Excerpt

I loved the quietness of our home when my six-year-old Kylie was at school and my busy three-year-old daughter Meghan napped. Although a rare indulgence for me, I’d manage to squeeze in a nap myself on some days. So it was on that day years ago.

I was slowly waking up from napping, in that in-between state, when I heard an urgent and excited child’s voice next to me exclaim, “I’m right here! I’m right here!” My eyes flew open, and my body jolted to a tingly full alertness. From the tone of the small voice, I had the feeling I was in trouble for getting caught lying down on the job. I turned my head to the direction of the voice next to me. I expected to see Meghan beside my bed near my head but found I was alone in the room.

Puzzled by why her voice sounded so close to me when she wasn’t there, I thought she must be out in the hallway behind the closed bedroom door. “Meghan?” I called out to her, “Mommy’s right here, honey,” I assured her. I imagined her sitting in the hallway, propped against the door, still half-asleep, holding her blanket.

Still lying on the sofa bed I called, “Come to mommy, sweetheart,” waiting for her to come and snuggle with me. Again she didn’t answer. Why hadn’t she opened the door and come to me as she usually did? Why did her voice sound so close when she wasn’t even in the same room? I waited.

“Meghan, mommy is right here, honey,” I said hoping to coax her toward me. Resolved that she wasn’t moving until I did, I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face.

“Meghan?” I called out again. Silence filled the house. For someone who sounded so exasperated trying to let me know she was right here, why wasn’t she answering me? It was unlike her not to come to me. I dried my face and peeked around the doorway. Meghan wasn’t in the hallway or within sight.

Where could she be? I hadn’t heard her familiar little footsteps patter off anywhere. In fact, I hadn’t heard her say anything after she most assuredly let me know she was up and I wasn’t. I quickly looked for her in the living room and kitchen as I became more puzzled over her whereabouts.

“Where in the world did she go?” I asked aloud, as I stood completely still. The answer immediately popped into my head. “Meghan is still asleep upstairs.” I knew the words hadn’t originated from me.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up and goose bumps covered my arms. I knew with certainty that I had heard her little child’s voice right next to me in the bedroom. How could she still be asleep upstairs? I bolted up the stairs taking them two at a time. As I turned the corner to look into her bedroom I found her in a deep sleep, sprawled on her pink princess bed.

I stood almost paralyzed as I tried to discern how I could have heard her voice next to me when she was upstairs asleep. Neither the radio nor the television were turned on, and no one else was in the house. I paused trying to assimilate the information and dissect what I’d heard. The voice was clear and insistent—and exasperated—almost as though I were a complete idiot for not noticing the obvious. “If it wasn’t Meghan I heard,” I asked myself, “just who had been calling?”

As quickly as I asked the question, I heard the answer in my mind, “It wasn’t Meghan’s voice you heard. It was the baby you lost.” Every hair on my body stood on end as I stared at Meghan’s motionless sleeping form. I sucked in a short breath of air. The answer did not come from me. My eyes slowly moved from Meghan to the image of me in the hallway mirror. I swallowed hard.

“What?” I murmured, stunned at the possibility…