Hi guys! This is my first story, so constructive criticism is much appreciated. I got the idea one night and finally decided to upload it here. Also, I'm uploading from mobile and for some reason it keeps catogorizing as Daytime Television, instead of Orginal Fiction. I just wanted to clarify that in case anyone was confused. Thank you for reading!
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. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
For the first hour, she couldn’t bear to look at him.
She could hear him crying, screaming at the top of his lungs as others tried to comfort him. But no matter how hard they tried, Giovanni wouldn’t stop screaming. Because while he was merely a baby, he could tell something was wrong.
And something was very wrong.
She closed her hands a little tighter, her nails biting into her skin as the last few moments replayed in her head. Something inside of her rebelled. Screaming at her that it was false, a cruel dream. A horrible train of thought that had spiraled out of control. But no matter how loud that part of her screamed, Giovanni screamed louder, confirming what she wanted so much to deny.
His mother was dead. Serena was dead.
Her heart screamed.
She can hear the others in the back murmuring. Some even pleading for her to take the boy, hoping that in this tragedy, he can find comfort in the one other person who had been there for him since his birth.
But she couldn’t. How could she comfort him, when she can barely comprehend it herself?
Serena was- dear god- Serena.
Her Serena. Her beautiful, wild baby sister was gone.
No. Her mind refused. Serena wouldn’t commit suicide.
She knows Serena. Serena loves life too much. She loves Giovanni too much. And no matter what she had gone through, or what she had lost, Giovanni was more important to her.
How can Serena take her own life, when she swore it to the baby in the next room?
No. She knows Serena.
She knew Serena.
And whether or not Serena took her own life, one fact remains clear. Serena loved Gio. He was her baby. And at this moment, her baby is terrified.
So for the first time since finding her sister’s bloodied body, she gets off the floor and looks towards Giovanni.
His precious olive face is red, contorted in extreme displeasure, his eyes (Serena’s eyes) are puffy and round and filled with tears that don’t hesitate to flow.
When she comes into his line of sight, he calms slightly. His breathing is labored and heavy, but he is already reaching for her. For a moment she swears he searches for another before settling with her. She knows he is searching for his mother. But for now, his aunt will have to do.
Because Serena is gone. And they are all that they have left.
After the first night, she doesn’t cry. Giovanni does enough for the both of them. And while she sufficed the first night, she doesn’t the next few nights when all Gio wants is his mother and he only gets her.
So he cries. And if it wasn’t for the fact that her heart was broken, she would’ve marveled at the fact that his small body could produce that much noise. That he could cry consistently for so long, until his voice is hoarse and his face is red.
She has learned that he calms when she sings. And he sleeps when she wraps him in Serena’s favorite fleece. The blanket still holding the smell of lavender and ginger, with a hint of lemon that always followed her sister around.
During those moments, the urge to cry hits her the hardest.
Because while the smell of her sister may comfort her nephew, it tears her apart. And she fears the day the smell will fade, just as much as she prays for it.
But she doesn’t cry. And soon enough neither does Gio.
They soon develop a routine. It’s easier than she expected. Serena and Gio had been living with her since Serena came home, heartbroken, but bright-eyed, carrying the little boy she had been taking care of, just under her heart.
But it’s still hard. Because like everything it points out Serena’s absence and for a while she had taken it into her head to resent Giovanni a little. It baffled her how he adjusted after the loss of his mother. But she couldn’t because she can see the way his eyes would search the room sometimes, or how he would stare at her confused and solemn. Not truly understanding how he could smell his mother but still not see her.
It takes 129 days after Serena’s death for her to finally cry. And all it takes is for Giovanni to mutter “mama” innocuously one night in the tub.
Proud of his accomplishment, Giovanni giggles and continues to splash in the water. His body bobbing from side to side as he continues to sing the two syllables. He doesn’t realize that his aunt has yet to respond.
So caught up in his new discovery, Giovanni doesn’t notice when his aunt takes him out of the bath a little early with out singing his favorite song. Or that this time she doesn’t continue to hum as she dried him off and prepare him for bed. Within 45 mins Giovanni is sleepy soundly in his bed, and the memory hits her with such clarity, she could’ve sworn it happened moments ago, instead of a full year.
