“Being There II”
Author: Pia Pedersen
Author’s note: All right. I know I said I would not write a continuation to ‘Being There,’ and I meant to leave it as it was. But yesterday I sat down trying to write again, and after untold minutes of staring at a blank screen, words started to form in my mind. Will wanted to speak, and I am not about to deny him that; I could never deny him anything. J
So, here it is – the companion piece to ‘Being There.’ This is Will’s POV, and the story follows directly after the first piece. Enjoy.
Disclaimers are in force.
we call the beginning is often the end
to make an end is to make a beginning.
end is where we start from.
Eliot, Four Quarters.
Melinda is still sleeping when I put her down, and I keep standing by her bed for a moment. My heart is full of love for this tiny being. Before she was born, I used to imagine what it would be like to be a father. When she looked at me for the first time I knew that it would be nothing like I had thought. It is so much better. It is a gift. I just wish Cecily felt the same way.
hear footsteps and turn around to see Deanna standing in the doorway, cautiously
keeping her distance. There was a time when I could feel her presence in a room
before seeing her, a time when we were very close, and I know this is why she
came. It is the reason she was the one I first thought about after finding
Cecily gone. Deanna. I shake my head lightly to clear my mind.
moves tentatively closer, as if not to overstep the boundaries put on our
relationship by time and circumstance. There is a ring on her finger. A
beautiful symbol of the commitment she made a long time ago, to another man; a
man who loves her very much, and who she loves in return. I should know. I was
at the wedding. In fact, that was the last time I saw her – when I watched her
take her wows with him. It became hard for us to keep in touch after that, our
lives had moved so far away from what we had thought they would be, and seeing
each other was a reminder of that. So we walked in different directions, and now
here we are again.
I close the distance between us, suddenly wanting, needing, to feel her close to me. She seems to understand it, and there is a small smile on her lips as she lets them caress my cheek. It is only a gesture of sympathy and friendship, and yet I feel a jolt of electricity at the contact – just as I did the first time she did it a few minutes ago – and it takes me back in time, to another place, another life. It is strange how life unfolds. There was a time when I thought we would find our way back to each other, it was what kept me going, the hope of one day holding her, loving her, again. It didn’t turn out that way, but it has not changed how I feel about her – the bond is still there, even if it has been buried. Imzadi is eternal. At times this truth has haunted me, but tonight it is utterly comforting. It is what I need right now, reassurance that when the rest of my world is shaking, she is there, and she always will be.
“Is she sleeping?” she asks, and I am shaken from my thoughts as she takes a step back to look at me.
“What?” I say, still a little dazed, and she smiles that incredible smile I have always loved, the smile I still love.
“Melinda,” she clarifies, and I am struck by the soft tone of her voice as she speaks my daughter’s name. “Is she still sleeping?”
“Yes,” I reply and turn around to look at the baby girl resting so peacefully just a few steps away. I will probably never understand why Cecily had to walk away from her, from me, but I will make sure that Melinda will know that her mother loved her. Because I know she did. I remember how happy she was during the pregnancy and right after the birth. But then things changed. She became distant, afraid, and she pulled away from the baby, and, eventually, from me. I did see it, I realize, but I hoped it would pass, and that she just needed time to adjust to the changes that came with motherhood. “I should have reacted,” I hear myself whisper, “I should have done something.”
“Do you have any idea where she might have gone, Will?”
I know I should have an answer for her, but I do not. I have absolutely no idea where my wife is, or how she is. It hurts more than anyone can ever understand, except maybe the woman next to me. She is an empath, after all, not to mention the one person in my life who I cannot hide from, even if I wanted to. I smile a little. Not that I would ever want to do that.
“No. I have no idea, Dee.”
She looks at me, surprised. I smile. I haven’t called her that in a very long time, but it felt right, and she does not seem to mind.
“I just don’t understand,” she says, trailing off as she sits down on the bed in the in the middle of the room. Then she jumps up, suddenly, as if she just realized where she is. “I’m … “
“You can sit there,” I say, joining her, and she seems to relax again. She is so beautiful. The thought hits me, and I rise quickly.
“Are you hungry, Deanna?”
“Will, you don’t have to …” She seems disappointed, but then she just shakes her head. “No, I’m not hungry, but I would like …”
“Stay here.” I want to laugh softly, but I suppress it. This is why I’m so thankful that she is here; this is why I love her. She has always been able to make me feel better, no matter how impossible things have seemed to be. I make a mental note to make sure I tell her how much I cherish her. “I’ll be right back.”
She is standing by Melinda’s bed, holding her little hand, and I feel a lump form in my throat. It is such a beautiful sight. Deanna is going to be a wonderful mother someday.
“She’s precious, Will.”
“Yes,” I answer, handing her the hot chocolate, “thank you.”
