A Little Bit of Heaven, but a Little Bit of Hell
"A baby's cry is a mother's lullaby."
Silence filled with the shrieks of two tiny lungs. Through the gaps in the drawn curtains, glimpses of light from the street-lamps outside shimmered over the darkened walls like glitter drifting through the wind. Heftily, Rachel raised her head from the pillow and muttered something inaudible.
It was 3am; Rachel's senses were yet to function. Her eyes groggily scanned the room for the source of the noise invading her earshot.
"Eddie!" She hissed much more forcibly this time.
Turning on her side to face him, she smiled. It wasn't intentional, but she did it all the same. He looked completely out of it. Even more out of it then she had been - and she hadn't even thought that was possible. How can he sleep through such racket? she wondered enviously. Letting her auburn, unbrushed hair fall over her face for a second, Rachel tucked it behind her ears for good measure before finding the floor with her feet.
With her right hand, she reluctantly flicked the switch of her bedside lamp on. At once, the room illuminated in an array of golden yellows. The silhouette of her body shadowed over the walls as she made her way past the bed to the small crib on the other side of the room.
Rachel's coos towered over the small child as she delicately reached out to gather him up in her arms. His cries subsided gradually as she began to rock him back and forth as a comfort. His tiny fingers latched around a lock of her hair as he rested his head against her shoulder for support. Slowly but surely, his cries stopped altogether. Soft breathing filled the room as Rachel sighed inwardly with relief. If only most nights were as simple as this, she thought.
"Are you asleep?" she whispered softy into the baby's ear.
It's funny, isn't it? Women speak to children, to babies, to animals in the same way they would do humans. It's as though they're expecting a response, even though they know for a fact that they won't receive one. Not one that they can understand, anyway.
"Look at your Daddy," Rachel lulled; her 'baby voice' was tuned into full. She turned her body back around to face the man still slummed in the land of Nod. He looked so peaceful in his sleep, so carefree, and so utterly Eddie-like. She smiled affectionately at him, her eyes still partially closed through the lack of sleep. "Isn't he silly, eh? Sleeping through all that noise you were making. What's wrong, baby? Eh? It's okay, darling. I've got you."
Rachel dropped a single kiss to the baby's forehead. Small tuffs of hair - blonde like his mother's - had began to sprout there over the top throughout the past couple of weeks. Soothingly, Rachel closed her eyes. She could feel the tiredness creep over her - and the young child in the arms - like a blanket of enticement. With hesitancy, she sleepily reached to perch herself down on the edge of the bed. It was going to be a long night...
The sight that greeted Eddie as he slowly arose hours later was like heaven to his eyes. Rachel lay horizontally across the bed on top of the duvet - his son clutched protectively against her chest. Both were sound asleep; soft snores emitted from their breathing patterns. After a couple of content moments of just watching the two most important people in the whole of his life sleep, Eddie hesitantly got out of bed and moved around to sit where Rachel's head lay.
He waited with patience as her eyes slowly began to open. Sunlight danced from the outside world and into their bedroom. Eddie reached out and began study his son's face. He was only sixth months old and already, he thrived to be Rachel. She'd only been part of their lives fully for sixth weeks now and yet nothing could tear him away for her. Nothing at all. Not even his Daddy.
Eddie removed his eyes from his son's snoozing face to greet Rachel's with a soft smile.
"Good morning," he chirped.
All Rachel did was stretch slightly - the position she had choice to sleep in was not one of the comfiest - and sat up with difficultly.
"You should've woke me," she told Eddie, referring down to the small child in her arms. "This is no place for a baby to sleep."
"Joseph is fine," Eddie reminded her.
She could be a right little stress-head when she wanted to be.
"But you're not by the looks of things," he added cheekily.
Rachel rolled her eyes sarcastically.
Heftily getting up from off the bed, Rachel carried Joseph close to her chest before stopping at his crib and gently placing him in it. Once she had made sure he was comfortably tucked in, she dropped a kiss to the baby's forehead as Eddie watched on in amazement. A clear smile was displayed on his face. She was a natural. Nobody could deny her that.
"Can we start again, now?" Rachel asked as she sat back down beside him and smiled. Her moods could go from one extreme to the next.
"Okay," he replied with a slight sigh. Uncertain was probably an understatement. "Good morning, Rachel."
"Good morning, Eddie."
She leaned across to kiss his cheek.
"Did he wake you again last night?" Eddie asked concernedly.
Sighing, Rachel began to brush a nervous hand through her hair. It was a force of habit. It came naturally to her when things weren't as they should be.
"Of course he did," Rachel replied; her tone was sad and gloomy. She was remembering. She was remembering it as though it was yesterday. "He doesn't do much else, Eddie. Every night he cries. Every night he cries for his Mummy. His Mummy is never coming back, though, is she?"
She wanted to cry. The lump in the back of her throat was telling her to do so, but she physically couldn't. Tears showed sighs of weakness and Rachel Mason was everything but weak. Eddie searched her face tentatively and gave a sad smile. He sometimes underestimated the effect recent events had had on her. Melissa was her sister. Her baby sister. And she was gone; dead. She was never coming back.
"I mean, what kind of influence will I have on Joseph's life?" Rachel carried on to vent. "I'm his Aunt for crying out loud! Not his Mum! When he grows up, he'll probably end up resenting me because I'm not her and I never will - "
"You're going to be the best mother figure he could ever ask for," Eddie muttered briskly - cutting her off - before enveloping her in a much needed hug of warmth, safety, security and love.
Rachel could almost taste the future in his embrace. It tasted good, too - like trips to the sweet shop and strolls to the park. Parenthood. Heaven-like almost, but not quite there yet. This needed work - and lots of it.
She was snarky; sarcastic. But Rachel really couldn't help it. It was an automatic mechanism. Whether it was through her new unfamiliarity with sleep depravation or through her fear of uncertainty for what loomed ahead of them in the future, Eddie was never know. But, deep down, he knew. He had always known. This was scary. This was not going to be easy. He'd been foolish to have thought any differently. This was life at its hardest.
To the mention of her name, Rachel removed her head from his chest and looked up at him with waiting eyes. They couldn't help but share a faint, sleepy smile.
"You're amazing. Do you know that?" he asked truthfully.
Rachel blushed - she never could take a compliment.
"Don't be stupid!" She giggled with nerves. "I'm nothing! I'm not amazing! I'm just, I'm just... me."
"And that is why I love you," Eddie justified.
The sincerity in his eyes made Rachel stop with her giggles and looks down to the bed with shyness.
"Can we really do this, Eddie?" she asked fearfully. "Can I really be a mum to a Joseph when I know for a fact that I'm not?"
It was simply really in Eddie's mind. Rachel, as a mother, was one of the most natural and most beautiful things the world had ever produced.
"But, really? I don't think I can."
"Well I do," he replied solemnly. "Trust me on this one. Please?"
And now, just like that, everything seemed just that little bit more clearer. Maybe things wouldn't go wrong for a change. Maybe this was their time to truly be happy again. Melissa's action had to have been for some reason. Why not let it be this?