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There is a sense in which we are all each other's consequences.



 
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Soleil Whitaker

Run.

Soleil’s feet pound against the concrete in rhythm with Odesza’s “A Moment Apart.” She pushes a hot breath out from between her parted lips, then inhales deeply, cooler air rushing in through her nostrils. She can feel her heart thumping against her ribcage, straining to circulate blood throughout her slim frame. She has no direction, but wherever she is headed, there is a strange sense of urgency to get there.

And fast.

Her pace quickens; the bass of the music pulses in her ears, reverberating within her skull as she rounds a corner. Her body begins to beg for oxygen as her breath becomes sporadic, muscles and lungs alike burning and aching. Yet, in this tunnel vision, she shows no sign of stopping. She just needs to run.

Far.

But, her Apple watch chimes suddenly, notifying her that she has a new text from her wife. She comes to a halt at an intersection, hands lifting to rest on her hips, chest heaving, as she doubles over to catch her breath.

Rhiannon
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She squints up at the street sign. She’s in a new part of the city, blocks away from home. She hadn’t even realized that she’d strayed from her usual route, and getting home now requires conscious thought as opposed to muscle memory. She’s tempted to take an Uber, but figures it’d defeat the initial purpose of the run. Instead, she sets off to retrace her steps.

Running. A symbolic act of her avoidant tendencies.  

It’s been about 6 weeks since the affair. Her relationship with Rhiannon seems to have repaired itself; especially with the latest addition to the Whitaker family, the two women are even more inseparable than before. Yet, she still wakes in the middle of the night, haunted by the sounds and sensations unique to Elouise Orlav. Her heart still bears the scars, her pride still fragmented. There is little escape from the reminders of her transgressions.

And yet, when the brownstone appears before her – matte black Indian motorcycle parked behind a polished red Mustang convertible – all her inhibitions and anxieties dissipate. She takes the front steps two at a time, now eager to be back in the company of her family.

“Babe?” Soleil calls out, kicking off her shoes, “Wilson?”

The pattering of feet against the wooden floor grows louder as a little boy trots into the front hall. Giggling, he throws himself into Soleil’s open arms.

“Hey, dude.”

Rhiannon emerges from the kitchen just as Wilson begins mumbling. Her nose wrinkles at the sight of her sweaty wife, clearly not as enthused by her homecoming as their son.

“Soleil. We just finished bath time. He’s in clean clothes.”

There’s a playful tone to the remark, and Soleil grins crookedly as Rhiannon pulls Wilson from her grasp. The younger woman catches her by the waist before she’s out of arm’s reach.

“Sweat never bothered you before,” Soleil murmurs, leaning in close. Wilson, now perched on Rhiannon’s hip, lets out another giggle and clumsily claps his hands together.

Soleil.

The blonde ignores the warning, pressing a firm kiss to Rhiannon’s lips thereafter. She’s met with momentary hesitation, but revels in the way her wife smiles anyways. Small hands reach out, reminding the couple that there’s a third party present. Simultaneously, the two women press kisses to each of Wilson’s cheeks, causing the toddler to erupt into a riotous fit of laughter.

“Mama,” Wilson chirps once he catches his breath.

Soleil and Rhiannon respond at the same time, which sparks an exchange of muddled, unfinished sentences regarding who’s who.

“I thought…”

“Aren’t I…”

“Who’s…”

“I don’t…”

Soleil squints at her wife. Rhiannon shrugs before turning her head to peer at their son. She presses a gentle kiss to his hair as he babbles on.

“Zoo? I wanna see the a-aminals.”

“Zoo it is, little man.”

The go-bag is packed with snacks and juice boxes; Soleil is sure to bring her camera, too. She spends the afternoon attempting to steer the toddler toward the wolf enclosure. She kneels beside him, one arm wrapped around his tiny frame, the other beckoning the animals closer. The animals approach the perimeter, heads low and eyes scanning with caution. She urges him to let out a howl, his blue eyes growing wide, thereafter. But, the fascination is short-lived.

Before she can entertain him with some fun facts about the Gray wolf, Wilson is toddling toward the next enclosure.

Rhiannon offers a sympathetic smile, holding out her hand for the blonde to take. They follow Wilson around, clasped hands swinging back and forth, until a ranger notifies them that the zoo is closing. Soleil collects Wilson up in her arms, delighted with the way he squeals and laughs.

And it’s in that moment she realizes life cannot get much better. She’d struggled for years – endured loss and heartbreak, experienced loneliness and abandonment. Rhiannon had been her savior; their marriage had given her purpose and a new fervor for life. But, Wilson – having a family of her own – ignites a fire in her heart unparalleled to anything she’s ever felt before.

October 06, 2017 11:52 pm
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