Chapter 28 ~ Goldfish
The months rolled by unnoticeably. I attended counselling twice a week and still pushed through with my DAA meetings – even Mama and Dad had reoccurring visits with my therapist. Everyone was healing well and with this new energy, came unimaginable happiness and bliss.
Ivy’s mother and mine had been friends for years but since the trial, they were unable to remain close, which was sad, but Mama stated that we, her children, her new children – Cole and Pierce – and Dad, was all she needed in this life to be happy and fulfilled.
Klem did wake up, I walked in on Dad and Kaeron speaking in hushed tones about it but they immediately snapped their mouths shut the moment they saw me, so beyond that, I don’t know what happened to him. I actually no longer cared. My father’s punishment for his violation of me was enough to warrant my release from the pain, I was satisfied with the retribution served, however, I suspect he did incur further wrath from my father – call it a hunch – though, my therapist never heard about it, just that he had shown up and Pierce punched him in the face before my family had thrown him out. It was the lie we had all agreed upon at my request, there was no way in hell I was dropping my innocent father into boiling water over the heinous predator.
There had been a distinct change in the air, Theodasia and I had become closer than ever and she had managed to curb her ‘teenage temper tantrums’, choosing to focus on school. She had apologised for her harsh words that day, but I couldn’t fault her, she didn’t know.
“Oww,” Cole droned out.
“Got any two’s?” Pierce finally asked.
I looked at the cards in my hand. “Goldfish.”
“You got any Jacks?” Mama asked Dad.
“Goldfish,” he replied.
“Can you guys not think of anything else to do?” Daisy snapped. Okay, so she wasn’t entirely pleasant but we had been playing numerous rounds of goldfish now for hours and she was upset with being here while Cole is in labour, she didn’t want to know what happens.
“Mama, maybe we should take her to the hospital? She’s really in pain.”
“Kaeron, I am not going to the fucking hospital,” Cole barked, shit, having a baby was rough.
“Son, the nurse will be here soon, just relax,” Mama soothed.
Kae started pacing the lounge room, wearing the floor below his feet as he raked his hands in his hair, he was definitely freaking out.
“Oh god, I can’t handle this, call me when it’s over.” Theodasia strode out the house, no one bothered to stop her, she had stayed longer than I thought she would have – at least she got to see the repercussions of unprotected sexual intercourse.
“Fuck, why must you insist on having the baby here? Why can’t we go to the hospital?” Kae snapped.
“Because I don’t fucken want to Kaeron. If we were in an apocalypse…”
“What is it with you and blasted apocalypses?”
“If we were in an apocalypse…” she growled again, cutting him off. “I want to know I can have a home birth, you goddam… owwww…” I think she was about to insult him before the contraction started.
There was a sudden knock at the door. “I’ll get it,” I sung, jumping to my feet.
“Hey there, my names Ms Trew, I’m the nurse. Where is our Mama?” She said as I opened the door.
“Hi there, I’m the aunty, my name’s Lyera. Follow me – or the sound, whichever.” I shook her hand and ushered her into the house.
Kaeron washed with relief the moment he saw the nurse enter. “Hey, she’s really in pain and I’m super worried, I think she needs to go to the hospital,” he rushed.
“Mr Jonahson, I take it?” She held out her hand.
“What? Um… yes, Kae.” He shook hastily then practically pulled the woman to Cole on the couch.
“How are you, Cole?”
“Halliday Trew, thank you so much for coming down, you have to excuse my neurotic fiancé here,” Cole chuckled to herself as Kae narrowed his eyes at her. Halliday, hmm, that’s an unusual given name.
“First-time fathers are always panicked…” she pointed out. “Well, let’s get my gear set up and we’ll see what’s happening.”
“Um… guys, if you don’t mind? I might just take a stroll outside.” Truth was, I just wanted to get the fuck out of there. I wasn’t prepared for any of this and seeing it all come to fruition was a little unnerving.
“No! Don’t leave me,” Kaeron begged.
“Oh good lord,” Cole hissed, “no worries Lyera, see you later.”
“Thank you,” I mumbled, slipping out as quickly as possible.
With everything that has happened over all the months, in fact, since I arrived back home, sometimes you just need to take a breather and chill. I made my way over to the big tree swing, Dad had set the first swing up for Kae and I when we were little and after several rope breakings, numerous replacement seats and careless rambunctious years, it was nice to see that he never bothered to pull it down.
I sat down upon the iconic memory from my youth and mused quietly. Cole was right, everything was about to change but change is good. I am not the same person I was when I arrived nor will I be the same person by next week, this was the way that life worked. I found satisfaction and contentment in knowing that I no longer craved that sub-spatial high that would help me forget because my life, though at times tedious and hard, was something I wanted to remember.
Being in love, working yourself to the bone, it was rewarding – and I cared, like actually cared about the future, for the first time in what seemed like forever – I had regained the hope and positivity I had been stripped of.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Holy heck Pierce,” I jolted, surprised by his sudden arrival. “I didn’t even hear you come up.”
“Well, that’s because you were lost in thought. What’s on your mind cowgirl?” He placed his hands on my back and pushed gently, causing me to swing.
“I was thinking about our future.”
“Oh yeah…” he chuckled. “What about it?”
I casually kicked my legs forward and swung them back as he continued to push me from behind. “Cole sounds like she’s in a lot of pain.”
“Yeah, I can’t imagine pushing out a baby is awesome but it sure is rewarding. I know I’ve only seen animals do it but they appear to be genuinely happy afterwards – completed by a tiny piece of themselves to love forever.”
“Do you really want fifteen kids?” I scrunched my face.
He laughed before stepping out from behind me and around to my front, his left hand still on the rope, slowing my movements. “Sometimes, but I think I’ll also just be happy if I get a life with you.” I nodded slowly, relieved by his answer, “what’s going on?”
