.
Cindy had been driving back from the grocery store. The truck driver had been drunk and driving well above the speed limit. She hadn't been able to get out of the way in time. The truck driver had suffered no injuries.
Jimmy had been silently crying, "Come on, Cind, you gotta pull through. For me and Jenny. We need you here with us. We need you bad."
He had wished she would just miraculously wake up and tell him how much she loved him. But Jimmy had known that this was impossible.
Suddenly one of the machines had begun beeping. Jimmy had looked around confused and had been ushered out of the room by one of the doctors who had appeared almost instantaneously.
"What's going on?" he had called to them. They had only shook their heads at him.
Jimmy hadn't been sure how much time had passed before one of the doctors came to talk to him. He had stood up and shifted Jenny to his other hip.
"I'm sorry Mr Neutron. There was a lot of internal bleeding and there was nothing we could do. I'm terribly sorry." The doctor had tried to soften the blow, but it had still pierced Jimmy's heart. -
Jenny looked up at her daddy. "Are you okay, Daddy?"she asked gently.
Jimmy nodded. "I'm fine. It just hurts so much to think about her."
His daughter nestled up to him. "Tell me more about Mommy. If it doesn't hurt too much."
Jimmy's eyes misted over, remembering happier times with Cindy. "Well, when we were little, your mommy and I never got along. We would always fight in the middle of class and drive our teacher crazy."
Jenny's eyes widened, "You and Mommy didn't get along?"
"Yep. But we always liked each other, although we'd never admit it to anyone. See, your mommy was jealous cause I was SO much smarter than her. But she was smart too. And when she died, it felt like part of me had died too."
Jenny gasped, "You loved her that much?"
Jimmy nodded, "I loved her that much. And I had you to take care of, so I had to keep pressing on with life. But her funeral was the worst day of my life."
- The clouds had been weeping on the day of her funeral. It had seemed like sadness was radiating from everywhere. Especially Jimmy.
He had stood off to the side, holding Jenny tightly to his chest. He had been afraid to let go of her, lest she be lost to him forever. Just like Cindy had been.
It seemed like everyone in town had been there. They had all wanted to pay respects to Cindy. Jimmy hadn't realized until that day just how many people Cindy had touched.
He hadn't been surprised that Cindy had touched so many people. She had never refused a plea for help, strange enough, since she had never asked for any herself.
Sheen, Libby and Sheen had all drifted by to tell them how sorry they were. He had heard their words, but the words hadn't meant much to him. All that he had been able to think about was that Cindy was gone and that he had to raise Jenny all by himself.
Subconsciously he had held Jenny tighter. She was all that he had left of Cindy. Her and the memories.
But he had known he had to be strong. He had to be strong for Jenny. He had to raise her like any other child her age. Except he had to do it without Cindy.
Jenny would never know her mother. She was barely a year old and she didn't even know how much Cindy had loved her.
Jimmy would make sure that Jenny knew how much Cindy had loved her. -
Jenny had tears in her green eyes. "Daddy, why did Mommy have to go to Heaven?"
"I don't know Jenny, I don't know."
"I wish that Mommy was still here with us. Then maybe I could know her."
The daddy held his daughter closer and whispered in her ear, "I wish your mommy was still here too."