Chapter Seven in Gifts

Written by jrcsalter

A month later and Linda was sentenced to three years in prison for breaking and entering, harassment and stalking. Allison and Kate, happy to get her out of the way, were now able to put their minds fully on the wedding again. After having been fitted a week ago for them, the dresses were now ready. Kate refused to allow Allison to see hers, but assured her she would love it. Kate wanted a church wedding, but failed to find one willing to perform a homosexual marriage, so they tried somewhere else. Allison thought about having it abroad, and Kate suggested Spain. They sent invitations out, organised the catering, and booked the entertainment. With everything ready, and three days to go, Allison, Kate, Rob, Chad, and Holly sat down to have their last meal before they flew.   ‘So,’ Kate said. ‘How was the film last night?’   Rob looked up while reaching for some roast potatoes. ‘Bit crap really, but Holly liked it.’   ‘Well, at least one ticket was well spent then,’ Allison said.   ‘Yeah. I wouldn’t have minded, but I actually wanted to see it,’ Rob said, ‘and Hols was a little reluctant.’   ‘Gotta wonder,’ Kate said. ‘it is a little unusual to have a film club with only two members.’   ‘Weeell, we like to keep it small,’ said Holly with a wink.   A second later, the doorbell rang, Kate got up with an exaggerated huff of annoyance. ‘Always at the dinner table. It’s like they’re trying to interrupt us.’ She went to answer the door and the others continued the conversation for a moment before they heard raised voices, clearly an argument between Kate and the visitor.   Curious, Allison went to investigate. She reached the hallway and saw Kate’s profile with one hand on her hip and the other holding the door open, looking ready to shut it at a moment’s notice. As she came closer to the door, a familiar face came into view.   Although she appeared older with greyer hair and a little weight gained over the past few years, Allison couldn’t mistake her own mother.   Allison stared at her as Emma smiled. It looked odd. She rarely smiled from what Allison remembered, especially a smile that seemed loving and caring. ‘Allison,’ Emma said warmly with her arms outstretched.   ‘What?!’ Allison said. ‘I thought I escaped you. Do you realise the hell you put me through?!’   Emma dropped her arms, and when she spoke again, the warmth faded slightly. ‘What I did to you? What about what you did to me? You disobeyed and embarrassed me. I came here to offer you my forgiveness and hoped we could make it up, but you don’t even offer me a chance.’   ‘It might have helped if you didn’t act as if nothing happened. And also the tiny matter of not even apologising for what you did.’   ‘What I did was for your own good; you must realise that. But if it helps, I apologise. Also, I would hate to miss out on my own daughter’s wedding.’   ‘It could be possible that you are genuinely sorry, but even if you are, do you really expect me to fucking FORGIVE YOU FOR IT!?’ Allison stepped out of the house, and Emma took a nervous step back. ‘Why the hell would you want to come to a lesbian wedding. You hate me for being this way.’ Every step she took towards Emma pushed her back farther down the drive. ‘And you have no right to be there just because you say you’re the mother of the bride. You ceased to be my mother the moment you dragged me naked and screaming away from Kate. I remember the fear on your face when you learned of my powers. See what I can do now.’ She lifted her arms and the garden to either side of them exploded upwards. The soil and grass, the flowers and trees, whirled above them in a tornado of foliage.   Allison needed to shout to be heard over the storm. ‘You locked me up, you starved me, you even killed me. You will never be welcome here.’ Emma looked up, frozen to the spot, and Allison calmed the tempest. She let the garden down, and it settled back to its original place as if it had never been disturbed.   Emma looked at Allison, terrified, and turned to run off the grounds.   Allison went back inside, slamming the door with her mind. Kate drew her into her arms and Allison, now comforted in the embrace, calmed down. They finished the rest of the meal in silence, but Allison had lost her appetite.   When they had finished clearing away the dishes, Allison escaped to her bedroom. She lay on her bed and stared at the ceiling. She didn’t know how long she had been lying there when she heard Kate knock at the door. ‘It’s your bedroom too, honey. You don’t need to knock.’   Kate eased open the door. ‘Thought it’d be polite.’ She walked in and lay down on the bed, resting her head on Allison’s chest. ‘How are you?’   ‘Three days to go. And she shows up. She wants a life. An adventure. Dad confided in me once. After a row they’d had. He saved Emma’s life and she saw him as a knight in shining armour. He didn’t go into the specifics, but she wanted excitement and after years of not getting the adventure, he felt she resented him for it. He refused to leave her because he didn’t want to abandon me or Lizzie.’ Allison paused. ‘And now she wants to worm her way into another piece of excitement to escape the monotony that is her existence.’   Kate sat up, leaning on her elbow, and looked at Allison. ‘Just forget about her. You never have to see her again. We’re together. And this time next week we’ll be married.’   Kate gave Allison one of her infectious smiles and despite her mood, Allison laughed.   Kate leaned down to kiss Allison and began to remove her top.

