Chapter 1 – And our bodies are earth. And our thoughts are clay. And we sleep and eat with death.

I’ve spent most of my life living like I’m invincible, like nothing that happened in life could touch me. I was arrogant because I had built the walls around myself so high that I thought nothing could possibly breach them. I knew it was foolhardy to love someone, to let them in. My walls were strong enough but I was too weak to keep them up, not in the shining face of my beloved, my wife, my Tina.

Even now as I gaze at her calm and reposed face, deep in restful slumber, and I am overcome with the conflicting emotions of such a life lived. I love her so deeply I cannot even fathom the depth of it or the sheer impossibility of such a phenomenon, but I was foolhardy to have let her in. Just like mom, just like daddy, my family always leaves me. And this time, I fear that I’ll be destroyed, utterly and completely destroyed. I just got her back and I’m going to lose her again.

I take her hand in mine and stroke the smooth alabaster surface reverently as I gaze into her sleeping face. Even frail and pale and motionless, her beauty unfolds before my very eyes. How I love the way her skin stretches over her bones. She’s my life, our daughter is my life, but like Juliet, I don’t know if I have the courage to face it this time. She can’t leave me. I just won’t let her…I just can’t…

The gentle beep of the monitor is the only hope I cling to. It’s not steady, and it’s not strong. What I wouldn’t give to trade places with her. She deserves our daughter more than I do. She deserves to live more than I do. And I would give my life for hers without thought or hesitation. If I could only make a deal with God, and get him to swap our places; I’d be running up that road, be running up that hill, with no problems.

I reach up and stroke the hair at her forehead. ”Come on baby…” There’s no response but the weak, irregular beep of her heart. I squeeze her hand as a tear escapes my eye. ”Come on darling…” Nothing. I sit on the edge of the bed and gaze at her wonderful face. She is beautiful but motionless. I close my eyes, ’God let me steal this moment from her now…’ I hold her hand to my chest but it’s limp with dead weight. ”Come on angel…come on…” My voice is choked with emotion. ”…come on darling…” I stroke her face and the tears fall harder and faster. ’God, please, please…let me exchange this experience with her…’

No one hears me. I’m just talking to myself, just like I have been for the last four days. ”T…don’t leave me…please…” I kiss her lifeless hand and cry piteously. ”T…if not for me, then for our daughter…don’t you hear me?” I gaze hopefully at her face. ”Our daughter needs you damnit! T…please…Angelica needs you. You haven’t even met her…don’t you want to?” I smile through my tears. ”She’s beautiful T…just like you.” I kiss her hand again. ”She’s so tiny, and she’s struggling…just like you…” The tears are so thick in my eyes that everything appears to be viewed through a foggy kaleidoscope. ”They say…they say that she will make it T…but with you…” I cry harder. ”…they just don’t know. Only you do…” I stroke her hand. ”Talk to me T…tell me you’re going to be okay…let me hear your voice…just once…at least one more time…”

She doesn’t respond but I won’t be deterred. She’s in a dark place, just like she was almost two years ago, and just like then, I refuse to leave her there. I will see the light shine in the hazel depths of her eyes again, even if I have to follow her into the dark to see it. They will shine just like they did when we accepted Malcolm’s offer…


BANG! The sound was so loud through the open patio doors that it almost sounded like a gunshot. ”How could you do that Shane?!”

Hurried footsteps walked quickly past the back gate and we all got to our feet to walk to the side windows of the house and peer out. ”Carmen, I’m sorry…Carmen, just listen to me!”

”NO!” Carmen stopped and turned to Shane who skidded to a halt a few feet from her. ”No, I don’t want to hear excuses. It’s over…”

Carmen had angry tears in her eyes and a large bag in her hands as she turned and resumed her hurried stride to her car. Shane followed at a run.

”Carmen…I…I love you…”

Carmen threw her bag into the backseat and opened the driver’s side door before her broken eyes met Shane’s gaze. She snorted an incredulous laugh and said, ”Fuck you…” before entering her car and skidding away. Shane stood there in stunned silence and something I had never seen before happened. She put on hand to her stomach and bent her knees like she was going to collapse, as tears fell freely and openly from her eyes.

