“I’m sorry,” I whisper softly into his ear. He’s squirms a little in his bed and turns his head away from me. A feeling of emptiness settles in my stomach. My chest feels tight and air becomes harder to come by.
I lean closer and run my fingers through his soft curly hair and sigh. I don’t want to do this, but what choice do I have. I can’t stay. I’m not good for him, but the selfish part of me will hope he remembers, to always keep me locked away in that unconscious part of his brain, even when years have rushed by and nothing is the same.
He curls up into himself, lying on his belly, like he knows something is coming, creating this protective cocoon. The bag thrown over my shoulder feels like a dumbbell, weighing me down to the ground.
Before I know what I’m doing, I take his tiny fist into my hand and smile as his fingers wrap around it. Don’t. If you do that I might stay. Don’t hold onto me. I don’t deserve it.
I already feel the tears sliding down my face. I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach and the pain lingers, like a huge sore.
“Mommy’s going away for a while, but I love you. Always know that.”
The crib trembles a little under my weight or maybe I’m the one shaking. I’m a coward, and I know it. I bought him into this world, but I’m leaving him. I’m abandoning him, because I know I’ll never be the mother he deserves. But, oh, how much I want to try, at least for him.
Yet I know, deep into the crevice of my mind that the only direction it will lead to is his misery. His school mates will tease him, and I don’t think I can bear putting him through that.
I tried to stay clean; I really did, but I can’t help it. I’m leaving because it’s the right thing to do. My parents will take good care of him. I know my mother will. She was there for me, even with my problems.
A little cooing noise brings me from my thoughts as I stare down at him. The pain, it hurts to know I won’t get to see him grow up. Suck it, up.
So I do.
My heart is about to come out of my chest, when I see two bright eyes staring back up at me. I pick him up, bringing him to my chest.
I press a kiss to his cheek, then his forehead. I really want to break down right now. Hands clench in the fabric of my shirt and I pull slightly away to stare at him. He looks right back.
“Please understand. I need to do this. I’m just doing what I think is best. I hope one day you’ll grow to understand that part.”
He blinks and leans back on my chest and simply rests there.
I stand there and hold him. So many weeks spent doing exactly this and remembering the times I couldn’t because…
I hum a little song to him until he goes back to sleep, and then I lay him back down in his jungle-themed crib.
Sadness isn’t even the word to cover it. I have no words to truly describe the feeling that nestles deep in my chest, but I know what I’m doing is right. My mother won’t understand and neither will my father. I left them a letter explaining everything, explaining why I can’t do this, why I’ll never be good enough for him. It all makes sense to me.
They may say I’m abandoning him and it’s true, but I’m also saving him from a life-time of embarrassment and a couple years’ worth of therapy bills. I just want to protect him because the world can be a cruel place, but it’ll be even worse for him. There would always be that stigma attached to him because of me, so I’m leaving.
I tilt my head to the side and stare out the window for a few minutes as the moon shines brightly in the sky. The bag hung over my shoulder bangs against my back as I carefully back away from the crib, away from my baby, away from my family, and away from this life.
“Don’t forget me,” I whisper as I stand in the doorway. The door closes silently, and I scamper down the hall and down the stairs and out the front door into the night, before I change my mind.
Notes: This was a writing exercise to practice writing in first person; something I don’t really do.
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