“If I tell you it won’t come true” Amanda protested.
“Honey I think that only applies to birthday wishes,” Lee told her putting an arm around her “it’s getting late sweetheart. Let’s go home.”
“I want to stay here for a moment more,” Amanda told him looking up into the star studded night sky.
Lee watched her as she moved away from him. Surely she didn’t think her wish would come true if she waited long enough. She smiled over at him patting the ground beside her. Glancing at his watch mentally shrugging at the time he’ll just have to manage best he could tomorrow.
Settling beside her Lee felt her slip her arm around him. “It’s beautiful isn’t it” her tone was hushed as she gazed into the night sky.
Without breaking his gaze from her face he murmured “she certainly is.”
Giggling Amanda tore her eyes from the sky to gaze into his eyes “I love you Lee Grayer” she announced bringing a hand up to stroke his face. “I love you from the moon and stars and back.” She moved closer hovering above his lips “that’s what I wished for. What I always wish for. To find a love like no other and once I find it to never let it go.” She kissed him with a fierceness she didn’t know she had. Lifting her head up “your the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
Lee brought a shaky hand up and stroked her face “I love you too.” He hoped she understood his reticent in not sharing her sentiment that she was the best thing that happened to him. It felt disloyal to Melissa’s memory and the kids they had together. Amanda was the best thing to happen to him since losing his family without her he’d be a shadow of the man he is. He ran his fingers through her hair putting a slight downward pressure on her head. He felt the tingling sensation as their lips met. He breathed in her scent filling his senses with her. It felt like his whole being was drinking her in, memorizing her. “We better get home,” he whispered in her ear.
Eyes dancing with mischief Amanda kissed him again “but it’s so nice here,” she protested as her hands wondered down.
Moaning he gently pushed her off him “but we’re not alone,” he reached for as he stood up. “I have other plans for tonight then spending time in jail for indecent exposure.”
“Put like that how can I argue?” she slipped her hand in his as they walked towards the spot they left their bikes.
Gazing out to sea Amanda enjoyed the sound of sea gulls calling in the air around her. The wind blowing through her hair. Breathing deep of the fresh cool salty air. She loved Lucky Palms. Loved the peace she found here. She could feel her sensivity to others emotions dimonishing the longer she was here. Was it the love she shared with Lee? Did that calm her turbulent past helping her to move beyond the tragedy? Was it just proximity? She wasn’t living on top of or beside other people sharing their walls. She wasn’t constantly bombarded with other people. Meeting someone wasn’t the traumatic episodes it used to be.
She felt arms slip around her. She was happy and content with her life. She reached up to stroke Lee’s face smiling “you’re late.”
“I know,” he kissed her soft skin along the nape of her neck “I’m sorry.”
“I know,” she said softly. She had known the moment he arrived home from work. She had felt his agitation at being late. The irritation he had from being forced to work late. His remorse for making her wait for him. His love as he wrapped her in his arms. “I love you,” she told him “I’d wait forever for you.”
“Thank you,” he held her face in his hands “I miss you every second we’re apart.”
“Good,” she laughed impishly as she stood in tip toes to kiss his nose “let’s eat,” she said grabbing his hand pulling him towards the house.
Their life together began to form a comforting routine. Lee would wake and go to work early. Amanda would devote some time to an online writing course in the hopes of following in her dads footsteps into the literary world. When Lee came home every night they would spend it cuddled in each other’s arms. It was perfect but something was missing from the idealistic lives.
Sighing Amanda read the emails again one after another announcing the addition of a bouncing baby boy or girl. All her siblings were having babies or trying to have babies. All her life she felt her siblings were out pacing her. Falling in and out of love as teenagers, getting married, starting families. She was always on step behind hindered by her so called gift.
She sent the obligatory congratulation messages sighing as she did so. She wanted that normal domestic family life. She didn’t want to constantly worry about freaking out if some strangers emotions were overwhelming her reserves. She was getting better but she was a long way from normal.
When she and Lee were sitting down for dinner Amanda asked “Lee why don’t we have a baby?”
Lee felt his muscles tighten as his insides grew cold. Images of his children’s faces flashed through his mind. The crash. The screams. The terrible silence. The emptiness. The pain. He couldn’t go through that again. He just couldn’t.
Amanda dropped her gaze to her hands laying inert in her lap. She felt rebuffed even though he hand’t said a word. She felt the burning behind her eyes as tears built up and threatened to spill from her eyes. Her pain blocked out his. Was she so messed up that he didn’t want to have children with her? Was he afraid their children might have the same ability? She felt the room closing in around her. She couldn’t breathe. She needed to escape. She bolted from the room crying as she dashed up the stairs.
“Amanda” Lee called after her “Amanda please,” he called running after her taking the stairs two at a time. Reaching the landing he found her sobbing on the bed. Sitting next to her he reached out to comfort her and she shrank from his touch.
“Don’t touch me,” she screamed.
“Talk to me,” he pleaded “tell me what’s wrong.” He sat there listening to her sobs while the be rocked in motion to her shudders. “This can’t be just be about having babies. Tell me what’s going on.”
Sitting up Amanda glared at him “so I can’t feel something without it being an emotional freak out from an outside source. Can’t I have a my own feelings? My own wants and desires?”
“What about me?” he shouted “what about my feelings?” Lee demanded while pacing the floor in front of the bed. Running his hands through his hair “I can’t go through this again.” He cried and fled from the room.
This time her intuition failed her. Too caught up in her own pain. Her own feelings she failed to see the pain he was in. Amanda threw herself on the bed face buried in her pillow sobbing.
Downstairs Lee paced the confines of the four walls he was in like a crazed inmate looking for an escape. Unable to put one intelligent thought in front of another he moaned aloud as he fumbled in the cabinets for the wine he had stored for a special occasion. Taking the bottle he went outside. Leaning over the side he took a swig from the bottle.
Draining the bottle Lee stared into the dark water several feet below the deck. His thoughts as dark as the water below. He wondered if he went in would he ever be found. If he did would he see his children again? Would they be waiting for him? He leaned further over the edge as if he could see them waiting beckoning him to him. Just before he let his feeble drunken hold loose he hand one final thought. Amanda’s face flashed before him. Grief stricken and broken. He promised her he’d always be here for her. If he let go he’d break that promise. Falling to his knees he let his pain, his grief out as he curled into a ball upon the deck and cried.
As the days passed neither one would talk about what happened. There was a strained uneasiness in the house whenever they were together. Lee took to staying at work later, coming home after Amanda had gone to bed. He’d sleep on the couch in the living room and be gone before she woke in the morning. Without Lee’s constant support Amanda found the outside worked creeping into her world more and more. She’d sit alone upon the deck holding her head whimpering as people came and went around her. Things she hadn’t noticed before were beginning to deafen her. She could no longer block them out.
Feeling sick she slowly climbed he stairs where she fell to the floor to weak to go further. Lee had planned to go out after work with some co-workers to a bar but he had the overwhelming feeling that he had to go home. He couldn’t explain it but he knew something was wrong. He couldn’t shake the feeling no matter what he did. It was always there in the back of his mind. Amanda’s face was omnipresent her sad eyes beckoning him to come home. He longed to take her in his arms and hold her. Apologize for the way he had been acting.
He swallowed over a lump in his throat as he entered the silent house earlier then his normal time of late. Feeling nervous as he wondered if Amanda would be happy to see him. “Amanda” he called out finding it odd that she wasn’t somewhere in sight. She always knew when he was home even when they hadn’t been talking. With a feeling for foreboding he climbed the stairs. At the top he staggered to his knees crying “Amanda…”