Melissa Northrup is currently a Creative Writing student at Saginaw Valley State University. She enjoys reading, writing, and quoting movies and shows.
I see you rounding the corner where my little shop sits. You wait at the crosswalk to continue on your way. Today you wear your blue kitten heels, with your blue and white polka dot dress. Your hair falls to your shoulders in a wave of red fire. My hair used to be that long and thick before age started to catch up with me. You shift impatiently from one foot to the other for the light to turn. Seeing you reminds me of myself and of simpler times when I had Calvin and the life that I wanted.
We had a normal life together; well, what I consider normal. We had the small three-bedroom house with enough room to expand our little family of two, the ideal thing for a married couple to do back then. Times have changed. It had always been my dream to have a family of my own. I stayed at home and did chores here and there, keeping the house tidy while Calvin went to work at the university. He would leave, come home, and hide in his study after dinner working on papers and lectures. I would take him in a cookie or two and some milk. I would place my hands on his shoulders while he worked and he would place a hand on mine. He had finished his PhD. in History five years earlier. We would smile at each other and knew it was time for more. Time to make our family bigger, noisier. We tried to get pregnant. Nothing happened.
The red hand on the street pole changes to the white walking figure and you walk across the street to the sidewalk. I continue with my work as you walk out of sight. Shining up the silver, polishing the woodwork, and dusting off the lamps. I graze the white booties next to the cradle in the window sill with my worn, wrinkled hand. Calvin brought me to this shop one weekend and I fell in love with the small simplicity of it. The candlesticks and silver in one corner, the wooden desks, cradles and crotched booties in the window sill. Calvin fell in love with the history. There was a small help wanted sign in the corner of the window the next weekend when we visited. I started that Monday and have been here ever since.
Months go by, spring turns to summer, then to fall and I continue watching you through the window. One week you are not there. When you return I notice that your heels are sticking out of your bag and that there are sneakers on your feet instead. Your normal skirt is exchanged for dress pants and your shirt is flowing in the breeze instead of tucked in and professional. Your red hair and pale skin seems to glow a little brighter, but that could just be the sun. A light breeze blows your billowy white blouse across your back and around to your stomach. I notice the small bump that was not there when I first began to notice you. You eye the booties in the front window. I begin to feel an instant of joy for you and the journey that you are about to begin. At the same time, far in the back of my mind I feel a slight pang of jealousy.
As the light turns and you walk away I remember the doctor visits, the shots, the pills and the hormone migraines that would come with them. They would put me in bed for days and Calvin could do nothing but rub my back and bring me food that I wouldn’t eat. I always felt bad that I was making him feel useless and unable to take care of me so I decided to stop the treatments. It had been five years of hopelessness, prayers, and torment.
I had my annual doctor visit two months after our anniversary. I remember going home after the appointment completely dazed. Calvin had to shake my shoulders to get me to tell him what was going on. That’s when I told him he was going to be a father; our prayers had been answered. The next day he brought home a pair of white baby booties. He started practicing his lectures to my stomach, making it a nightly routine. I don’t think I could have been any happier than I was in those moments.
Calvin took me to my five-month checkup. He wanted to hear the baby’s heartbeat. We went into the room and waited for the doctor. Calvin couldn’t sit still. When the doctor started the sonogram, he was mesmerized. He couldn’t take his eyes off the monitor, neither could I. We waited for a sonogram picture and then headed back home. During the ride we kept looking at the picture, looking at our baby and each other. Neither of us noticed the light turn red, or the truck nearing the driver’s side.
I woke up to a blinding light, an aching body, and a feeling of emptiness. I asked the nurse what happened and where Calvin was. She couldn’t tell me anything. What seemed like hours went by when the doctor came in. He told me about the accident I couldn’t remember, the surgery my husband had, and the fact that he was in critical condition. I asked to see him, they said I couldn’t be moved. His face became grim as he moved closer and told me I had lost the baby. I began to sob and couldn’t speak. The doctor touched my shoulder briefly and left the room. The next morning the doctor returned with the news that my husband didn’t make it through the night, there was too much internal damage. I felt as though my world had completely turned upside down. After the funeral, I had a little insurance money and bought the store that Calvin had found for me, to keep a piece of him.
I see you again a week later and something is wrong. There is no pep in your walk, your shoulders are hunched and your glow has dimmed. I feel an instant deep regret as I think of how jealous I was that you could have what I couldn’t. I feel shame for comparing my younger self to you. I wish I could run out and hug you and tell you that everything is going to be okay, that life will go on, but I don’t even know your name. You cross the street and I finish polishing off the wood roll top desk, walk over to the window sill and reposition the booties.
Melissa Northrup is a Creative Writing student at Saginaw Valley State University. She enjoys reading, writing, and quoting movies and shows.