“It’s a girl! A lovely, little girl.”
Our baby appears in the hands of the doctor. Her cries mix with Elizabeth’s, as she moves her hands towards our daughter in an impatient gesture. Yes, she wants to touch her. Her eyes are wide open, to take in the sight. She is devouring the scene, its every detail, memorizing it. So am I.
My wife’s face is sweaty, and crimson. Her voice is hoarse from screams; dark circles appear under her eyes. But never has she been more beautiful than she is now. Not even on the day of our wedding, when I had feared I would not make it through the ceremony without touching her. Nor the night after, when I could swear she was a nymph, a goddess of seduction.
Here she is—perfect, waiting to hold our daughter. Our daughter. The doctor hands her the baby, assuring us that she is perfectly healthy. Elizabeth’s eyes fill with tears as I sigh with relief. I had momentarily feared that something had gone wrong, even though everyone was reassuring me the whole time; the process took so many hours and my wife was in such evident pain that sometimes it was difficult to stay calm and smile at her. I am glad that I did though. I am glad that I didn’t leave her side for a moment in the past four hours. And there are no words to describe the feeling in my breast as I see her holding the newborn baby.
Our daughter. I see her, tentatively I touch her … She seems so small, so vulnerable, I worry she will break. Suddenly, the breath catches in my throat as I see her nose. A tiny, perfect nose. Then her eyes, tightly shut as she is still crying. My gaze moves to her ears, with their amazing shape. I watch her hands; her fists are clenched. Oh my God! She is a human being; a perfect human being.
We created her together. While making love; in the haze of passion, at the moment of ultimate bliss when our bodies moved united, at a heavenly rhythm. When my seed became hers; hers to treasure, hers to give life to.
There is bustle and noise around us, but neither I nor Elizabeth notice anything but our baby. Elizabeth holds her with slightly shaking hands, close to her bosom. I understand my wife; she is afraid that someone will come and take our daughter and I can plainly see how reluctant she is to part with her yet. I almost hesitate to talk to her; I feel it as a kind of intrusion. But then, she looks up at me and then at the baby. Her face is beaming, her eyes ask me to come near her. I take her hand into mine - how small and weak it looks! - and I bestow a feather kiss on her brow. Our daughter, who had stopped crying for a moment, starts anew. Elizabeth chuckles as I watch her, mesmerized.
My family. These two creatures are my whole life. I want to tell them how much I love them, how deeply, how wholly, how completely committed I am to them, how much I need them, why they are more necessary to me than air itself. But words die in my throat, and all I can come up with is, “Thank you.”
My wife smiles at me, mouthing a silent “Thank you” in response. I want to hug her, to hold her tightly, to lie with her on her bed, but she is so exhausted that I am afraid my mere touch will break her. How can I explain to her how important she is to me? What her gift means to me, to us both? I want to promise myself to her again, to repeat my vows again and again. I remember something I had told her long ago. I whisper the words again.
“I fall in love with you every day, Elizabeth.”
New tears dampen her cheeks. “Isn’t she beautiful?” She asks me impatiently. I look at our baby and I cannot find anything that is not perfect on her.
“She is the most wonderful baby I have ever seen.” I lean over and touch the baby’s tiny hands. “She looks a lot like you,” I whisper.
Elizabeth casts me a doubtful look. But I am not exaggerating. Elizabeth’s warmth and beauty and unique features seem to reflect on our daughter. Our baby is still crying and her face is puffy and swollen, but she is already a picture of Elizabeth to me. My heart reaches for her… I want to kiss away her tears, I want to be always there for her; on the nights when she won’t go to bed, when she wakes up from a nightmare, when she first goes to school, when she first falls in love. I will be a good father. Her father.
But she must be taken from us, the parents who are so completely besotted with her. Elizabeth, trying to prolong the time with her, says.
“We have to name her, Will. We haven’t decided on a name.”
It’s true. We knew it was a girl, but we always referred to her as “our baby” before today. It was beautiful making plans, talking about the future, buying things and decorating the room for “our baby.” But now, we have to choose a name for her, a name that will be her. How can one choose a name for perfection?
“Elizabeth?” I suggest.
She giggles. “No, it will be awkward… Our baby having the same name as me… It will just feel awkward.”
“At least as a middle name?”
She likes the idea, I see that. Her smile comes first, then her nod.
“Ok, I picked the middle, you get to pick the first.”
She thinks for a little while. Her mind is racing—I have seen that expression before and the outcome was always brilliant. As it will be now. I watch her features slowly changing as a mischievous smile appears on her face.
I like the sound of it… I repeat it in my mouth, then I look at our daughter. It becomes her. I can already say that the sound reminds me of her. Trying to account for my wife’s inspiration, I keep saying the name again and again. Somewhere, in a corner of my mind, French words and meanings make their presence known. “Aimee. Aimée.” My smile widens to a grin of realization. My wife is perfect and has found the most perfect name for our daughter. Beloved.
“So, it is Aimée Elizabeth Darcy?” I ask, lifting my eyebrow, trying to hide how fast my heart is beating at pronouncing the full name of our daughter for the first time. “Beloved Elizabeth Darcy.” I kiss my wife on the lips, as softly as my full heart permits me.
