My family was out and out mad at me. And also happy. Pretty much everyone stated how stupid I was for just runnin’ into a situation with guns like that, and then they’d thank me for keeping Duncan safe. Duncan was the most mad and most relieved. The day after everything happened, he came to my house and cried at me for a while. He was terrified at the thought of leaving his new wife, Amy, and the unborn baby. “But you shouldn’t risk your own life for mine,” he sniffled at the end of his tears.
“Neither of us are hurt,” I reminded him, huggin’ him tight. “We’re both okay and we shouldn’t think about what could have happened.”
The fear was really hitting me. With everyone tellin’ me over and over how I could’ve died was just… overwhelming. Feeling their fears and emotions was really doing its number on me. Without the police jobs I didn’t have as much work to do, and I didn’t take as many jobs on as I had been. I stayed home more often and focused on my kids. Miracle and Chance were getting older by the day and life could be short. Apparently havin’ a ghost husband wasn’t enough, I had to have a brush with death as well. Chance was already almost three and Miracle would be five! Her second big birthday was going to be on us soon and then teaching and soon she’d be all grown up and I just couldn’t let this time pass by, I had to spend more time with my babies.
The next year went by pretty nicely. I was at home more often, able to not only be with my kids but be with Henri. Our arguments happened less and less as we were able to be more like husband and wife instead of two people livin’ in the same house. There was a tiny problem though, sometimes Chance would just walk right into our room. We learned to be very quiet and keep our ears open for his tiny shuffling walk. It happened just enough to be annoying, not enough to make us angry.
“Ah, baby boy, you need to stay in your room!” I said one evening after he interrupted Henri and I. I had had just enough time to yank on a top and hop out of bed to greet him when he came in.
“I have scawy dweam, Mama,” he said seriously. “Dere’s a scawy ting undah my bed.”
“Mhm… how did you get out of your bed, baby?” I asked, carrying him back to his room. “Did you go down through your crib? Under it?”
“Um. No,” he lied. “I jump. Mira says dere are monstahs dat live undah beds.”
I took him into his room and bent over, waving my hand under his crib. “There’s nothing there, there’s nothing to be afraid of. And if there was anything that came in this house, your daddy would get rid of it right away. Your daddy and I would never let monsters be in this house.” I set him in his crib, feelin’ so weird telling a ghost this.
Chance floated down through and came back out, clingin’ to my legs. “Nooo, Mama. I no wanna sleep in here. Dere are scawy tings!”
“Chance, sweetie, this is your room.” I picked him up and tried putting him in but he wriggled and pouted at me, then floated right down through the crib again. “Chance. You need to sleep in here.”
“I sleep wif Mira?” he asked, peekin’ out from under his bed. “She scawy so monstahs no come in dere.”
It was all I could do not to laugh. “She has her bed and you have yours, all right? This is your room, and this is your bed. No monsters are in here. Please? For Mama?” I picked him back up and he stared up into my face, thinking.
“Otay. For Mama. But I no like.” He let himself be put in his crib and he pulled his stuffed bear close. He was still pouting but at least he stayed solid. “Nye-nye, Mama.”
I returned to my room and collapsed down. Henri rubbed my shoulder and smiled. “Monsters again?” he asked, kissing my shoulder where his fingers had been.
“Yes. I just don’t know… on one hand it’s so strange telling a ghost not to be afraid of the dark, but on the other hand I like being able to tell him that and treat him as any other child. I don’t want him to think of himself as the thing that goes bump in the night.” I rolled into my husband’s arms and snuggled close. We had avoided buying movies that involved ghosts, we had no books that involved ghosts, and we were doin’ our hardest to make sure that in this early stage of life Chance saw himself as no different from Miracle.
I felt Henri’s fingers liftin’ up the nightshirt I had thrown on. “All little kids go through this phase. It’s a good thing he insists there are monsters under his bed. Shows he’s normal.” He kissed me and then pulled off my shirt. “Personally I think we have more to worry about with Miracle.”
Miracle, unfortunately, was startin’ to assume that the difference was because of the sex, and was calling her male relatives ‘girls’. Both her grandpas were girls, her uncles were girls, and her cousin Charlie was a girl. When we tried to explain to her that they were boys she said no, they couldn’t walk through things like her daddy and brother. That was something Henri and I never even thought of and were doing our best to explain it to her without making it seem like Henri and Chance were abnormal. Not an easy task with a four and a half year old who thinks she knows everything.
“Personally, I think we shouldn’t worry about anything right now,” I said in a low voice, pulling him even closer so we could continue enjoying the love we had for one another.
