Sean would kill me if he knew I was here today, but Abbington Park, its trees clothed in red and yellow, is too beautiful to resist. I close my eyes and breathe in the autumn air.
Finding a bench, I lower myself onto it and take a drink from my water bottle. I shift and smile, suddenly feeling a fist, I think, against my ribs. “Hey, kid,” I say, “those aren’t monkey bars, you can’t climb them.” I pat the place where she hides. “I thought we’d go for one last walk while you’re in there.”
My eyes travel up the pines that surround the bench. “This is my, Cody’s, and Jasmine’s favorite park, you know.” I run my hand over the spot where I can feel her foot poking me. “Okay, you could have just said you wanted to keep walking, you didn’t have to make my rear go numb.” Standing, I wiggle my hips until I can walk without a pin cushion for a behind. Hikers pass me as I dance, and I smile and wave. “I’m getting the baby used to earth quakes.” I say to their backs.
My phone starts ringing, but I ignore it. “I love Sean, but you and I need some time, kid.” I sigh and walk. “You know,” I say to her, “Jasmine and Cody were married here. Jasmine had wanted a church wedding, and Cody had wanted to be married while sky-diving, they compromised for a woodland wedding—Ouch!” I rub my hip where she has kicked me. “I see you would have voted for sky-diving.” I pick up my pace as the breeze increases. “So did Sean. That’s how they met, you know, your daddy and Sean. They were in the same sky-diving club. Sean and I had been married for a year when he met Cody. Cody was unlike anyone I had ever met, which is why I was so sad when he met Jasmine. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my sister, but she could be a little—never mind. No reason to speak ill of the dead. I was happy for them.” My eyes tear and I smile. “She was so looking forward to meeting you.” I touch my stomach and a fist bumps my palm.
Again my phone rings. I check the screen and roll my eyes. “Why can’t that man leave me alone? I need peace and quiet!” I put it back into my pocket and hikers continue to pass me. “Why are you rushing?” I say to someone’s back.
“Anyway baby, after they were married they traveled the world together for Cody’s work. Jasmine didn’t expect photography to take him many places, but I always knew it would. He was so amazing. Soon enough Jasmine was longing to settle down. Cody wanted to keep traveling, though. She thought a baby would settle him, so she quit taking her birth control pills.” Stopping, I look at my belly, “You listen to me. Don’t you ever pull a trick like that. Understood? Seeing the stock you come from, I want you to learn that lesson as early as possible.” I continue walking. “She waited for months to have happy news, but it never happened. She finally went to the doctor and was told pregnancy wasn’t an option for her.”
I see another bench ahead and make my way toward it. I bite my lip. I’m surrounded by such vivid reminders of Jasmine as the red leaves fall. My heart feels like it’s twisting. “Your daddy was as sad as Jasmine when he found out she couldn’t have you. He’d never said he wanted kids, but when he suddenly realized he might never be a dad it nearly broke him. It’s funny how people can suddenly want something so badly when it seems impossible. Right after they found out, they came to stay with me and Sean. I was working from home then, and Sean was trying to open his auto parts store. Your grandma kept Jasmine busy to keep her from crying and Cody spent most of his time at the house. I hated seeing him like that. He’d play with his camera, but his fire had vanished. I started spending time with him, trying to cheer him up and—” I look at my stomach. “—thankfully I love Sean enough that I was able to tell Cody ‘no’ when he tried to push my kindness a little too far. When Jasmine brought up the idea of surrogacy, I hesitated. Sean had almost killed Cody when I’d told him what nearly happened. But I knew she wouldn’t trust anyone else with you.” I push myself off the bench and pat my stomach. I wipe away the tears that fill my eyes, “If you’re wondering, I’m not crying baby, I’m just happy she was able to help you get here.”
Again Sean calls me. “I swear if I didn’t think I’d go into labor soon, I’d step on this thing.” I head back to my car. “I’m sorry if this story is getting old, but I want you to know Jasmine and Cody, they were good people who were worth knowing.” Again my eyes tear, but I blink them away. “They would have been really excited to meet you.”
Looking at my phone, I see a text flashing on the screen. Stopping, I open it.
Their bodies have been found, Anna! Call me back. ~Sean
“Sorry baby,” I say when I realize how loud my heartbeat must sound to her as it races. I hope she can’t read my mind. I can hardly hit the right button to call him back. As the phone rings I close my eyes and steady my breath.
Sean is crying when he answers the phone. “I’m so sorry.”
“Are the police sure it’s them?”
“The news is saying the police found two bodies buried in the outskirts of Abbington Park. Unless someone else has tried to hide their sins, it’s them.”
I begin to shake as I look around. “How long until the police come for us?”
Thank you so much for reading! Click here to Read Anna’s character interview.
This story was inspired by When Readers Write’s Blah Buster prompt of Changing. To read more Blah Busters, visit When Readers Write by clicking here.