I looked to Tina and we gazed at each other for long moments. When I looked back out the window, Shane was crouched down fully, barely holding herself together. I made my way out the back of the house, through the gate, and approached Shane from behind. She didn’t look up as she felt my hand on her shoulder, so I crouched down next to her and wrapped my arms around her. She let me hold her for a few moments but it didn’t last long. She stood abruptly, adopting her everything is peachy expression, and I sighed as I watched her retreat to her house. Fuck…

I looked back to the windows with a heavy heart and stood to start towards Shane’s door. I heard a rough scratching sound where my foot caught against something on the concrete and I looked down. There’s a key. I crouched down and picked it up. It was a standard house key. I shut my fingers around it and closed my eyes. This must be Carmen’s. I stood again and made my way to Shane’s backdoor.

I looked through the window on the door to see Shane standing rigidly still in the living room. ”Shane!” I knocked on the door. I saw her head turn and I could see her profile, but otherwise, she didn’t move. ”Shane! Come on! Open the door!” She turned her head forward again obviously planning to ignore me. I turned the knob to find it locked. I decided to give her one last chance to stop this nonsense of her own volition with a loud banging on the door and a shouted, ”Shane!”

I watched her through the window and she still didn’t budge. I could feel the anger rise up in me. Why anger? Because my friend was following the same path to personal destruction that I did, only she was fully aware. It didn’t have to be this way. I put the key in the lock and turned the door open, walking through with quick, determined strides and shutting the door.

She turned to see me place the key on the kitchen table. I strode over to her and crossed my arms over my chest. ”I won’t let you shut me out Shane.”

She looked me in the eyes and her gaze was so piercing it was almost menacing. Her words were laced with barely contained anger, but Shane is nothing if not well contained. ”None of this would have happened if you had kept your word. Why Bette?”

I furrowed my brows and un-tucked my arms. ”What do you mean?”

She stared right into my eyes and calmly said, ”You’re the only one who knew. Why? I…I trusted you…”

I could feel my mouth drop open. ”Shane, I haven’t breathed a word to anyone, not even Tina.” Her countenance was so accusingly disbelieving that I felt it impale me to the floor like a spear. ”Shane, I didn’t say a word.” Her face started to crumble and she looked down. When she finally tracked her eyes back to mine, she swallowed the pain and the tears that were trying to valiantly to fall. Why wouldn’t she just let them?

Her face looked so broken, and so utterly disappointed and sad that I wanted to reach out to her but I couldn’t do it. Despite her hurt, her aura pulsed with warning. Then, out of nowhere, her face morphed into a dramatic frown as she reached her arm back and swung, hitting me hard in my face. My head snapped to the side and I had to swallow the stinging throb of it.

I reached up and rubbed my jaw and let my anger and hurt wash over me. She bent at the waist, pushing on her bent knees with her palms and I was glad she didn’t look at me again. I was far too angry with her. I didn’t say a word as I left, shutting the door hard behind me.

I looked to my home and hesitated for a moment as I let all the negative emotions swirling inside me go. I love Shane, and she knows it. If she didn’t believe that I kept my word to her, then there was really nothing more to say to her. The rift that this moment created hit hard in my gut as I made my way home.

Malcolm and Tina were standing in the kitchen, Tina hugging him tightly and crying. I smiled as I stepped forward and they both turned to me with brilliant smiles. It was a terrible dichotomy, feeling this happy when there’s so much hurt just twenty feet away, but as I gazed at the joyous face of my wife who came to me and took me in her arms, there was no way not to let it in, let her in. Her joyous tears turned to joyous laughter in the crux of my neck and I beamed at Malcolm over her shoulder. Meeting his eyes, I allowed the seriousness of my gratitude to shine on my eyes as I mouthed the words, ”Thank you.”

