"Mom, I have a secret to tell you," I state, watching her hesitate at the front door. She turns to me, waiting for me to speak. "I'm okay."
"Lexi," she sighs, honey brown eyes filled with worry as she grabs my hand.
"I'm okay," I tell her again before she can say anything. Her dark brows scrunch as she searches my face.
"I just want to make sure. Colton's... situatio-"
"You can say it, mom. His death." A small grimace flits across her face. Everyone has been so careful around me since he died. Walking on eggshells, afraid to even say his name. "It's been nearly a month. It's hard, and I haven't really talked about it... but I've come to terms with it." I tell her.
"I just don't think I should leave yet." I sigh at her words. I wrap my arms around her shoulders. I feel her arms squeeze my waist tightly. Her soft, raven curls rub against my cheek. The familiar smell of peppermint wafts into my nose.
"Mom, I'm okay." Pulling back, I make sure she looks at me. "You've put your life on hold for me for the past month. It's time for you to get back to it." She stares at me for a few minutes, before sighing. Colton's parents had already left the day before, along with my dad who had to go back to work.
"Okay, Lexi. I'm just worried about you, being here, alone." She moves a stray raven lock behind my ear, before patting me softly on the cheek. "I know you're strong, but if you need me, if you don't think you can be alone, please call me. I'm only thirty minutes away, so I'll come right away." A determined look settles on her face. I can't help but chuckle at the sight of the 5'3'' woman, barely past my shoulder, standing fiercely, like a lioness.
"Okay, mom. If I need you, I'll call you." I tell her. With another tight hug, she puts on her coat and walks out of the door. I watch from the doorway as she waves from her car before driving away.
Closing the door with a sigh, I turn to the living room. For the first time in nearly a month, the house is completely quiet. It's almost too quiet. It feels weird, being here without him. I feel like any moment, he's going to walk through the front door, shouting out that he's home and asking what's for dinner.
Sitting on the couch, I stare blankly at the tv before turning it on. Some comedy show is on, but I can't seem to laugh. Funny scenes flit across the screen, ones that would usually make me laugh hard enough to hurt my side, but I continue to sit quietly.
The next hour passes by incredibly slowly. Each minute seems to stretch on for hours. Every tick from the clock sounds like the beat of a drum, getting louder and louder. Knowing I'm going to drive myself crazy if I continue to sit here, I decide to exercise a bit.
Turning one of the guest rooms into a small gym was one of the first things I did when we bought the house. While Colton turned the attic loft into a game room. I could find him up there on his days off, even though he worked at a gaming design company.
I remember asking him how he could come home to play games after spending all day working on them. He told me, "There's just something magical about them. To see, to play, something that I had a hand in creating is the most amazing thing." I couldn't understand it, but I was happy that he had something that he truly enjoyed. Sometimes, I would join him. I was never as good, but I could at the very least keep up.
Staring up at the ceiling after the workout, sweat clinging to my skin, I'm reminded about how we met. I had been exercising at a gym near my apartment when I caught a really bad cramp in my leg that made me fall to the floor. It was so bad, I couldn't move my leg without crying out in pain. It was early, so I was usually the first one there.
That's when he appeared.
Tall, broad-shouldered, toned arms, dark brown curls that laid above his brows, and these beautiful crystal blue eyes. I had never seen eyes so blue in my life. It was easy to tell that he took exercise seriously. His white shirt stretched tight across his chest, contrasting against almond skin. I remember feeling my breath catch as we made eye contact. Honey brown to crystal blue. But it was his voice that really got me. Deep and warm, it felt like it was caressing my skin.
He'd seen me clutch my leg and fall and wanted to make sure I was okay. I told him I had a leg cramp. Like a gentleman, he asked he could help me. Unable to say anything, I could only nod. As he massaged my leg, trying to loosen the muscles, I couldn't help but watch his arms flex. His skin was warm against mine.
Falling for him was easy. We met up constantly at the gym. At first, we pretended like it was accidental. But, it didn't take long for us to stop pretending. Before I even realized it, we were going on real dates.
During our "accidental" encounters at the gym, we learned a bit about each other. He was a game designer, something he'd wanted to do ever since he was a kid, and he was an only child. I told him about my job as a photographer, and my love of tea.
I also told him of my obsession with owls, so for our first date, he took me to an owl sanctuary. It was the best first date I had ever been on. From then on, I was hooked on him. Two years later, we were married and moving into this house, ready to officially start our lives together.
With a sigh, I pull myself from the memories and get up. Sweat rolls down my face, making loose strands of hair stick to my skin. I don't know how long I stand in the shower, but it's long enough for the water to turn cold. It becomes like sharp needles hitting my skin, forcing me to turn it off.
