The Note


Her hands tremble as she smooths out the crumpled piece of lined yellow paper. She can barely make out the smeared blue ink. The words come out in broken whispers, “I can’t go on. My lips no longer form the battle cry I’ve summoned in years past. This world keeps shrinking and my disquiet holds me hostage. I’m a prisoner of war, but the war is mine alone. It’s a crusade I’m too weary to fight. I have no recourse other than to peel off my armor and lay it to rest.”

Tears flow, searing her skin as they travel her cheeks to the bronzed crevice of her full breasts. Their newfound purpose amazes her each night they wake her moments before her daughter’s cries. It’s her most treasured time, those hours when darkness blankets her soul as she swaddles her baby. Time stills, bestowing the gift of precious undisturbed minutes she knows won’t last.

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away

The lyrics always take her back to the hospital room where it first became her soundtrack. His baritone voice wafted through the sterile halls, a woman’s laughter in perfect harmony with his. An expecting mother, a doting husband, a supportive family, the ethereal feeling of welcoming a newborn.

She brought them to life between her own contractions, named them after characters in her favorite book. Martin was stocky, with the beginnings of a five o’clock shadow and a slow smile when he looked at her. His wife had long auburn curls which her slender fingers absent-mindedly twirled. Her green eyes lit up when she heard the familiar lyrics even before he pushed open the hospital door and made his booming entrance.

“The way this baby is kicking, I fear he’ll take after you. How will I keep up?”

“Come now, Sarah. You’ll never have to go it alone. We’re in this together. Unless, there’s a dirty diaper to change. Then, we’ll flip a coin!”

“How about we flip a coin to decide how long my big, loud, Irish family stays under the pretense of helping us with the baby?”

“This little one is going to be showered with so much love they’ll  never know a lonely day. Quit worrying and give me a hug before the contractions kick in and you want to kick me in the nuts.”

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away

She felt childish when she sang the simple lyrics, trying to soothe her own baby. She sang it softly as she studied her tiny, red, scrunched up face. As her daughter’s cries got louder so did her singing. It was those nights she conjured up the image of Martin and Sarah and their big, beautiful family. No one had warned her that motherhood came with immense responsibility and with that pressure came crippling self-doubt. Having a baby might be foreign to her, but self-doubt had been her constant companion.

Sleepless nights of diaper changes and feedings left her exhausted but the nights when she couldn’t pacify her child rattled her. She wanted to scream in unison. She longed for the supportive family her sweet Irish couple had been blessed with, wondering what it must be like. What was it like to have someone reassure you this too shall pass when your nerves feel raw as you lay down your wailing baby and leave the house so you don’t hear her screams? What was it like to never experience a lonely day?

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away

She stares at the note, trying to make sense of it. “Not all of us can be heroes brave enough to forge ahead, treading lightly to avoid the mine infested war zone. I must surrender. I wave my white flag and pray you can forgive me. You deserve better sweet girl.”

Sirens approaching. The baby is crying. She must go to her but the way the “y” loops…it is unmistakably her handwriting. A silent cry, this one her own.

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away

The note slips from her hands like a leaf making its descent on a crisp fall day. It glides then hovers before landing on a crimson puddle, instantly absorbing the blood that has pooled only hours ago.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

12 thoughts on “The Note

    1. I’m glad you picked up on that. I initially had a bit more of the lyrics, but when I edited the piece I cut those out. It’s such a recognizable song I hoped the reader would “get it” with just the two lines.

  1. I feared that ending halfway through. You really did well painting a picture of her idea of happiness and the longing that came with it. I think the length really suits the piece too. Any longer may have been a bit too much. ☺

  2. No! I was right there with you the whole time, but I really wanted a happy ending to this.

    How brave of you to write about a subject so common, but also so commonly swept under the rug.

    In my mind, I’ve decided she makes it 😉

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