writing

Storytime Wednesday

Life in a Northern Town–a (fan)fiction

As stated in this post, one of my favorite things to do is write. I don’t do it often but sometimes I like to get out my emotions by writing. This little blurb came from an idea I’ve had for a while and I decided to start writing and posting little by little. Like it? Leave a like or a comment?

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement intended. This is just for fun.

This is an original work by me. While you may recognize a character or two I am putting them in an entirely new situation. I discussed this a little in this post.

 

Prologue

1939

“Isn’t she beautiful, Buck?”

The young blonde woman, just a month past her twenty-second birthday held the tiny pink bundle in her arms. She couldn’t stop staring at the round pink cheeks of their brand new baby girl, and he couldn’t stop staring at the pair before him. Healthy, beautiful, and having just met one another for the first time only two hours earlier, his wife was enamored with the little soul they had created together. And he was enamored with both of them.

“She looks just like you, darlin’,” Bucky Barnes drawled in a heavy Brooklyn accent, kissing the side of her head, tentatively and gently rubbing the pad of his thumb over the baby’s cheek. She was small, a little over five pounds but his wife was petite and had been sick most of her pregnancy. Both had come out of it miraculously healthy and they were now resting in their bedroom, where she hadn’t anticipated giving birth but life sometimes didn’t let one choose its path. So with the help of her mother and the local doctor who had arrived as the baby was crowning, she’d delivered the baby girl in their bed. Resting comfortably, Bucky couldn’t help but stare in awe at the way she glowed, a bright new mother. He loved her more than he thought it was possible to love anything ever.
“No, she has your eyes,” Cecilia Barnes argued with a quiet laugh, the little girl flashing her bright blues up at her happy parents. “What should we call her? I was sure she was a he, and James just doesn’t sound like a good girl’s name,” she pretended to actually contemplate such an idea and he found her utterly charming. Always had, ever since their second year of high school. She’d owned his heart from the moment he’d opened the library door for her.

“What about Emma?” He suggested with a small little smile still tugging at his lips.

“After my grandmother? Maybe…,” Cecilia was thoughtful, rocking the baby a little in her arms. “Maybe Victoria? Or what about Charlotte?” she suggested, eyes wide and curious of his thoughts. Bucky considered them heavily. This was what they would call their daughter for the rest of her life. It seemed like such a heavy decision suddenly.

“Charlotte. Charlotte Barnes. I like it,” he decided after mulling it over for a few quiet moments. “Do you?”

“I love it. Little Charlotte,” Cecilia kissed the baby’s small forehead, nestling her closer to her chest. “Charlotte, say hello to your daddy,” she cooed to the quiet baby, who peered up at Bucky with round eyes as though she knew just who he was. His heart cracked in two, overflowing with love he couldn’t even begin to verbally express.

“I love you both,” he told Cecilia fiercely, hand tenderly gripping her neck as he urged her to turn toward him. She did with ease, her own eyes watering with the emotion of a new parent, and unbelievable sense of love and sudden burden hanging over them.

“We love you, daddy,” she told him, leaning in to press her full lips to his in a kiss that warmed every inch of his soul. Then suddenly Charlotte was crying and Cecilia was pulling away and then she seemed even farther away but the crying grew louder and louder…

Bucky woke with a start, sitting up and rapidly blinking his eyes, trying to figure out where he was and why the baby was crying so loudly. It crashed over him like an icy wave as he realized it was his daughter sobbing in the crib next to his bed, and that Cecilia wasn’t there. She was never there. The dreams were beautiful, but that was all they were. She’d never even had the chance to hold the baby that was currently demanding his attention in a very hysterical, very angry way.

Shoving the blankets from his body, he was up in an instant, reaching for the newborn baby girl as soon as he was close enough, cradling her, blankets and all, into his strong arms. It only settled her slightly, but he was beginning to get the hang of this. He knew exactly what she needed every three hours now–a diaper change and a warm bottle of the formula the hospital had graciously supplied him with as he’d taken the baby home just five days earlier. Today marked her one week old, and something about knowing everything had changed so drastically one week ago today made him more tired and more emotional than he wanted to admit, to himself or the small child who wouldn’t understand any bit of his emotion.

