Once Was Lost Ch. 01bytaylorreed©
He looked out through his shattered home and thanked God that he was still alive. He then realized that his daughter was missing. He scrambled frantically through the chaos that the twister had left behind screaming wildly for his little girl. "Lilly! Lilly! Baby where are you?" The only sound came from leaking water pipes and distant sirens.
His eyes scanned the uprooted trees, the discarded bodies of cars that were flung as if they weighed nothing. Neighbors wandered aimless and ghost-like through things that once represented their lives but now were just reminders of what had been.
He ran up to the first person he saw. "Jim. Have you seen Lilly? She was with me when it hit and now I can't find her. Please Jim. Please help me!" Jim looked at the man standing before him and took a step back. Who was this? This figure covered in mud and tattered clothing. It was Adam. Adam Watts. The single father from across the road.
Jim took Adam by the arm. "Adam it's ok. We'll find her." And so it began. Soon two grew into five then eight. Surely with all these eyes the small body of a child would be easily seen?
Adam thought he knew his neighborhood by heart but looking at it now, it could have been the moon. He prayed that they would find his baby but also not. He was terrified of the truth that maybe she had not survived. A small movement to his left made him stop.
A hand! The small hand of a child covered in mud clutched at the air and then went limp with the effort. "Lilly!" Adam screamed. Lifting a wall that outweighed him by at least fifty pounds he threw it aside, only to see his daughter half buried in debris.
A crowd gathered and watched in silent horror as a father dug like a frantic animal to release his daughter. "Please God. Help me! Don't let my baby die." Adam screamed as he gained purchase on the sodden ground. Finally her small body came free and the crowd gasped. It's not that they didn't want to help, they just felt powerless to do anything. They stood by silent witnesses to grief and despair.
A siren broke the silence and two paramedics rushed to help the frantic father. He forced air into her small lungs and beat on her chest but to no avail. They moved close but he wouldn't give the child up.
Time was precious now and there still may be a chance to save this tiny life. Justin held out a comforting hand. "Sir, please you need to give her to us. We may be able to save her."
This did nothing for Adam as he held his daughter's frame close to his chest. Willing his life to seep into her. "You're not taking her from me. Get away!"
Justin had seen this only too often. A parent's inability to comprehend the loss of their child. Not wanting to let go because that would mean that it was all too real. Keep denying what was in front of you and it may just all go away.
Justin's partner Aiden, moved silently behind the father while Justin kept him distracted with pointless words.
Suddenly Aiden tackled Adam to the ground and while he was pinned, Justin moved in to take the baby. "No! No!" Adam howled at the top of his lungs. Struggling against Aiden with every once of strength that he had.
"You bastard. Give me back my Lilly!" Adam, in spite of a bad head wound fought Aiden with amazing strength.
Jim came forward then, hoping to offer some kind of comfort. He knelt beside Adam and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Adam, look at me." He waited until those dead eyes moved his way. "Let them help. Adam they're trying to help."
Something tore loose inside Adam. Jim heard it as loud as the twister that destroyed their town. He sat too still, too quiet and stared at nothing.
Justin worked frantically but it was just too late. These were always the days he hated his job. Everyone looked to him to save, to heal and he felt such a failure when he couldn't deliver.
Justin walked towards the father sitting still held by Aiden. "It's ok. Let him be." He sat and handed Adam the body of his daughter and waited. Nothing. The mind can be so kind when we come across something we just don't want to accept. It sends us off somewhere to a place of peace so that maybe we don't go insane.
Adam looked down at his daughter and saw not the broken little body but a lively passionate soul that had bought him such joy and breathless delight. He drew her quietly to his chest and rocked her slowly as if to bring them both comfort. His lips moved and Justin realized he was singing to her and he turned away.
A TV crew turned arrived and began to film the devastation. Aiden returned with a blanket for Adam who by now was shivering violently and the TV crew followed his movements with their camera.
Justin stepped in front of them with a warning glance. "Don't. Give him some privacy please. Can't you see? He needs to be with his baby now." The camera moved to Justin's face and that night in the homes of millions of people across the country they saw the unshed tears and grief of a man who could not save this little girl.
Another man saw too. Sitting with friends when a familiar face caught his attention. "Shh quiet everyone. I need to see this." All eyes turned to see what Stephen was so interested in.
