Home > Into the Tomorrows (Bleeding Hearts #1)

Into the Tomorrows (Bleeding Hearts #1)
Author: Whitney Barbetti

Chapter One

 

 

2008

 

 

I came into the world on a cold night, a wet night, a most unremarkable night. A night that would echo my life.

I was tiny, just a few pounds, skin stretched over bone and mouth open in a silent wail. The nurse had placed me into my mother’s arms, and she looked me over for a few minutes, feeling the buildup of nine months of anguish in a real, tangible way.

My mother stared at me, taking in my bald head and blue eyes. “Trista,” she said.

The nurse leaned over and slid a baby hat on my head. “That’s different,” she commented.

Her fingers traced my lips, her bitten down nails leaving a small scratch, and said, “It’s Italian.”

Her fingers traced my features still, an echo of a love that had only brought her stretch marks, solo doctor appointments, and another mouth to feed. A love that made her blind to the love it had created, once he’d left her.

“Here, you can take her,” my mother said, picking me up and handing me to the nurse with arms that couldn’t bear the weight of my five pounds.

The nurse looked confused, but quickly took me from my mother and placed me in the bassinet beside her bed. My mother rolled over and stared at the wall, wishing he would come find her, wishing for a love that could last, her chest hollow of any deep and maternal love for me.

“And that’s how we began,” my mother explained, nineteen years later, emptying a bottle of wine into her glass. “You’re just like him, you see.” She took a large sip, set her glass down harder than necessary and stared at me with chocolate brown eyes circled by a deep brown exhaustion.

“Thanks for story time, mom.” I sat up straighter, looked at her directly. It was a story she’d told me before, though with fewer pretty words.

I looked her over and played that game I shouldn’t play: the game of comparison. My stringy, dishwater blonde hair hung straight, such a contrast from her dark brown curls. When I turned my head to look at the clock, my hair clung to my clammy face, still wet from my shower. “But you loved him.”

“Love isn’t worth the heartache it leaves behind. Don’t fall in love. You’ll lose all your happiness.” She stared into her glass, swirled around what little remained. Lifting her gaze, she pinned me in place. “You are a product of loss, Trista.”

But I’d been made from love, I told myself. She’d loved him. I couldn’t tell her this, lest she whip things around the table in anger. “What happened to him?”

My mother was the most honest when she was drunk, which was often. “He found out you were inside me and he left me.”

Left us, I thought, the bitterness slicing down my chest. But once again, it was the vague answer she always gave me when I asked, the one meant to hurt me. You caused this, she said. I lost him when I gained you.

She hiccupped. “But you can understand, right? Why I named you Trista?”

In a wooden voice, I said, “It means ‘sad.’” It wasn’t the first time she’d told me. It wasn’t the first time she’d made me feel that my name was more than just its six letters; it was what awaited me.

She nodded, holding up her glass as her eyes glazed over. “Sad. Because that’s what I felt when I saw you. That’s how I felt while you grew inside me. When they placed you in my arms, I struggled to feel anything other than sadness.” She tossed back the last of the wine, pushed the glass away after shaking the now-empty bottle. “I do love you. Of course I do.” But she said it as if she was convincing herself, eyes narrowed as she stared at the table, rubbing her burnt fingers into the wood. “But when I look at you, I see him. And he made me sad.” She laughed, humorlessly. “The sadness, it’s probably your destiny. You’re like me, you’ll lose everyone you love.”

I heard everything she didn’t say in that—not because she was protecting me, no. She’d told me more than once. That the love she’d shared with him, the love that had produced a child, wasn’t worth anything to her. With my blonde hair and blue eyes, I was a walking reminder of the love that left her.

My mother rose from her seat at the counter and stretched her back. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?” she asked, as if she suddenly realized how infrequently I was around her. It was amazing how lucid she seemed when it came to the matter of me leaving her presence.

“I’m going to a party,” I said. With a glance at the clock, I knew I was running late. Mommy-daughter bonding time was done.

“With who?” She hiccuped and covered her mouth with the back of her hand.

I grabbed my purse on the counter, shaking my head. She’d had me sit so she could tell me the story of how she abandoned me the first time. “It’s a little late for you to be worrying about who I’m spending my time with.” I slung the purse over my shoulder and grabbed my cell off the counter. “Bye,” I said without a backward glance as I stepped out into the dying evening sun. I turned my phone on and checked my texts. One came, from my boyfriend of nearly three years, Colin Marks.

Colin: Are you coming?

 

I tapped out my reply quickly, Just gotta get Ellie. See you soon.

 

Ellie lived five minutes away from me, in a cul-de-sac that was miles better than the trailer park I lived in. Her yard had grass instead of overgrown weeds, and her windows cleanly reflected the afternoon sun. I popped the visor down, honked my horn twice, and reapplied my lip gloss. My hands shook.

It’d been five months since I’d seen Colin at Christmas, when he’d tried once again to convince me to move in with him when the semester was over.

Nuzzling his head into my neck, he’d breathed, “Trista, come to Colorado.”

He’d been asking since I graduated high school the previous year, but Ellie and I had made a pact—two years in local community college and then we’d transfer to Colorado. I wasn’t old fashioned, but I also wasn’t stupid. Colin was the boy I’d met on accident in school, a boy who was far more popular than me, a boy who was friends with everyone, a boy with money—something I was lacking.

If I was being honest with myself, the biggest reason I hadn’t moved in with him was that I was still on a mission to see who I was as just Trista. In high school, I was—in one breath—Ellie’s friend. Then I was Colin’s girlfriend. Like, “Invite Colin and his girlfriend.” Or “invite Ellie and her friend,” never “Colin and Trista” or “Ellie and Trista.”

I had long, dirty blonde-slash-brown hair and blue eyes that Colin described as “sad.” My body was not thin but it wasn’t fat. I wasn’t shy, but I wasn’t out-going either. I could never seem to be just one thing; my identity was lost in the in-betweens.

So I stayed in Wyoming, going to a local community college while Colin went to a Colorado university. I worked at a pet store while Colin lived off his parents.

The front door opened and Ellie’s mom, her curtain of black hair hovering just above her shoulders, leaned out. She waved to me, “She’ll be out in just a sec, babe.”

I waved back and smiled. Ellie’s mom was cool. Not like let-you-smoke-in-her-basement cool. More like rub-my-expensive-French-perfume-on-your-wrists cool and let-me-French-braid-your-hair cool. I wondered what it was like to have a mom as stylish as her, a mom as giving of her time and attention.

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