Rachel watched her daughter run around the yard in awkward, drunken circles. The five-year-old’s arms and legs, already too long for her body, flailed out of control and added to her fun. Emma tossed her head back and the giggles flowed.
Rachel’s heart caught a tumultuous wave.
There was nothing more soothing, more perfect than the sound of her child in the throes of joy. But knowing what her life was to become cast a dark shadow. A shadow that dug deep into her as a mother, cracking her ribs apart and attacking the last vestiges of what had been their normal life.
It was the sudden silence that pulled her from her thoughts. The air grew cold in it. Jolting to attention, Rachel’s eyes fell into Emma’s, whose gangly arms were still raised a bit having stopped mid twirl. By the time she reached her mother, her face had morphed from curious to crumbled. Glassy eyes and quivering lip. It was a look that Rachel had dreaded.
Emma reached up and gently caressed her face and it was then that Rachel realized she was crying. Tears released without permission. Tears she had sworn never to shed in front of her daughter.
Emma’s eyes held the question she didn’t know to ask. Rachel’s broken heart hung heavy with the answer she didn’t know how to give.
By the time she heard her husband drive up, Rachel had soothed her daughter. By the time her soon-to-be ex’s keys were in the door, Emma was already back to twirling with reckless abandon.