In The Shadows

     She hated these Sundays-when her husband worked and she had to take her daughter to church alone. In fact, if her daughter had not enjoyed Sunday School so much, she would have skipped church entirely. The music was starting to drift up the hallway signalling first service was about to begin. Good! She would slip in quietly and find a seat in the back. Settling in to the cushioned pew, she allowed her eyes to scan the sanctuary.

Her eyes settled on the woman in front of her. The woman placed a newborn on her shoulder and proceeded to pat the babe. She guessed the baby couldn’t have been more than a month old. Sighing, she began wishing she had picked another spot and yet her eyes remained transfixed on the baby. She watched as the baby slept on. After awhile the baby stirred and the mother lifted the child gently down to her lap and became engrossed in a quiet dialogue with the wee one. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat as the voices filled her head. “When are you having another?” “…..needs a baby brother/sister.” “Do you only have one child?” A tear escaped and started cascading down her cheek. She quickly brushed it away hoping nobody had noticed.

She and her husband had trouble conceiving their daughter, but after 14 months she had made the happy discovery they would be parents. However, when their daughter was a few years old, they tried again. Fourteen months passed and no baby. Eighteen months. She began dreading that time of the month. Now she was looking at the two year mark with no success. No baby to hold. Their third bedroom sat void and eerily quiet. Staring at the baby in front of her became unbearable so she gathered her belongings and made a quiet escape out the closest door. Glancing around the foyer, she gave a quick half-hearted smile at a few lurking parishioners, some with busy toddles who would not sit still for the service, and hurried to her favorite escape- the church library. There was no one else present for which she was grateful. She grabbed a book from the shelf and pretended to read till she heard the organist begin playing once again signaling the end of the service. She shoved the book where she found it and hurried to fetch her daughter and disappear like she had never been there.

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