Flameless Candles (Prologue)
"How long do we have to keep going through this?" Tempest asked herself out loud in frustration. She stared blankly at the crumpled tissue paper in her left hand, stained with blood and dropped her head in disbelief. She peeled herself off the wooden toilet seat and pulled up her underwear now lined with extra-absorbent padding. Her menstrual cycle was in full effect, which for her meant another month of disappointment and lost hope. Tempest was sure this time that they had conceived. She had changed her diet, became more active, she was sure.
She and her husband Kaden, had been trying to conceive for over two years, but until this moment, their efforts were in vain. She walked over to the bathroom sink and faced herself in the mirror above, 'Not even a little bit' she snapped at herself bitterly.
They stopped talking about pregnancy and baby names. It had begun to sound more like wishful thinking. The conversation changed from exciting and imaginative to just plain sad. It seemed, after a while, that no one wanted to give the other false hope. The topic of children dwindled and ultimately they never really talked about it again.
Every bloody month that came and went, Tempest believed a crater formed in their relationship, causing her to feel like less of a woman with each passing day. She watched her baby sister give birth to three beautiful children and witnessed motherhood make her sister a stronger woman for it. The children gave her sister something Tempest feared she would never experience.
There were times when she came across pregnant women smoking and drinking and heard the painful stories of neglectful and abusive parents. She often wondered when she was alone what it would feel like to carry a child, to be a mother, and why them and not her. She didn’t mean to sound judgmental, but surely there had to be someone out there watching. Someone that knew how much love she had to give and so much to teach.
The earthy decor of her bathroom did not help calm the intensity of her feelings. The light shone bright in the bathroom, but it was clear she was in a dark place. Tempest had her good days. Some when she’d come to accept things as they were and found herself content, then there were others… days like this.
Yearning for a child crushed an imperative part of her, she wanted to be a mother, she didn’t know why. She only felt it in her bones that she could be a good Mom. She spent most of her life watching over her younger sister and believed she wouldn’t want children as a teenager, but she didn’t know Kaden then. She felt crazy for not wanting a child before. Had she jinxed herself? Tempest looked into the mirror once again. She knew she should get herself checked out at the doctor. She was afraid of finding something wrong or rather, finding nothing wrong at all.
At times, Tempest contemplated telling Kaden to find another woman worthy of bearing his child. She felt crazy but she couldn’t understand why he stood by her. She was a broken woman, or so she thought of herself. There was no denying Tempest was truly madly and deeply in love with her husband. She knew he loved her just the same, but couldn’t shake the feeling he was going to leave her for her ‘inadequacies’ someday. Or rather, have an affair with another woman and impregnate her. She wasn’t sure when exactly her thoughts became so negative. Believe it or not, Tempest was one of the most positive people anyone would ever know or meet. The kind of person who could find beauty in the ugliest situations.
She knew how much the negative thoughts wore her relationship down, but fear was a lot stronger than she anticipated. The truth is, she was aware of how much she had changed. How different she was from the girl Kaden fell in love with. She knew he would not leave her because of their inability to conceive, but rather, who she was allowing herself to become in the process of it all.
She sighed at herself and walked into their bedroom. She looked down at the pregnancy books, the purple and pink outfits, baby bottles and green blanket she was gifting her cousin Diana at the baby shower tonight. Gift-wrapping was her favorite thing to do, but the gifts lay there on the king-sized bed antagonistically. She clutched her stomach, and felt something heavy in her heart.
Tempest decided to save the gift-wrapping for later and returned to the bathroom to continue getting ready for the party. She numbly leaned over the bathtub to start her shower and turned the hot water on, right before she let herself crash on the floor beside the bathtub. She cradled her knees into her small chest, wrapped her arms around her legs tight as she could, and buried her face inside the small crest. She prayed once more. She had given up on praying a long time ago, but at that moment praying was all she could do.
Kaden walked through their cherry-wood entrance door. “Hey babe!” He called out to her, but he only heard their two Siberian huskies scurrying from their beds, racing to the front door to greet him. He slipped off his gray trench jacket and hung it on the coat rack beside the door. He kicked off his shoes, and hung his keys on the key hook above the shoe-rack, which to Tempest’s annoyance he never utilized. He switched the hallway light on, and greeted their pups.
The pups had filled a void within his relationship with Tempest. It had been difficult, having trouble with conceiving. All his friends were fathers, hell, even his little brothers had kids of their own. He tried not to let the thought gnaw at him. He made a vow to his wife. For better or for worse he would stand by her, they would stand by each other. He felt her pain, and the pressures of keeping things together emotionally. As a man, it was only natural that he hid his emotions; that he remained composed and strong (so sexism has taught us) for the both of them.
He'd reassure her everything would be okay, even when he too feared they wouldn’t. Kaden had picked up a few habits and hobbies along the road, like Jack Daniels and boxing lessons here and there. He had to let out his emotions somehow, even though he did not recognize how he did it. He wanted nothing more than for that beautiful woman to be the mother of his children. He wasn’t sure if it was him or her or the both of them. It didn’t matter. ‘God help us’ he thought to himself, ‘if there is a problem but no solution to be found.’ He couldn’t bear to watch his wife’s heart break anymore.
The two snow-white huskies hopped on their back legs for attention, as Kaden walked around their modern loft looking for his wife. He’d put in an application for adoption a week ago but had not gathered the strength to tell her and possibly reassure her that this way was just as important and meaningful to him. He felt brave enough to tell her now. He walked around excited and nervous. He passed by the kitchen, living room and guest-room before he turned for their room.
Kaden found Tempest in their private bathroom. Sitting on the cold tiled floor, bathwater running, staring into oblivion with tears streaming down her face. Kaden knew right then, even though it had been a while since he saw her like this. He stepped in the bathroom, turned off the water and swooped her into his wide chest with his strong arms. He knew how hard she tried not to cry, especially in front of him about it anymore. After the first year of trying and failing it became exhausting for the both of them, but he wouldn’t choose to be exhausted with anyone else.
Kaden wasn’t sure what was the braver choice, not talking about it, or signing up for adoption. He wondered when would be a good time to talk about the adoption applications he submitted. ‘Would she be mad?’ Her jasmine-flowered scent filled his nose and her slender body fitted perfectly inside his toned, muscular arms, distracting him. He buried his head in her neck and she crushed into him. He wanted to take her pain away, to strip her of it all. Make her feel like the girl he met, the girl he once knew, long before they worried about these things.
When she looked at him with love and admiration, instead of the leery, tired-eyed look she gave him now. His heart pined for her, even though they were locked in each others arms. ‘Doesn't she understand I would never wish to hurt her?’ he asked himself as he kissed her forehead, it seemed Tempest really didn't know.
She looked up at Kaden and nuzzled her nose appreciatively and lovingly in his chin hair, and breathed in softly. It was like her personal love pump, where she fueled up on Kaden’s scent. Her heart warmed in response and he squeezed her tighter. Sometimes they both needed a little reminding of why they came to be, and why they continued to choose each other.
This is a work of fiction. Purely the work and product of the authors imagination. Similarities to persons in names, events, characters, living or deceased is purely coincidental.
Thank you for reading my latest short story series "Flameless Candles"
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Edited By: Manatita