The sweetness of him was the first thing she saw- sticky and warm on her chest, he cried softly and she loved him instantly…intensely. Her boy.
And it dawned on her slowly…she had lost him once before. It began as a feeling, a desperation to keep him close- which was normal for mother and son- except that this desperation grew. It expanded to a fear deep and wide: that he would die, that he would disappear from her forever if she took her eyes away for even a second.
And then a few weeks after his birth she watched him sleeping in his basinette. He was swaddled tight, his mouth slightly open making those glorious baby snores. She closed her eyes to savour the moment and in her mind’s eye a picture was painted- an ancient memory unfolded.
She was dropped onto a moor. Her hair was black like coal as was her cloak. The wind blew hard. It whistled and roared without sympathy. The noise of it cut her where she stood. She was listening for him- her son. How could she hear beyond the gusts? How could he know she called for him? She ran, shouting his name as she did. Her hair flailed wildly as her cloak burst open like wings. How she dearly wished to fly, to see the world from above. The birds were a sore spot of envy just then. The birds knew where he was.
The last thing she remember was the pot of boiling water over the fire. She was busy hanging laundry to dry as she spied his little hand reaching for the pot.
“Nathaniel, no!” she shouted.
It scared him. He had an inkling that the pot would hurt him, but could not help holding out a hand to test. His mother’s yelp made him react as if his hand had caught fire. He shrieked, turned and ran out the door. He ran and ran and ran. He ran to escape the fear, to cool his hand, to find something safer than where he had just stood.
She reacted instantly. It took her a moment to navigate the hanging linen about her. The door slammed shut in her face. She winced and grabbed her cloak hanging above. Crossing the threshold, his name already leaving her lips: “Nathaniel, come back!”. She bolted for the trees.
He was already out of her sight.
Seconds felt like hours. Minutes carried all her hopes and fears.
Back in her bedroom, her son napping peacefully she felt it: the terror, the desperation, the feeling she would lose her goddamned mind. And she knew in that moment…she had lost him. Seeing a version of herself standing on that moor, she knew- he never was found.
Except that now he was here. He lay beneath her protective hand in her comfortable home. He lifted the corner of his mouth in a pseudo-smile, his dreams were sweet.
Tears filled her eyes. What was lost has been found. Love always came around. Her son- returned- was sleeping sound.