Searching for Normal

He sat there staring at me as if I hadn’t asked a question. Then he picked up Alexander and cradled him in his arms. The silence was deafening.


Finally, Alex spoke, “Starlet, you jump the gun constantly. I have no intentions of not marrying you, but I still say you need to resolve your issues where Eric’s concerned.”


“But I’m fine . . . really, I am.”


“Really, you aren’t,” he insisted. “You should have seen yourself a few minutes ago, standing at the window bawling like someone had just died. This is more than hormones, Star.”


“You’re just making this into a big thing. There’s nothing wrong with me. I was just overwhelmed by the news.”


Alex got up from the bed and moved over to the window seat. I watched as he got comfortable, placing the baby in his lap. Never taking his eyes off Alexander, he said, “I think I should tell you that I’m not the only one concerned about you.”


“What do you mean?”


“While you were in the hospital, your mother mentioned coming by to check on you on a few occasions, only to find you crying out in your sleep. And you weren’t asking for me, you were asking for Eric.”


I stood silently in the doorway, my eyes cast to the floor. I saw his point, but something inside of me didn’t want to see his point. I just wanted to move on, love my baby and live my life.


From Alex’s tone I knew he wasn’t going to let sleeping dogs lie. I shrugged, eyeing him cautiously. “Maybe I should call my mom for a referral.”


“No need. I’ve got a name in my wallet,” Alex said, as he picked up Alexander and brought the baby’s face to his.


“So you and my mother have been plotting and planning behind my back? Jesus, Alex!” I was heated. My mother and fiancé thought I needed help. Like I couldn’t handle my own emotions. How dare they?


Alex glanced sheepishly in my direction. “There’s no need to go getting upset. We just thought it might help if you had a neutral party to confide in.”


My first thought was to fly off the handle. To tear into him for having so little faith in me. But I didn’t. I couldn’t because deep inside, I knew that my dreams about Eric were starting to haunt my waking hours, too.


I also realized something else. I hated the fact that he left me, not only in death, but in life as well. He had a choice between Vincent and me, and he chose Vincent, a violent and vindictive asshole. I began to cry all over again.


“Starlet . . . Starlet.” Alex’s voice broke me out of my thoughts that were becoming more unstable by the minute. “Baby, are you all right?”


I stared at Alex all dumbfounded and realized I probably looked the same way when he walked into the baby’s room earlier. “God, I’m just all over the place. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It has to be my hormones trying to settle down.”


Alex studied me, and then stood up and walked over to me, with Alexander nestled in the crook of his arm. “What you have to understand is that you’ve been through a lot. A lesser person would have cracked under the weight.”


I nodded in agreement. Things were closing in on me. My chest felt constricted. And everything, even how I felt was odd. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But if I had to define me at the moment, it would have been certifiable and in need of a good scream session.


All of a sudden the air felt stifled, making it difficult to breathe. I turned and walked out of the room and down the stairs. My destination was the patio. I convinced myself that all I needed was a few minutes alone to watch the sun set.


I grumbled under my breath, when Alex joined me outside. Before he could say anything else, the phone rang. I answered it on the first ring.


“Ms. Starlet, your mother is here,” the doorman said.


“Thanks for alerting me.” I sighed and braced myself. The doorbell rang and I started to rise, but before I could, Alex disappeared into the house. Not wanting my peace interrupted on the outside, I forced myself to stand and head inside.


My mother came in, as usual, like a force of wind. She hung her coat and grabbed the baby out of Alex’s arms.


“So, have you made the suggestion?” she asked, glancing in Alex’s direction.


“Ms. Juanita, I don’t think . . .” Alex eyed me cautiously.


“You don’t think what, Alex? We need to deal with this.”


I sensed a gang-up session coming on that I wasn’t up for. I also realized at that moment that my mother had already planned this out. I sidestepped them and headed for the stairwell.


“Starlet Marie, where are you going? Won’t the baby need to be fed soon?” my mother asked.


“You act like I’m leaving the house. I know when my baby needs to be fed,” I snapped.


As I walked past Alex, a look of concern clouded his eyes. Or was it guilt? Either way, I wasn’t sticking around for the showdown.


“Starlet, why don’t you take the baby with you,” Alex said.


On cue, my mother shoved Alexander in my face. I took a step back, gave my mother a piercing stare and brushed past her to the stairs. The minute I made it into my bedroom, I locked the door.


Alex and my mother were talking, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. As I lay across the bed, I only had one thought that really mattered: that my mother, Alexander and my problems would go away and things would be normal again.