“Hey Siri, could you set a timer for 3 minutes?” Gracie asked her phone. The phone obliged her request as she made her way to the kitchen. 

     In the grand scheme of things, 3 minutes isn’t remarkable. It comes and goes, usually without thought. For Gracie, thought could not escape her today. “Get a hold of yourself for goodness’ sake! You need to learn to relax and besides, Chance doesn’t even know. There’s no pressure.”

She sat down in the bay window overlooking the yard, sipping what was now cold coffee. It was a lovely yard. It was one of the main selling points of the house. Just outside the window, her gardens were vibrant and full of life. Bees were whizzing by and hummingbirds were always sampling nectar from her feeders. Across the field there was a small pond that was home to a momma duck and her babies. Gracie had first spotted her the morning after the couple moved into the little farmhouse. It wasn’t long after that she started seeing little ducklings trail behind momma everywhere. It had brought Gracie so much joy to have the waddling family living on the farm. 

On the far right of the property, she could see her husband in his garage. He was hard at work building a porch swing she had asked for, for her birthday. He was very much an old soul, a build it with your own two hands type of man. She adored that her husband loved to create and give new life to old things. 

Thirty seconds, that’s all the time that had passed. She let her eyes wander to the empty space under an old oak tree by the pond. She imagined all the things she would like to do in the still empty area. That is the perfect spot for another garden area. I could spend all day reading under that old oak. Maybe I could convince Chance to build a bench? Unless? How much time is left? “Ugh! You mean to tell me it’s been less than a minute?” She groaned out loud. 

Returning to her reverie, she was under that old oak again. But this time there was a swing. Not like the one Chance was building for the porch, but one from a childhood memory. She imagined an old tire hanging from a rope. She saw it swaying in rhythm with the laughter on the breeze. She saw red hair turning even redder with the rays of the suns embrace. “Red this time? Interesting.” She mused aloud. 

She looked down to peek at the time. Two minutes was all that stood between her and the facts that she had to face. She couldn’t sit still a second longer. She decided to take a quick walk over to the garage and check on the swings progress. That should take up just enough time. She left her phone beside the unfinished cup of coffee just in case she didn’t make it back before the timer. “Wouldn’t want to raise any alarms.” She giggled to herself while rolling her eyes at her own corny joke. 

When she approached the old garage, Chance looked up from his work and beamed up at her with his signature smile. Dimples for days and lip corners that always reached his big, brown eyes. “Whatcha’ into sweetness?” He asked. The way he looked at her just wasn’t fair. It was like the sun rose and fell just for her. It was a level of adoration that should have made her feel nothing but bliss, but lately, made her feel nothing but guilt. He deserves so much better than me

Month by month she felt less deserving of the perfect husband she’d been blessed with. To tell the truth, she felt broken inside. “Well, I saw you through the window and just thought that I would come see how the swing was coming along.” That was all the invitation Chance needed to start the show. This was what she wanted, after all. She knew he couldn’t resist an opportunity to show off a project. 

As the pair fell into silence, she knew that the timer had to be up. Time to head back and see. “Well, baby I’ll just leave you to it out here, looks like you have everything under control. You want some coffee? I’ll brew up a fresh pot.” Chance smiled once again and pulled her into a quick hug. “I would love that more than anything right now. Thank you, sweetness.”

Away from her instigated distraction her mind switched itself back on again, and this time it was in overdrive. I would love to have this more than anything. The ache was deeper than anything she’d ever felt in her entire life. I would never ask for anything again. Back inside the kitchen, she started the brew, her last attempt at a stall. She turned her eyes to the door just off the left of the pantry. It was time. 

Inside the claustrophobic half bath, everything was as she left it. The discarded packaging was still in the trash and the night light was the only light on. She felt that somehow, the dimness would ease the sting of the blow. The piece of plastic she felt her whole self-worth riding on was face down on the sink. With slow, shaking hands, she reached down to pick up the test to read the results. On the count of three. “One…Two…Three…”

Gracie flipped the pregnancy test over and overcome with emotion, burst into heavy tears. In moments like this, time has no meaning. Was it two minutes or was it twenty? She didn’t know and she honestly, didn’t care. She stood in the small bathroom, letting out the flood of feelings she’d learned to keep hidden. As much as she hated being in the dim room like this, it was at the same time, the only place she felt safe to feel. She cried for the red-haired baby in the swing, she cried for her husband and the dreams they shared, and for a moment she let herself cry for her. A luxury she had never allowed.

One pink line was all that the test had shown. They say pain gets easier with time, but for her that would never be true. Pain heals when you leave old wounds alone and this was a wound that was continually ripped open. Grief like this never heals. 

“What is wrong with me!” she said as she sobbed. “I have done everything right! I have done everything you have asked of me, without fail, so when do I get my half of the deal God?”

She had tried so damned hard with countless appointments, medications, therapies, and home remedies. She once had the faith that is said to be able to move mountains, but no more. Faith had slowly been replaced with doubt, self-loathing, and pain. There would always be that pain. 

*Beep, Beep, Beep* The coffee announced that it was ready, which meant that she had to be ready in turn. Gracie splashed some cool water on her face and wiped at her eyes. She hated for Chance to see she had been crying. The second she crossed the threshold of the bathroom back into the kitchen, autopilot took over. In truth, autopilot had had control of the wheel for some time now. Get it together, have coffee with your husband and shake it off. He doesn’t need to know you failed again. With a sad attempt of a smile pasted on and two mugs in hand, she set off, making her way back down to the old garage. 

“You just need to make it through the day Gracie. Ready or not, tomorrow will always come. At least it comes with another chance.” 

October 16, 2022 11:26

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Suzanne Rossel
15:44 Oct 27, 2022

Taylor, your story was beautifully executed. I loved the choice of names for your characters and the way you lead me the reader on a path where I wasn't sure till the end how it would come out. Your dialogue was strong. Phrases, like "autopilot had control..." and "thought could not escape, resonated. Thank you for sharing.


Taylor Hairston
18:03 Oct 27, 2022

Thank you so much. It took a lot of courage to share the story, because she is me. It’s my story that I still live with everyday. When you write with a personal passion, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never written a day in your life. It will translate to someone and that’s what writing is about to me.


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Helen A Smith
14:15 Oct 23, 2022

A sad story, but ended with a note of hope


Taylor Hairston
18:04 Oct 27, 2022

Thank you for reading ♥️


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