I wasn’t out too long, not even an hour, but it was longer than I wanted to be. When I woke up I wanted to meet my baby and it didn’t take long before Mom gently placed my daughter in my arms. I started cryin’ as soon as I was holding her, and wished that Henri could be here. I just wanted to get home so the three of us could be together, so the moment I was able to leave–I did. Dad drove us home and I carried my daughter inside, delirious with excitement of showing her to Henri.
As soon as he saw her, he rushed over and I happily handed her over. “A little girl,” I whispered as he cradled her carefully in his arms. “Our daughter.”
“Our daughter!” he exclaimed, starin’ down into her scrunched up face. “She’s so beautiful! All those pictures… they didn’t do her justice at all. Hello, sweetie… I’m your daddy… I’m your daddy! Oh Sen!” He beamed at me and I leaned in to give him a weary kiss.
“As exhausting and painful as that was, the next time I am having a home birth so you can be with me,” I said, putting my arm around his waist and looking down at our baby girl.
“Next time?” he teased.
“Yeah don’t be expecting that to happen anytime soon,” I laughed, and as if to add in her two cents our baby made a loud snuffly sound.
“She said something!” Henri shrieked. “Look at that, only two days old and she’s already speaking. What’s she feeling?”
I leaned in close, nuzzlin’ his cheek and then kissing his jawline. “Safe. She feels safe.”
We had debated for ages on names, picking one for a girl and one for a boy. The names meant a lot to us, we explained to our family, and chose the name because of the situation. Of Henri’s death and re-life, of us being together again, and there was just one word that could sum it up, one word for everythin’ that had happened to us: Miracle. That was what we named our daughter. Miracle Danevbie. A most suiting name for the daughter of a ghost, in my opinion.
I don’t think she was ever set down a free moment in her first week. Henri was head-over-heels in love with our daughter, always holdin’ her and singing to her French songs his parents once sang to him (my personal favorite was listening to him sing ‘La Mer’). Even when Miracle was asleep, Henri would hover in her room and watch her. He insisted the baby monitors never worked right, despite it being very clear that they did. Sometimes it got a bit lonely when I went to sleep by myself but I couldn’t blame him, as I often liked to just stand and watch her. We were both amazed that we had made her. All those months of carryin’ her inside me and now that she was here it really hit me that I was a mother. Not like my parent that gave birth to me, of course, but like River, like Grandma and her mother and her mo–well no, my great-grandmother Penny didn’t have a mother, according to Grandma. And Grandma’s grandparents were both male. Now I was married to a ghost.
“Not exactly the most normal of family history she’s inherited,” I said one day, leanin’ over Miracle’s crib as we waited for her to drift into sleep. “From my side at least. I think my grandpa had a normal family but everyone else hasn’t.”
“My family isn’t exactly the most normal,” Henri said, a hand on the small of my back. “Rumor has it my mother’s family had a rainbow in it way back when, which is where my hair color supposedly came from.”
I looked up at him then reached out, pushin’ some of hair hair from his face. I missed his vibrant color. “If we have a ghost child, will it look like you? I mean, your ghost coloring? Are there other ghost colorings?”
“Yes, Sunny was orange,” he responded right away. “And I saw all sorts of ghosts. White, red, blue… I think it depends on the manner of death. So I’ve no idea what a ghost baby will look like. Maybe they have their own colors. Or maybe there isn’t such a thing as ghost babies–there’s every chance that whoever told Mr. Amour that didn’t know…”
Miracle, on the verge of sleep, suddenly began wailing which was a pastime she enjoyed. Henri scooped her up in the blink of an eye but had to hand her over to me as she was hungry. I held her carefully, feeling how content and happy she was as she ate. “She’s so tiny,” I murmured.
“Hard to believe it, that we were both that size once.” Henri put his head on my shoulder, gazin’ lovingly down at Miracle. “Such tiny hands. Feet. Those fingernails! I wonder how tall she’ll be when she’s grown. Bet she’ll be as beautiful as you.”
Being a new mother was hard, harder than I ever imagined despite all the books I read and the prep I got from River. Even with a father like Henri I felt so stressed out, exhausted, and depressed at times. Maybe because of how much of a father Henri was, sometimes going to bed by myself while he watched Miracle was difficult and we got into a few fights about it, but always made up. He was stressed too, he just didn’t show it as much.
A week turned into a month, then two months, and before I knew it Miracle was fourth months old and still just as fussy. I stared at the calender knowin’ I was due back at the lab but I didn’t want to go. I couldn’t leave my daughter for ten days. Henri couldn’t come with me even if I did. We couldn’t leave Miracle, even with my family. Maybe–maybe for a day. Unlikely for a night. But ten days? Impossible! I was not going to do it. I had to call the Reddings but was frightened of doing so. Doctor Redding would be very angry. She might break her deal. Break it off completely.
