A companion story to Ghosts
Luka's question was one Alenka knew she should have had an answer to, but for whatever reason she didn't. Granted, had spent more time then she wanted to admit thinking about it, and like Luka, there had been many sleepless nights and still others when the old nightmares had returned. Now? She forced herself to meet his eyes. "I thought that by concentrating on the positive side of being back I could avoid thinking about everything that had happened before I left."
"It doesn't work that way though, does it?" Luka stroked his wife's hair as he held her, his voice quiet in the darkness so as not to wake the children.
"No, as much as I want to tell you it does, I can't." With her words Alenka turned in his arms so she could look out of the window as well. "It's so quiet." It was hard to know if her words were meant for her husband or herself as she whispered them but Luka latched onto them.
"I know...that's what I always notice first." He wrapped his arms around her securely before leaning his cheek against her hair. "Almost every memory I have of being here seems to have the sounds of bombings or someone crying in the background of it."
"You can't be serious?" Alenka failed to withhold her disbelief, how was it possible that he had never shared that with her as they had shared so much of their pasts? "You've never told me this before." She turned so she could see his face in the moonlight, needing to see his face as she sought more understanding.
"I know...I'm sorry...I guess I thought if I didn't think about that part of them, if I only focussed on the actual memory itself it would make things easier." He lifted a hand to rub one eye then brought it to rest on the sill as he looked past her for a moment. "I have to fight to remember what the months before the war were like..."
"Shh, Luka." Alenka silenced him by placing her fingers to his lips before sliding her arms around him. "You have good memories...I know you do...you've shared them with me, with the children." As she reassured her husband Alenka moved her hand in slow circles over his back hoping to soothe him. "Come back to bed, tomorrow's going to be a long day for all of us."
Luka allowed his wife to lead him back totheir bed though he was sure he wouldn't sleep. As she curled into his arms he held her, his fingers toying with a lock of her hair. When she began to softly sing a lullaby he recognized as one she had sung to the children he smiled and without thinking his eyes closed as he let himself be drawn into it as she had known he would.
He came awake slowly...knowing something was missing in the night's sounds but unable to place it. As he rolled over to his stomach and his arm hit the cool sheets instead of his wife the realization hit. Pushing himself up on his arm his eyes went first to the alarm clock on the bedside table and then around the room...he was alone. Pushing the covers aside he sat up and dropped his legs over the side of the bed, giving himself a moment to adjust before standing. "Alenka?" When he received no response he felt the initial panic rise...expecting the worst though he knew it was unnecessary. As he entered the hall he heard the song for the first time and he quietly made his way to the nursery, only to pause in the doorway as he reached it.
She was never more beautiful then in those moments when she was with their child...he was sure of that. He watched silently as she sang to their baby boy in her arms, the song one he had heard another sing to her babies. Standing in the moonlight now he could almost forget the sadness tied to those memories, his heart full enough to ease that pain. When she realized he was watching and turned he smiled. "Do you realize how beautiful you are?" He asked the question softly without really expecting a response.
Alenka smiled at his compliment, then let the song taper off as she continued to rock the baby in her arms. "Would you like to hold your son?"
"I don't want to wake him." Luka had yet to move closer, not wanting to spoil the illusion in front of him.
"You won't." As if knowing he would remain there Alenka approached him instead, extending the sleeping baby towards him in offering. "Take him, Luka."
How could he resist? The sight of the dark lashes against chubby cheeks, the sheen of not yet dry breastmilk on his lips...he reached forward to take him only to cradle Juraj in his arms as Alenka draped an arm around his back before leaning against him. When she began to hum the tune again it was his turn to smile...and he raised his eyes from the baby to her in response. "I love you..." He mouthed the words softly as she continued to hum and was rewarded with a smile from her in return before she paused to return his words.
"I love you too, Luka....more then you can ever imagine."
to be continued...