They too saw the flattened homes and trees. Mud well over five feet high in some areas. Bodies of dead animals floating in streets covered in water. Then the final frame of this tragic story.
A father sitting with a small child in his arms, rocking her slowly. A paramedic standing in front of the camera to give them privacy. Stephen knew that face. My God it's Adam! " I know him. We used to go out a long time ago. I didn't know he was married!"
Stephen's friends looked at him. "It was about five years ago now. We went out for about six months then he broke up with me. I think looking at that story I know why." Stephen had always assumed it was something he had done. Only now did he think something different. He saw the disbelief and pain in Adam's eyes and remembered when they once were filled only with pleasure.
"He must be going through hell. Stephen, why don't you go and be a friend to him. He will need all the support he can get for a long time."
Stephen looked at Janet. The idea wasn't entirely ridiculous. They had shared a very special bond once and Adam would be easy to find in such a small town. He was only a plane ride away. It's not like they hated each other...Just lost their way.
Stephen nodded to himself. His mind was made up. He left his friends and went to the computer to book a ticket. He would figure out where he was staying when he got there. It certainly wouldn't be in town because there was no town.
He couldn't get a direct flight because he rightly assumed that the local airport was pretty much wiped out so he would have to get as close as he could then bus the rest of the journey.
He began to feel tentative excitement. He wondered what Adam's reaction would be when he saw him again. He had a million questions and none of them had easy answers.
Justin shepherded the father and baby to our truck and we made our way through the flooded streets. Thank God the hospital sustained only minimal damage and the injured began to trickle through the doors like a small stream. Every doctor was now on 24hour call and more were arriving from near by cities. It was like a bad dream.
Adam was still shivering and no matter what Justin said he would not lay his daughter down. He was obviously in need of medical attention but like any parent would, his baby came first. Justin contented himself with patching the head wound as best he could and placing a blanket around Adam's shoulders. When the blanket moved and covered his daughter's face, he would move it away like she still needed oxygen to survive.
Justin watched Adam carefully, looking for signs of internal injuries. Shock had most definitely set in but causing Adam more stress by forcibly removing his child from him would do more harm than good.
Aiden was a good driver and they made it to the hospital in no time. Adam refused Justin's attempts to help him inside and wobbled alarmingly his daughter in danger of falling from his arms.
A nurse met them inside and Justin was shocked at the number of injured people. Some laying and some sitting. All were covered in mud and soaking wet. Haunted eyes followed their progress through to the nurse's station.
She glanced at Justin and then at the lifeless child. He shook his head and shrugged. He wouldn't give her up. The movement said. She drew Justin aside. "So I am assuming that the child is deceased?" Justin nodded. "We need to get them apart so he can be treated. Can you keep him distracted and I'll try to sedate him?"
Adam eyed them both warily. Unsure of what was happening. Justin moved carefully towards him, hands out in a placating gesture. "Adam, I'm concerned for you. You have quite a bad gash on your head. Are you feeling light-headed at all?" All the while he moved a little closer.
The nurse was out of his view all together so was able to come around from behind. She had quickly loaded a hypodermic with a sedative and was inching closer. "Adam. Can I hold her for you? Even just for a little while? You look like you're going to fall over." Justin got within arms length. The nurse moved the last few feet with lightening speed and jabbed the needle into Adam's bicep.
Adam grabbed at his arm. "You son-of-a-bitch." He screamed at Justin. "You tricked me!"
The sedative took effect quickly and Adam began to droop and slowly sank to the floor. His arms were still wrapped around his daughter and Justin still had to pry them apart. He looked at Adam and his heart broke for him. "Adam it's ok. We need to help you. It's going to be ok."
Adam looked up once more before he went under. "You bastard." He slurred. "Never...never forgive you." And he slumped into unconsciousness. Justin didn't usually take those kinds of statements to heart but for some reason what Adam just said hurt him. He handed the small body over to the nurse then collected Adam off the floor.
He had trouble finding an empty bed and realized he was enjoying the feeling of this man in his arms. He liked to play protector but it was more than that. He had watched Adam struggle with the loss of his baby and even though he was in obvious need of medical attention he still put his daughter first. What must it be like to love someone like that? So much so that what you need comes last. Looking at Adam lying on the bed, fragile and hurting, Justin felt a small twinge and hoped that maybe he would have the chance to feel that way about Adam.
