Where She Went
I can’t see her anywhere.
The waves are getting higher, bumping against my chin; each swell pulling me up and away from the sand below my feet.
I have to give up on standing. Maybe if I push my head higher above this insistent water, maybe if I tread water, I’ll see her.
How far out am I? I cup my hands and pull against the water, turning myself in a circle. There is no-one else here. I can’t even see land.
How far out did I swim?
I drop my feet and try to stand, but my head quickly dips under: the sand is now far, far below.
I don’t know where she is. I don’t know if she’s even out here, but now I am, and I’m lost.
I kick my legs, moving them like an egg-beater, and pull myself around again.
The waves are coming faster now, still I see no land. Still I am lost.
I stop kicking. Pulling and pushing with my arms, I tuck my legs up, lean back, and stretch to lie flat; eyes to the sky.
Waves splash over my face, but I don’t care.
I give up. The tide can take me where it will.
From somewhere, I can hear the baby crying. Opening my eyes, I check the clock.
4.20 am. I put her back down at 3.50.
Didn’t they say it got easier after 6 weeks? Didn’t they say she would sleep?
My body is too heavy. I turn and nudge my snoring husband.
“Mmuh!” he grumbles into the pillow.
“Please can you go to Alba? She’s fed. I fed her 30 minutes ago. I just can’t.”
“Ffffuck! Fine.” I hear him enter her room, as my heavy eyelids close.
The bar is so crowded. I just want to find her and leave. Surely she wants to come home now?
Pushing my way through the crowd, people bump into me from all directions. They are drunk and clumsy, and I can feel the bass from the speakers vibrating all the way through me.
I feel like I’m getting nowhere. What if she left already? What if I’m wasting time struggling my way through this heaving mass? I just want to know where she is.
I don’t think I’ve moved, there are people everywhere. I look down, feeling for my phone in my bag. Maybe if I call her?
What is that noise? Is that my phone?
No: it’s the baby crying.
“Sara! For fuck’s sake, she’s starving! Listen to her!”
I manage to open my eyes. Will is standing at the foot of my bed, with Alba wailing in his arms.
The alarm clock is flashing on my bedside table: 4.25am.
“Just put her on formula if you can’t be fucked to feed her!”
Hot anger fills me: I feel more awake than I have ever been.
Throwing the covers from myself, I launch out of bed. “Are you fucking kidding me?!” My whisper is venomous. “I fed her not 40 minutes ago! I fed her an hour and a half before that!” I take Alba from his arms. “I have fed her four fucking times since bed, and you can’t hold her for five FUCKING minutes before giving up, and I’m the one that ‘can’t be fucked’?” I wish I could slam the door behind me as I leave.
Hot, fat tears fall freely from my eyes as Alba sighs deeply, snuggling into my chest. Her little hand is stroking me, back and forth, and her eyes are gently closing.
I love her. I love her so much it hurts, but I am so, so tired.
“Sara?” Will’s head creeps around the door. “I’m sorry.” He whispers. “I just hate seeing you so tired all the time. I feel like the woman I married has gone, and I just thought, maybe if you..”
“I’m not putting her on formula, Will.”
“Okay! Okay. I just feel helpless; she only wants you.”
“Because you don’t fix things for her! You pick her up and you give her to me!” Feeling the rage coming back to my chest, I’m struggling to whisper. I slowly take a big breath in, and out. “Maybe if you cuddled her, rocked her to sleep. If you show her that you can be there for comfort, too. Especially when I tell you she’s been fed.”
“Okay.” He nods, and creeps closer. “I’ll put her down, you go back to bed.” He kisses me on the head, and gently takes Alba from my arms. As I head to our bedroom, he takes my place in the rocking chair and Alba snuggles into his neck.
I climb into bed, and close my eyes.
I am in the garden, and it is warm. The sunlight kisses my skin, and I can smell my roses, blowing in the breeze. I turn to my left, and there she is, smiling back at me from the glass of my patio door.