I sit in a pitch black room that I’ve never once been in before with my legs pulled to my chest as I hug them close, my face is nuzzled deep into Daddy’s jacket. I try not to look around the room since it’ll only confirm the realization that I’m all alone in the darkness that I hate more than almost anything else.
I wish Mommy was here to hold me in her arms as she rocks side to side and says, “Everything is going to be okay” and “You’ll be okay” on a repeat. Sometimes when she says things will get better I believe her while other times I think it’s only a lie that she’s trying to convince not only me but herself to.
I know she doesn’t really have a clue how things are going to go, especially now that Daddy is in a hospital bed hurting because I wasn’t fast enough to get him help. I know she’s feeling guilt too, I wish I knew why though.
A bright light starts to break through the seams of my closed eyes. “It’s not so scary anymore, is it?” a familiar voice meets my ears before my head jerks up; Daddy takes a seat right beside me with a radiant smile as he holds his game ball out for me to take. How did he get the ball?
He tilts his head to the side as he watches me with his eyes slightly narrowed in concentration.
I reach out to take the ball but it only goes through my hands. I look up to him, mirroring the same look he had on his face.
“You can’t really take it, bud, this ball is back at the apartment, remember?” I nod slowly as I snuggle deeper with his jacket that I hold in my hands.
“Then how come you can hold it?” I ask softly while switching my gaze from him to my bare feet.
“Come here, Kangaroo,” he draws out while holding his arms out for me. I allow his jacket to slip from my grip before making my way into the warm embrace that I’ve missed since he’s gone under even though it hasn’t been all that long. I throw my arms around his neck, closing my eyes. “You know I’m not here right now, Aar, at least not physically,” he says in a small voice before pointing to my heart, “but I’m always here.”
“That’s not the same.”
“I know, but you’ll always know that I’m here with you, believe me when I say that. You remember those times when you and your mommy were back to being in the house and we didn’t see each other as often?” He waits for me to nod before adjusting me in his arms; I rest my head in the crook of his neck. “You knew that I was always there for you even when you couldn’t see me right,” I don’t say anything, “it’s going to be the same now too.”
“Why can’t you just come back? Mommy and I miss you. Uncle Avier misses you. Granna misses you.”
He hugs me close and I swear I feel his tears dampening my neck. I hold him tighter as we both allow ourselves to fall apart in each other’s arms. I bring a hand to his cheeks, slowly swiping away his tears like I saw Mommy do for him a few times too. I lean forward to place a kiss on his cheek too.
“I- I might have to say goodbye soon, but-” I shake my head.
“No, why?” I whine out while holding onto him as tightly as I can manage so he has no chance at placing me down. He’s always said I have a nice grip. Mommy says the same too. “You can’t leave me and Mommy and everyone else. You have to come home now, alright Daddy, come back home,” I whimper out as hot tears stream. “I don’t like being sad and seeing Mommy be sad too. I wish today never happened and that we were back to yesterday.”
“I do too,” he starts, “but wishing this didn’t happen won’t change anything.”
“Because this wasn’t a bad nightmare… I wish it was… but that doesn’t change anything. I know Amaya has told you to keep your faith, and I want you to lean on her too, you don’t have to go through this all alone. Don’t blame yourself,” he says in my ear before bringing a hand to my hair, smoothing over my curls.
“How do you know that?”
“You mean the fact that you blame yourself, because I blamed myself after Amaya was hurt, we’re pretty alike in that aspect. You just need to know that it doesn’t always land on you, you’re a kid, Aar.” Daddy sniffs.
“You know if it were up to me I would be at you and your mom’s side until my final breaths,” he forces out before swaying back and forth.
“You always say that if you love something it’s worth fighting for, you love us, so fight for us, Daddy,” I plead with him. “Please don’t let go of us.” I sniffle as he holds onto me with a death grip. “We need you.”
He places his hands on my waist before pushing slightly, trying to get me to loosen my grip around him, when he tears my vice grip from his neck he places me down on my feet. “I’m so sorry, Aaron, I’m so sorry,” he mutters out over and over before running a hand through his matted down black curls. “I have to go.” tears stream down our cheeks as he ruffles my hair one last time.
