YASSSSS! (As Kelly Clarkson would cheer!) I finally finally made it in time for one of my challenges. It only took me 17 weeks, but HEY, better late than never. Unfortunately this one hits a little (or A LOT?) close to home, but that’s probably why I was able to write it. It’s very bleak, so maybe don’t read it if you’re already feeling a little blue… Just sayin’. SOOO, here it be. My take on Prompt #17:
Ava could see the look of pity in his eyes the moment he stepped through the door. His gaze lingered over her face, taking in the hard lines — it was devastating for him to see how the years had etched away at her features. She had been beautiful once, he thought. But it had been too long and he could see life had been too hard on her. Guilt flooded him and Jay looked away, uncomfortable in the silence.
She didn’t recognize this Jay. Days of growth shaded his jaw and he looked as if he hadn’t slept in weeks. Instead of its usual smile, his mouth was closed in a straight line. A decade may have altered his demeanor, but it hadn’t touched his natural good looks. Olive skin and muscular physique commanded attention, but it was his warm amber eyes that really drew you in. Like hot chocolate on a winter’s day, they warmed you from the inside out.
She was the first to speak. “What, no witty banter? No silly quips?” Bitterness infused her words.
“Ava.” His voice was so soft she almost didn’t hear him.
“Why did you even come?” She nearly spat the question. This reunion had been less than a minute but felt like a lifetime. She didn’t want him to see her this way. Couldn’t stand the thought of him being in the same room right now. Not in the hospital, not while she lay in this mechanical bed with equipment hooked to every orifice of her body. She inadvertently tucked a stray red hair behind her ear.
“You know why,” again his tone was soft, almost like he didn’t want to speak the words. Like maybe if he didn’t say it loud enough, the situation wouldn’t exist. But it did exist. There was physical proof. Proof in the form of a ten year-old boy.
“Where is Dylan?” she asked, hope swelling in her chest. Her blue eyes lit up at just the thought of seeing him.
“He’ll be here soon.” He looked away and Ava’s stomach immediately dropped.
“You’re kidding, right?” she admonished. “You have got to be kidding. Even you wouldn’t do that to me? Bring her here to flaunt?”
“It was the only way. I couldn’t get him and then bring him here in time.”
“So you sent the one person I hate more than you?”
“She’s his mother.”
Ava could feel her body temperature rising, her face flushed and she started to see red. “I’m his mother. But then again, neither of you ever acknowledged it. She made sure of that.”
“It wasn’t her fault.”
“You’re right. It was your fault. You should’ve stood by me. Stood up for me. At least to some point.” One of the monitors started beeping. “I blame her for not backing off when she found out you had a pregnant fiance. And for scheming ways to undermine me as his parent after Dylan was born. But the last straw was when Dylan started calling me by my first name because “she” was his mommy. My own son.” Another machine started in, the beeping alternating between fast and super fast when the lights started to flicker. “And that, I blame you for! You were so worried about pissing her off that you let her completely take over as Dylan’s mother until I didn’t even exist anymore.” Ava was almost screaming now, and had the numerous wires not been holding her in place, she would’ve jumped out of the bed and done whatever she could to Jay who, at the moment, looked like a deer caught in headlights.
“I’m sorry,” those amber eyes flickered and her stomach filled with warmth.
“You broke my heart. Broke me along with it.” She settled back down into the bed, straining to get comfortable as the monitors returned to normal. She looked down at her hands — they were pale and fragile looking. “I never forgave you. I’ve lived these past years in a cloud of anger and hate and regret. I never moved on, never moved forward. But that,” she hesitated, “that, I blame me for. I gave you too much power over me.”
Jay walked over to the side of the bed and picked up the hand she had been observing. “We had some good times.”
“We had some great times,” she acknowledged. “In the beginning,” she added as an afterthought.
“I was so in love with you. I don’t think I’ve ever been as captivated by anyone,” he admitted.
“Not even Christina?” she looked at him as if in doubt.
“Not even Christina,” he answered. For a second their eyes locked and Ava felt as she had when they had first met.
A third voice entered the conversation from out of nowhere. “Not even Christina, what?” A short, freckled woman stood there, sunglasses perched on top of frizzy dirty-blond hair. A clunky purse was draped around one shoulder while her other hand was holding on to that of a small boy. Ava had never understood Jay’s draw to Christina. The woman was hands down one of the trashiest people Ava had ever met. She didn’t feel this solely out of hate or jealousy, it was true enough.
Jay immediately drew back and walked over to the newest visitors. He touched Christina’s shoulder and gave her a quick smile. “Thanks for bringing him.”
Christina did not look pleased. More than that, hostility echoed off her every movement. Her grip on Dylan tightened.
For a moment, Ava couldn’t speak. The last time she had seen her son was when he was five years old. He was amazing to look at. He reminded her so much of Jay it hurt. Same sandy brown hair and olive-tanned skin. His eyes were blue, though. That and the light spattering of freckles across his nose were the only evidence of her in him. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe this was all a good thing. As much as it had hurt to walk away, he looked as happy and healthy as she could ever have hoped for.
“Hi, Dylan.” Ava reached out to him. “Do you remember me?”
Jay put his hands on the boy’s shoulders and inched him forward so that he was next to the bed. Dylan looked up at his father. “It’s okay,” she continued. “I just want to see you for a minute.” Still, the child didn’t move or respond. Ava’s smile wavered, her eyes instantly welling up. She tried to hold back, but when the stinging against her lids intensified, the tears began to flow freely. Petrified, Dylan quickly turned to seek out Christina, clearly wanting to race to her side.
“I told you he wouldn’t want to see her,” Christina smirked.
Ava wanted to slap the smile right off the bitch’s face. “I never understood you,” she murmured. “I never understood why you made it your life’s mission to make mine miserable when I never did a thing to you. You came into my life, took my fiance, took my son and that wasn’t enough for you? Now, when all I wanted was a moment to see him, to see how he turned out before I can’t anymore, you couldn’t resist the urge to rub in my face a life that should’ve been mine.”
Dylan looked up at Christina. “What’s she talking about mommy?”
Ava’s heart shattered. She couldn’t take any more. “Get out,” it came out a whisper at first, barely audible. Jay looked at her, waiting for direction.
“Get out!” she screamed. The trio was quick to do as she asked, first Christina, then Dylan and Jacob following closely. She knew it was the last she would ever see of her son, a child she never had, and now never would, have a chance to know.
She watched, helpless, as the door closed behind him.