We had started Miracle, and Chance, early on the teaching–at least, Henri did. We bought some early learning books and both children were learnin’ quite fast. Well, Miracle was learning quite fast. She was eager to learn and picked up on things fairly easy (except on the fact that the difference between girls and boys was not the ghostliness) whereas Chance just would look up at Henri with a smile on his face and absorb nothing. He was still givin’ us a hard time with potty training, he seemed perfectly fine just sitting on the toilet for long periods of time. When he wasn’t in the mood to sit there, he’d just go through it and drift through the wall before we could grab hold of him. Then Henri would have to go through the wall (if I was the one begging Chance to learn, I’d have to yell for Henri) and scoop him up, or try and herd him inside (if he was still un-solid).
“Chance, you gots to go peepee in the lil’ potty,” Miracle said, standin’ in the doorway one day. “Or poopoo.”
“Nope, no gots to go,” Chance answered.
“Yes, you can’t wear diapers no more,” Miracle replied. “You gotta be a big boy now.”
“Nope,” Chance said, falling through the training potty and going through the wall.
Miracle rolled her eyes up at me as Henri drifted through the wall. “Mommy, I tried. But Chance just not listen. He’s a bad boy, he needs to go’n time out.”
It wasn’t until I called in the big guns to help that we got anywhere. My dads gave us tips and came in occasionally to help. They had raised three boys and knew a lot more about what to do. It was still a bit of a struggle but finally Chance was potty trained, and Henri and I could say goodbye to diapers forever. Or at least until we had another kid. Which was always a possibility. When Miracle threw a tantrum or was bossy to her brother, or when Chance was ploddin’ through his learning experiences, we both got real frustrated and couldn’t imagine going through this again. But a lot of times we both really wanted another baby–except, if it was a ghost then I just didn’t know if I was able to go through it again. We did talk about maybe artificial insemination but the thought of having some other man’s baby in my tummy just completely unhinged me.
“It’s what you want to do, love,” Henri said one day when we had been discussing it. “I really don’t want you going through that again. If you want to go to the hospital, then I will accept it, and the baby will be mine.”
I stared at the wall as he rubbed my shoulders. He was tryin’ to keep his voice steady but I knew what was goin’ through his head. “Hen, I love you.”
His fingers stopped and then he leaned in. “I love you too. But–“
“I wouldn’t trade you in for any other husband,” I said, twistin’ in my seat to smile at him. “I don’t care you’re a ghost. I don’t care. You shouldn’t either.” I pulled him down closer so I could kiss him. “I don’t care about the work, and I don’t care about how painful it was to give birth to Chance, he’s worth it. I’m proud to have your babies. And if we have another baby, it will be our baby. Even with the risk of another ghost, I don’t care. Cause–“
Now he kissed me, stoppin’ my words. “How about this. We won’t think about the baby thing until after Chance is six or seven.” I nodded and soon we were falling back on the sofa, kissing and giggling like we had as teens.
“Ahhh, Hen! Do you realize it’s been twenty years since we first met?” I asked when we stopped for a breath.
Henri raised his eyebrows and grinned. “So it is! I remember when I first met you, sitting in my dad’s office.That was when I still thought girls had cooties.”
“You did not!” I shrieked and when he nodded, I began laughing. “Jeeez, Hen, you were almost thirteen!”
“Oh shut up. I didn’t know many people!” He swatted at my rear then stuck out his tongue. “You did have cooties. Icky girl cooties.”
“You have icky boy cooties!” I tried to smack him but then I fell through him. He got up off the couch, grinnin’ like a little boy. “You are a cheater! Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!”
“Liar, liar, pants on fire!” he laughed back and I got up, gettin’ him into a headlock. “Pfft, I don’t care, give me a noogie then,” he said. “My face is against your boob. Think I’d complain? HEY!” he added as I smacked his butt hard. “Now who’s the cheater? Leggo!” He went through me again and then scooped me up, putting me over one shoulder. “Hah, now you’re in trouble.”
“Let go! No fair when you go all throughable! Let go of me now, Henri! You’re mean! I’m gonna tell. You’re gonna go in time out. You–” I stopped when I saw Miracle and Chance both staring at us. “Uhhhh, hey kids.”
Henri spun around so I could no longer see them. “Oh. Hey kiddos! Whatcha need?” He set me down and I could feel how confused Miracle was feeling. “Mommy and Daddy were just… playing.”
“Daddy’s going inta time out?” Miracle asked, her eyes narrowed behind her lenses. She had just turned five recently, goin’ through her big birthday and turning into someone who looked quite a bit like my maternal dad. Her second big birthday hadn’t helped her attitude much, she still loved bossing Chance around and acting as if she were queen of the house. When she didn’t get her own way she started something new though: now she fainted. Or pretended to faint. She’d throw herself physically back on the ground so hard that it made me and Hen both wince.
“No, Mommy was just teasing him,” I said, making sure my shirt hadn’t ridden up. “Like when you tell Chance he’s going into time out when he’s not. I was teasing, and it was wrong of Mommy to tease.”
“Mommy, you go to time out then,” she said seriously.
