First Page: Worth The Trouble
Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.
[hr color=”light-gray” width=”50″ border_width=”5″ ]
Catalina St. James’ Journal
March 28, 2014
After twelve hours spent curled in a ball, submerged by a devastating surge of emotion that turned my sobs to dry heaves and wore my throat raw, I’m depleted. Numb. Hollow. As empty as my worthless ovaries. Unable to reconcile the shadowy loss of children I’ll never bear. I can’t even speak those words, as if somehow my silence will miraculously nullify the final diagnosis.
Until recently, my only concerns about pregnancy involved prevention. Now the privilege I’d arrogantly dreaded has been stolen, leaving me to face a future I’d never anticipated. Fate has relegated natural-born children to the realm of my daydreams. And yet I’m incapable of actually absorbing this news.
Have I become so adept at hiding my thoughts and feelings from others that I can’t even fully access them in private? I wish I were different. I wish so many things were different now. But perhaps I should simply be grateful I’m unattached and not also depriving some man of biological children.
I wish my mother were alive to hold me close, stroke my hair, whisper in my ear, and make the monsters go away. However, there won’t be any miracles for me. My only option is to accept this blow quickly, adapt, and move on. Fold it into a tiny square and tuck it away in the recesses of my heart before refocusing my attention on aspects of my life I can control, like my career.
But first I must force myself out of this bed.
Late June, 2014
The violinist’s sharp note sliced through the air like the crisp breeze that caused Cat to shiver. Huddled near the edge of the bluestone fire pit to avoid the pack of determined male guests pestering her, she was sipping her champagne cocktail when she felt Hank approach her from behind.
“They look happy.” His honeyed voice seeped through her skin.
From across the patio, Cat beheld her oldest brother, David, posing for photos with her best friend, Vivi, his new bride. The newlyweds’ palpable love and adoration smacked her in the chest, suffusing her with unwelcome longing.
“They are,” she said without glancing at Hank.
“Guess they prove real love can’t be denied,” he said.
“And what do you know about real love?” she asked, still observing the joyful couple.
A faint puff of warm air brushed her hair when he chuckled. “Not much. At least not yet, anyway. How about you? What have you learned about love?”
Love was a word often associated with Cat thanks to her modest fame and uncommon beauty, although that term was always tossed around superficially. The fame and beauty coveted by others actually distanced her from experiencing real love.
She turned toward Hank and met his provoking gaze. Cat’s breath hitched as the fleeting memory of his fiery kiss passed through her mind, reawakening dormant parts of her anatomy. She’d once briefly discovered a fair amount of passion lurking deep beneath Hank’s buttoned-up attitude. The silent admission almost caused her to regret having given him the brush-off last year. Almost.
“Love’s a game with uncertain rules, and I don’t play games I can’t win.” Good thing, too, considering her infertility. She’d grieved alone these past three months, withholding the news from her family so as not to detract from the planning of this celebration. She was making peace with her situation. But she knew, for many reasons, participating in this wedding today would be the closest she would ever come to standing at the altar.
“I didn’t realize love was a win-lose proposition.” He peered into his glass of whiskey, temporarily hiding his stunning green and gold-flecked irises.
“Everything in life is a win-lose proposition,” she replied evenly.