“Avaleria…” he clipped in a reprimanding way.
“Nothing Pierce… just thinking.”
“Talk to me baby…” he implored, “you seem really weird, in fact, you’ve been a little off for a few days. You’ve also been ‘thinking’ a lot lately, are we okay?” I frowned, his question, although valid due to my vapid presence, was unnecessary.
“Don’t be silly, we’re fine. Did you know that I no longer yearn for drugs?”
“No, that’s fantastic.”
“I know. Did you know that I love our life?”
“That’s good, I do too.”
“Love it – just the way it is?”
His face fell, clearly, he had picked up something. “So you don’t want a family, is this what you’re saying?” Oh… naw… he’s so cute.
“The day everything happened with Klem, I changed. I found – release. But it really started, the great emotional shift in me, the night before, when you asked if I would say yes to marrying you, but you never actually proposed. Is that because you just wanted to know if it was a possibility or were you just lost in a thought at that moment in time?”
He sighed, “what’s going on?”
I turned away, maybe things weren’t exactly what I thought they were in my head? “Never mind,” I mumbled. Trying to kick off and swing again but he stopped my movements and placed his hands on my knees.
“Lyera, I haven’t asked you yet because I wanted it to be a surprise. But I do, I do want to marry you but I also want kids – maybe fifteen is a little overzealous but at least three. Do you not want kids at all anymore?” He sounded insecure and unsure.
“No, three I could probably handle, fifteen is a little unachievable – I am not having fifteen Pierce.”
“Okay, we’ll start with three and work up from there,” I laughed.
“Why do you want so many? Have you not been witnessing the pain Cole is enduring?”
“I guess, Ma and Pa always had trouble conceiving, they wanted a big family and had to go through round after round of IVF just to be gifted with my brother and I. Aiden and me aren’t close, not in age or friendship. I always wanted to have what you and Kae have – a bond. Yes, I have mates but it’s not the same.”
“Okay, I can understand that.” I truly did, I was lucky to have Kae, although Theodasia grew up alone – she was so much younger than us. I wonder if she feels like that too?
“So we’ll start with three?” He enquired hopefully.
It probably was time to settle down a bit, hell, I wasn’t itching to leave – in fact – I had never been happier and I was irrevocably in love with this man.
“How about we just start with one?”
“You drive a hard bargain.” He put his hand out as though we were doing a deal. “Marriage first, one then two more. If any others come along – it was meant to be,” Pierce pushed, trying his luck at me folding.
I took his hand and shook, “how about… one now and then marriage?”
“You wanna start now, shit… okay.” He pulls his shirt out that was tucked into his pants and tries to lift it up.
“No, no, pull ya top down, ya crazy lunatic…” I cried, “I can’t get pregnant if I’m already pregnant Tyler.”
“What?” His shirt was stuck above his head, all you could see was his hat sitting on top of the bunched material and his arms in the air. “What did you just say?” His words were slightly muffled, I bit my lip apprehensively as a flurry of fluttering wings erupted inside of me. My heart was beating so fast.
I giggled nervously, trying to remain nonchalantly and as casual as possible, despite the conflicting feelings churning inside. “No, no, pull your top down?”
“After that,” he muffly growled.
“Oh that, hmm, let me think…” I was toying with him now as he struggled to pull his shirt down.
“Avaleria Jonahson – what did you just say?” He glared at me murderously, I was a little worried by his reaction.
“I-I s-said…” clearing my throat, I steadied my nerves. “I can’t get pregnant, if I am already pregnant Pierce Tyler.”
He paled, panting heavily. Shit, maybe he didn’t really want this now it was presented to him?
“A-are you serious?”
I nodded slowly, releasing a meek, “yes.” My eyes shifted around as he stared blankly, right at me, without blinking, moving or even breathing. I cleared my throat again, unsure about what to do now, the silence was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
Pierce suddenly moved, launching forward and dropping to one knee.
“I-I wanted the right time…”
“Y-you… no… I-I if… P-Pierce…” I was struggling to gather words.
“Shh…” Did he just hush me? “Cowgirl, I wanted the right time – this is it.” Pierce was shaking, sweat formed over his forehead as he lifted off his Stetson signature black hat and withdrew a ring box. My mouth hung agape, is he really about to do this? My eyes welled with tears, the surge of emotion difficult to hold back.
“I have always loved you. For years I watched you from afar, hoping you would notice me, praying that one day you would be mine. They would bully me, victimise me for being different and then you would appear, with your sweet words and your comforting kindness. It hurt to know you just couldn’t see me for the man that I was inside – It hurt so much to love you. I noticed the cloud that followed you, I noticed the vacant expression and the programmed responses, I noticed the void left behind when you moved away – like you took my only sunshine with you. I tried to let you go, I begged with heaven to help me release your phantom that haunted my heart. But I guess my heart knew something I didn’t… It was only ever made for you.
“I will never hurt you, I will never make you cry, I promise to love you forever – no matter what because you belong with me. I became the man I am because I spent all of high school feeling out of control, weak and insecure. My heart ached to know you might never come back but if by some cosmic alignment you did return, I would stake my claim – even if you rejected me – at least this time I was man enough to give it a shot. And then you did… you noticed me, your nipples were pointing through your shirt but I wasn’t complaining, because you actually noticed me…”
“M-my… they were?” Teardrops slowly slid from Pierce’s capturing orbs.
“I will do everything I can to keep you safe, protected and happy… everything. I know you think I somehow healed you – but the truth is – you made me whole Avaleria. I want to grow old with you, I want two dogs, a farm of our own and I guess – the baby inside you to begin with. Will you, Avaleria Jonahson be my wife?”