Chapter 1: Nadia

Nadia Fundman looked into her child’s crib and knew that she did not want another one.

It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy children. She adored kids with everything in her. She loved their laughter, their innocence, their joy and the way they enter the world not knowing how terrible it is. She adored it because she missed having the feeling herself, of not having a care in the world simply because she hadn’t experienced it all yet. And so she decided that the best contribution she could give to the world would be Jasmine, a child who would experience these feelings and grow under her love, devotion and protection.

But now, in this very moment, it was 3:48 am. She was 27 years old. She hadn’t been at the desk of her dream job in over twelve weeks, which could have been ten but everyone at the office insisted that she took “a little more time” to be with the baby. She had spent every waking moment with Jasmine since she had brought her home from the hospital, even forgoing sleeping next to her own husband, Mark, to sleep on the small couch in the nursery in the case that she woke up in the middle of the night and needed to be rocked back to sleep. That was the case that brought Nadia to this decision, where she decided that she no longer wanted more children. Jasmine would be magical enough for the world on her own.

Nadia considered sleeping on the nursery couch again, just in case. But then, she remembered the feeling of waking up next to her husband in the mornings. She missed feeling him roll over and squeeze her before he showered. How when he showered he would play his favorite songs and make sure to smile with his eyes as he brushed his teeth. She loved her daughter with everything in her, more than she had known she ever could. But there were times like this when she missed to freedom of only having to worrying about herself and Mark. The freedom of the two of them was one that she missed desperately, because since every other aspect of her life has been stripped away because of the baby, the only thing that she had left to think about in the minutes left when Jasmine no longer required thought was her husband.

Nadia gave her child a final glance, turned off the light of the nursery and gently shut the door. Walking down the hall, she prayed that her husband might be awake and expecting her. That maybe, just maybe, he would be waiting for her with his arms open wide and ready to rock her to sleep, just like she did with Jasmine.

She walked into their bedroom and could not see. All of the lights were out, and there wasn’t a sound except for faint breathing. Mark was laid on his back, not even aware that his wife was finally back in bed. “He doesn’t even look as if he tried to wait on me,” she thought to herself. Nadia sighed deeply, kicked off her slippers and shut her eyes. She didn’t think of Mark, or of Jasmine. She didn’t even think of herself. She inhaled and exhaled and just listened to what it sounded like to hear herself breathe. Then finally, she settled down for sleep.

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