She steps on the cement squares leading up to the perfectly painted red door, and a sudden sense of nervousness enters her stomach. She's been dreading this visit since day one. The broken feeling in her stomach still lingers, and she knows after she leaves this house, it will only spread.
I go in and go out. That's it. She tells herself Don't make it any longer than it has to be. Keep it short and sweet.
The courage to actually pick her hand up and knock on the hard wood is hard to pluck up, but she thinks she could do this. It's really simple, really. Just walk in, smile cheaply, talk sarcastically and walk out. Not so hard, right? Why am I doing this?
And when she opens the door, she sees it. She sees how all her worries and fear were infantile and time-consuming now. She sees just how lucky she is.
She finally realizes that she is, after all, the forerunner.
And the fake plastic smile on her face wasn't hard to cook up. Hell, it was even authentic. She probably beamed. She was truly happy to see her cousin again, and for reasons entirely different as the cheap idea of reunion.
"Emily,"she said, and the warmness of her voice even shocks her "How have you been?"
She has to contain my self from breaking out in giggles. How are you? What a dumb question. Obviously, the status of her cousin was printed all over her forehead. One could sum up Emily's appearance in one word: Stressed.
Emily was only twenty-five, and there was already some grey hairs forming patches in her dark head. There were deep purple bags under her eyes and paleness of her skin, that was simply unnatural. The tiredness that humbled her shoulders and the limp in her back, was plain to see.
She stifled her laughter, because as soon as she stepped in the house, a baby cried. Not just one baby, two. Emily already had a new born rested on her hip as she greeted her at the door.
"Oh, crud! I'm sorry, Lee" she says, embarrassed from the mess of her house. "I'll be right back"
Leah is confronted with emptiness. It is not a feeling that's foreign to her, but this was different. She wasn't empty of emotion, rather empty of anger. Void of all envy; she was most definitely not jealous of Emily, anymore.
So Leah walks forward, but not without stepping on some chew-toy that squeaks. That does it. She finally laughed, but it was carefully guarded — it was under her breath, no one could detect it.
"Leah?" a deep voice asks. He knew that laugh, he memorized it's pitches and sound all those years ago. He associated with the life that could have been. The laughter that could have been shared. He's ashamed of these thoughts, but he never stopped with them nonetheless "Is that you?"
And Leah freezes. Seeing Sam was probably the most hard part, but she knew she had to deal with it somehow.
"Yeah it's me," Leah says, slightly annoyed
He walks into the room, and Leah gasps. Surely, this was not Sam Uley. He looked to weak and worn to be considered the same man she knew all her life.
And because she lacks the manners, she laughs in his face. Sam was holding another child on his own hip and Leah suddenly realizes that they have four children, already!
"Daddy?" A young voice enters, and Leah pops her eyes. This children was obviously 3-4 years old. Five children? Five children within four years? Goddamn.
Leah did a quick calculation in her head; 45 months pregnant, within a 48 month time period...holy shit! That left approximately eighteen days in between pregnancies!
"What the—" Leah almost says, as she realizes the math behind them. That's a lot of sex.
"I know what you're thinking," Sam says tiredly "We have twins..."
"Oh," That made sense. The awkwardness of the situation lived on however, so Leah tried to make a joke under pressure, instead she grew bitter "Guess imprinting is really...effective."
Sam flinches from her words. Of course he knows what she's implying and he knows it's true. The simple fact that Emily had gotten pregnant every time they had sex without contraption, proved that maybe the sole purpose of their union was to produce children, after all.
That disturbed him a little, in fact...he felt it. From every child, he felt the adoration shimmer down just a tad bit. He slowly was growing to notice Emily's flaws and vice versa. The drive to create children had died down slightly, and the love was soon to burn out. He learned that imprinting was only used for procreation
It disturbed him a little bit, but it was happening. He couldn't help it. He knew one day, his love for Emily might be compromised. Though he could never leave her and the children, he finds himself at a longing for something else.
The desire is standing right in front of him, actually. In the form of coppery skin and beautiful, brown eyes. He sees future standing in those boots, he sees mistakes woven in the tangle of her recently grown hair.
He sees what could have been.
And just like always, a baby interrupts his thought. "Uh, I gotta go...Sorry"
Leah only nods, she isn't paying attention to him. She's looking at the fridge of drawings made by their children. There was a picture of Emily, it was quite distinctive. It described her simply, from the straight edge crow black hair to the three scars that marred her face. A sad smile traced her lips, and Leah realized that this was probably her reaction to when she saw the picture.
"You like my dwa-ing?" Someone asks, Leah turns her head but sees no one. She immediately looks down to see a carbon copy of Emily, look up at her, smiling widely.
"Oh yeah," Leah says "It's very beautiful"
"I'm Lindsey, who are you?"
"Well hi, Lindsey" Leah says in her child-pleasing voice "I'm Leah."
The girl suddenly giggles dramatically, as if Leah just said a funny joke "You're pwetty,"
This shocks her "Thank you, Lindsey. So are you"
And the girl laughs again, but this time she stocks off upstairs. Humming to her own tune, and smiling brightly like a four year old should.
"Sorry about that," Emily enters the room. The previous child absent from her embrace. "She can be a handful"
"No, I like her" Leah says, honestly "She's cute"
Emily only gives her a grim line for an answer, and now it is known, that the welcoming stage of this "reunion" was over.
"Well, I just came over to visit." Leah says dramatically "I'm gonna head out now"
"You're not going to stay for a muffin?" Emily says, and she looks visibly upset "We haven't even talked"
"No," Leah declines. "I have class tomorrow. I'll come back next time"
And after two minutes of maneuvering and dodging muffin offers, Leah finally leaves the house content with everything that happening her life, for once.
"Tell Lindsey I said bye," Leah finally requests before shoving the key in her ignition and driving off from the life that could (but thankfully isn't) of been hers.
And as a reminder of her visit, Leah gets something in the mail. The Uley residence, it read. Leah opens it up eagerly, and smiles deeply at the drawing.
Lindsey had sent her a drawing of Leah grinning, much different than Emily's picture. She couldn't help but notice how beautiful Lindsey had made it compared to Emily's. And just from that, Leah knew that Emily may have won the battle, but she most definitely won the war.