My eyes close before I feel his hand slip from my hair so he can walk away towards the whiteness that was previously engulfing him from behind. “I love you,” he says before completely disappearing, leaving me all alone in the darkness again.
I watch Aaron as he sleeps since I don’t see myself getting any sleep when every second that I close my eyes I see Shawn, but not just any Shawn, the Shawn that was beaten up by Derrick and hardly able to walk. The guy that wanted to defend me no matter what it ended up doing to him and there’s a part of me that has me thinking that even in the moments where he was trying to fight those guys off that he was still thinking of us.
Aaron’s chest slowly rises and falls as he snuggles with Shawn’s jacket that he’s using as a pillow. I took a picture of him an hour ago so I could show it to Shawn when he wakes up and bounces back, making things better.
I’m glad he can at least find some peace wherever his dreams took him.
Since earlier today I’ve felt this shift between him and the person that he was becoming along with myself. From the moment I found out what happened to him I couldn’t stop thinking about how he would’ve reacted if I told him about us expecting again. What if we spoke about the conversation we had yesterday about him being scared that this very situation we’re in right now would happen.
The moment I saw him crying I knew there was nothing that I could say that would change what he felt towards what’s going on around him. I can try my hardest not to think about the other possibilities, but I know good and damn well that if I had gone with them to their grandparents house Shawn and Xavier wouldn’t be in the hospital now and Aaron wouldn’t be scarred once again. It all comes back to me and the mistakes that I’ve made.
It doesn’t change anything if I say that I would do whatever it takes to take today back. I wish I could fall asleep texting him instead of re-reading the last text I sent him over and over which reminds me each time that I didn’t get the chance to give him the news he said he wanted. That talk we were supposed to have together would’ve changed everything, and the sad part is that I was going to tell him I was wrong, that I made a mistake letting go of us when all I can think about is him.
I wish I could’ve said I love you again. Been in his arms again. Held his hand when his eyes closed… I don’t want to think about the worst casinario, but what if he doesn’t come back to us? What if I have to raise Aaron and this child on my own? What if he never gets to meet this baby, and what if they come out with the same eyes and jet black curls he has?
“Dnmm,” Aaron’s voice gives off slight distress.
I transfer him into my arms with Shawn’s jacket still around him before rubbing circles on his back. “You’re okay, Aar, nothing is going to happen to you with me here. You’re safe, lo prometo protegerte siempre.”
Aaron’s eyes open to meet my own before he starts looking all around the bed, patting down on the space between us until his hand lands on my phone. He turns it on, punching in my code, 82100, quicker than I’ve seen him do anything all day.
“Kangaroo, what are you doing?” I sigh out as he goes through my phone. He keeps tapping until he gets to my contacts; he keeps going until he gets to Mrs. Harper. “Was your bad dream about her?” He quickly shakes his head. “Xavier? Shawn?”
Aaron throws his head back before switching from my contacts to instead go to my notes. I feel my eyes bug out at all the things I’ve written down in my notes to Shawn but he doesn’t stop on any of those thank God, he actually continues to a new note.
‘Not a bad dream. Not at first.’
“What happened in it?” Aaron leans back into my arms.
‘I was in a dark room alone, then Daddy came. He said might have to leave soon. It wasn’t my fault.’ I read as he takes his time to type down his thoughts. I lightly rest my chin on his soft bed of curls while dragging him a bit closer to me.
“You had no reason to blame yourself, Aaron.”
‘I could get help. I didn’t.’ I decide not to argue with him but instead hug him to my chest.
“What did you want to call Granna over?” I try to change the subject.
‘Wanted to know about Daddy,’ he flashes me the phone screen as he types before placing my phone down on my thigh. I hug him even closer. I want to know about him too, but it’s three in the morning.
“How about first thing in the morning we call?” He nods before reclining in my arms, throwing his arms around my neck. “You want to go back to sleep?” He looks up to me, a small smile appearing on his face. In the soft light that the moon offers through the window I can see him give a small jerk of his head. “I’ll be right here, alright?”
Aaron doesn’t say anything which I wasn’t expecting him to, to be honest. I move my phone to the side before leaning back, taking his hand into my own, he offers me a small squeeze.