After successfully changing her small little diaper–he was getting better at it every day–he carried her to the small apartment’s kitchen, turning on the stove and beginning the procedure of heating her three ounces of milk. It was a process, it took time to warm the bottle just right, and as he’d learned the hard way, she didn’t settle down until she had the milk in her mouth and she was no longer hungry. Nights were the hardest, as he tried to get as much sleep as he could. At least she slept between feedings. Usually.

“I’m sorry, Charlotte, it’ll just be a few minutes,” he bounced her and cooed to her and did everything the sweet old nurses had taught him, but she was on a tangent tonight. Little face red with exertion and lack of air from her high pitched, hysterical sobs, it made something inside him panic and anxiety grew in his chest. She should be here. She needed to be here. He needed her. Not just for the baby, but for him too. For everything.

He could feel it cracking. His resolve, his heart. Bucky had been strong. He hadn’t had time to break down. Immediately following Cecilia’s death, a small bundle of pink had been thrust in his arms and he’d had to name her and then learn everything there was to know on a crash course of how to be a father. A single father. A widower, as he’d overheard one nurse telling another. His wife had died, and now he was alone, trying to hold all this together by himself, at twenty two years old. It made his throat tighten.

Charlotte screamed and sobbed in a way he hadn’t yet heard and his heart raced. Was she in pain? Was something wrong that he couldn’t see, that he didn’t know? Maybe he should have stayed with his mother after all when she’d offered. Stubborn as ever, and bound and determined not to let Cecilia down, he’d told his mother he’d be fine and he had it under control.

How wrong he’d been. How much of a lie that had been.

He wasn’t fine and he barely had it under control. But not because he couldn’t manage the baby, no. Because he couldn’t manage himself and a baby. His grief and a baby. He missed her more than anything, a hole so large and so gaping in his heart that he wasn’t sure how he had survived the words, “I’m sorry, son. We did everything we could.” How could they have done everything they could and she still not be here?

Staring at the little baby and her perfect nose, her mother’s nose, he could feel the overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness set in. She wasn’t any closer to being settled and if he was honest, neither was he. Bucky wasn’t ready for this, he didn’t know how to process all of this. How was he supposed to raise this child alone? Without his wife? Without his partner in crime, the woman who had cried hysterical tears of joy the moment she knew she was carrying Bucky’s baby. Their baby. A wave of despair hit him so hard it was crippling and he was completely aware of his eyes growing blurry with  tears.

He didn’t stop them though, couldn’t even if he’d wanted to. Bucky was so tired and so distraught and wanted nothing more than to wake up from this nightmare. Have reality be where Cecilia was right there with him, doing this together, like they’d always talked about. He needed this to be a dream. But he knew it wasn’t. And that was why there was no stopping the tears.

He leaned against the counter as the bottle warmed, bowed his head toward the infant as his own shoulders shook with sobs. He was stuck. They were stuck. The child had no idea yet what had happened to her life, and he wept for her, for the fact her mother was gone. And he wept for himself, for the wife he missed terribly, for the jagged, ripped edges of his life and his soul, and his broken heart.

The water began to boil around the bottle and he then knew the milk was ready for the crying infant in his arms, who’d never had a chance to have her mother’s milk. He sniffled and grabbed at the warm bottle, testing its temperature just as those kind, pitying nurses had taught him, and as soon as he put the nipple to her lips, Charlotte ceased her tears and suckled hungrily. Bucky’s relief was immediate and he sagged into the rocking chair he’d built for Cecilia, holding his tiny daughter close as the tears continued to flow.

How was he going to do this, day in and day out? Ensuring that Charlotte grew and gained weight, and stayed healthy, all while he worked and paid their bills and tried to keep them afloat. He was at a loss. With no idea what to do.

Carrying the baby down the hall as soon as she finished her bottle and lay quietly and sleepily against him, he broke his own rule and brought her into bed with him. He needed the closeness of the small being, and decided she probably needed his. Maybe that would make the next time she woke up not nearly as traumatic for the both of them. Clock blaring the time at him, just half past two in the morning, he propped up the pillows and laid down against them, settling her beside him on the mattress, cradling her small form.

Bucky wanted to assure her that she’d be okay, that they would be okay, but he couldn’t. He didn’t want to lie and he didn’t think it was true. How could they ever be okay? In a continuing moment of weakness, he continued to let the tears fall, and he whispered words to Cecilia and prayed that she heard. And he prayed for strength. Because if there was one thing he needed, he knew it was that.

 

 

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