Prologue of my work-in-progress 'Coming Home' about an adopted girl (the baby in this one)
| She held her child in her arms, looking down at the sleeping face. Her long, blonde hair formed a wall around the infant, enclosing the two of them in their own private world. She ignored the quiet murmur of voices coming from the holo-vid set in the corner of the hospital room. Her grey-blue eyes filled with tears and she tightened her grip on her daughter’s body. A single tear fell through the air, landing on her daughter’s cheek. A tiny mutter of complaint escaped the infant, and the mother relaxed her arms. The baby murmured in her sleep, and quieted down again.
“Olivia,” a male voice said from the side of the hospital bed.
“A few more minutes,” she whispered, never taking her eyes off the child. The warmth of the baby against her made the rest of her feel cold.
“No,” he said sternly. “You’ve already had several hours with her. You know that she was supposed to go the minute she was born.”
Olivia’s temper flared, and her head snapped up to glare at her husband. “She’s my daughter, Thomas!”
“But not mine,” he countered, his brown eyes flashing. She deflated; there was nothing she could say to that. He was right. Not for the first time she felt a surge of despair. If only he wasn’t refusing to raise the baby…but he was threatening to leave if she didn’t give the baby up. She couldn’t split up Chloe’s family; the three-year-old adored her father and would be heartbroken if he left. Olivia averted her eyes as blood rushed to her cheeks.
“I know it’s hard.” Thomas’s voice softened. “But it’s for the best. You must know that.”
Best? a tiny voice inside her asked. Best for whom? Best for her daughter, who would be adopted and raised by someone else? Best for her, when she was suffering all this guilt and pain? Best for her daughter’s father, who did not even know she existed? But she had no choice.
Blinking back hot tears, she drank in the sight of her daughter, sleeping in the pale pink hospital blankets. She bent to kiss her tiny rosebud lips, lingering against the soft skin. She straightened and swallowed, trying to summon her courage. Before she could, a pair of plump hands lifted the child from her arms. She looked up at the owner of the hands, who was standing next to her with a compassionate smile on her ruddy face.
“She’ll be looked after, ma’am,” the adoption worker promised. “We already have a home arranged for her on another planet, with a loving couple.” Olivia felt her heart contract. It had felt like a dream up until now, but hearing the words made it so much more real. Someone else would raise her daughter. Her hand clenched the white bed sheets until her knuckles turned white.
“I know,” Olivia whispered. The sight of her daughter in another woman’s arms was painful. The worker gave her a last sympathetic look and turned to go.
“Wait!” Olivia burst out. The red-haired worker turned back with an inquiring look.
“Olivia,” Thomas began, disapproval evident in his tone. She ignored him.
She fumbled in her handbag for a few moments and pulled out a white envelope and a silver chain. She held them out to the worker. “Give these to…them.” She couldn’t bear to call them her ‘parents’, “when they think she’s ready, give them to her.” Will they really give her your letter? A little voice asked inside her head. Or will they keep her identity a secret? She pushed the voice away.
“Olivia.” Thomas sighed, shaking his head.
The woman eyed the envelope and chain. “It’s really quite unorthodox.” She hesitated, and glanced at Olivia’s entreating expression. “But I suppose this whole operation has been quite unorthodox. All right.” She tucked the envelope into her pocket, and reached for the necklace. She stopped. “Do you want to put it on her? They can take it off her later, but for now...?”
With trembling hands, Olivia fastened it around the child’s neck. She couldn’t stop the tears from falling. She brushed her fingers against the diamond-studded silver heart. It’s too big for her now. A fresh round of tears came to her eyes; she would never get to see her daughter wearing it properly.
Thomas tapped the adoption worker on the shoulder. “I think you had better go.” She nodded and drew the baby back to her chest. Olivia’s tears fell faster, though she still didn’t utter a sound. The electronic door slid closed behind the worker. Olivia's shoulders shook as she buried her face in her hands. She could almost hear the crash as her heart shattered on the hard floor beneath her.
Thomas rested a hand on her shoulder and opened his mouth to say something. She shrugged him off and turned away, curling up into a small ball on the hard hospital bed. She had never felt more alone.