To Wish Impossible Things – Prologue
The day was beautiful, bright and sunny, warm, with a sky the blue of tropical oceans. It seemed to her that it was always this beautiful when she went to visit her. And it seemed to her that there was a good reason for that.
She had to smile as she drove away; it had been a good visit, leaving her feeling happy and secure. She drove away, smiling at the scenery of her hometown. Nothing was spectacular; it wasn't as if she lived in a scenic, picturesque town on the banks of some glorious sea. No, her town was a simple, it was just Crowley Tennessee.
And yet, to Miley Stewart, the older but well maintained houses and ranches, the clean and cozy downtown streets of Crowley were things of beauty, wonders of the world.
She didn't always feel that way. She didn't always notice the pristine charm of Crowley. Often, she was simply too busy to notice. It was just her town, just a series of houses and buildings and streets and fixtures that were nice, sure, but nothing too special.
But always, always on the days she went to visit her, she found herself, as she drove away, looking around her in abject wonder.
She knew why. Lilly had always appreciated the beauty and majesty of Crowley's simplicity; she had always pointed out those things to her. She had taught Miley to look for beauty in simple things rather than rich, expensive, ostentatious and fancy things.
Miley smiled happily as she pulled to obey a red traffic signal, and she reached to her right to turn up her radio. And her smile broadened as she heard those so familiar notes, and the unmistakable voice of Louis Armstrong.
I see trees of green,
Red roses too.
I see them bloom
For me and you.
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.
She sang along with Louis.
She remembered the first time she'd sang it with her, and the thought, one that used to bring tears to her eyes, now made her heart swell.
She knew she'd hear this song today. It was inevitable. She always heard this song on the days she visited her.
People would tell her it was just coincidence. But Miley didn't believe in coincidences, not anymore. She believed in meaning. Everything had meaning, even the tiniest, littlest things that seemed insignificant.
And she believed in reasons. Things that happened had reasons for happening. Cause and effect played a part, and yet, there was more too it. Destiny, fate, preordination; whatever one wanted to call it; Miley believed in it.
The twenty-five year old sighed in contentment as the sweet strains of her favorite song ended just as she pulled into the parking lot of her apartment building. She had just finished teaching a summer course, something she had willingly taken on. She needed every extra dollar if she were to ever to buy her own home, which she desperately wanted to do.
Miley's parents were wealthy, and had offered to buy her and her son any home she wanted, but she had firmly declined the offer. She wanted to be her own person; she wanted to earn her own possessions. She wanted to work hard and to deserve what she achieved and owned. She didn't want gifts handed to her, especially from her parents. She loved them dearly, and yet, she needed to continually exert her independence.
This independent streak in her still surprised her. She'd only been truly aware of it for about the past seven or eight years or so. Prior to meeting Lilly, Miley hadn't had the self-confidence or self-awareness to exert any such independence.
But now, she did. She had taken control of her life. Her parents had wanted her to study medicine; she went into teaching, and was now, to her parents' dismay, teaching elementary school children. When she'd told her parents she was going to become a teacher, they'd wanted her to aim to be a college professor, because at least college professors had a measure of prestige. But Miley stood firm in her goal.
And she was blissfully happy.
Miley's eyes lit up as she got out of her car and saw her son, a five-year old little boy with a mop of tousled brown hair on his head running towards her. His arms were outstretched for her, and as she stepped out of her car, she heard his happy, light voice.
A tall, blonde, blue eyed woman who possessed a smile that lit up her face and never failed to make her eyes sparkle leisurely followed the little boy. Miley caught her eye and her heart skipped a beat, and she smiled back, giving her a quick wink. "Hey, baby," she said, shutting her car door and leaning down to pick up her son. "How's my big boy?" She nuzzled her nose against the little boy's small one, making him giggle delightedly.
The little boy grinned at his mother. "Mommy, guess what? Guess WHAT?" he cried with the exuberance on a child possesses.
Miley returned her son's wide smile. "What, Nathan?" she asked, complying with him.
"Renee says we can go to the park tonight before dinner!" he exclaimed happily. "And she promised that she will push me on the swing…HIGH!"
Miley chuckled and glanced past her son and at her girlfriend. "Oh, she did, did she?" Miley teased, arching an eyebrow at the beautiful Renee Bennett.
"As high as the SUN, Mommy!"
Renee smiled sheepishly at the beautiful, brunette woman. "I thought it would be fun," she said, her voice light and low, in the happy, cheerful tenor that Miley adored.
Miley bit her lip and nodded. "I'm sure you did," she replied. "You're probably even more excited about it than Nathan." One of the most endearing and charming things about Renee was her appreciation for childish fun and activities. She was a little league baseball and soccer coach, even though she didn't have any children of her own yet.
Nathan tapped his mother's shoulders to get her attention. "So can we go, Mommy? Pl-EEEEEEE-ase?"
Miley rolled her eyes playfully. She could very rarely say no to her son when he said "please" that way, just as Lilly had so many years ago. And of course, her smile just had to be the same, too.
A fleeting memory crossed her mind.
"Miley, come on, please go out with me! You have no excuse now, now that I've been released. Come on! Pl-eeeeeeee-ase?"
