by Melody

Lily hadn't known motherhood would be like this. Back before she had Heidi, she had imagined sometimes what it would be like, imagined the pain of labor, the joy of holding her baby for the first time, of watching her chubby little fist close tightly around her index finger. She'd thought she was prepared.

She hadn't come close.

There was no adequate way to describe how she felt about her daughters. "Love" didn't cover it. No word was strong enough, no metaphor encompassing enough. Language could not convey enough meaning. What she felt for her children was simply indescribable.

She closed her notebook and put it away in the glove compartment with a small sigh. Writing Isabelle and Heidi each a letter had been a good idea in theory, but she couldn't seem to make it work. She didn't have the words.

She turned her head towards the driver's side of the car. Richard's face was resolute as he navigated down the dirt road, but his fingers gripped the steering wheel a little too tightly.

This had to be tearing him up inside. She wished she could make it easier for him, but she knew that was impossible. She reached out and gently touched his shoulder. "Richard."

He glanced at her briefly, then looked back at the road, but not before she saw the tell-tale gleam of moisture in his eyes. It shocked her a little. Strong, stoic Richard, fighting tears? The thought caused her to blink back a few tears of her own.

"Richard...will you tell her...?" She didn't know how to end that sentence. Damn language anyway! It was all words, words, words, and no meaning anywhere to be found...!

Richard knew anyway. "Don't worry," he said. "I'll tell her."

And Lily knew he would.

Relieved, she turned back to the window, staring sightlessly at the passing pine trees. She remembered when Heidi was two weeks old. Lily hadn't dealt with those initial weeks of motherhood very well; she was a mental and emotional wreck, tired, stressed, scared out of her mind that she would do something wrong and irreparably damage this little scrap of life that trusted her so totally -- scared, also, at the way she saw her own life disappearing before her eyes. Everything was about the baby, it seemed. She, Lily, was vanishing, and only Mommy remained.

At the end of her rope, she had called her own mother for advice, pouring out her fears in a torrent of emotion. Her mother had listened carefully and managed to calm her down with a few well-chosen words. At the end of the conversation, Lily had asked her mother if she ever regretted having children -- if she were able to live her life over, knowing what she knew now, would she still become a parent?

Her mother had answered without hesitation. "Absolutely. You're the best thing that ever happened to me, Lily. Don't ever forget it."

Maybe those were the words she should write in her letter to Isabelle. They didn't say everything that was in her heart, but they were true enough.

But no. She was so tired. Reaching out to the glove compartment to retrieve her notebook was too daunting a task to contemplate at the moment, even if she'd thought Isabelle would believe her. Maybe later, after she'd had a nap.

If she could do it all over again, would she? Isabelle frightened her sometimes with the sheer magnitude of her power; was she worth it? At the thought, she felt a fierce, almost feral surge of emotion crash through her weakened body.

No, she thought distantly as she fell asleep, "love" was far too puny and tame to describe a feeling this...primal. Isabelle was worth it. Heidi was worth it. And even trapped in this decaying betrayal of a body, she'd tear out the throat of anyone who so much as laid a finger on either one of them. Dying for Isabelle was the easiest decision she'd ever made.

She didn't regret a thing.


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