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A flash of dust-colored hair, the soft-warm-smelling hair of a little one, whipping past me in childish glee - a race to his room. Race to the books and the little stuffed animals and Teddy. Our joys in each other, playing all summer - all the vast, eternal summer long, delighting in every little flit and flutter of life.

 

Abrupt, practiced laughter - frightening at first, but then consoling. Then as contagious as his brilliant David-smile.

 

The soft heat of David lying limp in my arms, pretending to be asleep, and I pretending to think that he was asleep, reading stories softly to him in his bed.

 

And the one moment that would forever haunt my dreams; his voice, at once helpless and quiet and heartwrenching, and the look of such pure, innocent, and total love he pointed at me, forever and always at me from then on. He whispered a question, but my brain, drowning in the pounding of my heart, only heard one word, uttered in adoring reverence.

 

Mommy.

Mommy.

 

And with that I was his, captivated, from then on.

 

Mommy.

 

'A mecha's eyes should not be able to express such...such...love.' I remember thinking in the skeptical recesses of my mind. Infinite, total and complete love. And then the mother in me won out and drowned any doubts out of my mind.

 

My David, oh, my precious, innocent David, my one-and-only-David.

Forevermore-David, forevermine-David.

 

 

David...

 

 

David.

 

*

 

The shudder that passed through my body was what awoke me from yet another fitful sleep.

 

With a trembling exhalation of breath I closed my eyes again, saying his name mutely - perhaps calling?

 

David, David, David.

 

I knew no one would come. And the tears that soaked my pillow only spoke of my betrayal.

 

'Traitor!' is what my tears hiss at me. 'Traitor, traitor!' - that's what the silences of my husband and my son, beloved blood-son, say without speaking. 'How dare you love that *mecha* - look what he did. How dare you *cry!* How could you?'

 

A mother's body remembers her children...each and every one.

 

But it's the last one that overtakes her.

 

After losing my own son, my precious precious baby, my world of grief was endless. David was my lifeline, however reluctantly at first. Perhaps he taught me to keep loving. I hadn't expected him to love butterflies, or hide-and-seek, or discovering new ways to surprise me and Henry. Over time, his hand in mine grew into a comfort for both of us. I loved him like a mother loved a son. Good God, he was my son, and to hell with whoever said otherwise. Yet when my first, my biological son, came back from a coma they said he would not come back from...I wasn't prepared for it.

I had hoped they could get along. Hoped and prayed that everything would go well, and secretly resentful of the way Henry now seemed to treat David like a new, accident-prone puppy - withholding judgement on the question of whether we could keep him. But I had no choice. We were lucky to have just one son, and here I was blessed with two, both miracles; I knew better than to open my mouth.

 

And they dare make me feel guilty for missing the sweet way my David sang my name to me. Mommy.

 

But I do feel guilty. And yet I hate them for taking David from me. But I can never hate them, at the same time. I love them boundlessly as David loved me, and look what I did to him, just imagine where he must be now, torn to --

 

I must force myself not to think of it, because it is indeed too painful. Henry would never understand. He couldn't possibly know what it is for a mother, when a son is lost.

 

He only lost one son. Only once. And our dear baby was returned to us.

 

But David...

 

Oh, that's love by a different name entirely.

 

It was different, rearing a child for the first time - I can't say I loved my own son any less, because I didn't, but my first motherhood made me tired. It would any woman.

 

When David came to me, I knew enough to know each moment was precious. David would be the last chance at motherhood I could get. The population control was so strict that concieving again would be downright illegal.

 

So he was the one that I watched for an hour after he had begun to pretend to sleep. And he let me. No matter how frightening he could be, he was the one who I knew I would end up holding close to my heart. There was no way, even in the darkest times - and there were many, because he was far from perfect, and took time to learn - that I could even consider sending him away. He was the one that I held in my arms, the one that I read yet another story to even when he had begun his pretend-slumber. David it was who could tug at my heartstrings with every smile, and every smile it was that convinced me that there was no way my David could possibly be a machine.

 

David was alive. David was life.

 

I didn't mention this thought of mine to Henry, because he wouldn't - couldn't possibly - see it in David. David had somehow always been mine, just mine; my David. Never our David. It stung me a little, but David didn't seem to mind one bit, and so the pain passed. So the precious bond between us remained just that. Wonderful, beautiful. Secret.

 

Until the end.

 

And maybe someday...maybe in some other time, some other place, where the bonds of marriage and motherhood are stripped away, we might find each other again. Someday. And until then I pray that his love is strong enough to save him when I cannot.

 

David. The name is a prayer, a plea.

 

Forgive me, come home, be ever-mine.

 

Love me until the earth cannot remember my body, love me until eternity, because your love is just like mine, and a mother's love knows no other way. What we have can never be torn apart.

 

Precious, mine-forever David.