Marah let out the expectant breath she had been holding. She may not have expected all her memories to flood back with the opening of the door but she had hoped for…something. At least some spark of a memory or a small glimmer of recognition. Instead all she saw was an ordinary living room. In a house. A house that she didn’t remember being a home.
From around the corner a large dog came rushing at her, its tail wagging in excitement. She tentatively held out her hand and let out a breath of relief when Kujo didn’t bite and instead sat at her feet staring adoringly. “Nice doggie.” She continued to pet him affectionately while she took in her surroundings.
She heard sounds coming from the kitchen and assumed it was Tony. But even so, she didn’t head in that direction. Instead she moved towards the fireplace, where above its mantle hung a large wedding portrait. Her last clear memory of Tony was not exactly a pleasant one, but the two people in that picture were so happy it practically radiated from the photograph. These two strangers were smiling as if the world around them didn’t even exist.
“Hey we didn’t hear you come in.” Tony indicated her new furry friend with a smile, “I see you met Toby.”
Marah turned towards Tony and tried to smile, though even she knew it came off less than convincing. “We just got here. Mom is outside bringing in the baby.”
Awkward silence fell upon the room like a blanket, as though neither Marah or Tony knew what to say to each other. Breaking the tense situation Danny stepped forward around Tony and engulfed Marah in a warm hug. “Glad to have you home Marah.”
Home. Such a simple concept but yet so foreign at the moment. “Thanks Danny.” She smiled and hoped it was more convincing than the one she gave Tony. But judging by the concerned look on Danny’s face she had failed yet again.
“Do one of you young strapping men want to come help me with this precious, yet heavy, bundle of joy?” Caught up in the tension no one had heard Reva enter the room yet there she stood, once again lifting the baby carrier for emphasis.
Tony watched while Marah made small talk with Danny, he just couldn’t take his eyes off of her. Almost as if he were afraid she would disappear if he looked away. But Reva’s innocent question broke Tony’s attention and like a seasoned professional he lifted the cumbersome pumpkin seat from Reva’s arm and placed it on the floor. Marah felt her heart clench at the smile that graced Tony’s handsome face. So broad and full of love for his daughter. Their daughter. Marah had to keep reminding herself of that little fact. Though one thing she would never need reminding on was how much Tony loved Lanie. It was clear from all the way across the room.
“How is daddy’s princess today?” Tony reached in and picked up the tiny newborn. “Were you good for mommy? Hm?”
When seconds passed and it became clear that Marah wasn’t answering Reva stepped in. “This little one was an angel. She barely made a peep the entire ride home.” Reva brushed the soft ebony hair covering Lanie’s head. “She sure is a beauty.”
Tony looked up and locked eyes with his wife. “Just like her mother.”
Half an hour later Marah was searching for any excuse to not be alone with Tony. Danny had left not long after she arrived saying he had some business to take care of at the police station. But at least she still had her mother to act as a buffer. Reva and Tony’s preoccupation with the baby gave Marah a chance to take a look at her life with essentially a stranger’s eyes.
Though all too soon her mother was standing to leave. “Well you three I am going to get out of your hair.”
Marah felt an overwhelming feeling of panic at being alone with Tony. She placed a staying hand on her mom’s arm. “Mom you don’t have to leave. Maybe you can help me make dinner, or something.”
Reva reached up and cupped her daughter’s face in her hands and smiled, “Maybe next time sweetie. You need to be with your husband and daughter now.” She kissed her on the cheek and bent to pick up her purse. “Besides, I better get home to your daddy. He is probably chomping at the bit to get an update.” She turned and smiled at Tony, “I will try holding back the Lewis clan from descending on you guys like a horde of locusts. As you know, we can be a bit overwhelming.”
Marah lifted an eyebrow in question, “Home to dad? You mean he’s not married to Aunt Cassie anymore?”
“Um no, your father and I got remarried a few years ago. We’ve vowed that this time it’s forever or nothing.”
As Marah continued to walk her mother to the door she thought about all the trials her parents had gone though, yet no matter how many times they had hurt each other in the past they always managed to have a happily ever after. Even if “ever after” only lasted a few years. Perhaps Tony and her were destined to the same fate. She hugged her mom tightly, “I love you mom.”
Reva returned the embrace just as strongly. She had almost lost her daughter, and in some ways Marah was still lost. She grieved at the loss of happiness that typically shined so bright in Marah’s eyes. The joy of being loved by the man who owns your very soul, the wonder of seeing yourself in your children’s eyes- Yes Reva grieved for her daughter yet relished the fact that she was still alive. “I love you too honey. Call us if you need anything.” She glanced behind Marah to Tony and smiled reassuringly, “That includes you Tony.”
“Thanks Reva.” He placed his hand on Marah’s shoulder, all too aware of how she stiffened at the contact. If it were possible his heart broke a little more at that telltale action. “Not just today but for everything.”
“You’re welcome honey.”
Marah continued to stare at the door her mother had just closed behind her. She was alone with Tony for the first time since she had woken up. Every time he had come to the hospital to visit Marah had pushed him away, until the doctor And she didn’t know what she was going to say to him. Tony cleared his throat nervously, “Are you hungry? I could make you something if you want.”
Marah finally turned around and faced her husband. She wanted something alright, but it wasn’t food. “Maybe later. Right now I want to know the truth.”