Two Broken People

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11| Hallucinogenics

M a x i e

“It’s okay, Maxie.” The voice that drifted towards me was so soft, almost angelic, and oh so familiar.

I didn’t know where I was. It was almost as if I was in a beam of light, surrounded by nothing but glowing white.

Looking down into my hands, I realized that I was seated with my legs to the side of me, hands in my lap and full of wet tears. I swiped furiously at my cheeks, but I could never seem to get them dry.

“Maxie.” The voice beckoned me again.

My head whipped around in every direction, trying to find the source of the voice. What appeared— or I should say who, shocked me into silence. I could feel the tears coming even faster as I looked up and saw my mother standing before me.

“Sweetie, why are you crying?” She knelt down before me, dressed in a white Greek-style dress.

And it’s then that I realized that the light that surrounded me was coming from her. There was a glow to her that was almost divine.

“Mom?” I finally croaked out and in one fell swoop her arms wrapped around me, encompassing me in a warmth that I could only describe as heavenly.

“Mom!” I cried out as I clutched onto her for dear life, crying into the fabric of her dress.

She didn’t feel human. Her presence was almost like a crackling of energy. Solid, but almost like if I were to squeeze too hard, all the little particles of her would dissipate into complete nothingness.

She soothed me, running her fingers through my hair and making soft shushing sounds.

“I miss you so much, momma.” I whispered through my tears and squeezed her tighter, needing her closer.

“I don’t know what I’m doing without you. I wish you were still here. I’m so lost without you.”

She looked down at me with pursed lips before tilting my chin up to meet her gaze. “Don’t you dare underestimate yourself, Maxie Drew.”

She used her middle name and it caused a feeling foreign to me, to blossom in the depths of my chest.

Her gaze kept mine focused on her. “You are strong. You are fierce. You are a fighter. You got this baby. I wouldn’t have chosen a better person to raise Maizie. You are doing an amazing job. Don’t invalidate all of the good you’ve already done for her.”

My face must show the shock I felt as well as the pride that her words caused to swell inside of me.

“I love you Maxie Drew.” She whispered before she started to fade away.

“No!” I screamed, clutching thin air.

“No.”

And then I woke up.

When my eyes finally fluttered open, I looked around. It took me a moment or two to catch my bearings and when I did, I looked next to me and found a sleeping Levi. A small smile slipped across my lips until I was suddenly all too aware of the wetness gracing my cheeks. I hastily wiped away the tears with a sigh. What time was it? I grabbed my cell phone off of the floor and almost had a heart attack when I read the time. FUCK.

I jumped off of the couch, forgetting about Levi’s arms that were wrapped around my waist. He awakened with a groan, hazy eyes shooting open and his gaze fixing on me.

“It’s nine-thirty!” I panicked, raking a shaky hand through my hair as I started pacing in circles, trying to figure out what to do first— wake up Maizie, get dressed, or maybe have a full blown panic attack.

Levi sat up on the couch, calm as ever. His features were twisted in a look of concern as he studied me for a moment before pushing himself off the sofa and walking over to me. He laid tentative hands on my shoulders before fixing my gaze with his.

“Maxie, breathe.” He spoke softly before moving a finger under my chin, tilting my face up to meet his. “Relax, sweetheart. Breathe with me.”

He sucked in a slow and steady breath before letting it out slowly between pursed lips.

I studied him once more as he took in a calming breath before I mimicked him, trying to take in my own calming breaths. And after two or three tries, it finally started to work. It was like he had done this before, coached someone, or maybe even himself out of a panic attack.

Five or so minutes passed and I was finally feeling a little more calm.

“What can I do?” He asked with a small, yet reassuring smile. “Give me a to-do list and I’ll get it done. You go wake up Maizie, get ready and I’ll do whatever you need me to do.”

My heart started to race at his kind gesture and I was about to turn him down before he pinned me with a glare that dared me to do just that.

I tugged my bottom lip between my teeth before letting out a sigh of defeat.