The silence is starting to get to me as I get dressed. With my parents and Colton's here for the past month, I didn't have time to think about anything. Now, by myself, I have no choice but to think about how lonely it is.
My eyes instantly go to the pictures lining the wall as I walk into the living room. Most of his stuff had been packed away and put in the attic. I left his gaming stuff out, allowing myself, every once in a while, to go play some of the games he made. I also couldn't take down our pictures together, something wouldn't let me.
Our wedding picture captures my attention the most. It was a small wedding, just family and close friends. We got married at the beach. Neither of us was highly religious, so getting married in a church didn't really sit right with us.
I can remember standing in front of each other, holding hands as we recite the vows we wrote. It's funny how I can't really remember mine, but his words are so clear. I can hear them as if he's saying them right now.
"Alexia Walsh, that day in the gym, I fell for you at first sight. Your big, beautiful, honey brown eyes. They felt like they were staring right into my soul. Even with sweat pouring down your face, hair sticking to your skin, you were still the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. But it wasn't just the outside, everything about you is beautiful. Your laugh and smile brighten my day. The way you stick out your tongue when you're trying to take a tricky picture. Your obsession with tea." I couldn't help but laugh at that. "But, your heart is what I love the most about you. You give so much to everyone around you and expect nothing in return. Your heart is so big and full of so much love, I couldn't help but fall for you." By this point, tears were rolling down my cheeks, but I didn't care. He then took my face into his hands, making our eyes meet once again.
"I love you more than I've ever loved anyone. You're my other half, my soulmate. I promise to stay by your side. To never go to sleep angry with you. I promise to stick with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly. I don't know what the future holds, but as long as you're with me, I know that we can get through it."
I can truly say that Colton was the love of my life, he completely owned my heart. The day he died, he took my heart with him. That call about the accident changed everything. Hearing that he had lost his life saving another drew up mixed feelings within me. A part of me was so proud of him. It was so like him.
But the other part of me was angry and in pain. The man that I loved was gone, forever. I would never see his goofy smile, hear his deep belly laughs, feel his skin against mine. We would never lay back and watch the stars again, or talk about our day together. We would never start a family.
With a sigh, I drag myself away from the picture, trying not to look at the others. A look at the time reveals it's almost four, the usual time he would be coming home. With a lingering glance a the front door, I walk towards the kitchen.
As I stand in front of the fridge, pondering what to eat, a wave of nausea washes over me. I can feel the saliva pool in my mouth and my throat starting to jerk as I rush to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before it all comes out. My gagging is the only thing I hear as I spend the next few moments leaning over the toilet.
I feel drained as I flush the toilet. "That was horrible," I say out loud, sitting back against the wall. Wondering if it was something I ate, my gaze drifts to the cabinet beneath the sink. The realization hits me as I scramble towards the door, nearly ripping it off the hinges as I open it.
The pink box stands out amongst the toiletries, beckoning me. Taking a deep breath, I grab it. Colton and I had been trying to get pregnant for the last couple of months. We bought nearly a dozen boxes, having researched how sometimes you have to take the test multiple times in one sitting just to be sure.
There's only one test left in the box. Taking it out, a thought crosses my mind. This will probably be the last test I ever take, for at least the foreseeable future. I can't help but feel a bit anxious, scared.
"Stop stalling," I whisper. Without wasting another second, I take the test. Setting my watch for five minutes, I wait. It feels like the longest five minutes of my life. I pace, biting my fingernails anxiously.
The sudden beeping of my watch scares me, nearly making my heart jump out my throat. I hesitate as I reach for it, stopping just shy of touching it. I can hear the drum of my heart, feel the sweat on my brow, the tingling in my fingertips.
"Come on, Lexi. You've done this test dozens of times before." I tell myself. Picking it up, my breath catches as I look at the two pink lines. Everything disappears except those lines. I can only stare in shock.
Sound and color rush back in as I slump to the floor, legs unable to keep me up. I feel wetness rolling down my cheek. Before I realize what's happening, I begin to cry. For the first time since that call, body wracking sobs escape me. My vision becomes blurry as hot tears run down my face. My cries echo through the silent house. Where happiness should have been, unbearable pain takes its place. Knowing that he's not here for this, that he'll never be, breaks me.
"Lexi! I know I should be home, but I ha-" my mother's voice trails off, no doubt hearing my crying. "LEXI!" she shouts. I can barely hear her rushing up the stairs through my sobs.
"Lexi?" I feel her arms wrap around me, her familiar warmth seeps into me. I can't help but clutch onto her. "Lexi, what's wrong?"
"I'm okay," I tell her, rocking back and forth.
"My sweet child," she sighs, rubbing my arms.
"I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay." I repeat, over and over again, still tightly gripping the pregnancy test.
But I think we both know that's a lie.