“His first word is going to be mama.” Serena grins brightly as she lightly drags her hand across her rounded belly. She is currently in her seventh month of pregnancy and seems to grow more excited as time passes on. “I can feel it.”
She rolls her eyes. “Are you sure it isn’t gas?” She responds mockingly.
Serena narrows her eyes at her sister. Her grin lessening but the pure joy on Serena’s face never truly leaving. “Positive. His first word will be mama.”
“I think that depends on the kid. His first word is more likely to be goddamn it, than mama.”
“His first word will not be goddamn it.” Serena stresses, giggling as she lightly slaps her sister on her arm. “I won’t allow it. And you shouldn’t encourage it either.”
“I believe you’re the bigger problem than me.” She laughs as she gets up to walk to the kitchen. “I never met anyone who swears as much as you do.”
“Oh, fuck off.” Serena throws back at her. “My baby’s first word will be mama.” Then Serena whispers as if talking to herself, but from her position in the kitchen she is able to pick it up, just barely.
“And I can’t wait to hear it.”
For a moment, she forgets how to breathe. The memory of Serena is so strong that she feels she can reach out and grab it. Go back to that day and talk with her a little more. About Giovanni, her hopes for him, her fears and excitements. About the pregnancy and her discomfort, hell even about the gas. Just anything to hear Serena’s voice again. To see those eyes light up in childlike excitement and to see her radiate pure joy.
The next morning, she takes Giovanni to visit Serena’s grave. She takes her time getting there. The feel of the cemetery never settling right with her and to see Serena’s name among the others feels just as wrong as it did when she was first there.
She sits down, pulls Gio onto her lap and implores him to repeat what he had said last night.
And for the first time in a while, Gio remained silent.
Giovanni was a rambunctious baby, always active and happy, much like his mother. She could tell that he would be inheriting her wild streak later on in life and was slowing preparing herself for the grays.
But today he remained silent.
She pushed and pushed. She needed Giovanni to say it. Just once. Allow Serena to hear her baby call her mama they way she had looked forward too when she was alive. She needed to believe that maybe that it was Serena that had flashed through his mind when he mumbled the words and not the alternative.
But Giovanni did not speak.
After an hour, she gave up. Gio was getting fussy and she could tell that the cemetery unsettled him the same way it did her. She moved on autopilot. When Gio finally went down for his nap, she sat in the silence for a while. And then she cried. For the first time since Serena died she allowed the tears to fall. She sat on the floor with her pillow clutched to her and wailed.
A part of her wanted to stop. Take heed of the baby just across the hall, who if he heard her distress would surely pitch a fit in response.
But she couldn’t stop. Because with those two syllables, she realized that her sister was not coming back.
That this time Serena didn’t just skip away to explore a different country with a charming companion. Serena was gone.
And it hurts.
Serena will never hear Giovanni call her mama. She will not be here to accidentally curse in his presence and worry for days about whether or not he’ll repeat whatever she said. Only to laugh when he does.
She will never see him walk and cry as she calls him to her. She will never again clutch him to her chest and whisper in his ear secrets that we’re only meant for mother and son.
She will never tell him stories about her adventures and fail at trying to censor them for his young ears.
Serena has been denied the very life she looked forward to. The life she was owed and the life Giovanni deserved.
And she. She will never see her sister again. She will not get to watch her baby sister tumble through life in a way that manages to be both clumsy and graceful.
Serena was the only person she allowed herself to love without caution. The love she felt for her sister was all consuming. She would’ve burned the world for that girl.
And now she is gone.
And that realization burns.
Because while Giovanni may have been able to help soothe the ache Serena’s left in her heart, Serena owned a large chunk of her of her soul, and she took it with her when she left.
There are days when the innocence in Giovanni’s eyes destroys her and then there are days when she feels the need to stare at him for hours. Because she knows that that innocence won’t be there one day and the last time she saw it, it was shining back at her from Serena’s face.