Allison looked at herself in the full length mirror. Her hair, styled by Lizzie, hung over her shoulders in waves. She went for the traditional white for her dress; she didn’t want it over decorated so she chose plain silk with small flowered hems and a medium low neckline revealing her locket. The dress ended at her sparkling white shoes. She loved it and couldn’t wait to see what Kate looked like. It all seemed like a dream though; she was getting married today. Even the knock at the door didn’t wake her up. In a daze, and without moving her eyes from her reflection, she answered. ‘Come in.’ She faintly acknowledged Holly peeking her head around the door. Holly walked up to her wearing a sky blue skirt and white blouse.   She followed Allison’s eyes to the mirror and whispered in Allison’s ear, ‘Kate is going to adore you.’ Allison smiled as Holly led her out of the hotel door and down the stairs. At the bottom, she met Lizzie, now ready in her usual pink dress.   Allison stepped into the bright sun and walked across the gravel towards a limousine. She savoured every moment and every detail; getting in the car, pulling out the drive, the journey to the church, the small excited conversations with Holly and Lizzie. And somewhere in the distance, she almost heard a sweet voice; another girl, singing on her own wedding day.   The journey was over far too quickly for Allison, but still took too long. She sighed with relief when the venue came in sight. Open to the elements and placed within sight of the sea, it was as Allison dreamed. She was here only yesterday, of course, but today it seemed different, magical.   The chauffeur opened her door and she climbed out, feeling life in slow motion. She waltzed through the aisle. Through all the friends and family she invited. She saw her uncle and granddad sitting in the front row. Chad and Rob sat next to them. Atharron lay at the back on his own, slightly agitated at being denied a cigar. To Allison’s surprise and happiness, Kate’s mother also sat at the front.   And, of course, there was Kate herself. She wore a long white dress trailing a few feet behind her. Her sleeves, long and wide made her look similar to a mediaeval princess. She wore a small tiara centred with a diamond shining in the sun like a star.   Allison reached the end of the aisle and stopped. Staring into Kate’s eyes, she smiled. She finally believed this reality. And embraced it.

She thought of the time she and Kate first slept together. She thought of the time they were reunited. She thought of the many happy moments in her life. None compared to those few minutes she stood promising to belong to Kate forever. After that moment, even though she loved the reception, the consummation, the honeymoon, she knew her life could never be bettered.   And yet, it had to end, as everything does. Soon she came back home after two months away. She slept in her own bed for the first time with her new wife and relaxed.   A few of days later, she began work on a new album and finished it within the month. They recorded it and toured after the release. Once the hype died down, Allison and Kate talked family plans again.   ‘Look at this couple,’ Allison said, showing a picture of two women and a baby on her laptop. ‘Elsie and Karla. Their girl was born about two months ago, is apparently in good health. And this one, Georgia and Danni. Same situation. Of course we can only have girls. Not a Y between us. I think they’re trying it on guys now, who of course can have either, the lucky bastards. Though that’s proving to be a bit of a problem. And requires a surrogate.’   Kate’s lips turned up at the corners. ‘It’s a nice idea. What would they need to do?’   ‘First, they take a few of your cells, take out the right chromosomes, then implant them into my egg. I take the baby to term, and voila! We’re a proper family.’   ‘It has to be more complicated than that,’ Kate scoffed.   Allison closed the laptop. ‘Oh quite probably, but I think that’s all we need to be concerned about.’   Kate sighed. ‘Okay. I’ll do it. But on one condition. You’re the one who carries it.’   Allison smiled and kissed Kate. ‘Thank you.’   A week later, Allison and Kate arrived at the surgery in a haze of media buzz. Cameras were poked in their faces, flashes blinded them, and microphones were held in their direction. A barrage of questions were shouted at them, ranging from, ‘What are you going to name the baby,’ to ‘Are you concerned that your child will be another Davison case?’​—​referring to an early subject Allison would rather not think about.   ‘How did they even find out?’ Kate asked Allison as they closed the door to the surgery.   ‘You can’t keep anything private when in the spotlight. What annoys me is why there wasn’t this much frenzy when the first baby was born.’   ‘Because you’re famous. You’ll be like the first celebrity to undergo this procedure. It’s bound to be big news.’   Allison sighed and sat down to wait for the doctor. He explained to them the risks and the chances they would occur, the full procedure and schedule, and how long it would take. He then asked them to sign a consent form before taking them off to get started. Everything seemed to go smoothly and just as the Doctor had said it would. Allison was kept in the surgery over the next three days for observation, and on the third day, the doctor sat down with Allison and Kate.   ‘In most of the previous cases,’ he said, ‘we have needed to make multiple attempts. Five eggs are still in cold storage, but it looks like we won’t be needing them.’ He smiled.   Allison grinned and almost jumped up from her chair to hug him. ‘You mean…?’   The doctor nodded. ‘Yes, you are pregnant.’   Allison turned to Kate and threw her arms around her.   ‘I must warn you though. This is only the beginning. We will need to see you every week over the next two months, then every two weeks from then on. If there is anything you notice out of the ordinary, you phone me.’ He offered her his card and Allison took it. ‘Of course, you are pregnant which means many things will be different for you, but are actually quite normal. Nevertheless, phone me. Even if it’s normal, we need to know.’   Allison, grin on her face, made her way to the surgery exit with Kate holding her hand. She was going to have a baby! The idea still seemed alien to her. She laid a hand on her belly. Somewhere in there was her child beginning her first steps towards life.

