“Don’t touch me!” I screech at Luca as he tries to help me. “This was our child. If you hadn’t tried to grab me, I wouldn’t have fallen. This is your fault. Your fault! You did this to me on purpose. You wanted the baby gone and now it is. I hate you for this, Luca.”
And at this moment, I do.
Luca stops moving and stares at me sadly, quietly.
“I know you do,” he answers finally. “But that’s the way it should be. It will make it easier on you.”
I collapse into my bed, crying once again even though I didn’t think I had any tears left. I am empty inside; completely, soul-shatteringly empty.
“You did this,” I whimper. “You killed our child.”
Luca takes a shuddering breath and kneels next to me, his forehead pressed against my arm. I move away from him. I can’t bear his touch. He takes another ragged breath as he pulls the blanket up around me.
“Eva, I wanted to terminate this pregnancy for the good of the child, because I know what it is to be a monster. I would never purposely hurt you. I didn’t grab you hoping that you would fall. I grabbed you so that you wouldn’t. I promise you that. I would never knowingly hurt you. Even I am not that much of a monster.”
I cry. Tears fall onto my nose and drip onto the sheets and Luca wipes them away. I look up at him and the sadness in his eyes convinces me that he is telling the truth. He didn’t want me to fall. How could I have thought that? Why did I run?
I did this.
I know that much is true.
Luca didn’t run, I did.
I whimper with that knowledge and Luca stares down at me in concern. I don’t object when he folds in behind me and wraps his arms around me. Deep down, I long for him even now.
“I’m so sorry, Eva,” he whispers into my ear with his husky voice. “I am so sorry.”
And I know that he is which is why I can’t truly hate him for this. I close my eyes and sink into sleep. I am awakened several times in the night by pinching cramps in my abdomen. Luca finds a heating pad and drapes it over me. He gives me painkillers and wipes me clean as I continue to bleed.
At one point, I stare up at him. “I love you, Luca,” I whisper.
“I know,” he sighs. “I love you, too.”
When I wake in the morning, he is gone.
Chapter Thirty Two
I have never hated myself more than I do at this moment.
As I walk back toward Chessarae, the sun peeks over the horizon and I know that I don’t deserve to stand in it. I should never see light of day again.
I may not have physically caused Eva to fall, but deep down, I know that I am relieved that she miscarried. It is a terrible, heinous thought, but it is true.
If I were normal, I would welcome a child with Eva with open arms. I would welcome a life with her with open arms. But I’m not normal. And no child of mine could ever possibly be normal. My own mother has told me many times that she wished she had never carried me to term, that she wished I hadn’t been born. If my own mother feels so strongly about me, if I am that much of a monster, then why would I ever want to bring a child just like me into the world?
It is for the best that Eva miscarried. But the fact that I even think that, especially after seeing her pain throughout the night, only cements my knowledge that I am a monster. Who else would think such a thing? My mother is right about me.
I am damaged in unfixable ways.
I am tempted to wade into the sea, to walk into the deep depths and refuse to swim, but I know that my body’s subconscious need to survive would propel me to the surface and nothing will have changed. I would still be what I am.
I continue walking, knowing that the person who I love most in the world has been utterly crushed by an event that I am almost thankful for.
She is the only thing I love.
And she is in pain right now and I can’t fix it.
It is a knowledge that I can hardly bear.
I have no purpose here now, no reason to stay in Malta.
So, I make preparations to return home, to defend my dissertation and begin my life in Portland. Or perhaps I will move to somewhere sunnier, like Phoenix or Santa Fe or maybe even Honolulu. Somewhere like Malta. I gulp. I can’t be reminded of this place, of Luca. It would be my undoing.
I’ll probably just stay in Portland.
I want to hate Luca for what happened and I try very hard because it would be easier than blaming myself. But I can’t. I know that he didn’t mean for me to fall. He was out there trying to keep me from harm and if I hadn’t run, then we would never have been out there on those rocks at all.
Luca sent a doctor to look at me. The doctor thinks that I miscarried partly due to stress, in addition to the fall. He said, and I know that it is true, that a woman’s body is more durable than one would think. That normally a fall wouldn’t cause a woman to miscarry by itself. So, truly, I’m even more to blame for not managing my stress better.
It’s a thought that does nothing to ease my guilt.
I feel like a failure as a strong woman. All my life, I’ve been the strong one in any given situation. And now, I feel like I’ve allowed myself to get sucked so far into emotional situations that I handled them weakly. And I hate that thought more than I can even admit. I am not that girl, the one who falls to pieces. But here lately, that’s exactly who I am. I make a concentrated effort to pull myself together, to focus on moving forward.
I am packing when a knock raps on my door and as always, I turn towards it with a sharp pang of hope. Is it Luca? But I know that it isn’t and when I answer the door, I find that it is not. I try not to feel disappointment as I greet Marianne.
Her face is grave however.
“What’s wrong?” I ask her.
“Melina Minaldi died in the night,” she tells me solemnly. “I thought you would want to know.”
“She died?” I am stunned. “But she was in perfect health. How did it happen?”
Marianne shakes her head. “I don’t know. But I thought you would want to know, that maybe you would want to go to Luca. I know he will be devastated.”
I’m not sure that he is devastated, but I do want to go to him.