Is that so bad? I wondered, letting my cell phone slide around between my fingers. Maybe canceling it is the best thing to do. I won’t get any information but–I can’t focus on that now. I had a daughter I needed to focus on, to take care of. Maybe down the line I could try and get cured but right now it was my abilities that gave me a good job. I may not have been exceedingly well paid but it was better than a clerk at the grocery store. Maybe when Miracle was ten or twelve I could go back to the Reddings. Workin’ as a psychic detective wouldn’t give me enough money for her college education but being apart from her for ten days at a time every four months was not goin’ to be an option. Except–the money was good. Unless I went back to jumping, but I wouldn’t get any good money for it unless I cheated and no way was I ever going to do that.
If we sold this place we could easily afford a really nice place and put tons of money in the bank, I thought, opening my phone and starin’ at the contact list. Selling this place would mean selling the horses. Nope. Not going to do that. Actually I was thinkin’ about getting a pony after Ducky… after Ducky passed on.Something for Miracle, and any other kids we might have. Ugh, money problems. So why was I thinking about ending something that basically paid me… well, 2500 simoleons worked out to around ten simoleons an hour over a ten day period. But that was givin’ me money for sleeping. But was ten simoleons an hour, even while I slept, worth it for bein’ away from Miracle for ten days?
I moved the phone button down to the Reddings. They were in my list as ‘Consultant’. I planned on sayin’ they were someone who occasionally hired me to do some psychic work but nobody asked. I wanted to call–didn’t I? I needed to make a decision. I would have to leave the day after next, unless I canceled it. Ten days. No. That wasn’t an option, so I pushed the button. The phone rang three times then went to voicemail. “Hi, it’s Serenity. I need to speak to you, it’s very urgent so please call back when you can. Thanks.”
Professor Redding called back after an hour and there was no way around it, I had to talk to Doctor Redding who was Ticked off with a capitol T. She yelled at me, saying how unethical it was to break off an agreement after so short a time, how she tried to give me room for my pregnancy, how she trusted me, and so on and so forth. I tried explainin’ to her that I just couldn’t take ten days out of four months to be away from my baby. Then Professor Redding took the phone and tried to work this out. I had to get Henri to come in and be there with me as we talked, and talked, and talked. The minutes on our phone counter went up, passing the hour mark, before we made any decision.
Finally we came to somethin’ we could both work with. I would come in twice a year for a week, and that would include traveling time as I would take a plane–paid for by them. My monetary compensation would be a lot lower at only 1,000 simoleons but since I was also getting two plane rides out of it… though there was the fact Henri wouldn’t be coming with me. Which wasn’t something either of us really liked but if my traveling was gonna be included there was no way around it. Plus right before I got off the phone, Professor Redding told me they were thinkin’ about moving their lab to a place closer to where I lived so driving would be a possibility again. Maybe even before I started going again, which wasn’t going to be until Miracle was ten months old.
When I started my casework up again I had no idea what was waitin’ for me. I was in high demand. Not just from SVPD and the local population but branching out. Some people in nearby towns and their police departments left requests. I had been keepin’ up with answering them during my pregnancy, apologizing for being unable to help, but there were still people who wanted me whenever I started work again and I was getting things organized. It was getting to the point where I was turnin’ down work because I was too busy, though several people (mostly people worried about cheating spouses) said they’d wait until I was available. One person called me from Bridgeport asking me to come in and help, offerin’ me more money. Considerably more money.
“Let me think it over and I will call you back before six tonight,” I said and then to talk to Henri about it. I took Miracle from him and began bouncin’ her gently as I told him what I was told, and how much I’d get.
Henri whistled. “How long would you be gone?”
“It’s hard to tell, really,” I answered with a shrug. “If his girlfriend is innocent, one day; but if she’s cheating on him then probably several days…” I shifted Miracle to my other side and wiped the drool goin’ down her chin. She gurgled and flailed her arms happily. I grinned back and bent my head down, blowin’ a raspberry into her stomach. “Ahhh whazz Mommy’s baby girl say to this?” I asked.
“Egggh,” she said, drooling even more and kicking.
I kissed her then flicked my eyes up to Henri. “She says no. I’ll stay.”
I called the man back but he then offered me more money. He said he was very sure his girlfriend was cheatin’ on him and when I explained to him I simply couldn’t take the time to follow her he said a psychic reading from me would be as much proof as he’d want. I wanted to reach through the phone and smack him, but told him I’d think about it. He obviously seemed sure she was cheating so if she wasn’t and I said so, would he really believe me? Or if she was and he didn’t believe me, would he want proof? But if a ‘psychic reading’ was all he wanted… I could go there and be back in one day, if I left early enough. So when I called back, he agreed on an amount of money and that a psychic–or rather, ‘aura’ readin’ was good enough.
