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The Sacrifice

“We can’t do this. It’s not right”

“Do you still think we have a choice, Tish? This is the only way.”

Wesley gripped the steering wheel tighter while his wife, Tabitha, tried to coo and plea for their bundle of tears to stop crying. He couldn’t see her face but he knew the baby wasn’t the only one. They pushed for time as long as they could. Time to spend what stolen moments they could with their son before they had to say their goodbyes. Time to create the memories that would remind them that they made the right decision. Time to be parents, if even for a second. But as their son’s cries filled in the silence of the painful drive, time felt like the mistress of death. It loomed over them, pressuring them to drive faster, and so he did.

“Wes!”

“I see it.” Wesley switched lanes with space to spare, avoiding a fender-bender, but it didn’t stop Tabitha from hugging their son close and squeezing her eyes shut in anticipation. “We’re safe,” he murmured absently, “it’s fine.”

Seeing his white knuckles for the first time, Tabitha reached over to touch his hand only for his hand to find hers mid-way. “What if-”

“We have to.” Wesley squeezed her hand to draw the strength he needed before returning it to the wheel.

Tabitha wiped the fresh trail of tears from her face. Enough had fallen onto the blanket that held her only true contribution to the world. Everything she did, everything they did, led them down a path that threatened their son. Her trembling fingers brushed over his puffy cheeks as she softly hushed the babe. “Shh shh shh, you must be stronger than us. I know that life is going to be difficult for you but one day, one day-” Tabitha’s voice broke off in choked sobs, replacing the babe’s.

“One day we will come for you,” Wesley finished.

Despite her trembling lip, Tabitha smiled at both of her boys.

The rest of the drive was filled with a somber warmth. Their innocent boy slept peacefully in her arms while she gazed down at him, memorizing every thing she could. Stop lights and stop signs were the only chances Wesley had to do the same and he took them as often as he could till they reached the end of their time.

St. Anthony’s Orphanage

The headlights shone over the sign as if offering a safe-haven but Wesley felt hallow as he got out and opened the door for his wife and two-week old son. “Tish,” he coaxed as gently as he could.

Nodding, Tabitha scooted out of the car. Their eyes locked for a moment and she saw the same depth of loss within her soul. “Are we doing the right thing?”

Saying nothing, Wesley took their son in his arms and proceeded up the cobblestoned walkway. Tabitha walked behind him, her head high and tears trapped in her lashes. Together they would survive and together they would ensure their son’s safety.

At the end of the walkway, Tabitha stepped forward and rung the bell. The familiar chimes reminded them of their resolve while clawing at their remorse. “Tish-”

“It’s the right thing, remember?” She smiled at him the best she could before her gaze dropped to their boy. “We have to make sure they never find him. In order to do that, we have to remain one of them, but we can’t do that and keep him with us. This is the only way. That’s what we decided.”

There was a determined glint in her eyes that made him nod. “Will we tell them his name?”

Tabitha looked down at their son again and smiled a soft, motherly smile. “It will be the only thing we can give.”

Wesley looked down at the boy and sighed. “No last name.”

The door opened and in the doorway stood a short, silver-haired woman and a younger, taller brown-haired woman. “Mr. and Mrs. Hayes.”

“Good evening, Mrs. Wood. Ms. Campbell.” Tabitha made sure there were no traces of tears left before she turned to face their welcoming party. “Sorry we’re late.”

“It’s to be expected,” Mrs. Wood said, waving off the apology like a fly. “Is this?”

Wesley and Tabitha nodded in unison.

“I see.”

Wesley passed the babe to Tabitha who in turn reluctantly handed him over to the waiting arms of Ms. Campbell, but before the younger woman could go far, Wesley found his voice. “Tucker, make sure he knows his name is Tucker.”

“We will.” Mrs. Wood smiled and bid them good night, leaving the Hayes’ completely alone for the first time in weeks.

“It was the right thing,” Tabitha whispered.

“We’ll come back,” Wesley whispered in return. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, turning her so they could make their way back to the car. Time was never on their side but they hoped it would be a friend to their son.

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