Day 6 of our Mother’s Day Week Special is a scene from Bullet by Jade C. Jamison.
If you have not read Bullet yet, do not continue! SPOILERS BELOW!
Valerie Payne heard the sound of a baby crying, but she couldn’t make herself move. She was still stuck in the dream she’d been having, and she was struggling to awaken. It didn’t help that she’d been up with her colicky daughter most of the night. Finally, though, she was able to open her eyes and started to sit up. She couldn’t hear the baby crying anymore, and her husband wasn’t lying next to her either. She smiled, because she knew what that meant.
She stood up and glanced over at the crib to confirm it. The baby wasn’t there.
She saw a light streaming into the hallway from the living room of their new home, the one they’d moved into just a few months earlier. She stretched and got out of bed, sliding her feet into the slippers next to the side. She saw by the clock that it was early morning, but not early enough for the sun that was just beginning to peek over the horizon.
As Val made her way into the living room, she spied Brad smack in the middle of it, standing, swaying back and forth, singing quietly to their baby girl in his arms. The infant was silent, just staring at her daddy, likely as enchanted by his voice as her mother was. In spite of her fatigue, Val smiled, feeling warm inside.
When she got close, she wrapped her hand around Brad’s waist and looked at her child’s face. They’d named her Hayley Marie, Marie after Brad’s sister who’d died before he’d even been born. The infant’s blue eyes were wide, her tiny heart-shaped lips slack—not pursed as they had been earlier—her short black hair begging for a little pink bow. The child was so sweet and innocent—and quiet right now, Val thought. She loved the child all the more because Hayley looked just like her daddy.
Brad looked at Val and smiled, then turned his attention back to the bundle of flesh and blood in his arms. Val had known Brad would be a good dad, just based on his relationship with her son Chris alone, but she’d had no idea how he would be as a husband. It turned out he was everything she could have ever wanted or needed…and that he’d gotten out of bed with their child so she could get a little sleep was just a bonus.
Val kept her voice low when she asked, “Is she hungry?”
Brad smiled. “I don’t think so. Just doesn’t want to sleep.”
“Thanks for getting up with her.”
He looked at his wife. “Least I could do. You were up with her most of the night.”
Val nodded and shrugged. “Yeah.” She looked at the baby again. How could a child so innocent looking be such a fussy child all night long? The infant didn’t look sleepy at all, but she didn’t look like she was ready to cry anymore either. Well, Val had to admit that Brad could have a calming effect on her at times too. “I’m gonna go make some coffee.”
“You read my mind.”
Val made the coffee by rote, her mind elsewhere. She thought back over the last five years…so much had changed, and even though she and Brad were a natural fit, she hadn’t expected the ease with which they’d fallen into the relationship—no awkward moments, no doubts. Val suspected it was because they had always been close friends. Five years ago, though, Val had found out she was pregnant for the first time and had been fretting over how to tell her first husband. The child from that marriage, Chris, was her oldest angel and Hayley, Brad’s natural child, was her youngest. She and Brad had talked about having one or two more, but after all the sleep she’d lost with her daughter over the past week, she was beginning to question the idea. She poured water in the coffee pot, realizing that it was just her fatigue making her feel a little grouchy. In a month or two, once she could feel rested, she’d be fine.
Really, though, she couldn’t complain. Brad and Fully Automatic had gone on tour when Hayley was just a couple weeks old and now they were taking a two-month break. He’d go back on the road afterward, but he’d said he needed time to bond with his daughter and adjust to the new dynamics of the family. Val was so glad he’d made the decision, because she couldn’t imagine taking her children on tour—not yet, anyway, not with her fussy daughter.
Brad walked in the kitchen, still holding Hayley in his arms, the baby’s blue eyes glassy, staring at her daddy. Brad sat down at the table without saying a word. Val walked up behind him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. She kissed his cheek and looked down at her daughter. “You just love your dad more than your mom, don’t you?”
Brad glanced over at his wife. “You don’t really think that, do you?”
Val smiled. “No…I just wish she’d try sleeping through the night.” She looked at her daughter again and said, her voice soft, “Trust me. You’d like it.” She touched the baby’s nose with her finger.
When the coffee was done brewing, Val poured a cup for her and one for Brad and then sat at the table. She hoped the caffeine would help her wake up. Just as she took a sip, Chris walked in, his brown hair messy from a kid’s version of sleep, involving much toss-and-turn. “Good morning, sweetie.”
“Hi, mommy.” Her son stood next to Brad and Hayley. Chris kissed the top of his sister’s head and then got on his tiptoes to try to whisper in Brad’s ear. Brad bent his head and Chris cupped his hands around the side of Brad’s head. Val saw Brad smile and wondered what her son was up to. She could hear Chris’s voice but couldn’t make out the words.
“Okay, buddy.” Brad stood and walked over to Val. “Can you take Hayley?”
Val nodded but cringed inside, her nerves raw, wondering if her infant would start screaming as soon as she was placed in her mother’s arms. But she didn’t. She looked up at Val with peaceful eyes. Apparently Brad really did have a calming effect.
“We’ll be right back.” Brad and Chris left the kitchen, making Val wonder what was going on.
She smiled and looked at her baby again. “Do you know what they’re doing?” Hayley acted like she wanted to say something—such an adult expression—and then Val said, “I suppose they’ve sworn you to secrecy too.”
Another minute and Brad and Chris came back in the kitchen, Brad with his acoustic guitar in hand and Chris with a card made out of light blue construction paper. He walked over to his mother. “Don’t open it yet, mommy.”
She held it in her free hand and she marveled at it. Chris had drawn a red heart in crayon and written Happy Mother’s Day. The r was backward, but it made her smile, and she couldn’t wait to read it. She felt her eyes fill with tears, but she hoped Chris wouldn’t see it. He still didn’t quite understand the difference between tears of sadness and tears of joy.
But Chris was busy quietly consulting with Brad again. Brad pulled his chair out and away from the table and sat, and Chris stood next to him. “Ready, buddy?”
Brad started strumming a sweet, simple tune on his guitar and Chris looked straight in his mother’s eyes. He then began singing right on cue.
“Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You love me and
I love you.
You are the best,
The very best Mommy.
Let Mother’s Day
Be the best it can be.”
That did it. The tears that had been threatening to fall poured out of her eyes and down her cheeks and hit the baby’s onesie. “Did you like my song, Mommy?”
“I loved it, sweetheart.” She caught her breath and said, “I think I’m the luckiest mom in the world. I am so lucky to have you, Daddy Brad, and Hayley. Thank you, sweetie, for the card and the song.”
“Daddy Brad helped me with them. You can read the card now.”
Val blinked to push back the tears so she’d actually be able to read it. First she kissed Chris on the forehead and then Hayley as Brad set his guitar down, walked behind her chair, and rested his hands on her shoulders. She read the note in the card, certain Chris had had help with composing it as well. “Our lives are better with you.” The tears started to fall again as Val breathed a silent prayer of thanks. This day was proving to be the best Mother’s Day ever.
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Bullet – You can read Denise’s 5 STAR Review here