A mother is to love her child. Above else, she will do anything for them, sacrificing her own needs to see fit her child is well taken care of. It is in the argument of nurture vs. nature that experts have argued which one (or lack thereof) creates a monster. Can a mother love her child when her child is the very thing that can destroy her life? Just a grand gesture of love to give death upon others in a way that is self inflicted due to trauma. A mother’s love is both a beautiful and treacherous thing; the lack of it can be just as frightening ending in detrimental results.
So what made a person so twisted that either way the events played out they ended up hovering over a body covered in the fresh scent of iron. The bitter air bites at their ears numbing them beyond pain as their chest rises and falls in a low crescendo. It is a moment so private that it can be mistaken as intimate: the first kill. There is truly nothing like it. The wild and primative parts of the brain begin to rationale this reaction as normal while the conscious barely whispers it’s rebuttal. Any other emotions besides a high off dopamine is stuttered to a rather mute tick that taps at the back of the brain. With enough practice, the tapping stops becoming nothing but a black sheet to be used as a curtain when the right stage is set. For now, the veil is open and no words can be said to ruin such an occasion. One can only wonder if a mother could truly love a child this broken. No grandeur gesture can prepare for the percussions to come when a mother finds her child dissecting the neighborhood strays. No later than when the mother passes leaving her child to fend for her siblings only to watch them too fade away into the rooms organized in her mind palace. The screams become music which she waltz to as she strangles the man who murdered her brother. The static of a tv plays her favorite movie as she begins to dissect the body of yet another rude individual. On and on the rooms grow as she ages. Tall, fine, and bittersweet resembling a strong but expensive wine that’s been ruminating in the basement; carefully tucked away until the occasion arrives in which she pops the cork to take the first sip.
Or maybe the slight burn on her tongue is a reminder she is a product of her mother’s stern love. A heavy heart and a heavy hand make for a bruised behind from a child who didn’t know when too much was… Too much.
Annabelle rarely thinks about her past; it is a dark renaissance of art, culture, and unjust. She doesn't like to venture into the darker rooms that settle beyond the woods in the snow stained in bile. A needle and thread hover over her head reminding her of her place just as vivid as the soldiers’ hand meeting her cheek leaving a bruise when she is fourteen. The same man who lost his right-hand one stainless night after a drunken stupor. Annabelle takes a sip of her wine as she stares beyond her desk in her study watching a head full of golden-brown curls lurk cautiously in the den of a lioness. The small creature reminded her of a bunny with wide, dark eyes and cherub cheeks. The child is no more than six years old with a baby face that she won’t grow out of until she’s well into age. Her small body has no definitive shape yet, except that it’s evenly proportionate. Annabelle quirks her lips as those big brown eyes glance at her testing boundaries as the girl slides into a chair across from her slowly. The movements are almost irritating especially when she struggles a bit to push herself into the fine leather. The formal strangers stare at each other: predator and prey. Eyes of a deepest crimson reflected that of anxious sepia in the Gothic lighting provided by the fireplace. It is moments like this Annabelle wonders what the child sees when she stares at her like this in a feign search for some significant hint of emotion: she won’t find anything resembling a mother’s love, unfortunately. What the child may find is something much darker and far less inviting than the open arms of a hug.
It was the third Tuesday of October that Will was called into work. His instructions had been simple enough to establish their sense of urgency about the case.
“Are you sure you can handle this?” He asked turning away from the older woman as he pulled out a duffel bag. Annabelle didn’t give him the satisfaction of an answer. If she was honest with herself, she didn’t actually have an answer to begin with. Nowhere in their arrangement had they mentioned a child. Nonetheless, a child, one William Graham picked up off a crime scene, had somehow established itself into the dynamic of their lives.
“You know she won’t survive in an orphanage.” The empath spoke softly when he ad first introduced her to the child. He carried the little girl in her arms. Golden skin resembling that of a curt autumn day leaving behind nothing but soft muted browns and a homey scent left Annabelle momentarily angered by the sudden intrusion of their home. Yet, some of that ill-conceived jealousy began to resolve when she noticed how off-putting the child was towards them. A prey can sense when it’s being hunted after all. Not that she was hunting the child.
The girl, Jameson, was a sweet little thing that made everyone instantly fall head over heels. Whenever Will went out to run errands, the child stuck close by him (practically clinging to his leg) shying away from anyone who got too close. Will grew concerned when the girl refused to speak a word. Annabelle had read the case files and from what Will had mentioned, she couldn’t blame the girl. The amount of trauma that resulted from such a case might have permanently halted some rather pertinent development. Will began transfixed with providing a loving home for a child who saw a bit too much too fast at a young age.
“You might find you have some things in common.” Will optimistically said as he began to sort through his pairs of shoes picking out the most worn. “I know it’s been an adjustment, but considering your background and profession, I believe you’ll be fine with her.”
The conversation an undercurrent of doubt. Will believed they would ruin the girl further, but Annabelle doubted that could happen. Will had done everything he could to provide a well-established home for Jameson. He took her fishing with him showing get different techniques. She watched him make lures silently as he concentrated. They both shared an immense love for nature, often playing with the dogs. Jameson had quite a few friends which Will happily obliged to take her to playdates and such.
“Annabelle, ” he turned towards her before sighing, “please.”
Please protect her.
Please don’t lose her.
Please watch over.
Please love her.
So many connotations to follow such a simple request. She almost scoffed until their eyes met drowning her in lobelia blue eyes.
Annabelle covered the distance between them in three long strides hovering over Will by a few inches in her killer heels. He looked up at her through his glasses cracking a shy smile as she leaned down to kiss him.
“mon Coeur, ” a kiss on the forehead as her lips murmur into his curls, “we will be awaiting your return.”
The silence of the bedroom is not foreboding though she is accustomed to the soft murmurs and breaths of Will. Annabelle quickly finds she has another small body to fill such a large space. The slight pressure on her lower back alerts her of danger as she shifts. Arouding from slumber, she finds Jameson’s head of curls rammed into her. Annabelle murmurs to herself as she moves the child’s head to an actual pillow. It’s been less than twenty four hours since Will left, but she wishes he were hear. Annabelle is no mother. She is not one to give her all to this stranger who’s eyes see too much yet never speak of what they saw. It slightly unnerves her to the point she has to ignore the darker urges to rid the child from her sight. It feels wrong to think of that especially when Will’s eyes light up at the sight of Jameson when she peaks her head into his office. He slides her onto his knee and they sit in compatible silence like two lost souls rejoining as if years and time never separated them. Annabelle stares at the child with both envy, jealously, and something else she can’t quite place: she isn’t necessarily upset at the child or Will, but of what they have.
“Mothers are to love their child.” She whispers.
“Mothers don’t always though.” A small voice response back. Annabelle huffs in amusement.
“What is a child without the love of its other?”
“A creature harboring anything that resembles love. A creature deprived of life and hungrily eating what death provides.”
The older woman doesn’t speak for a long time. The voices of her mind palace grow somber in age, but never any less wise. Annabelle will never be a mother. She will never have a child of her own nor shall she carry one.
“Yet you have one,” a woman’s voice reminds her, “she is yours.”