His smile turned almost shy as he nodded his head and gave me a knowing look. I squeezed Tina and we both cried harder as he left the room to give us some privacy to glory in this moment together. I buried my face in the hair at Tina’s neck as she continued to shake with happy, relieved laughter, and breathed deep of her calming lavender scent. Thank you Malcolm, thank you…


Continued in Chapter 2 – Chance is the fool’s name for fate.

36 thoughts on “Chapter 1 – And our bodies are earth. And our thoughts are clay. And we sleep and eat with death.

    • I haven’t had a chance to start the next update but it’s going to be a huge challenge and my time is about to become more limited. Bare with me and I’ll get it up as soon as possible.

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  1. I see what you meant about it hurting… but there were some nice positives in this part of the story: Tom wanting to reconnect with his sister, Malcolm and Bette’s (and Kit’s) growing relationship, the sweet moments of the pregnancy, from their first attempt to the sweet reveal (love the idea of that mock film poster). I’m trying to have some sympathy for Shane, but she really didn’t need to punch Bette for her own massive screw-up. I know she’s lost and all that, but there wasn’t much excuse for that. Bette’s being a good friend though, and Shane was a good friend to her after Bette started trying to pull herself out of her mess. Bette lashing out at Alice was interesting, likely pent-up (years-long) frustration that’s coming out in a time of major stress. Maybe they’ll make up, but Alice does have some boundary issues, and trying to have that sort of discussion in that sort of setting… Ugh, wrong time, wrong place. Dana… could she be any quieter? She could’ve stopped that train wreck, or at least tried. That cliffhanger at the end: I hope that Bette’s not having a dream about Tina waking up! Thank you for the post, can’t wait for the next part. 🙂

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    • As always, excellent observations and feedback, so thank you. Yeah, I felt Shane overreacted as well but it felt right. When people get close, she sabotages it, and I feel Bette’s getting too close for her comfort, or was at that point. Bette’s and Alice argument is the culmination of a lot things that do and don’t involve Alice. There’s a point to it, and most of the dialogue is from S2 when Alice sent Tina to Joyce. I don’t consider what dialogue I’m going to write when I right it. I just let them talk as two people would. What comes up and comes out is what it is. Dana kept quiet because she didn’t speak up in my mind, as insane as that sounds. lol Besides, having words with either of them at that point and in that much of a heated moment would have been detrimental to her own relationships. That’s why I had her just pull Alice out without a word. As far as Bette’s dreams, you’ll find out in the next installment of whatever the fuck else I can pull out of my ass. 😀 Thanks again JP! Snoogins…

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  2. Great update. Hope that Tina is truly waking up and Bette is not dreaming again. I would have thought that the nurses would have come into the room if Tina is indeed waking up since they are monitoring her as well. All this time that Bette is spending at the hospital with the visits from friends and talking to them is helping her slay her demons as well. So glad her brother could be there with her as well so that Tina will hear his voice and want to wake up. He should talk to her as much as he can as well. This is a fantastic story and I’m so happy that you decided to share it with us.

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    • I’m glad you’re enjoying the story and I hope Tina wakes up too. She has the most work to do. Tom is going to hang around for a while so we’ll see how everything goes. Tina’s family was always sort of left out of the show and I’d like to explore it a little bit.

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  3. What an awesome pespective. You are a gifted storyteller. I love how you folded it. A fun read, I do feel bad for Shane. I see the mirror between Shane and Bette, I hope Shane will experience her own “Happily Ever After”. Thank you Vag ✌😘

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    • Thank you. I hope Shane can get it together as well. She was so stubborn in the show, never growing. She grew a little bit with Molly only to go right back to her old ways.

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  4. You simply amaze me with your writing. The emotional depth that you write as Bette is magnificent. The reader truly feels and is carried away by Bette’s emotions. Thank you for your timely updates. I’ll wait with baited breath for your next one.

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  5. This was a painful chapter of this story. However, Bette learned to share her deepest fears in this chapter and I hope she will do so when Tina can hear them. Glad that Tina has family now and hopefully Shane will take the path to healing for herself. Excellent installment, it was difficult to read as it was sad but I have hope in the last sentence. Keep going! I love your writing and look forward to your next post.

