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Toni [userpic]

Short Story

October 24th, 2010 (12:57 am)

Title: Miscarried Marriage
Word Count: 836
Beta: My favorite boy-type.
Fandom: None
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: may be ouchy for those with loved ones in the military
Summary: It really should be picture-perfect.
A/N: Oh man, this is a downer. My last story was just a punch to the gut, but I feel so bad for everyone involved in this one. Once again, started with a prompt from the boyfriend, and it took off from there. Military families may want to proceed with caution.

She had really wanted this to be a fairly private affair, and by all accounts it should have been. It’s an incredibly personal thing, and she wants to tell all the camera crews, all of the damn local media, to leave them the hell alone. At the same time, though, she feels a little guilty even thinking it. After all, their nation is at war, and if every soldier is supposed to be a national hero, who is she to deny them this moment? It’ll make a great homecoming story, probably get some old lady to sob into her tea somewhere. People love that kind of thing.

Deep down, she knows they’d probably leave if she asked them to. It is her husband, after all, coming home to his family for the first time in years. But a part of her needs them to be here, to have concrete proof that she really is happy to see him. And as she watches her little girl, a young ten years old, bouncing up and down with excitement, it’s almost true. If nothing else, she’s happy for little Alicia, barely seven when her Daddy was shipped off, barely old enough to understand any part of what was going on. Now they can be a family again, apparently.

And yet, when James had left, and she’d kissed him goodbye, there’d been a part of her that hoped against all hope that he wouldn’t come back. How do you reconcile something like that?

It’s not James himself that alerts her to the fact that he’s stepped out of the gate. It’s the combination of the crowd’s cheering and Alicia’s tiny hand tearing away from hers that finally breaks her out of her reverie. Yet it’s not so much a break as it is an adjustment, because suddenly everything is in slow motion. It’s picture-perfect, James kneeling down to scoop Alicia up into his arms, her blonde pigtails bouncing all over the place as flash bulbs threaten to blind her. He steps forward, his picture-perfect smile coming ever closer until his picture-perfect eyes are staring directly into hers. He kisses her passionately, the starved kiss of a man who’s been lost for far too long, and she wants desperately to be happy, but instead she just wants to scream, “She’s not yours!” It threatens to break out of her anyway, despite her best efforts at control, so she just prompts him to pick up his duffel and follow her away to the car.

The crews finally dissipate and the three of them head off, Alicia babbling away about everything that’s happened since the last letter she wrote. Did he know that they got a dog? Her name is Molly, and she likes to chew on shoes, so he had better watch out. James’ dog tags jingle musically against his chest, which is far more muscular than she remembers, and she’s nearly fallen back in love with him by the time they get home. Or back in lust, anyway, she reminds herself, overcome with the sudden urge to run her fingers through his rich brown hair. Which she does. He is her husband, after all, and he just smiles and kisses her again. It’s almost unfair what a good kisser he is.

It’s not until that night, alone in their bedroom, that she has the strength to say more than a few words at a time. Alicia’s done most of the talking for the day, but now it’s just her and James, and she has to say something, so she just blurts it out. His face falls immediately, the ecstatic glow disappearing as his light blue eyes crinkle at the corners. He doesn’t understand, so she says it again. Alicia, their beautiful darling daughter, she isn’t his child. She sits on the edge of the bed, staring at the carpet, and tells the story of a day, ten years ago, when she was afraid to lose him. So she went to a fertility clinic, got herself knocked up, and presented him with a choice: marry her, or she’d abort the baby.

To her absolute surprise, he’d been thrilled. All those times she’d feared he had been sneaking around on her, he’d been off ring shopping or something, waiting for the perfect time to propose, and here it was. Her insecurities temporarily put to rest, they’d been married within a month, but her heart had broken a little bit every time his loving gaze came to rest on her stomach, on the life he knew was growing inside. On the lie she was nurturing. On the day Alicia was born, everyone thought she was crying from joy.

Now, as she looked into his eyes, she could see his heart breaking, his dreams falling to pieces. All he’d wanted was a family of his own. He muttered an excuse and hurried out into the living room to think. She lay down in their bed, which had never felt quite so empty.