“We will make sure she’s happy,” she says, sipping the chocolate, and something in her voice makes me look at her. She returns my gaze head on, and I wonder if Stephen has ever found himself drowning in her eyes the way I always do? I wonder if he misses her now the way I have missed her, the way I will miss her the minute she walks out the door? Somehow I doubt it.
“You’re an incredible woman, Deanna.”
She looks away from me, but not before I realize that she is blushing slightly. It just makes her even more beautiful.
“I’m sorry,” I apologize, “not for saying it, because it’s the truth, but I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable. I realize the circumstances aren’t exactly … but it has been so long since we’ve seen each other.”
“I’ve missed you, too.” She smiles again, turning back to look at Melinda. “I … she must have been distraught.” The smile is gone as she moves away from the bed, stopping as her eyes rest on the image on the nightstand. “You were so happy that day.”
“Yes.” I move to stand behind her, and she does not move away, not even when I place my hands on her shoulders. “I have to find her, to make sure that she’s safe. I have to, Deanna.”
“I know,” she nods, turning around, and we are suddenly very close. I can see that she realizes it, too. But to my surprise she does not back away. “It will be all right,” she promises.
“With time.” It feels so good to hold her.
“I should go.”
I don’t want to let go of her, but I do, and she is at the door before she turns around. There is something in her eyes.
“Dee?” I cannot believe I did not see it earlier. “What’s wrong?”
“It isn’t important, Will,” she dismisses, but I press on. Everything about her is important to me.
“Of course it is,” I say, reaching out to her. She walks back into my arms. That is when I know something is definitely not right. “Talk to me. Please.” I want so desperately to help her, take away the pain she is no longer hiding from me. It almost takes my breath away. She is silent. “Is it Stephen?” She becomes instantly tense, and I instinctually hold her tighter to me. I swear if he has hurt her, I will hunt him down …
“He gave me,” she hesitates, and I wait, “an ultimatum,” she finishes, and I cannot believe what I am hearing.
“He did what?”
“Will, please,” she asks, looking at me seriously. “Don’t.”
“An ultimatum?” I ask instead of answering. “What kind of ultimatum, Deanna?”
“He didn’t want me to go to you,” she says, her voice just above a whisper, “and if I did, he would be gone when I got back.”
I have no idea what to say. I cannot believe he would say something like that, but he obviously did, and it strikes me just how much she has given up to be here right now. I cannot believe that either, and at the same time I know that I would have done the same thing. If the situation had been different, I would have gone to her in a heartbeat.
“I told him I loved him,” she says now, turning away from me, her eyes focused on something only she can see, “but that I needed to be here. He didn’t understand that; he never really understood.”
“You can’t blame him,” I find myself saying, surprising us both, and I go on quickly. “Sometimes I don’t understand, either, Deanna. I don’t understand how it is that just being with you can make everything else not matter. How is it that I can hurt over Cecily, and I do, but still feel the way I do about you right now?”
“How do you feel?” she asks, and I wonder if she really does not know, or if she just wants me to say it. It must be the latter, because I am pretty sure that my feelings are quite evident; they are probably written all over my face.
“I love you,” I answer her. It is the truth, it always has been, and it always will be. She is smiling, and her lips cover mine in a soft, gentle kiss. I want to deepen it, but I do not. It is not the time, not yet. “Deanna,” I whisper when we part, “thank you.”
“You said that already,” she reminds me, and I smile. “It was the right thing for me to do, Will.”
“I still appreciate it,” I say, walking over to check on Melinda. She is awake, and I pick her up, feeling Deanna’s eyes on me.
“You’re a natural with her,” she observes, and when I look up at her, I see the soft expression in her eyes. I cannot resist kissing her softly, and when she reaches for the baby, I watch the two of them silently. Deanna is right. Everything will be all right. Sometimes what appears to be the end can be a new beginning.
“You seem to be far away,” she says, concerned, “are you okay?”
“I’m okay,” I promise her, “I just …”
She smiles that soft smile, and I feel my heart beat faster. She is so incredible, and I realize that you only get so many chances in life. However difficult the circumstances, this is mine.
“I will be here for as long as you need me,” she says, and I want to ask her to stay forever. Before I can stop myself, the words are spoken, and I watch her stunned expression. What have I done? “Will, that’s … this is not the time. You’re hurting.”
“That doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking clearly,” I answer, “in fact, maybe I’m finally getting it right.” I look at her seriously. Cradling the baby in her arms she is more beautiful than I have ever seen her, and images flash through my mind of her holding another child, our child. “Deanna, I know this isn’t the best time for us to have this conversation, but I …”
She silences me with a finger on my lips, but when I look into her eyes, I see the love there. She just said that she is not going anywhere. We have time.
“I think she needs her Daddy.”
I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing that word. I hold my daughter close, silently wowing to always be there for her, and I am confident, as I feel Deanna’s hand on my arm again, that this is not the end – it is a very promising new beginning for all three of us.