I held the body in my arms, placing my hand over a heart that would never beat, a cry that’d never echo in the air. Tears dripped from my chin onto her still chest. My husband tried to lift her from my arms, but I refused to let go.
“I can’t. Not yet. She’s so beautiful.”
He kissed my forehead. “Just like her mother.”
“Why? What did I do wrong?” I clung to my lifeless daughter, brushing wisps of dark hair from her face.
“Nothing, baby. Absolutely nothing. Sometimes it just happens.” He reached down to touch her hand. “We still have to name her, you know.”
I sniffled, wiping at the stream of tears that wouldn’t stop. “I can’t. Nobody will remember it.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, they’ll call her a stillborn. That’s what she is, and that’s what people will always call her.” I kissed her forehead. “She deserves her name, not some title.”
My husband caressed my cheek, and I broke down, nestling my face in the crook of my daughter’s neck. He rubbed my back, resting his other hand on my shoulder.
“Let’s think of a name they’ll never forget.”
I brought my head up to look at her, tracing my fingers over her ginger curls. “Ember.”
“Our little flame, perfect.” He kissed her forehead, lifting her from my arms. “Should I get the nurse?”
I reached up, grasping her arm. “Not yet. Just a little longer, please?”
He settled next to me on the hospital bed, holding Ember between us. I leaned my head on my husband’s shoulder.
“What will they call us?”
His gaze shifted and his brows furrowed. “What are you talking about?”
“I mean, they don’t have a word for us, people who’ve lost their child. They have orphans and widows, but what are we?”
He opened his mouth, but no sound came. My husband looked between our daughter and I, leaning back against the wall.
“That’s what we are. Without our Ember, we’re Flameless.”
I nodded, bringing my daughter to my chest for one last embrace, one last kiss. I let my lips touch her chilled ones for a moment, pressing my forehead to hers.
“We’ll try again, baby. Don’t worry.” He lifted our girl from my arms, carrying her to the nurse at the doorway. “We won’t be Flameless forever.”