She wasn't sure if she wanted a funeral at first, and it only took a few attempts at conversation- with her parents, with Barrett, and her best friend Milly- for her to decide she most definitely did not want one.
Her parents and Milly were shocked at this, but Barrett had understood. God bless Barrett, bless every piece of his soul really.
It was only now, a week later, that she was reconsidering. And bless Barrett, he saw that too.
"Something wrong, sugar?" He came up behind her, holding her around the stomach and kissing her neck.
"Same as its always been, lately. I don't know. I was thinking we might- have a private funeral service for her. Before it gets to be Monday, and cremation takes place."
"It, babe." He held her tightly, cradling her head against his neck. "It will be cremated on monday. And it will do you no good to linger."
"I wish you wouldn't call her it."
"It never was alive, Amelia. The less you think of it, the better."
She frowned. "I'd like to have a funeral. To put her out of my mind properly." She moved out of his arms and stared his dark eyes down. "So I'm going to."
"You're insatiable in so many ways." He kissed her on the lips, and despite her mood, her heart still melted- Barrett could be impossible, but he always knew how to set things right. And something about him always smelt so good, like an old forest grove.
"Stop it with the pet names."
"Not until I find one that fits." He smiled slyly, and kissed her again. "I have to run to work. You should run to somewhere that isn't here and keep yourself busy. This house isn't good for you."
It wasn't, he was right, but she merely nodded and said goodbye, and sat down on the couch once he had gone. She stared at the TV, debating if she should turn it on, for what felt like half in hour. Then her eyes slowly panned the room: the long couch, the two armchairs, the large table. Out in the other room she could see the edge of the large dining room table.
This place brimmed with hope. Like she still had friends, like Barrett even had time for them- or like she was even capable of carrying a baby.
To be fair, this miscarriage shouldn't have hurt as much as it did. There was a history in the family, and it hadn't been her first- it hadn't even been her first with Barrett. When she was in high school, she had been Christian enough not to believe in abortions but rebellious enough to get into the sort of situation that might've called for one.
She had prayed to God for a solution, and the fact she had miscarried a week in really should have reaffirmed her faith. Instead, the mess of blood on her bedsheets had merely grossed her out, and she started actually using condoms.
This child had been the first to progress this far, to nearly be ready to be born. She could have been born alive. She wasn't. It wasn't technically even a miscarriage, Amelia supposed- just a still birth. A dead, premature baby. She hadn't even seen her child, either. She had gone into labor, fainted, and the next few days were dark, dreary blur.
And one day she was awake again, at home, with Barrett holding her. And there had been this heavy feeling of emptiness, and then something like sadness, and people were calling her up and giving their condolences. At first, Amelia hadn't quite figured out why- She wasn't pregnant, she knew, but hadn't she just given birth? The nursery was all set, her daughter must be there-
but of course, no.
She got in her car and drove to the funeral home where Barrett had said the body was being kept for cremation. She had to stop for directions on the way, and when she came to the door, a sign indicated they were closed for the weekend.
But the home was also just that- a house- so she knocked on the door until a white haired man answered.
"Hello. I know you're closed today, but I really need to speak with that owner- is that you? I need to ask if I can see my baby- she's in your freezer, and I want to see her before she gets cremated Monday. Or can you push the cremation back a few days? Sorry." She spoke all at once, very quickly, and the man at the door blinked in response.
"Excuse me, what is your name?"
"I'll see what I can do." The white haired man replied, "come inside if you'd like."
She nervously took a seat only a few steps away from the entrance while the funeral home owner disappeared around a corner, only to return a few moments later with a binder. He flipped through it, while Amelia glanced up at him every few seconds.
"I don't see your name on here."
"My husband, Barrett Brinkly, was the one who... submitted her here."
"Or him either. Are you sure you have the correct place? He may have gone to the Bauer house on Kirkland Avenue. I have no records of you here, and certainly no babies at the moment. I'm very sorry."
"No, it's alright. I must have gotten the wrong address. Sorry to trouble you like this." She stood up and walked out to her car.
She hadn't gotten the wrong address.
She knew that much.
Barrett had come into her life and swept her off her feet in one fluid motion. She had met him while she was at university- he was conducting an experiment, she was a poor student who needed some extra money.
She could barely remember what the study had been on- sleep? Blood?- but it wasn't long before Barrett had taken a special interest in her. They talked, they dated, and god, before long they were married. It had happened so fast, but there was something so demanding about Barrett, that it just made sense.
He was the sort of person who got a little too overprotective, a little too angry, horny, rude- whatever. But it was also always in that sort of way that made you love him, that just made Amelia roll her eyes and say 'that's my man, he cares too much.'
And he was comforting too, with that dark smell about him, with those nearly black eyes and that tousled dark hair. He demanded attention- he dressed for it, all in black. The only white on him was the whites of his eyes.
He was rich, he was daringly a little older than her, and he was now her life. So be it. She was happy. It worked.
