I Still Love You
A free short story, following characters within the Starting Out Series
© Jane Lark
Not to be replicated without the permission of Jane Lark
“Look up at me and keep your eyes open.”
“God, you’re so bossy tonight.”
Rach stuck her tongue out at me. “Look do you want eyeliner in your eye?”
“Don’t laugh I can’t do this if you’re laughing.”
To be fair her hands were really shaking, they had her on so many meds since her melt-down her body was having difficulty functioning, but she was determined to get out tonight, no way was she missing Saint’s first Halloween. She was doing her I-have-to-do-this-because-this-is-what-moms-should-do-with-their-kids thing, even though Saint was not even one, and was not going to know or care if he’d been trick or treating.
“Jason, please, concentrate, sit still and look up for a moment.”
I did, and I felt the eyeliner pencil tremble along my lower eyelid.
We were going out as a zombie bride and groom. She had me covered in white powder paint, and then she had red smeared around my neck and mouth, and she was powered white too, and her lips were really red, while she painted a slash on her face with dripping blood, and she had loads of gray eye shadow under her eyes, and thick mascara and eyeliner. Now she had done my eyeliner, she reached for the eye shadow.
“Keep looking up.” She dabbed it beneath my eyes then smeared it with her thumb. “There…” The eye-shadow was put down and then she picked up the mascara.
“Uh huh, I don’t need that.”
“You do, you’re eyelashes are too pale, they got the powder on them.”
“Oh crap, go on then, only don’t tell a soul you’ve got me wearing mascara.”
She laughed, awkwardly, as she brushed it on my quivering eyelashes, her hand shaking.
Her laugh was never quite there these days. “Careful I don’t want that thing in my eye.”
She laughed awkwardly again.
Behind us Saint was in his crib gurgling and kicking his legs up at the toy that hung over his head. He’d just been fed and he was full up and happy and full of life, and ready to go out trick or treating in his little pumpkin suit.
Rach leaned back and looked at the creation she had made of my face. “There, you look awesome. I’ll get you wig.”
I looked in the mirror it did look pretty cool. She returned with my shaggy, dark-haired wig, and slipped it on carefully so it didn’t mess up the makeup. The thing immediately started itching.
I’d put on costumes for Halloween before, but I had never gone this all out.
I stood up and lifted my arms zombie style to grab her. She screamed and ducked back laughing in a way that sounded a little more real. “You can’t kiss me, you’ll ruin the make up!”
I laughed, just because I was glad I’d made her laugh more, and grabbed her around the waist, lifting her off her feet and spinning her a little, then I set her down.
The emotion inside me was like a brewing volcano, A few weeks back I’d nearly lost her, she’d nearly killed herself and she’d nearly hurt Saint… but not deliberately. Her bipolar had hit an overdrive button into an extreme high, then crashed to an unbelievable low, she’d just gone down. She’d been up and down for months, because she’d given up the drugs to breastfeed, and it had been like playing roller coaster, riding her emotional turmoil. But then it had suddenly rocketed way to high and she’d just flipped completely; turned into someone I didn’t know, and then she’d taken an immediate roller coaster sized dip down. We’d had to get her into hospital to get her straightened out. Then when she had come out she’d been so drugged up there was no talking to her.
But my Rach was coming back to me now––slowly. Peeping through the shadows of the meds.
She was laughing again, and the sound of her laugh gripped at my soul even if sometimes it did sound awkward.
But that was why I did not mind letting her put mascara on me… . I was glad she was here to put mascara on me… and glad she was up for going out tonight.
All week I’d been convinced she’d pull out of the idea. But that had probably been dumb because this was not about her it was about Saint, and she had always wanted to be the best, most perfect Mom, and do all the things for Saint her mom had never done for her.
Of course she was going to take him trick or treating on his first Halloween, hell, in one of her mad moments she had even baked him a birthday cake after he’d been born––in the middle of the night, and it was blue…
But that was my crazy Rachel.
“Hey.” I brushed a strand of her wig off her face. “Are you feeling okay?” She was doing this but we were meant to be going to a party after and that she didn’t really want to do.
“Yeah.” She shoved my hand away, she did not like thinking about what she’d done, or being sick. She was running from the fact she was sick now, pretending it had not been her.
I let her go, and let her run. I was playing this anyway she wanted.
I’d talk to her about the party after we’d been out with Saint. I did really want to go, though. I felt like we both needed a bit of normal life for people our age.
“Come on, let’s go show your Mom and Dad our costumes.” We had planned on trying to move out of my parents’ place this fall, but now, after what happened, it seemed best we stayed here so Rach had someone around when I was at work.
She bent down to pick Saint up. The little guy did look really cute. “Wait.” I picked up my cell and took a picture of them. She smiled for it, sweetly. She hadn’t got the fire back in her eyes yet, her meds were still quite high as the doctors were working out the balance she needed. She was never the carefree crazy person that I had first met, now. I felt a little sad inside about it, because, it was like she wasn’t herself. I wanted her to be herself again.
I turned the cell around and showed her the picture. “I am gonna tease him horribly with that when he’s all grown up… You do know he is gonna hate you for that costume…”
She laughed, and her laughter rattled through my bones, and seeped into my soul. It was a proper laugh. That was better than nothing, and maybe her spark of wildness would pierce her meds at some point too.
“Come on.” I wrapped an arm about her shoulders and led her to the door, opened it and swung it back then let her go first.
Mom had let Rach borrow her wedding dress… that said how much my parents loved her. They did truly love her like a daughter. I had a suit on, one I’d bought for the interview when I’d gone for the job in New York––the move that had found me Rach.
“Mom!” I called as we walked into the living room, when I heard her in the kitchen.
Dad looked up and grinned then he stood up. “Let me get the camera. I have to get a picture of you three. You look wonderful.”
Shit I was never going to live this down either. But then I caught our image in the mirror and we did look good. She’d done a good job with my makeup.
“Oh. Wow. Look at you! I’m surprised Saint isn’t screaming.” He wasn’t, he was smiling at his Mom, trying to pull her wig. “And that little man looks adorable, as a pumpkin.” Mom came over and took him from Rach’s hands. She lifted him and cooed at him.
Dad came back in with the camera, then we all had to pose, and Dad told us three times, “Not spooky enough,” and took another picture as we made faces.
When the posing was over, I went back into the den we used as our bedroom and picked up Saint’s little sweetie gathering pot, and then came out holding it up. “Time to trick or treat!”
There are more parts coming later!!!
and if you want to read the beginning of Jason’s and Rachel’s story it runs throughout The Starting Out Series
Book One I Found You
Book Two Just you
Book Three I Need You
and the story will continue in 2015 in I’m Keeping You