Lucille struggled to regain her breath. “He forced me, Eddie. But I didn’t know what to do. I believed him that it was my fault. And then I was pregnant. You were so excited.” She gulped more air. “How could I have told you that Justice might not have been yours? And she came out with that same chin as Herbert. I was just so afraid. God help me, I was terrified of what Herbert was going to do to me.”
“Mom.” Justice stood in the back corner of the room. Her strawberry blonde hair didn’t even have a hint of gray. No wrinkles creased in her face. She looked more like a 30 year old than a 40-something.
“Oh, honey,” Lucille whispered. Her eyes grew wide, tears spilling from the corners. “Oh, no. I didn’t…”
“Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
Lucille looked at Edgar’s body. “There’s a lot to it, honey.” She shivered. “I never wanted you to think you were a curse.”
“Why did you keep me?”
“Because your Daddy was so excited. And that got me through the pregnancy.” Her eyes closed, cherishing a memory. “When I saw you, when they put you in my arms right after you were born. Oh, Justice. It was the happiest moment. It healed me. You made me whole.”
“But he wasn’t really my father,” Justice nodded toward Edgar. “Not really.”
“No, Justice, he was your daddy. You know how he loved you.”
The rest of Lucille’s children filed in. Chatting with one another is soft tones of reverence. Lucille and Justice held each other’s focus. There was a tension, a pull and push at the same time. Both women felt it. Both women felt vulnerable. Lucille was sure she’d lost her daughter.
Justice made her way to her mother, arms held out long before she reached her. She knelt on the floor, holding Lucille. The other six, not knowing what was going on, gathered around, circling their mom and older sister.
“She’s taking it so hard,” said Trudy.
That night, Lucille sat in her bed, drinking a cup of steaming tea. She looked at his pillow. It was still dented where his head would rest. There were a few short, silver hairs on the pillow case. The carpet bore the track of ambulance stretcher wheels. He had already been dead when they took him out. A black case closed up around him.
She smiled. Felt love blended with sadness seep from her heart to her throat.
I’ve had a great love in my life, she thought. Thank you, Eddie.
Lucille sipped her tea and remembered her Edgar.