“Okay. Can you just...” I paused, trying to remember my usual morning routine. “Can you start a pot of coffee? And-” I paused again, feeling guilty for laying my chores on him— chores that I can’t believe I neglected to do. “Make Maizie’s lunch for me?”

Levi’s smile beamed as he shook his head. “Of course. Anything else?”

I shook my head and he leaned in, laying a soft kiss on my forehead that had my heart working in overdrive.

My cheeks burned with a blush as I looked up at him through my eyelashes, cautious to meet his gaze, afraid that I’d melt into putty even more so than I already was.

He finally pulled back, leaving me immediately missing his comforting embrace.

He casted one more reassuring smile my way before walking off towards the kitchen and busying himself with making Maizie a toddler appropriate lunch. I couldn’t help but watch him for a moment, a blooming of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, developing behind my rib cage— if I wasn’t mistaken, it felt a whole lot like love. Not that I had ever loved anyone other than family or friends, to even know what it would feel like.

I shook the thought, deeming myself temporarily insane due to the dream I had and the panic I awoke in.

My feet finally found the will to move and in a few strides I was standing in our bedroom, crossing the floor until I fell in bed next to Maizie who was still sleeping soundly.

I peppered her little face with kisses, wrapping my arms tightly around her small frame. I nuzzled my face into her blonde curls and smiled, closing my eyes. I’m tempted to let sleep take over again, but I forced my eyes back open and gave Maizie a little nudge.

“Sweetheart. It’s time to wake up. We overslept big time.”

Her baby blues fluttered open slowly and she looked at me in confusion.

“Huh?” She murmured sleepily.

“We gotta get up babe.”

She pouted her lips, her bottom lip starting to wobble with the threat of tears.

“Shh, shh. It’s okay.” I whispered to her, hoping to comfort her.

“I dweamed about mommy.” She looked up at me with her wide blue eyes and her revelation practically stopped my heart.

“Wh..what?” I could barely choke out the words as the burning threat of tears took over.

She just nodded her little head before cuddling into me, wrapping me in her small arms.

Tears flooded my eyes, and I let them fall.

Since the day Maizie was born, I have always told her about our mother. She was such an important part of my life, our life. I wasn’t even sure if Maizie ever got to meet her— not that she would even remember, but I knew she was always around— in spirit.

We spent many nights sitting around in our pajamas, combing through the dozens of photo albums my mom kept. Not only was she a hoarder of recipes, but she was also a hoarder of pictures. I remembered when I was younger, she always had a camera in hand.

She’d always say that pictures were physical memories, for when the mental memories started to fade. Part of me thought that she somehow knew that she wouldn’t be here to watch us grow up.

Maizie even had a favorite picture of our mother. It was actually a picture of both her and I. I was probably about fourteen— a year before she passed. It was taken on the beach during one of our girls’ weekends.

I remembered it vividly. My mom had gone over to the couple that had set up their beach gear next to us, asking the wife if she’d mind taking a picture of us. Of course the kind lady said yes. I remembered feeling so embarrassed, but now— I’d do anything to go back to that moment.

Then the thought struck me. What if we had our own beach day to remember?

I looked down at Maizie just as she’s about to fall back asleep.

“How would you like to play hookie today and go to the beach?” Now that I thought about it, I don’t think Maizie had ever been to the beach before.

“Hookie?” She tried to pronounce it and I couldn’t help but to giggle at her.

“Yes, hookie. It’s where you skip school and go have fun.” I smiled down at her as I cradled her sleepy little body in my arms.

I heard the creaking of the floorboards and saw Levi’s form mold itself against the door jam.

“You ladies ready?”

I looked over at him. “How would you feel about playing hookie?” I asked him.

For a moment he looked at me in confusion before a smile transformed his face.

“Hookie? On a fine day like this? I’d love to.”

“We want to go to the beach.” Maizie said around the thumb in her mouth.

