Authors: Nikki Winter
the End of Time
Copyright © 2014 by Nikki Winter
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may
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This book is a work of fiction. References may
be made to locations and historical events; however, names, characters, places
and incidents are the products of the authors’ imaginations and/or used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead),
businesses, events or locales is either used fictitiously or coincidental. All
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are the property of their respective owners and are used herein for
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Published by: Nikki Winter Publishing
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many
times, always with the same person.”
wait that had become the hardest. It was always the wait. The void of silence
filling the room, widening in a chasm of borderline desperation that made every
movement feel like a chore. Time ticked by in an unhurried pace, oblivious to
its anxiety causing affect. Yes, it was the wait that had become the hardest.
She couldn’t unglue her tongue from the roof of her
mouth to even attempt to ask the simple question of,
“How was your day?”
Instead, she sat there dumbly, staring at the
wooden pattern of their bedroom floor, her husband casually propped against a
mauve colored wall. His chest was all that moved to disturb the stillness of
his form. She appreciated the stillness; it gave her an anchor. If he’d sat
next to her on the area rug, his knees bouncing in time with her own, it
would’ve simply ratcheted up her own inability to just…be.
Lifting her head, she caught his stare on her. His
eyes weren’t pale, but their effect was just the same. Dark and hypnotizing. A
raise of his lashes and she melted. So many years, so much time, and a simple
glance could push a soul deep sigh from her throat without much effort. It was
a gift that she cursed. That gaze was reaching, could curl its fingers around
her heart and cinch down before making her confess every sin lingering on her
But at the moment, that stare was simply hopeful,
imitating her own. He turned away from the wall and took a step forward, his
lips parting. “
They jerked at the noise, starting when they realized
the alarm they’d set minutes ago had finally sounded off. Nyssa
Blackwell-Sultana felt her tummy bottom out and placed a hand to it.
“Would you like me to look?” her husband questioned
She gave a sharp nod, unable to even consider
standing at the moment to face what
on the other
side of the bathroom door.
to his friends and
family—ambled towards the master bath, always willing to play knight when
it was requested. She remained on the rug with her legs drawn up to her chest
and her arms wrapped tightly about them while her chin rested on her knees.
Relax and wait,
she coached herself.
Don’t. Tense. Breathe.
A huge gulp of air stopped the burning in her lungs
and she sat there impatiently, listening for the sound of
soft footsteps as he re-entered the bedroom. When they finally came, the slow drags
of his bare feet made her raise her eyes. One look at his stoic expression and
told her without saying a word.
pregnancy test is negative.
Nyssa gave herself a moment under the crushing
disappointment. It was a feeling she’d become familiar with over the last year.
So why did it hurt? Why was it so acute?
Because all the signs had been there this time.
of them. The achy breasts, the
aversion to his favorite cologne and the missed period. A week and a half and
she hadn’t seen one clue that pointed to a cycle coming her way. So naturally
She swallowed and placed her palms to the floor to
push herself up. Standing on legs that just about vibrated,
she brushed the back of her yoga pants and gave a brave shrug.
“Hey, it happens. We’ve been through this before so…”
came forward and
she took an involuntary step back. He stopped in his tracks, his expression
darkening. He didn’t understand. She didn’t want to be touched right now. She
didn’t want soft whispers of reassurances against her temple. She didn’t want
to be told
that things would be
okay. She just...air. She wanted
Nyssa spun on the balls of her sock clad feet and
headed for the door.
husband called, following her. “Where’re you going?”
She couldn’t breathe. Why couldn’t she breathe?
His tone sharpened.
The stairs were a blur as she moved through their
home, her goal simple. Get outside. Get away. Go. Go. Go.
The brass of the doorknob was cool against her hand.
She twisted and was almost out onto the porch when strong arms banded around
her and jerked her back. She flinched.
“Wait a minute,”
soothed. “Just…wait a minute.”
No. She didn’t want to wait
She wanted to
“Let me go, Sunny.” The command was low and toneless.
“To do what?” he questioned.
She didn’t have an answer for him.
“Come back inside and let’s talk.”
Nyssa shook her head. “I don’t want to talk.”
Stubble gently scraped the nape of her neck and a
warm puff of air blew past the lobe of her ear. “You may not want
to talk, baby. But you need
No, she really didn’t. She went to pull away but he
held fast. “Listen to me,” he tried again. “This isn’t a you
problem. And we
can’t fix it if
Right. For it to be that, both of them would have to struggle with the feeling
of being woefully inadequate. Color her a cynic, but Nyssa didn’t believe for a
moment her spouse was suffering from that weight—
weight. The fight of reaching for something, feeling it brush
your fingertips, just to have it snatched away. The fight of consistently
pacing the floors while wondering if it is, indeed, a
problem despite the repetitive vow that it isn’t.
He’d been told that he was fine, in flawless health
even. Caramel curls, a face reminiscent of Michael Angelo’s Italian Renaissance
works, and six-foot-four with a body fat percentage that would make male models
could be considered the perfect specimen. Nyssa couldn’t recall coming across anyone
that was immune to the rumbling, gravelly lug of that Philly accent. It was
touched just enough by his upbringing in a family of second generation Italians
to make one perk up and take notice.
To look at him and
imagine a smart-mouthed, dark eyed little girl with skin the
shade of sienna and lean slashes in her cheeks was impossible. Nyssa had been
doing that very thing from the day she’d met him, even if it had taken her
eight full years to realize it. She’d gotten there, that was all that mattered.