Hen snickered quietly and I put my hands up. “Miracle, the children do not tell what the parents to do! However, as Mommy did do something bad, I will go to, um, time out.” I gave Hen a look and he put his lips tightly together to try to stop from laughing. I went over to the Time Out rug and leaned against the wall. “And Mommy will not be throwing a fit about being in time out. I know teasing is bad.”
Miracle stared back at me and then scowled, annoyed at my little statement. “I’m goin’ inta my room.” She turned on her heels and marched off, slamming her door shut. Henri gave me a questioning look and I nodded, so he went after our daughter to talk to her.
Chance came over and sat down near me. “Iss okay, Mama. I will stay wif you.” He smiled up at me and I smiled back. I really wished I could feel what he was feeling. After Miracle’s often moody emotions, dealin’ with his sweetness would really just be refreshing. Then again, only having one person in the house whose emotions I could feel was really nice even if was a lot of ups and downs with her. Sometimes when she was particularly temperamental I considered using the dark side of my powers to calm her down but I never did.
It had been a year since I was taken off the job as an official psychic consultant to the police, and now I was back. I was no longer allowed to go out with my brother, though; I had to stay in the station. I dealt mostly with small crimes too, nothing real serious. But this meant a few less regular jobs so I could remain an active mother but that was all right. I kept on the better paying jobs which were fast becomin’ with the rich folks from all over the country. Whether business partners could be trusted, or fiances could be trusted, or children could be trusted. It was horrible knowin’ that an aging billionare’s son was waiting for him to die. I had to emotionally detach myself from a lot of it which was really hard to do when it was emotions I was goin’ for. At least sometimes there was some good, like when I got to tell a sixty-four year old woman that her husband, ten years her junior, had been faithful to her for their entire twenty-three years of marriage.
I was offered a lot of money to fly to places but even when offered a lot, I always turned them down. “I’m sorry but if I can’t drive there and home again in a day, I cannot do it,” I told people and that was usually it but once in a while the needful clients came in. Shortly before Chance turned five, I had two couples come in from clear on the other side of the country which is where the berries lived. Both couples were rainbows and it was so strange meetin’ them since I had never really seen many. I knew my grandma had worked with them and there had been one that lived with my family when my maternal dad was a little kid, around Miracle’s age, but it was rather surreal actually meeting these couples. Both couples were very rich, one of them engaged, the other married. And both paid me quite a hefty sum to check up.
The engaged couple was straightforward, and her fiance was indeed a gold digger. She shrugged and laughed it off, sayin’ she had figured this but at her age, she didn’t imagine anyone would want her for love. The married couple hadn’t been married long and shockingly enough it was the trophy husband who had wanted to come. The moment I met him I wanted to smack him upside the head, oh my gosh he was so annoying I couldn’t even imagine how his husband could stand it. But despite some secrets goin’ on, some really scary secrets that I knew he was terrified I’d see, he was loyal to his husband and they were both pleased when I gave them the green light.
After I was done with both couples, I pulled the trophy husband aside and suggested he talk to his husband about his past. The rainbow paled (I think, it was kinda hard to tell) and in a snotty voice said, “And who are you to claim to know anything about my past?”
“Because the second we were in the same room I could feel your guilt oozing out of every pore of your body,” I answered, foldin’ my arms. He glowered at me, flarin’ up with anger. “Get as angry as you want with me, but the point is, you trust him and care about him, you should open up about your past. That’s what spouses do.”
The kid bristled with even more anger. “You know nothing, you’re just–an arrogant… woman!” And he stomped off to join the others. I just rolled my eyes and hoped I wasn’t that much of a brat when I was twenty. I didn’t think I was, since I had been in a deep pit of depression at that age. Then again, I didn’t think I was that much of a brat at any age.
But really, who on earth hired a psychic with the expectation of having that psychic look into your marriage and then not expect that same psychic not to tell you were practically drowning in guilt? It made no sense to me. Of course… there were very few people who made any sense to me, and considerin’ that Kaylee was one of the people who did make sense, I wasn’t sure if I had the best grasp on what sense really was.
Over the next few days after meeting that brat, I began to realize some things. He had been holding into a lot of guilt and secrets and regrets. Did I want to live my life like that? With that thunderstorm of emotions goin’ on inside of me because of all the coulda-shoulda-wouldas? Especially considering it might be about my babies? I had gotten a two year degree and was taking a short break until they were a bit older. I had free time. And as a mother, I knew that sacrifices needed to be made in order to give my children the best I could give. That did not mean money, or material items, but what was best for their actual lives. I had gone through hell with my powers and even now hated livin’ with my powers. It broke my heart looking into Miracle’s face and wondering if she’d have to go through that as well. That would rot my insides out with guilt, knowing I coulda possibly done something about that, I shoulda. So I would. I decided that after Chance turned five, I’d go back to helping Doctor Redding and tryin’ to figure out a cure.