The foetus seemed to grow naturally and the doctors kept a close eye on it. The child developed at a normal rate and showed no signs of deformation or disease.   The due date came … and went. The doctor said everything was okay and that it sometimes happens, even with a normal pregnancy. Allison tried to believe them, but worried about her child.   A week of anxiety went by before Allison felt the first pangs of labour. ‘Get Holly on the phone,’ she said to Kate on the other side of the living room. Kate looked up from her book and saw Allison doubled over. Her eyes widened in realisation and she frantically searched for her phone. She dialled Holly and pressed the phone against her ear. ‘I think we may need that taxi service you promised.’ As she put the phone down, Allison screamed.   ‘Okay, honey,’ Kate said, ‘Holly’s on her way, she’ll be here in ten minutes.’   ‘I’m not going to last ten minutes,’ Allison said, panicked.   ‘You’re gonna be okay.’   ‘Nope. She’s coming! I can feel her.’   ‘Holly?’   ‘The BABY!’ Allison screamed again as pictures flew from the walls, ornaments hurtled through the room like missiles, and wind swirled like a mini hurricane.   Kate ducked the storm and went to look at Allison, removing her underwear from beneath her skirt. ‘I see a head,’ she said popping up to look at Allison. ‘So what shall we call her?’   ‘Until I’ve seen her, we can call her a right pain the arse!’   Kate tilted her head as she looked at the baby’s scalp. ‘I hope that’s not where she’s being a pain. Oh, I know. How about Anna?’   ‘You’re serious? You want to have this conversation now?’   Kate slapped a cup out of the way as it shot for her head. ‘Just thought I’d bring it up. I like Anna.’   ‘Fine! Her name’s Anna. Now—’   A book flew into Kate’s head with a slap. ‘Will you stop that?’   Allison gave her a disbelieving look. ‘I’m trying to squeeze a baby through a tube that can barely fit two of your fingers and you’re worried about your head?’   ‘Just saying the whole thing will go a lot smoother if I wasn’t knocked out!!!’ Kate ducked a flying china pig.   ‘Just look. Where is she now?’   ‘What?’ Kate shouted over the screaming wind.   ‘WHERE IS SHE NOW!’   Dodging from the pig again, she dropped down to the relative safety of Allison’s legs. ‘Still just the head.’ She looked up at Allison again. ‘Perhaps we should have used something bigger. You know, stretched it a li​—​WOAH!’ She flew to the floor out of the way of the dining room chair. ‘Where’d that come from?!’   ‘The bloody bathroom! Where d’you think?!’   ‘Couldn’t you at least keep it to stuff in this room!’   ‘Sure! You can have the telly. Or what about the sofa?!’   ‘I thought you’d learned to control it.’   ‘I’ve got better things to worry about right now.’   A rolled up newspaper hit Kate on the back of her neck. ‘Ow. You did that on purpose.’   ‘Try being a supportive wife then!’   ‘Alli. Alli.’ Kate shouted with excitement, ‘I think I hear a car.’   ‘Over this noise?’   ‘Maybe. Could be the hoover,’ Kate said, watching the vacuum cleaner trundle along the floor. She went down to look at the progress, just as her daughter slipped through onto the light brown carpet.   Allison fell back with a sigh. The storm calmed down and everything slowly floated to the ground as if light as a feather.   ‘I’ll get some scissors,’ Kate said, standing up and rubbing her head.   Kate came back and cut the cord just as Holly came through the door. ‘Kate, you really need to learn to drive. I nearly killed myself getting h—’ She stopped when she walked through the living room door and saw Kate wrapping up the tiny child and giving her to Allison. She dropped the keys she carried, covering her mouth with her hands, and trotted over to the new family.   ‘Oh my … This is … I can’t … Did you have a fight?’ she said after seeing the carnage she used to call the living room. ‘Anyway, we’d better get you to the hospital.’   Holly and Kate helped Allison up and walked her out the door to the car. ‘You know,’ Allison said, ‘I think I’m fine.’   They guided her into her seat. ‘You may be,’ said Kate, ‘but we’ve got to check on Anna.’   ‘Anna?’ Holly said, walking around to her side. ‘Is that what you’re calling her?’   ‘Kate’s idea,’ Allison said. ‘Better than my suggestion.’   Holly gave Kate a questioning look, to which she shook her head. Then, pulling out the drive, they made their way to the hospital, Allison silently feeding her newborn daughter.

