Title: The Silver Rings

Pairing(s): None as of yet.

Rating: T

Warning(s): Language, implied physical abuse.

Note(s): I know you're all going to want to kill me for staring a new story, but I felt inspired; and I've come to recent realization that if I'm hit with inspiration, I can't put it off until later, I have to run with it, otherwise it will dry up. Anyway, this story was in part inspired by a discussion in the Retributionshipping club at the Janime forums, part inspired by Barbara King's novel "The Bean Trees," and part inspired by my older fic "Last Goodnight Kiss." Enjoy.


Prologue

"When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child."

--Sophia Loren


It was starting to get late. Unfortunately, infants have no perception of what late really is. Nor do husbands, apparently.

Loren Atlas could hear and feel every bone in her back crack as she sat up, sending a jolt of relief up her aching spine. This only reminded her of how much she desperately wanted to see a chiropractor, (even though there actually weren't any in the Satellite area, at least, as far as she was concerned) but couldn't afford it. However, she still couldn't help imagine a future where her family actually would have the means to see a doctor regarding her back problems; she used to joke to her husband that she would probably walk out of the office an inch taller with how compressed her spine currently was.

Loren didn't even cast a second glance at the empty spot beside her in the bed; the other half of the mattress had been discovered vacant more and more often ever since her son had been born. She knew she wouldn't even bother to inquire her husband about where he had been whenever he decided to show up at the house; she would just be lied to, again.

The crying that had called Loren from her sleep in the first only grew with more intensity as she took her time to force herself out of bed. The young woman felt guilty about it for a moment, knowing her lackadaisical pace was both selfish and unfair to her child, who couldn't help himself to anything on his own. Tightening her robe, she ventured out of her bedroom and into the nursery--if it could even be called that. The new, yellow paint on the walls was already starting to peel, (she supposed she should have expected that though; it was 'homemade,' and bought from an old run-down store not too far from their home. The only reason she had bought it was because it was cheap and the manager claimed it had no lead in it) the room smelled like a mixture of air and dust, and the crib was practically ancient with splintering wood and a poor foundation.

Each leg of the crib stood in a Mason jar; she and her husband had not been aware that there was a scorpion problem when they bought the house--which would have certainly been a deal-breaker if they had previous knowledge of it, especially since she was pregnant at the time. After her son was born, she had developed a fear that a scorpion would one day climb up the leg of the crib and steal the life of her precious little boy away with one poisonous sting, something she couldn't control unless she were to constantly watch him as he slept. Her friend had suggested, however, that she put the legs of the crib in glass jars; scorpions apparently couldn't climb up glass.

"Oh sweetheart, are you hungry?" muttered Loren under her breath as she reached into the crib to pet her son's cheek. His crying subsided almost immediately, although he flinched when her finger accidentally brushed up against a bruise along his jawline. Loren pulled her hand back quickly, scared she had unintentionally hurt him; he had already been hurt enough. Eventually though, she hesitantly reached back into the crib and pulled him out, cradling him in her arms. He was a relatively big baby, weighing in around four kilograms when he was first born; and that was nearly six months ago. In retrospect, his size and weight during her pregnancy was probably a major contributing factor to the back pain she had been experiencing.

Loren settled herself in the rocking chair, which in truth was likely a lot older than the crib. Every time she went forward or backward, the wood would moan loudly, as if it were sick; it was hardly relaxing to the new mother, but it never failed to put her son back to sleep. His fat fingers began to grasp her breast, as if he were pleading her to feed him. Loren complied and loosened her shirt, so that it fell down and she was exposed; he immediately began to suck at her.

Loren was thankful he didn't have any teeth yet; she certainly knew that she wasn't looking forward to the day when breastfeeding would become a painful experience. She couldn't help but worry sometimes though--babies usually had their first tooth at six months, but as far as she knew, he wasn't even teething yet. The young women usually pushed these trivial fears aside though, convincing herself that he was perfectly fine; after all, there were plenty of babies who teeth late, right?

He hiccuped as soon as he finished, and turned his head downward to curl into his mother's chest. Loren smiled and brushed her fingers through his soft blonde hair; actually, the color of his hair was the only aspect of herself that she saw in him. Otherwise, he looked entirely like his father: intense, violet eyes, a sharp, chiseled face, and soft, fair skin. Yes, she was sure he would grow up to be a handsome boy (most mothers are).

The stormy clouds outside parted, allowing her silver wedding ring to glimmer in the evening light for a moment before more of the ominous weather passed over the moon again. Loren could hear a crash outside, the sound of a trashcan being knocked over as the family's old Toyota came into the driveway (Loren wasn't exactly sure if the damned thing could even be considered a car; the engine was shot, a large chunk of the bumper had fallen off, at least one of the tires were flat, and half of the windows were missing). The front door opened, and a string of gruff, angry curses could be heard as it was slammed shut.

Loren cold feel her gut tighten as her breath got stuck in her throat; her husband was home.


Comment: I really hope you enjoyed, cause I sure did enjoy writing yet. I don't expect this story to be any longer than 5 chapters (including the prologue and epilogue, if I write and epilogue) so enjoy it while you can. Oh, and please so review: review make my day. Seriously. Next chapter introduces Martha into the picture.

I'm going to do some shameless self-promotion and say that you all should definitely go check out my fanfiction blog/guide. You might find some useful information, you never know; and please keep checking it for updates. ;) The link is one my profile.