“She is love.” Elizabeth says, happy that I comprehended her meaning. “Our beloved daughter, the baby that came from us, from…”
She wants to say “from our love” but is afraid to sound sultry. I complete the sentence for her and am rewarded with a smile that warms my very heart.
“A beautiful love,” I continue, as the nurse takes little Aimee from her mother’s embrace and gives her to me; I have only a minute before she is taken from me, too. “Beautiful, long denied but most worth the earning love, my darling Aimee,” I whisper to her and then the nurse takes her out of the room. I am ordered to exit as well. A pack of anxious relatives are waiting just outside to learn the news of our family. I gaze into Elizabeth’s eyes, silently promising that we will be together, the three of us, as soon as possible.
We say “I love you” at the same moment.
It is still dark when I wake up. I want to go back to sleep again, but he is not in bed. His side is still warm, but he is nowhere in the room and I find it impossible to fall asleep again without feeling him next to me. The independent spirit in me laments this proof of my dependence as I get up in search of the whereabouts of my husband. Smiling, I decide where to look first. Our daughter’s room is always our first destination for our late night forays in the house.
I wonder if she has woken up without my realizing it. Since returning to work a few months ago, it has become more difficult to be as alert during the night as I used to be. But it is partly Will’s fault. He gets up as soon as the suspicion of a sound from Aimee’s room hits him, so that I will be able to rest undisturbed. He is taking care of both of us, and thinks nothing of his own fatigue and sleeplessness. I knew that I was marrying the best man in the world when I uttered my vows; I just didn’t know how wonderful that best man would prove himself to be, again and again.
I try to make out what my watch shows in the darkness. It must be around 3 am. I still have enough hours to rest before going to work. I smile as I enter Aimee’s room. My angel is sleeping peacefully, with her hands and legs stretched, occupying as much room of her crib as she can. I want to go and kiss her, but I check myself. She gets really angry when someone disturbs her rest. Will says that at times like that, she reminds him of me and my stubbornness, but I think it is very evident whom she has inherited her cross look and furrow from. I just love it when we accuse each other for every whim of our daughter.
Will isn’t there, but there are traces of him all around. He must have stumbled on the little table next to the crib for it is now turned upside down. Aimee’s toys are not as I left them some hours ago. Someone has been trying very hard to entertain his daughter. I chuckle picturing the scene.
I walk down the staircase, and finally I find him in the living room, sitting in an armchair, with his eyes closed. Under the dim light, I try to make out if he is asleep or not, until the soft tones of music reach me. I have no idea why, but a wave of tenderness for him assaults me. My handsome, my brilliant, my most tender and passionate husband is resting and I find him irresistible. I can’t help myself as I hurry to sit next to him, to be embraced by him.
He opens his eyes and smiles as his arms tighten around me.
“Did I wake you up after all?” He asks, his lips brushing my hair.
I only nuzzle my head against his neck in response. “Aimee woke up?” I ask after a few moments.
He laughs. “Yes, and she was determined to have quite a late-night party.”
“But you can persuade her to do anything you want. She’s crazy about her father.”
“Only when her mother is not present.” He tries to tease, but I know how proud he is of all the proofs of affection our daughter is constantly showing him.
“You know she adores you. At least she took that after me.”
He leans to kiss me and I simply forget what we were talking about. Obviously, he has not.
“You’re not getting away so easily, Liz. She is exactly like you. Who is fond of late-night parties in the first place?”
My lips now meet his, in an attempt to distract him as successfully as he did with me a few moments ago. Judging from his expression, my effort is a good one. His hands travel down my back and I move even closer to him.
‘You won’t admit you love me…’
The first notes begin and I let out a soft chuckle against his lips. This song always reminds me of us, of him, of me… It is light, with no tragic verses or a moment that reaches a top, but with an amazing clarity and simplicity. It was all so simple from the beginning; so simple and rewarding that we almost didn’t trust our instinct, our hearts, our own eyes. This song reminds me of what utter fools we have been, and how happy we are now. This song makes me smile.
Will has pulled himself away and now stands before me. “Will you dance with me, Mrs. Darcy?”
How can one refuse such a unique proposal? I don’t really care what hour it is and how busy the day will be tomorrow. I want to dance with him. My body trusts him, my waist treasures the feeling of his hands around it, my legs are eager to be guided by him. I let my head fall on his shoulders, inhaling his aroma, touching his skin, listening to the song, as my hands are travelling down his neck and back.
“…And so ….
How am I ever
You always tell me…
Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps
A million times I’ve asked you
I’ve asked you over
Your only answer…
Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps”
I lose myself to him again, and I can hardly pay attention to the music or the verses; I care only about him. His body is talking to mine, our hearts have met again and are travelling together. I hardly notice that the music has stopped; our bodies are still moving together. I think of how much I love him, I think of all the precious feelings he has awakened in my heart or given birth to. My thoughts turn to whispers. I hardly know what I am telling him, if I am coherent at all, if I make any sense. His hands tighten around me… Can he hear my words? Can he listen to my heart tonight as he has done from the first moment? He speaks, his voice low, soft, caressing; my whole existence relishes hearing it.
“Admitting that I love you,” he whispers in my ear, “was the most liberating thing I’ve done in my life.”
He pulls back and looks into my soul. “My Elizabeth.”
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