The melody of the crickets drifted into the open windows of Dawn’s cottage house. She often left her windows open to invite the calming night air and smells of dampened grass. The aroma would drift in and sneak up her nose, calming her on the sleepless nights, especially when she was pregnant.
Now, she laid on her back staring up at the ivory, textured ceiling. The crickets’ songs no longer sounded like a lullaby, but instead sounded like a warning. Her heart pounded as she stroked the bumpy scar on the bottom right corner of her belly. The doctors had informed her the c-section would leave an infinite scar, but the pain was sure to go away in a few days. She grimaced as she touched a sensitive spot. Taking a deep breath, she turned to her side where her bedroom door was wide open, casting a full view of the hall and, more importantly, the tiny room two doors down.
As if on cue, a shrill cry pierced her ears and the walls seemed to shake with the sound. Dawn flinched and her heart ramped up as she stared into the hall. Pulling the covers away from her heavy legs, she made her way into her newborn child’s room.
“Hello there, little one,” she whispered, voice shaky. The petite babe wiggled her arms, face scrunched up in a grimace. Two small pools of tears laid on her chubby cheeks. Dawn hesitantly stroked her babe’s arm, whispering, “Hush, little Luna.” Luna kept crying, piercing shrieks, even after Dawn lifted her up and began to cradle her. She rocked her back and forth rapidly, hushing and shushing, until pained tears brimmed her own eyes.
The crickets had finished their lullaby outside, realizing their work was not accomplishing what they planned. The only sound filling the house were the cries of Luna. It was loud enough. Dawn rocked her back and forth as she walked the hallways, peering into her bedroom with only one pillow. Luna’s father made the decision long ago to not be a part of their lives. Dawn’s heart still belonged to him, whom she dreamed of every day when she was pregnant—the times she sobbed over the toilet throwing up until her body gave up, the kicks little Luna performed inside her stomach to remind her of everything she lost, and the times she howled in pain as her stomach twisted and knotted in pain as she contracted. The tears lining Dawn’s eyes now spilled over, matching the rhythm of her daughter’s whimper. As much pain as Dawn felt during the time she was pregnant, it never compared to the pain she felt knowing she had to raise Luna all on her own.
As Dawn wept and wept, tears falling down her cheeks and onto her baby girl, Luna stopped. She sniffled and stared up at her mother. Dawn noticed the silence and gazed upon the babe in her arms. She took in her bright ocean-blue eyes and round cheeks. Freckles dotted around the bridge of her nose and her lips were full and rosy. Dawn had not looked her daughter in the face since the delivery to notice their similarities. But they had many between the two of them.
Dawn let out a small, choked laugh and brushed her fingers along Luna’s forehead. “You are beautiful, little one. I am so sorry for the life I can’t give you.” Tears began to blur her vision once again and she blinked them back. Luna gazed at her in wonder as she continued talking. “Can I tell you a story? Once upon a time…” Dawn led them through the dark house and out the front door. Stars littered the sky and the crickets began their song again.
“There was a young woman. Oh, she looked just like you. Simply older. She longed for love, her prince charming in fact. It was such a deep desire that she never thought it wouldn’t come true. So, the first prince that came along she fell in love with, even though he was more in love with his castle. She soon bore his child and the prince left her alone forever.”
Dawn paused, watching her daughter wiggle her fingers and blink her eyes. She smiled. “But the young woman found that she didn’t need the prince, no matter how much she still loved him. She had a beautiful daughter that loved her more. That she loved more.” Dawn stroked Luna’s cheeks and head that held no hair, but only a little fuzz. Luna yawned in her arms and began to close her eyes. Dawn rocked her gently as she peered up at the sky.
The crickets continued their composition and she realized something. Maybe their song was not just to calm Dawn but to calm Luna. The crickets reminded her of the beauty of quiet and chaotic moments. Perhaps if they could continue their song every night when she was in pain over Luna, she could too. She could love her daughter every night with a powerful love, even when it was tough. Dawn tilted her head down to the sleeping babe once again. “I shall never leave you, little one. You give me life as I gave you yours.”
They sat on the front porch for the remaining of the night, until the sun peeked over the trees. It casted a bright glow on both Dawn and Luna, welcoming them into a new day full of possibilities. Dawn stretched her legs, rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, and made her way back into their minute cottage. She spent the morning cooking, despite her lack of sleep, and watched her daughter drink her breakfast. They spent the day staring at each other, cuddling, and enjoying the other’s presence. They watched the trees sway outside, and the birds chirp their greetings to one another. Dawn told more stories and Luna simply listened in wonder.
When the day was over and the sun had casted it’s last ray of sunshine over the house, Dawn carefully lowered Luna into her cradle. Luna was fast asleep, her chest rising and falling peacefully. As Dawn made down her bed, she didn’t stare at her one pillow in despair. Instead, she slid the pillow to the middle, opened her window, and fell fast asleep. The crickets began their nightly concert and guided both Luna and Dawn into a peaceful sleep.