"Oh, of course we can," Miley said shaking herself out of her thoughts, smiling tenderly at the beaming Nathan. "If you're good and eat all of you dinner! Deal?"
Nathan bounced up and down in his mother's arms, his face bright with happiness, his searing blue eyes dancing with pleasure. "I promise I will, Mommy! I promise!"
Four hours later
Renee watched Miley move around the small kitchen, putting the dinner dishes and food away, and she smiled. Miley was humming to herself, and Renee knew exactly what song she was humming. It was the same every time. She glanced over her shoulder into the living room, where Nathan was sitting happily in the middle of the floor, playing with some Hot Wheels cars that she had bought him just a week ago. Renee watched the little boy for a moment, and she found herself feeling wistful. That little kid had won her heart, nearly as much as his mother had, and Renee loved spending time with him. She was amazed that Nathan was so well adjusted, considering everything that had happened. With a sigh, Renee turned back to Miley. "You had a good visit, didn't you?" she said softly, not wanting to pry.
Miley paused as she reached up to put the newly clean plates in her cupboard, and she turned around. She smiled shyly at Renee; she wasn't sure how to talk to her about this. And that's why, in the year that they'd been dating, she hadn't talked much about it at all with Lilly. She took a deep breath. "Yes," she answered. "It was good." She shrugged her shoulders slightly, her face pinking. "You can tell?"
Renee grinned and took a few steps towards her. "You always have this look on your face when you've been to visit," she said. "You always look so…so…so at ease, so…peaceful."
Miley searched her eyes for any resentment, and to her surprise, she found none whatsoever. Instead, she found…curiosity? Her stomach tightened a bit; she felt nervous. She wondered what exactly Renee was getting at. And yet, the look in her eyes made that slight tension in her stomach disappear almost as soon as it had appeared, and she gave the blonde a slight smile. "It's funny," she said, feeling her heart opening up about a subject that had been pretty much taboo between them ever since they'd met. "It used to be so hard." She looked down at the floor. "I wanted to go, but it was something I dreaded, because it hurt so much." Her head lifted, and her eyes, now shining slightly with a thin sheen of tears. "But now, now it's easy." Her smiled widened. "Now it's something that I want to do. Now it gives me…it gives me peace."
Renee sensed the change in Miley's demeanor, in her voice. She seemed more open, and she, without hesitation, gently took advantage of it. Renee took a few steps towards her. She'd wanted to ask her so long, but she'd always prevented her from doing so, in one way or another, and she'd finally accepted that she simply wasn't ready to talk about it. But now she knew that Miley was receptive, if not quite wholly ready, for her to broach the subject. "Miley," she said quietly. "Are you…are you maybe ready to talk about it? About her?" She paused. "With me?"
Miley stared at her girlfriend, her sweet, kind and sensitive girlfriend. She felt quite surprised, and again, she hunted her eyes for any iota of anger, jealousy, resentment that would give her an excuse to change the subject.
Again, she found nothing of the sort.
Instead, in Renee's blue eyes, she found compassion and interest, an interest not colored by any negative feeling, but true with the desire to know. She could see, just from looking in her eyes, that she simply wanted to know.
Her voice choked slightly. "Y-you want to know…you want to talk about…about her?" she asked. "You want to hear about Lilly?"
Her voice lingered over her name, just as it always had, just as it always would.
Renee nodded, taking another step or two close to her, until they were only about three feet apart. "Yes," she replied. "I just…you never talk about her at all."
Miley looked down. "I talk about her with Nathan."
"I know," Renee said. "But…I don't know anything about her except that she's Nathan's mom." She reached out and tenderly lifted Miley's lowered chin, and she smiled into her heavenly blue eyes. "I know there's more to it then just that." Renee knew the basic facts, but just that. She knew the skeleton of the story, and she knew that there was more, and that the more would always affect Miley.
Miley nodded. "I just never thought that you wanted to hear…" Her slight whisper broke off.
"I do," Renee interjected. She smiled reassuringly at her. "I really do, Miley."
Miley believed her. Renee had honest eyes. She had seen her lie, and she could tell when she was lying. Her blue eyes always seemed to haze over with a telling mist. And that wasn't there as she spoke to her.
And so, Miley nodded, glancing briefly at the living room to where her son was playing. She looked back at Renee and moved forward to her. She put her hands on her forearms. "Okay," she said softly. "I'll tell you about Lilly. After Nathan goes to bed." She looked up at her for approval. "Is that okay?"
Renee smiled, leaned forward and placed a sweet kiss on Miley's forehead. "That's perfect," she whispered.
Two hours later
Renee ruffled the little boy's head, pressing it slightly down into his pillow, and delighting at the smile that alighted his face. "Sleep well, Nathanial," she teased. "Don't let those blasted bed bugs bite you!"
Nathan laughed and swatted at Renee's arm. "No bed bugs, Renee! I had them all terma…terma..notted!"
Renee chuckled. "You mean terminated?"
Nathan nodded. "Yeah! They're all gone! They went to the MOON!"