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  6. Thanks for another great story VW. Bette goes through a lot, the poor woman needs a break! I wish Shane will grow more mature and stop acting like a frightened animal. I was so disappointed how Shane didn’t evolve one notch from season 1-6, she was a very loyal and genuine character. I am touched by Angie’s story, I was born at 24 weeks and started my life in a little box but now I’m an healthy grown up adult so there’s hope!

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    • You are welcome and yes Bette and Shane are both going through a lot. Shane is disappointing but keep in mind that even talking to Bette the way she did is HUGE for Shane. Thank you for sharing that you were a preemie. I’m glad you’re still here and made it just fine. My heart goes out to these babies and their families. It’s just so senseless but there is hope and just like you, Angie will make it just fine. 😀

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    • lol Give them a break?! But why?! It’s so much fun yanking them and you all around by my tiny little literary strings. They’ll get a break when they earn it by growing up. Until then, they have a lot to learn. I’ll compromise with you though. If there is something specific you want to see, let me know and I’ll find a way to work it in to the next story.

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  7. Oh sweet baby Jesus what an emotional rollercoaster! I’ve been reading along silently to all of your chapters the last week or two but haven had the time to comment. I just have to say wow. Your writing is so true to these characters its incredible amd the way you write Bette’s stream of consciousness is so compelling and thought provoking. I was especially touched by your (Bette’s) thoughts on commitment and equal marriage from the last chapter. I was so inspired I shared that excerpt with a friend. The act of legal marriage holds a value no heterosexual couple will ever be able to comprehend because theyve never ha to fight for it. Thanks so much. I look forward to the continuation.

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    • I’m glad you decided to finally say something. I love comments and feedback and they help shape the story. I’m grateful you said something and felt the desire to share. What was your friend’s reaction and which except was it? Thank you for the kind words. I truly appreciate it!

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  8. You write Bette so authentically that one can’t help but feel her anguish, anger and angst. Not over the top just right on. If one has experienced the wrenching pain when a loved one is in the hospital then one can totally empathize. Are you her doppelg�nger?

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    • I’m glad it felt natural and realistic for you. I know a thing or two about waiting in a hospital and slowly losing your mind while someone you love just disappears before your eyes. It’s gut wrenching but the sweet memories temper it, I think. Glad you enjoyed it and I’m working on the next one now. It may take longer but, I’m hacking away. Dainty – I wanted to say that the nurses would only come in if there were an anomaly on her readings or it was time to make rounds or give meds. Tina waking up wouldn’t cause her readings to spike unless she started getting sick, scared, something to increase her heart rate or cause the nurse alarm to ring. I hope that makes sense. 😀 Everyone – Does this site have decent Beta readers?

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      • Thank you for the incredibly encouraging words. I know this installment was shorter, but take heart the next one appears to be long by what I’ve worked out. So that’s a bright note, but the dark one is that it may take longer. Everyone – I appreciate all of you and want to thank you all. You honor me with your feedback and time and I am grateful to you. Thank you!

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  9. What can I say that others haven’t already said? You are one of the most prolific writers on this site in quite some time. Thank you! Your insight into, and portrayal of Bette is incredible. I confess to reading the first 3 installments in one sitting. It was like a wonderful book that I didn’t want to put down. I almost felt cheated when I got to this installment and it was only 45 pages. But what a wonderful 45 pages it was.I too know what it’s like to sit by and watch a loved one cling to life. The waiting is draining: physically, mentally as well as emotionally. I know it is multiplied when it’s your child and you are helpless to do anything but tell them they are loved and you are there for them. But all the worrying, fatigue, and sadness is forgotten the minute they turn that proverbial corner and sta