She could never forget when Serena first came home.
She was this small, fragile thing with a lot of hair and a loud mouth.
She was not impressed.
And then one day Serena smiled at her. She was sitting in her carrier with mouthing on her gummy, staring at nothing when she entered her line of sight. The minute Serena saw her she smiled. It was crooked and lacking teeth and should have reminded her of the old man down the street.
But it didn’t.
To her it was special. Her mother was more than positive that it was gas but she never believed it.
Serena smiled at her first.
She could tell. While her smile was slobbery and toothless, it still managed to be beautiful to her. Because when Serena smiled, her entire face lit up. Her eyebrows raised, her cheeks pushed up into her eyes and her eyes widened.
She fell in love with her right there.
What she loved most about Serena, is that no matter what happened, she always saw the good. She never knew how it was possible, but despite their rocky past, Serena always managed to keep some part of her innocence with her. She would like to think that it was because of her efforts to keep Serena from getting the full brunt of everything that was happening around them, but she knew the truth. It was all Serena.
Serena had always managed to be her light in a storm. Just like she prided herself on being Serena’s rock.
When she looks into Giovanni’s eyes, she see the innocence that Serena managed to keep reflected in the same doe eyes of her son.
Some days, it's all she needs. She will practically follow the boy around, not letting him out of her sight. Needing his presence to remind her that Serena isn’t completely gone. That the best part of her is right here. And on those days, she feels as if she loves Giovanni as if he came from her womb.
But then there are day when she see it and it crushes her, because she can’t help but think that the innocence is not everlasting. It’s always the first to go.
She remembers how cruel the world is. How Serena suffered to understand it and how all it took was 8 words to dim the lights that always seemed present in Serena’s eyes.
On those days she looks at Giovanni mournfully, and she doesn’t know if she will ever be ready to see that light fade out of those brown eyes a second time.
The first time she met Giovanni’s father, he was already dead.
She had heard stories of him and used to watch him in the twinkle of Serena’s eye as she talked about him and hear him on her breath as she spoke his name in reverence.
She had never seen Serena so in love.
But when Serena had returned, he had died and all that she was to go off of was the deep affection Serena carried in her heart and the baby she carried in her belly.
She mourned the fact that she would never be able to meet the man who brought such a smile to her sister’s face.
But she did meet him. Giovanni introduced them with his smile.
It took her a while to notice. She spent so much time marveling at the parts of Serena the boy inherited, it passed her by that he carried his father with him as well.
If anyone asked, Giovanni was his mother’s spitting image. He has her big brown eyes, the olive skin, and the insane head of hair. He even inherited the shape of her lips.
But then she noticed that the slope of his nose is a bit different than Serena’s as well as the shape of his jaw, though he did get his mother’s cheekbones.
Then one day Giovanni smiled at her and she could have sworn it was like Serena smiling at her for the first time again, but then she noticed that the curve of Giovanni’s lips weren’t quite the same. While Serena’s smile spread crookedly across her face, Gio’s was even.
In that moment, she could see Gio’s father and could see how Serena fell so hard for him.
She enjoyed taking into account what small idiosyncrasies, Gio had inherited from his mother and possibly his father. As he got bigger, she began seeing bits and pieces of herself in him to.
For one, Gio was stubborn. And while Serena wasn’t always easily swayed, she never stood too firm on many things.
But Gio was stubborn in a way that she had only seen in herself. Something that she had inherited from her grandmother.
And while he was as wild and jovial as his mother, there was a part of Giovanni had quite the ability to be stern. There would be days when Gio would sit quietly and think. About what, she never truly knew, but after a day or two he was back to causing trouble and laughing loudly.
She assumed he got from his father.
He definitely didn’t get it from Serena and she was too passionate and hot tempered to ever be that quiet. Like most people in her family.
In the end, it was Gio’s laugh that made her realize that while he can never fill out the hole Serena left in her soul, he had instead carved out a large piece of what was left for himself. It was Gio's laugh that allowed her to properly grieve and heal.
It was loud, raspy, and all his own.