Luke coughed and bounced slightly under Sean’s arm, but his tiny eyes remained closed and he slumbered on. He felt so soft, squishy almost, as Sean cradled him. With great effort, Sean tried freezing this moment in his mind. Not only the way Luke’s hair curled on the back of his head or his left cheek dimpled when he smiled, those he could recall in a blink, but more so the sounds of him giggling and the soapy scent of his plump pink arms. Sean stood up and keeping one hand behind Luke’s neck and one under his bottom, they began strolling around the room.
But the thing Sean desired most of all, more than for Luke to live a normal life, more than for Luke to be free from the past, was—and he knew this was entirely selfish—for Luke to know the truth about his father and mother.
“No matter what they say, Luke, believe what you know to be true and cling to it,” he whispered into Luke’s ear. His tiny arm stretched to the side, poking Sean in the chin before relaxing again. And in some small way, Sean felt reassured.
He listened to Luke gurgle and coo for the next ten minutes as they drifted from one side of the small room to the other. The clock on the wall showed five minutes to five and with a stomach full of what felt like spinning tops, Sean knew in five more, he’d have to leave.
They crossed the room to the window. Sean leaned against its ledge and pulled back the whispery white curtain. Outside, the sky was still dark, only a handful of stars twinkling in the night’s ebony blanket, and although the moon was as thin as a sickle, its light managed to seep inside the room and sparkle across the floor. He’d always liked moonlight, how it dusted everything with a silver glow, how it could illuminate a massive sky and make strolling in the night safe, magical. He suddenly hoped he wouldn’t tire of it.
He was about to return Luke to his basket, when suddenly, the steady bleeps of Reagan’s heart monitor doubled in pace. His eyes darted to the screen, the green lights galloping, and he felt his heart pumping in sync with the bleeps’ rapid pace.
“Reagan,” he called out, knowing instantly it was hopeless. Sean clutched Luke to his chest, fearing that if he put him down, his own legs might give out. Why wasn’t someone coming? And then, as if willing their arrival with his thoughts, he heard footsteps pounding down the hallway.
For a moment, he couldn’t move. His eyes remained riveted on his wife, her face entirely bereft of color now. But he had to act and quickly. If he was seen.…
With his free arm he scooped up the basket, set it beside Reagan, and as carefully as he could, lowered Luke into his bed. By now, Luke was awake, his coos replaced with cranky cries. As Sean looked from Reagan to Luke, he felt a piercing in his heart so sharp it almost took his breath away. This was goodbye. In a few short minutes his wife would slip from this place forever and so, in a sense, would he, together leaving behind a small boy, a small plan, and a deep secret.
The footsteps were getting louder. He leaned over and kissed his wife and then his son on their foreheads, squeezed each hand one last time, and before the door to the room could burst open, before the nurses could rush in, before the green bleeps on the heart monitor could flatten, Sean clutched a sleek, golden key, muttered, “Evanesco,” and disappeared from sight.