CHAPTER 1- Beckham
—Three years ago—
“Oh, honey… how are you and little Lyra holding up?”
I look up at Mrs. Wilson to see the same sadness the whole town feels.
“Lee is with mom now and I’m… I’m just here Mrs. Wilson.” The last of my sentence raises with a choked sob and Mrs. Wilson wraps her arms around me trying to console me as they have all been doing.
Today we are burying my best friend; the mother of my child. My beautiful Lyra Lee will never have a memory of herself in her mother’s arms. My little one-year-old daughter and I will have to find a way to live without our rock.
Charlie and I had known each other for ages. We were best friends that did almost everything together including getting too drunk and hooking up, which resulted in regret the very next day since neither of us had that kind of feelings for each other. About six weeks later we found out she was pregnant, and I didn’t hesitate to move her in with me and propose we got engaged to fool her conservative parents.
Everyone ever since has been under the impression that we were a real couple which is why while I mourn the loss of my best friend, everyone here thinks I’m mourning the loss of my future bride.
“Oh you sweet boy,” Mrs. Wilson says, “did you eat? Have you been sleeping well? You know I can watch over the baby if you need some time to gather some energy.”
Mrs. Wilson is our neighbor and possibly the sweetest lady I’ve ever met. She is like the grandma I never had and she worries about my Lyra Lee as if she was her great-granddaughter. She calls me and Charlie the grandkids she never had.
“It’s ok, Mrs. Wilson,” I tell her, “I have to stay for Charlie’s parents.”
Mrs. Wilson grimaces at the mention of my in-laws. Though she doesn’t know Charlie and I weren’t real, she does know that we always tried to keep the Nicholas family—or at least Charlie’s parents—far far away from our relationship.
We talk for a few more minutes and as more people keep interrupting us so they can ask how I’m holding up, Mrs. Wilson says it’s time for her to go.
Just as I see the woman getting to the door, someone else opens it from the outside. I see Jason Nicholas—Charlie’s brother—entering the place. There is something so endearing about him. It makes him so likable. Seriously, no one can hate him no matter how annoying he can be.
I hear him speak, taking me out of the trance that took me so far out of reality I didn’t even notice he was coming my way.
“Beck, sweetie, how are you and my beautiful niece doing?”
“Jason, hi. We’re doing ok... I think. How are you holding up?”
“I—” he pauses taking a deep breath, “I don’t really know, Beck. I just lost my best friend you know. Charlie was my baby sister. I don’t know if I can describe how I feel right now.”
Charlotte Nicholas. Everybody loved that girl. Losing someone like her sure left a Grand Canyon size hole in our lives. One day she was laughing with us and complaining about back pain. The next she woke up and it was as if she never did.
In a matter of hours, Charlie lost all sense of reality and by the time we took her to the hospital, it had been too late. Her kidneys had already shut down, the bacteria had already reached her brain making her crazy to the point she couldn’t speak. It was 6:44 am the next day when we lost her to a Septic Shock. It was at 6:44 am on a random July 11th, that she took her last breath.
“Lyra, honey. We need to go to Mrs. Wilson so daddy can work.”
“I want mama!” She shouts, begging for me to play all the videos I keep of Charlie and me together.
“Yes baby, Mrs. Wilson knows and she will play them for you while I work. See?” I hold her backpack open as I show it to her, “I have them all in your backpack.” She jumps up and down while holding her favorite teddy bear.
I finally get Lyra ready and everything we will need for the day. Mrs. Wilson has a key to my place to get anything she needs, but I still like getting all of Lyra’s meals ready so the woman doesn’t have to do too much. She had a fall about two months and ended up needing physical therapy so I try not to give her excuses to do too much.
“Sis’ Wilson! It’s me!” Lyra calls when I knock and I chuckle. My little girl can’t say Mrs, so she has been calling for ‘Sis’ Wilson’ since she learned to say the name.
“Oh Beckham sweetie, please come in. I was getting worried,” she says and I realize I didn’t tell her I was running late.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Wilson. I was on time but then Lyra wanted to change into dinosaur clothes,” I roll my eyes and she laughs when she looks down and sees my daughter wearing everything green and all in different shades.
Her laugh is replaced with a frown and now I’m the one who’s worried.
“What happened? Are you ok?”
“Yes, yes. I’m ok. I just remember I have to talk to you.”
“Did you fall again?” I rush to get closer to her and grab her arm gently as if that would somehow be enough support.
“No sweetheart, nothing like that.” She says, “We can talk after you come back from work. I don’t want you to be late. More than you already are.”
“No, don’t worry about that. I work later today but wanted to leave with enough time to get some coloring books for Lyra. I can pick them up after work if you are willing to keep Lyra for a little longer.”
She waved her hand for me to follow her into the living room. “Of course, dear,” she says as I follow her, “come on. Let’s talk.”
“Mrs. Wilson… are you sure everything is ok?” She tries to hide it but I catch the grimace just in time, and before I get to question her again, she speaks.
“You remember Nora right? My granddaughter?” I nod and send a silent prayer that she isn’t trying to set me up again.
Oh how much I wished that had been what she wanted instead. Because what she does say, throws me sideways.
“Well, Nora has been insisting that I move with her and I accepted. I wanted to stay, dear. I wanted to be there for you and little Lyra. But after that fall, I’m just a bag of old bones.”
I am as shocked as I am worried. I’m worried for her, because she’s done so much for us, and worried for my baby girl, that won’t have Mrs. Wilson with her anymore. Then there’s the last part, the one I dread the most. How am I supposed to find a babysitter that I trust?