Sometimes, she catches herself reaching downward on her stomach and absently stroking her skin, down the line in center that appeared after Teddy's birth. She can't help it; the movement is automatic, the loss still echoes in her.

Lately, she's done it more than she likes to think about; between shopping, between bus rides, between taking a breath between runs. She keeps cupping herself there, half expecting the feel of Teddy to be there beneath her fingers, or tracing that darkened line on her skin.

It's not as if it ever stopped really paining her. But sometimes, the aches catch up with her, and keep her awake at night, wondering about him.

(did you get freckles? do you listen to the same music i do? did you have to wear braces, too? do you know how to ride a bike? is your nose big or small? who's smile did you get? )

Sometimes, she finds herself scribbling notes, half written pained letters to him that she burns, or throws away or deletes. Only a few survive the little purges that she goes though, and even then, she can hardly stand to look over them again. There's no need when she already knows what she'd write.

(i hope that your parents are good parents. i couldn't choose who they were, and i regret that. it sounded like a good idea then, but as an adult, sometimes i keep awake thinking about what could have gone wrong. i wish i could have kept you, as young as i was. most people think that i'm lucky for that. i don't agree with that. they mean well, they want to reassure me that i didn't make a stupid choice. what i did was irresponsible for a teenager, blah blah blah. i understand that in theory. but the rest of me doesn't agree on that. everything felt so sudden, so fast once you were out of my arms. too much was left up to chance for me to sleep well at night sometimes. i like to think that the parents you got were kind, maybe new parents with good jobs and an easy life. especially since you'd be twelve now; probably just as red haired as me. i hope. or many you lucked out and got dark hair.)

How many times could she think of the resentment resting in her chest or the feeling of emptiness and regret? How many times can she catch herself wondering about what he's been named by new parents, how many times can she catch her breath thinking that she's seen him in the street: this boy that has to be eleven going on twelve now, who's probably wondered about her?

She can't turn back time, she can't go back. She knows that. But she yearns and yearns, even when she knows better, even when she understands that he could possibly hate her with every fiber of his being.

(i just want a second chance, whether or not i deserve to have that. i just want one chance to know you, even a little.)

But Molly can't let go of the memory of him close to her body, of her fingers stroking his head, the relief and happiness and love she felt then even if she knows she should. So she keeps catching herself, fingers tracing that line and hoping, more than anything, that he's out there somewhere and he's happy, even when she isn't. She gives him all the traits she's always wondered about, gives him parents that love him, and can only hope that even a little bit is part of his reality.