Yes he had a child but that really didn't mean he wasn't gay. It was nothing he said, Justin had always been pretty good at reading people. Justin had lived here for a long time so when Adam arrived with just his daughter Justin became intrigued. Polite questions about where they came from and any family or friends yielded nothing but polite answers.
There had been "talk" of course like in all small towns that he had maybe kidnapped the little girl from her mother but Justin knew the police chief well and a discreet investigation turned up only information on a mother dying in a car accident leaving behind a child and husband. That's why Adam was on his own. Justin had always kept his distance and they had bumped into each other at the store and exchanged smiles but that was all.
Justin didn't want to take advantage of the situation and he couldn't believe that he was thinking this way but maybe now Adam would let him in, just a little.
Adam woke with a raging headache and looked around the stark white room. For one moment of bliss he didn't remember where he was or why he was even there but then in a flash it all came flooding back. The twister. The search for my daughter then like some living nightmare, her fight for life and eventual death. To say that he felt numb was a huge understatement. It scared him a little at just how hollow he was.
Adam looked at the liquid flowing into his arm, maybe it was the drugs that left him feeling nothing? Or just maybe his mind was giving him a little vacation from any feelings at all. What do you do when you loose a child? Was there an appropriate way to behave or was anything at all acceptable? He did know that a parent was not meant to bury a child.
Lilly had been in his life for four years and had stolen his heart the second she looked at him with those enormous brown eyes. That rosebud mouth and whisps of hair, could there ever be anything more beautiful? She was only one when her mother died in a car accident. Adam called her "mother" because she wasn't really his wife but in name only.
One stupid night of complete drunkeness was all it took to create that small and perfect creature. They agreed to put on a little show for both families that included the pretense of loving each other as any couple would. Underneath the charade they both knew the truth.
He had given up everything to care for them both, even Stephen. That was the one loss that he would never forgive himself for. For as long as he lived he would never forget that look of anguish on Stephen's face when he broke his heart with a lie. And now he had nothing.
He let the pain in his head wash everything else away. But still no tears. Ok now he was really afraid for his sanity. The grief should have been overwhelming him by now. The nurse stopped in to check the dressing on his head. "How are you feeling?" He looked at her as if she had asked about the meaning of life. He shrugged. He had no idea how he felt because he was empty inside. She ruffled his hair and he felt small and child-like. "You've been through hell Mr Watts. It's going to take time." God if only it were that simple.
Stephen arrived the next day and endured the bus ride with the other hot and sweaty travelers. He had found a hotel a neighboring town and prayed to God that it had air conditioning. It was small and cheap but hopefully he wouldn't be spending too much time there. He hoped that when he found Adam they could maybe reconnect again. Not that he expected miracles but Stephen at least wanted to know the truth this time not the fairytale that Adam told him all those years ago.
He wondered how Adam was doing. He had lost his mother and an aunt but that was nothing compared with the loss of a child. He wondered where the mother was in all of this. The questions drove him crazy. Stephen remembered the way Adam felt in his arms. The pure delight of kissing him and the dimples that appeared when he smiled. Now that he was here and Adam was so close Stephen realized just how much he had missed all of that.
They arrived at the bus station and Stephen caught a taxi to the hotel. This was certainly small town America! He desperately wanted a cold shower and hopefully a meal that didn't involved some kind of animal testicles. The guy at the front desk gave him a key and pointed the way to his room.
Stephen opened his door and was nearly bowled off his feet with the heat wave that escaped from the room. Please, please let there be air conditioning.
His eyes scanned the room and there it was, mounted to the window. If he wasn't so tired Stephen would have danced with joy. He settled instead for turning the unit on as high as it would go and heading for the bathroom.
After washing the travel grime off he really wanted to eat but tiredness had made his whole body ache. Luckily the air blew directly onto the bed so sleep would be possible.
Stephen drew down the covers and eased his weary body onto the sheets, noting with relief that they were nice and clean. Sleep took him almost immediately and he went willingly with thoughts of Adam still in his head.
Hope you enjoyed this first chapter. It seems to take quite a while for the approval to come through for stories to get posted so it's actually not me holding things up. More coming!