As soon as I met her, I knew she was cheating on him. It was very sad, but at least they weren’t married. She wasn’t told why I was there, I think the man said something about me giving them an estimate for carpets or something. He was ready to lie to her instantly and I could tell him him he wasn’t exactly the easiest guy to get along with. But I did make sure he wasn’t violent before tellin’ him the outcome. He was more sad than anything, and thanked me for my time. When I left, he was grappling with the decision to break up with her or confront her with it.
“How’d it go?” Kaylee asked as I got in the car. She had come with me to do some of the drivin’, and was a bit annoyed we couldn’t stay overnight and enjoy the city. I hated the city, as soon as we got close it was like a wall of emotion. So many people everywhere. It made me sick and dizzy, and there was no possible way I could stay here. It was hard enough bein’ here for the short time I was.
“She was cheating on him, but he was lying to her about a lot of things. So… dunno.” I sat in the passenger’s seat and looked up at the apartment building. So many lives hidden behind the brick, behind the brick of the buildin’ next to it–behind all the buildings. So many lives crammed into a tiny place. Going about their lives, swarming over the concrete roads and dark subway stations.
“Did you know the Danevbies came from here?” Kaylee asked as we drove to the exit that would take us on the highway home.
“We did?” I asked and she nodded. “Since when?”
“Since always. Grandma told me. Her grandpa came from here. Imagine that. I wonder if we have more family here. Hey, think we have cousins? Bet none of them are as awesome as us though. Nobody can beat us. With my sexiness and your psychicness we can rule the world. Oh Grim Reaper’s dirty laundry! Imagine if a king or queen could like, do what you do! How scary would that be? I wonder if you woulda been burned as a witch in the olden times. I bet you would have, if just for your hair. Were rainbows around back then?”
I settled back in my seat, comforted by her babblin’ away. It was something to concentrate on as millions of emotions flashed me by. A sea of emotions. All the joy, sadness, sorrow, pleasure, worries, fear–how could people live like this? Surrounded by people, yet so much loneliness. People like the couple I just left. In the blink of an eye I passed several of them. Inside one buildin’ I felt a couple married for years yet never truly seeing one another. I passed a single mother, more worried about her next fix than getting food for her baby, which was what the next single mom was worried about. I felt a divorced dad more worried about paying the bills than the divorced dad I passed a moment ago who was thinking about how short his secretary’s skirt was.
“SJ?” Kaylee whispered as my fingers dug into my legs and I felt blood draining out of my face. “Are you going to faint? Do we need to pull over?”
“No!” I gasped. “No please, just get me out of here as fast as you can.”
It was a blur. An emotional blur. As hard leaving as it was coming in. I wanted to cover my ears and beg these people to stop feeling so much. I wanted to cry, to scream, to hide. I wondered briefly if gouging my own brain out would help. Tears did drip down and I hunkered down, focusing on Kaylee. She was nervous about me, worried, scared. “Please talk,” I croaked out. “Please.”
“About what?” she asked.
“Anything–everything–please. Are you seeing anyone? Read any good books lately?” I grasped at straws, needin’ her to calm down which she slowly did as she talked. She had been so excited on the way in it was easy to focus on her, easy to block a lot of what was around me. I had to drop my shields for my job. Now my job was over and it was like a flood breakin’ in. I was drowning. I wanted it to just be over–and then slowly it started fading. Kaylee got us out of town. We flashed by the people in cars around us but it wasn’t as overwhelming. Slowly I was able to put up some wobbly shields, breathin’ in slowly and carefully, and then I was almost okay again.
“Should we stop somewhere?” Kaylee asked, noticin’ I was sitting up again.
I shook my head. “No, not yet. We can get some dinner in a bit but right now I want to get away from Bridgeport. It’s… it’s horrible. So many people.” I stared at the sky, tugging at my lip and thinking about things. Mainly, the realization I did need a cure. Not just for myself but for any child I might have that might have this ability. I wasn’t sure if Miracle did or not, we might not find out until she went through puberty, but I didn’t want her to have to live like this. Going back to the Reddings was the right thing to do, as hard as it would be to spend so much time away from my baby.
A week after Miracle turned eight months old, my determination to find a cure for this ability was strengthened as I woke up to a familiar nauseous feelin’ in my stomach. As I clutched the toilet, I knew I’d have to keep this secret for around two months. I had to see the Reddings again at least once, before it was put off another year, and I doubted Henri would let me if he knew I was pregnant.