A knock at the door could barely be heard over Harrison and Sparrow giggling as they shot at one another with foam shooting guns in the study at the top of the stairs. They popped their heads up from behind the leather chairs and would shoot the gun hoping they had timed it perfectly enough to get the other.
Sparrow had pegged Harrison right between the eyes a total of four times, she had hit him once on the cheek and another time on his foot while he had it sticking out from behind the chair. Harrison had gotten her once on the rump and all other shots had missed.
Laughing, Sparrow sat with her back pressed up to the back of the chair. “Are you ready to give up?” She called out.
“Never!” He retorted, a foam pellet shooting past her and sticking to the leather-bound spine of one of the books on the shelf.
She laughed. “Missed me!”
The front door opened downstairs and Vincent could be heard murmuring to someone. Her brow shot up when she heard her name and Mrs. Wilde.
Crawling out from behind the chair, she ignored the shot to her side and leg as she crawled over to the glass that acted like a banister in their condo. Pressing her forehead against the glass, she tried to see who was at the door.
They were just out of reach.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Harrison asked.
Ignoring him, she sat on the top step. Slowly descending step by step, she kept her face rubbing against the glass as she tried to see who their visitor was. Finally she saw Vincent’s back, he was standing just inside the front door with a woman dressed in business attire. She held out her hand, handing him a folder fat with papers.
“Feel free to look through the files. There are letters addressed to Sparrow and yourself in there, along with some paperwork for her legal adoption.”
“I can’t believe this…” He paused, opening the folder to flip through its contents for a moment before shaking his head and pinching the bridge of his nose. “When did it happen?”
“Time of death is estimated to be around 2:00am. Her body wasn’t discovered until this morning by an orderly. He came around to administer her medications and… found her.”
Sparrow’s heart dropped. On her feet, she walked the rest of the way down the steps towards them in a trance. Her throat was tight, her chest heaving.
“Sparrow?” Harrison took her hand from behind her.
Vincent turned to see her standing behind him. “Sparrow, how long have you been there?” Dropping to his knees, he held onto her arms.
“Is my mother dead?” The question hurt her to even ask, and before she had gotten the answer she already knew it. The way his soft eyes seemed to darken, a line drawing across his brow. He narrowed his lips and held onto her a little bit tighter. She felt herself buckling, sinking to the floor. Sparrow was gathered up in Vincent’s arms.
Tears streamed down her face as the rest of her slowly pulled away into the dark corners of her mind, unable to face the daunting reality that seemed to surround her. She could feel Harrison’s arms surround her, his cheek press up against hers as he ran his fingers down the length of her hair.
Her chest felt empty yet unbelievably heavy at the same time. Darkness seemed to close in around them. Before she knew it she could see the gleam of the moon shining through the window of the living room. The woman had long since gone when Vincent finally stood, gathering her up and taking Harrison by the hand and he walked down the hall to her bedroom.
Setting Sparrow in bed, she stared blankly at the ceiling as he tucked her in. Harrison climbed into bed beside her, gathering her up and pulling her against him as he continued to rub her back. She could feel the vibration of his chest against her ear as he spoke to her in a hushed tone, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying.
Her mother was gone.
Looking back at her life so far, there were a dozen reasons she could have honestly told herself she would be better off to console herself. Yet, of all the reasons her mother hadn’t always seemed the best, there were so many reasons she was. She was her mother, the only one she had, and the only one she ever would have. When she had been completely broken down, unable to pull herself off the floor, she would still find the strength she needed to paste a smile on her face, if only for a moment to convince Sparrow all was right in this world.
She had her problems, but Sparrow would never ask for another mother.
In the back of her mind she had always told herself they would make up the time later. When she was a little bit older, and better and understanding her mother’s illness and her struggle. She would educate herself, and she would walk her mother through those difficult moments.
They would grow stronger together.
That was what she had always thought.
Her mind flashed to the last time she had saw her father. He had been so angry with her mother, so frustrated. He had lived life with her for so long, struggling alongside her. She remembered his words. He didn’t yell, he merely sunk his head and told her he had felt as though he were drowning and he needed to see if he could swim up and finally get some air.
Sparrow understood that feeling now, as she lay in bed. She felt weightless, but she also felt this unbearable pressure all around her. She felt as though her lungs were being squeezed, each shaking breath excruciating.
If she held her breath, she was sure it would feel a lot like drowning.
Her eyes stung as she finally let them close, trapped inside her mind with her memories.
Vincent had never answered her question, yet the answer hung in the air. It grew thicker and thicker making it harder for her to breathe and taunting her, telling her life would never be the same again.