"Where are you?" She sat in her car in the funeral home parking lot, clutching her phone uncomfortably with both hands. The gas was running and the heat was on, the radio set to her fiddler on the roof CD, playing at a volume nearly unable to be heard.
"Busy, dear. Working."
"Can I visit you?"
There was a beat of silence. "No, sorry hun. You alright? What's going on?"
She hung up, and then felt dumb about it a second later. She considered calling him back- staring at her phone rather blankly. It soon began to vibrate, Barrett calling her back. She didn't cancel the call. But she didn't hang up either.
Something in her had torn in some sort of way. Something wasn't right, and nothing about her knew what it could be. Just that her body no longer had equilibrium.
She drove with a mind like an insomniac, wondering what she was doing, questioning why she couldn't just be content.
Barrett worked at a lab. She didn't know the details, just the address. She had the vague impression whatever he did was related to the human body, maybe medicine.
There was a lot Amelia didn't know about Barrett, but it had never seemed to be an issue before.
Now it was pressing, and it didn't feel like a revelation when- after being buzzed in, asking the receptionist, waiting patiently as she checked, asking she double check just in case- it was confirmed that no Barrett Brinkly worked on these premises.
"Hello?" Amelia sat in her car afterwards, and called him again. "I need to speak with you."
"I'm very busy." He paused for longer than felt right. "Why'd you hang up earlier? Are you okay?"
"We need to talk."
"What about, sugar? Please answer me."
"It's-" She chocked on her words. "I need to talk to you."
"I can be there. Are you still home? I'll be there, okay babe? Are you safe? Are you okay?"
"Stop asking so many questions." Amelia meant to hang up there, but instead just held her phone in her hand, staring. Did she even want to speak? Did she even want to know?
"Where are you?"
"Let's do lunch. Amy's."
"Where are you now?" Barrett pleaded.
She hung up, blankly.
Amy's was a small cafe between a suspiciously dark looking bridal store and one of the street's two bike shops. It was a good place with a nice view. Barrett was there before she was, already sitting with two cups of tea and a platter of croissants. He had a long, black wool coat on over his suit and tie, looking overdressed but remarkably good looking, gazing out the window casually like some sort of catalog model.
Amelia had the distinct impression he had been waiting here a while.
"Barrett. Hey." She said, sounding far more casual than she wanted to.
"Kitten. How you doing?"
"I need to talk with you." She swallowed dryly.
"So I've heard." He sipped his coffee, brought in from another store. On the table in front of him was a cup of tea- most likely oolong, her favorite- and a chocolate drizzled croissant. Her favorite.
"You've- uhm. You. My daughter's missing."
"Our daughter? The unborn? Amelia, love, I'm not sure you're doing alright. How about we head home? I'll drive you there myself, make you something warm for dinner... we can watch a film. I know these last few days have been very stressful."
"No!" Shouting surprised her, but felt natural. Normal. If she was going to fell upset, she might as well embrace it. "I'm fine. I'm clear. But you- I don't know about you."
"Amelia, please, we are in a public café." Barrett shifted in his seat, sitting forward and leaning closer to her. "These last few days have taken their toll on me too."
Was she crying? How could something as dramatic as that have snuck up on her like this? She sniffled weakly. "You... were not telling the truth."
It was easier than admitting he had lied.
"What is this about, Amelia?" His tone was even, calm and clean.
"I went to the funeral home today, and she wasn't there. She never was. And then I went to your work, and you weren't there." Every word from her mouth was like a sharp needle, piercing through her gums and coating her mouth in blood. It took monuments effort to finish her thoughts. "You never were."
"You're ill, honey. Sick and unwell. Please, let me take you home." He was like an ocean wave, curved and relentless, smoothly taking her words and rolling them away. "We can talk there."
Amelia wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and winced at the sudden pain. Right, she was wearing mascara. Cringing, she slowly opened her eyes up again and stared at the dark lines across the back of her hand. Then she looked up at Barrett.
"We'll talk there."
But she didn't want to.
Her car was parked outside, and Barrett waved away her concern, holding her by the shoulders, taking her to the passenger side of his car. Kissing her, briefly.
She clung to her coat, pulling at its edges and buttons until she was more than covered. Barrett would look over at her every few minutes. At one stop light, he put a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
Amelia didn't want this car ride to end. She wanted to be this warm, this coddled and protected, for the rest of everything. Now and death, never-ending. It was pleasant, and she was still unhappy, but she never wanted things to advance. To learn or to change.
Only to keep driving forward.
At the home, Barrett held her hand as she curled up on the coach, her bright red trench coat open and splayed out around her as if to mark out her personal boundaries.
"Amelia..." Barrett said, his warm hand stroking the still-streaked back of hers. "What is it?"
"Nothing, really." She watched the floor. "It's nothing."
"I know that." He purred. "Get some sleep, angel."
[A/N: okay, this was left a lot more ambiguous than planned. I might do a part two at some point that expands on my original idea, but I sort of like this too! I don't think it's too subtle though... you guys can guess what the trick was going to be, right?]