I'm going to share a secret with you, I'm not a big fan of kids and I hate babies. And yet... I'm staring at you and I'm just awestruck.
You're not even a day old and holding you is the most incredible thing I've done in my life - a life that is about to get cut a little short.
Marlene will look after you. There's no one in this world I trust more than her. When the time comes she'll tell you all about me. Don't give her too much of a hard time. Try not to be as stubborn as me.
I'm not going to lie, this is a pretty messed up world. It won't be easy. The thing you always have to remember is that life is worth living! Find your purpose and fight for it. I see so much strength in you. I know you'll turn out to be the woman you're meant to be.
Forever... your loving mother
Marlene dabbed nervously at a speck of blood -not hers-that made its way on to her tank top from earlier, succeeding only in smudging it.
She was seated outside of the medical tent and was told to wait while Anna was being stabilized. When asked what she meant by "stabilized" the nurse answered with a sympathetic glance, placing her hand on Marlene's shoulder as she stepped back into the tent.
Staring out at the sunset, Marlene's eyes welled up with tears, a lump formed in her throat. It wasn't the sunset that got her choked up, she had seen those countless times. Whatever meaning the sunset used to have or the feelings it evoked didn't exist anymore. The sun was just a focal point. No different than staring at a spot on the wall.
Marlene had gotten so accustomed to loss over the past few years that she had come to expect it, anticipate it, even. She didn't know what was wrong with Anna or what might happen to her, but this was a new world. A world that takes and doesn't give back. Marlene knew that much.
The sun sunk to just a sliver over the horizon.
There was a time when Marlene used to take in the sunset, Marvel at the stars, cling to that feeling...
That's what she used to call it. A long time ago...
"You can see her now."
Marlene wiped the tears from her eyes and brushed her hands on her cargo pants as she stood up to follow the nurse inside the tent.
Inside, Marlene found Anna rested on a metal framed cot which the nurse attempted to make as comfortable as possible by doubling up the mattresses and propping her up with pillows.
The color was flushed from Anna's face, her skin cool and clammy, her fair hair soaked in sweat clung in strands to her cheeks. She stared blankly at the ceiling. Perking up slightly upon Marlene's entrance, she managed a smile.
"Hey." Marlene sighed, relieved. She rushed to Anna's side clasping her hand as she leaned in to press her lips tightly against Anna's forehead.
"I'm sorry I should've been here. I-"
Anna waved her hand weakly to hush her and with a half-hearted smile she murmured, "what took you so long?"
Marlene let out a laugh, tears running down her cheeks. Anna; always with the sarcasm, a quirk Marlene had not always appreciated but she found herself aching for it, wishing for all those moments back. She squeezed Anna's hand.
"And here we are!" a man's voice interrupted.
Marlene turned to see a doctor approaching with a bundle of towels cradled in his arms.
Anna's eyes brightened as he nestled the bundle into her arms.
Marlene couldn't contain her excitement, "Oh my God! is it-?"
"A little girl." Anna said softly, gazing down at the little baby. The infant stirred, whimpering, she reached out and grasped Anna's index finger. Anna smiled. "Hey you."
The doctor, beaming, rested his hand on Marlene's shoulder. "I'll let you get acquainted, congratulations."
Marlene looked in awe. "She's beautiful."
Anna caressed a finger across the baby's cheek.
"What will you name her?" Marlene asked, longingly.
Without breaking her gaze from the newborn Anna whispered, "Ellie." As if she had always known.
"Her name is Ellie."
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