But now she questioned if perhaps she’d taken
long. Maybe if she’d admitted her feelings sooner, had been
less hesitant—less career-oriented—their timeline would have been
sighed against her
cheek and squeezed her briefly. “You torment yourself,” he murmured. “And all
for something that couples experience everyday. This isn’t an uncommon issue.
You aren’t to blame.”
His perspective was such a simple one. Because he
wasn’t a woman. Proudly rooted in feminism, Nyssa had always thought herself
above this niggling insecurity. She’d never even considered the possibility
that it would be so hard to do something her body had been literally designed
for. And yet, those misogynistic
thoughts that taught a woman from birth that her sole purpose on earth was to
reproduce would not quiet.
Baby dolls and carriages, plastic kitchens and tea
party sets, all of it had told her that this was so simple. But every negative
pregnancy test mocked that theory, unraveled any ground she’d gained in
confidence and efficiently pissed all over it. Bullshit. Those baby dolls and
carriages, plastic kitchens and tea party sets were
Giving a false sense of aspiration. Having children
wasn’t an aspiration; it wasn’t a goal line to cross. It was a choice that freethinking
adults—ready for the responsibility of another life—made together. So
why couldn’t two freethinking adults, ready for the responsibility of another
Why couldn’t she control
this one aspect of her life like she’d been able to do everything else? Why
couldn’t she shake the horrifying thought that it would never happen?
With slow, steady steps, her husband moved backwards,
pulling her away from the edge of freedom and closing the door with a flick of
his wrist. “You can’t shoulder the responsibility for this,
No one can. Whether we tried two years ago or eight,” he told
her, reading her mind as always. “No one’s to say we would’ve been any more
successful then than we have been
Turning, he grasped her by the shoulders and marched
her forward into the sunken family room, placing her down on the couch. As soon
as he turned his back, Nyssa was standing. He twisted around and put a palm
against her forehead, firmly pushing her back into the cushions.
Scowling, she slapped at the hand, annoyed that he
could manipulate her so easily.
switched his hold while dodging her attempts to get free.
“I can do this all day, baby,” he announced
now covering her entire face with one of those huge,
irritating palms. “You’re well aware of my stamina.”
Nyssa dug her nails into his forearm until he grunted
and took hold of her wrists with his opposite hand. “You’re feeling vicious and
frustrated, so I’m going to ignore your attempts to mar my perfect, beautiful
skin and refrain from smacking your ass until it’s tender like the cattle cuts
Brian uses for his veal parmesan.” He released her and wagged a finger. “I’m
also going to ignore how you
were getting past me and out the door.”
She snapped her teeth towards that finger, wanting a
fight. If she fought she wouldn’t contemplate the test and she wouldn’t listen
to the infernal
“Not fighting with you,” her spouse sung, walking
towards the double doors that led to the kitchen. “I will, however, make you
tea and get your stash of thin mint cookies.”
Barely resisting the urge to lob an extremely
expensive vase at the back of his skull, Nyssa burrowed into the throw pillows
behind her back and closed her eyes. And sadly, all she could see was that
little girl slipping away from her…
muttered under his breath, his
hands clutching tightly to the stone counter beneath his grasp. He wanted to
sink down onto the tile and just stay there for a little while, linger on the
floor until the strength returned to his legs but he knew he couldn’t. Because
he had to be the brick wall. He couldn’t falter for even a moment or that meant
everything would crumble around him. So he sucked down a breath or four and
waited for the moment that he could rationalize that his disappointment
couldn’t be nearly as poignant as his wife’s.
He wasn’t even remotely naïve enough to believe she
wouldn’t bundle all of this up and carry it. There wasn’t a sentence that he
could whisper or scream to keep her from doing so. No matter how many times he
told her she was enough, that she would
be enough, his
wasn’t entirely convinced. She didn’t
see what he saw or feel what he felt. There were very few prayers he’d had
answered in his lifetime but his pseudo-Catholic heart had seen what it was to
finally have a door opened that couldn’t be closed. He clutched onto that with
gusto, hoping that he never failed to acknowledge what he had, but as of late
that was being overshadowed. His wife was in some silent race against, what
seemed to be, the rest of the world. And with each setback, she got hungrier
for a victory. It was eating at her and spearing him.
The natural chemistry of
had been offset dramatically and spun into starts and spurts
of moments like the one they’d just had. He’d hoped that this time would be
different; he’d hoped that the little plastic stick wouldn’t shake the ground
beneath their feet, but for the eighth time in the last year, it had. Each
reaction was harder to witness. The way Nyssa’s face fell…
happens. We’ve been through this before so…”
knew better. The nonchalance and the shrug couldn’t
help her hide from him the way she so desperately wanted to. Before her feet
had even moved, he’d known she would run. It was such a transition from the
woman he’d built his life with.
wasn’t that volatile. She was a thinker, slow in action, fast in reason. The
first time that they had sat on the opposite side of that door had been
called in the midst of pushing open the front door while
attempting to balance an extremely hot paper bag full of Cuban food from a
local eatery in one hand. The other held his
satchel. Luciano, his brother, kept referring to the bag as his
He’d taken said
and beat the big bastard with it until he’d
him. Nyssa’s eco-friendly sedan had been in the garage when he’d pulled up and
her keys were in their usual place—thrown onto the accent table in the
foyer. They would more than likely be knocked behind the piece of furniture and
she’d complain later about losing them. Words like, “goddamn,” “bastard,”
“fucking,” and “large-headed,” would be tossed at
because he still hadn’t found the time to put up the sleek—yet
entirely too feminine for his liking—key holder near the front door.