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  10. Excellent update. I think this installment is my favorite so far as it touched on every emotion and you portrayed them perfectly. I liked the writing style of going between past and present and filling in the gaps. As heartbreaking as it is to have Tina and Angelica fighting for their lives; having Bette deal with these events is having a catalytic effect on her self-growth and emotional well-being. By definition “emotional well-being involves identifying, building upon, and operating from your strengths rather than focusing on fixing problems or weaknesses.” I see Bette transforming with every inner thought and action. We are holding up the hope that Tina and Angelica will survive. My hope is also that Bette will come out of this tragedy with a greater capacity to enjoy the life ahead instead of lamenting over her past mistakes and measuring her self-growth against Tina’s approval to define her progress. She has already shown her strength in making independent decisions; one of which was to accept and trust Tom at face value. I also applaud Bette for finally standing up to Alice; and not swallowing her ‘bite’. Some might not agree that it was the ideal time or place to have the confrontation, but the opportunity presented itself and Alice needed to be put in her place right then and there. I hope Tina heard it too even in her comatose state ‘wake the fuck up and talk to your WIFE” … but even if she didn’t the most important part of Bette’s outburst was the emotional release. Alice and Tina in constant collusion against Bette is annoying and detrimental to the couple’s ability to work on their communication involving private matters that should remain between spouses. In my opinion Alice has an underlying compulsion to sabotage Bette’s relationship because Bette rejected her as a lover and she has not gotten over it; woman scorned. Tina feeds the compulsion by confiding all the intimate details of their lives. Alice in turn uses this knowledge to influence Tina and hurt Bette in the process so she can feel vindicated. Nothing good has ever come from Alice’s advice or interference in anyone’s business. I hope this is an awakening for Alice to realize the depth of the hurt she’s caused to both Bette and Tina. Thank you for once again outdoing yourself and giving us such a great installment on this continuing saga. Looking forward to the next one.

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    • I’m glad you’re feeling vindicated for Bette and I think that vindication will only further itself in the next installment. I’m working hard to get them to a place where they are a united front against all the obstacles they still face. Thank you for your encouragement and I’m glad that I’m satisfying your feedback. Thanks so much for giving it. Everyone – I will say that this next one is dark. In fact, one of the darkest things I’ve ever written…in my whole thirty years. I actually have a heavy chest just now and look forward to being done with this part of the saga so I can feel lighter. I hope you will all enjoy it. As I’m looking at it, I have two options. Either I finish this part and post it as a short piece because it’s SO very different from the entire story, or I wait and do what I believe will be a long story, possibly longer than the first I wrote. Any suggestions on what you’d rather see?

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  11. My opinion, since you asked, is to post the longer version if it lightens up by the end. This chapter was so sad. I wouldn’t want to be left hanging with a dark chapter as you describe it. I would rather wait for you to find a good stopping point in your story. I absolutely love your writing and await your next installment on pins and needles. 🙂

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    • I appreciate your input. I will be honest and say that I do leave it on cliffhangers sometimes because it’s so tense to do so and it often feels natural to the story line or shift in storytelling. It keeps you guys involved, and maybe even a little pissed off. But either way, it keeps you interested. However, I will not neglect to finish a story so you’ll never be left hanging there with no progression or conclusion, ever. I think I’ve worked out a good stopping point for this story and I’m near completion, though I have plans tonight and tomorrow night, as well as Saturday. So it may be delayed if I don’t get much done on it today. This one won’t end on a sad note and only the beginning is dark. I think you can handle it. 😀 It’s going to get better from here for our girls. I can promise you that, but perfection just doesn’t exist. Thanks again for you input. I thrive on comments so keep them coming.

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  12. Oh that was so cute!!!!!!! I hope its not a dream and Bette keeps all her promises of talking to Tina and I’m excited for her to touch her daughter

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  13. Everyone – You already finished it? Pam didn’t but damn! Speed readers much? 😀 Thanks for the encouragement. You guys are awesome! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! KEEP THEM COMING! I am working on it! I’m hoping as it progresses there will be a good point to split, but I won’t know it until I see it, or JP22 who’s Beta reading for me points it out to my idiot ass. Bear with me. This is a hard installment to start.

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