Part Two - Chapter One: Curls and Cotton.
August 20th, 1948; Boston Common, Boston USA.
“You gonna have baby?”
The question made me jump. I turned to see a little girl standing next to me, I swear she hadn’t been there a moment before.
“Ah,” I stammered, gripping the edge of the bench I was sitting on. “Yes, I am.”
She smiled at me, “My mama too.”
Nodding, I stared at her. My voice seemed to be having troubles working properly and the baby chose this moment to do an intricate gymnastics routine within me. The little girl didn’t seem to notice. She was looking past me, to a nearby fountain where a few birds were exploring the water.
Her skin was fair, almost translucent. The blue of her eyes so deep they were almost black. She had a smattering of freckles across her cheekbones that only increased her overwhelming aura of childlike innocence. Sticking out in every direction, her brilliant auburn curls danced in the late summer breeze. It looked as though she had had a ribbon tying them back from her face at one point, but the pale blue satin hung loose above her ear.
“My birthday tomorrow.” she informed me nonchalantly.
A shiver ran down my spine. Tomorrow would have been Julia’s third birthday.
“Is it?” I asked, trying to sound as normal as possible. An invisible band of sorrow tightened around my chest and I was finding it very hard to breathe.
“Mama maked me a cake! I share with Daddy. He like cake,” she supplied as she twirled around beside me, her flower-sprigged skirt puffing out around her.
I shifted on the park bench, hoping the movement would urge the baby to settle into a new position. It didn’t work and I placed a hand where a pointed foot was trying to impale me. The movement quieted slightly, but didn’t stop altogether.
“That sounds wonderful. Will you have candles to blow out?”
“Yes!” The little girl beamed up at me, holding up three pudgy fingers. “Mama say I big girl now!”
“You are indeed.” Tears filled my eyes without warning, threatening to pour free at any moment.
A voice called from somewhere behind me, “Julia!”
“Wait!” I cried as the little girl waved to me and turned to go.
She froze in place and tilted her head in question.
“Happy birthday, Julia.” I whispered.
Skipping towards me, she stood on tiptoe and gave me a kiss on the cheek. The touch tickled, almost like the brush of a butterfly’s wing. Another giggle escaped her rosebud lips as she left in a swirl of curls and cotton.
One hand covered my mouth, suppressing a sob, the other placed a hand on my now still womb.
You know her, don’t you, little one? That was your sister. Isn’t she beautiful?