Miley smiled and moved towards her son as Renee again tussled his hair. "Say goodnight to Renee, honey," she instructed softly as she began to tuck in her child. Nathan did so, and Miley glanced over her shoulder to give Renee a smile. She knew the drill; they'd been putting Nathan to bed together for quite awhile now, and Miley turned back to Nathan as Renee left the room. 'Okay, sweetie," she said, patting his chest and then lowering herself to her knees beside his bed. "Time for our prayers."
Renee stood just outside the door, and she smiled sentimentally as she listened to Miley and Nathan say a traditional prayer, modified by only a few lines at the end.
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."
Renee closed her eyes as Miley and Nathan began giving thanks to God for the blessings in their lives. She found herself wondering again, as she often did, about Nathan's mother. She knew only vague details about her; her name was Lilly Trustcott. Nathan had a picture of her in his room, but nowhere else in Miley's apartment was there a picture of her, except for in Miley's office, the third bedroom, which she had never been allowed into. Miley never allowed anyone into that room. Renee hadn't glanced much at Nathan's picture, but she'd seen it enough to know that Nathan was the splitting image of his mom.
She wondered if he was anything like his mother personality-wise. Nathan was a special kid; very bright, very humorous, very loving and sensitive and yet carefree and playful. He was such a mature five year old, almost wise beyond his years, and Renee couldn't help but wonder about the mother of this unique child.
She found herself getting anxious to hear Miley's story; for some reason, her curiosity about Lilly Truscott was raging, perhaps because for the first time, Miley had offered to talk about her.
Twenty minutes later, the living room
Renee handed Miley a glass of wine as she sat down on the couch next to her. The room was dark with dimmed light, and soft music was playing in the background. It seemed the setting for a romantic evening of cuddling, just like so many other nights she and Miley had shared before, right in this spot, right at this time of day. But tonight was different, and she could sense that Miley was slightly nervous. Renee reached out and stroked her hand. "You know, if you don't really want to talk about it…"
"No," Miley said, fighting her nerves. She was scared of so many things; of the feelings that were going to come rushing back to her, of Renee's reaction to her story, of giving up the privacy of this story by sharing it with her. And at the same time, she found herself longing to tell Renee; she wanted those feelings to come back to her, to hit her full force again as she recalled such a special time of her life. She knew that it was time, too, that she told Renee more than just bare essentials about Lilly. Renee knew Lilly as Nathan's mother.
Lilly was so much more to Miley than just Nathan's birth mother.
"I want to tell you. Tonight," Miley said resolutely. She smiled sheepishly. "It might take awhile, though, Renee."
Renee nodded, trying not to appear too eager. "Take all the time you need, Miley."
Miley nodded, and smiled at Renee. She was one of the sweetest women she'd ever known, and she'd never rushed her for anything; not for a date, not for a kiss, not for sex, and she knew she wouldn't rush her through this, either. "Oh," she said, standing up as she thought of something important. She set her wine glass down on the coffee table and began to walk away. "I'll be right back."
A half-minute later, Miley returned, carrying a 8 x 10 wooden frame, which she handed to Renee. "This is Lilly," she said, her voice low. "I thought…I thought you might like to see her."
Renee took the frame and studied it. The woman was young, only about 18 or 19 years old, with a soft, beautiful face; she had sapphire blue eyes and sun soaked blonde hair, Nathan looked so much like her. Renee smiled. "Nathan looks just like her," she commented, still looking at the photo.
Miley nodded, her lips curling up into a happy smile. "Yes, he does," she answered. It had been one the reasons this had been easier for her. No matter what, she always had a part of Lilly with her. It was a salve for her; it made Lilly's presence in her life so much stronger, and it kept her in the forefront of her mind and her heart, where she had vowed on that one day six years ago to always keep her.
Renee handed her the picture frame and watched as she placed it down on the coffee table, roughly in between them, her face grinning out at them as they turned to face each other on the couch. 'Symbolic,' she thought. 'She's with us, but not really between us. She's not blocking us. She's not preventing us from seeing each other.'
Miley took a dainty sip of her wine and sighed. She had no idea where to start. "I…I guess I…" she muttered. She closed her eyes and shook her head, feeling a little silly. "Have you ever had one of those moments that at the time, seem ordinary, even trivial, but then, later, when you look back on it, you see that it was actually this…not cataclysmic…but extraordinary, life-changing?" She set her wine glass down on the coffee table.
Renee nodded. "Yes. Of course."
Miley smiled shyly and gazed at Lilly's face. She didn't have to look at her picture; over the years, she'd looked at her pictures so often that now her refection was something she could summon behind her eyes with just a passing thought. But it was good to look at her picture. Miley shivered slightly as she looked into Lilly's photographed blue eyes; she could feel her presence. And her smile became broad. "That was what the day I met Lilly was like" she admitted. "I thought it was just another day. I thought I was just meeting another girl." She shook her head. "But it wasn't just another day, she wasn't just another girl."
Renee leaned forward slightly. "Tell me about it, Miley," she urged.
Miley leaned back on the couch, laying her head back and she closed her eyes. In her mind, she traveled back in time, using all of her resources to summon those precious times, and her precious Lilly.