The doctors covered every test Allison imagined, and many she didn’t. They came to the conclusion that Anna was just as healthy as she looked. Extensive media attention annoyingly surrounded Anna’s birth, and Allison felt relieved when she got her home.   Laying her in the cot at the end of her bed, she stood looking at her with Kate.   ‘So, d’you reckon she’ll have the same powers as you?’ Kate wondered.   ‘Dunno. Might be cool though. We just gotta watch out for things other than flying books.’   Kate laughed. ‘Yeah. I think next time it should be me. I really don’t want to have to deliver a baby while fighting for my life again.’   ‘You’re already thinking of another one?’   ‘Well, not at the moment. In a few years maybe. Think it’ll be nice for Anna to have a sister to play with.’   ‘Yeah, maybe. Let’s just get used to the one first. Anyway, I’m knackered. You coming to bed?’

Allison awoke with an intense feeling of terror. If she didn’t know the feeling belonged to someone else, she would have screamed. Even so, it felt real enough to force herself to swallow a shout. She put her hand to her head and felt the dampness of cold sweat. Looking around the room, everything seemed normal. Kate lay next to her, dreaming, Anna’s cot stood at the foot of the bed, Allison’s book and empty cup lay on her bedside table next to the digital alarm clock telling her it was almost three. Blocking out the fear as best she could, she expanded her mind to feel the rest of the house. Holly’s room was empty, but nothing unusual, she’d probably stayed over at Rob’s again. The bathroom contained nothing to be scared of apart from a small spider crawling across the window. The only things occupying the library were the books. The entire first floor was clear. She began her way down to the ground floor, when she realised that, yes, the first floor was empty. A little too empty. Throughout her searches, she felt only two souls. Since she was looking for another person, she had ignored them. But she should have felt three.   She sat there, her own terror surfacing. Kate lay next to her. That was only two.   Allison pulled back her covers and stepped out of bed. She walked towards the cot, her fear of what she may find there drowned out the original feeling which woke her up.   She took two more steps and saw a bulge under Anna’s blankets. She reached down and slowly pulled them back to reveal a small pillow. She stood silent for a few seconds before dropping to her knees in despair.   Kneeling there for a full minute, clutching Anna’s cot, she sobbed. And then she heard it. A small cry. She thought it may be her imagination, but then she heard it again. It sounded muffled.   She stopped her sobbing and felt downstairs. Almost immediately she saw two souls. They suddenly moved out of her vision and Allison shut off her mind, bounding out the bedroom door. As she reached the top of the stairs, she saw a figure move at the bottom. She jumped the rest of the way, landing at the foot with a muffled thump. She ran down the hall seeing the intruder, with a bundle in its arms, just closing the door behind them. Allison raced to the door as she pulled it open with her mind.   Looking into her driveway, she saw a black mist. She ran through the dissipating smoke and out of her house. Searching all around her, she saw nobody.

Cover image: by JRCSalter


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