Levi’s smile brightened even more with her words as he hesitantly walked into the bedroom, sitting on the edge of the bed.

He looked at me then down at Maizie who was still snuggled up in my arms.

“Oh the beach, huh? Isn’t it a little cold for the beach?” His eyes were back on me.

I shrugged my shoulders. “A little, but I want her to experience the beach, and I have an idea..”

I bit the bottom of my lip and dragged it into my mouth subconsciously. Levi leaned over and placed a hand on my cheek, his thumb pulling my lip from my teeths grasp. “Don’t do that.” He pleaded innocently, his smile not faltering in the slightest.

The action made me want to bite into my lip even harder, the nerves he gave me starting to go haywire in the pit of my gut.

I just nodded my head.

“So, does hookie sound like a good idea?” I asked him, still breathless from the way he touched me.

He nodded his head in reply. “Of course. I’m always down to skip school.”

His face fell for a moment before he coughed, “Not that we should ever do this again after today.” He looked at me then nervously down at Maizie to see if she was paying attention, but she had fallen back asleep and was in her own little dream world.

I giggled and smiled at him.

“It’s a date.” I said without realizing the weight behind my words.

His lopsided grin widened at the phrase.

“It’s a date.” He repeated back, his smile only growing bigger.

“I’ll let you guys get ready. Make sure you bundle up. It’s a little chilly out there.” He got off of the bed and walked to the door, glancing back at me after a moment, watching both Maizie and I before he retreated back to the living room.

Hookie was something that wasn’t necessarily foreign to me. Before dad died, I used to play hookie all of the time— before my responsibilities caught up with me. Today though, it felt so wrong, yet so exhilarating. I knew I shouldn’t skip school, but I wanted to give Maizie an experience she’d never forget. And, after our dreams last night, I think we both need the getaway.

I found the picture of me and my mom that we took on the beach that day and stashed it away in my purse as well as an old polaroid camera that my dad had given me when I was five. It still functioned like it was brand new, and I even found some film on Ebay, just for an occasion like this.

I wanted to recreate the picture with me and my mom, with Maizie. If only the three of us could recreate it together.

I smiled at the thought before sucking in a deep breath.

“Sweetheart, let’s get ready for our beach day!” I said softly, rousing her from her little nap as she groaned in response.

I quickly picked out an outfit for both Maizie and I while shouldering my phone to my ear, calling both of our schools to let them know that we’d be absent for the day.

“Are you excited?” I asked her once she was all dressed and ready. I wrapped one last bow around her spunky little pigtail before plopping her down onto the ground. She ran straight for the living room, and just as I expected, to Levi. She jumped right up on his lap, catching him by surprise.

“Do you like my outfit?” She asked him with a wide grin.

He smiled down at her while nodding his head. “Oh yes, you look amazing!”

Maizie had on a burnt orange sweater dress, with a white long sleeve underneath and tights.

As I was on the phone with my school, letting them know of my absence, I made sure to check the weather while picking out our outfits, and Levi was right, it was going to be a bit chilly today.

On her feet were the cutest little suede booties, if only they came in adult sizes, I would’ve gotten a matching pair.

I on the other hand was wearing a floral maxi skirt with a slit that ran halfway up my thigh and a gray sweater— one side tucked in at the waist. I had on my most comfortable white tennis shoes and had my hair tied into a loose messy bun.

“We’re all ready for the beach!” I smiled at the two of them, my heart completely melting at the sight.

I looked over at the kitchen island and noticed a cooler. My curiosity got the best of me, because I made my way over and opened the lid. Once I saw what was inside, I couldn’t stop the smile that spread across my lips. Levi packed an entire picnic for us, healthy snacks included.

I turned to him and, I swear my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

“Thank you. So much. You’re absolutely amazing.”

Sensing my excitement sent Maizie’s excitement through the roof. She nodded her head vigorously.

“You are” She agreed and I couldn’t help the giggles that bubbled up inside me.

There was no doubt now that Maizie had a major crush— and so did I.

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