Fractured Souls: Epilogue


Five years later


One. Two. Three. I count in my head as I stare at the plastic stick in my hand. One red line appears in the small display window. Four. Five. Six. Only one line.

I sit down on the toilet lid and look up at the ceiling. After I graduated from the music conservatory, I decided to offer free piano lessons to women who experienced sexual abuse. I hoped music would be helpful in their healing. Yesterday, while going through my booked appointments for the next week, I realized my period is almost a month late. Since I was done with the school, Pasha and I agreed that I should stop taking the birth control pills so we could start trying for a family. I knew that my cycle would get irregular after that, so missing a period didn’t necessarily mean I was pregnant. It could simply be the side effect.

“Asya?” Pasha’s voice comes from the other side of the bathroom door.

“It’s negative,” I say, trying to make myself sound nonchalant. To hide the disappointment. I was secretly hoping it would be positive. Just the idea of having Pasha’s baby made me want to squeal with joy. I was lying snuggled into Pasha’s side when I told him I needed to take the pregnancy test. His body went stone-still for a moment, and then he squeezed me against his body so tightly I could barely breathe.

The door opens and Pasha walks inside the bathroom. “It’s okay.” He brushes my cheek and takes the test from my hand. The expression on his face seems relaxed, but I see it in his eyes—he hoped, as well.

“You’re still young. When . . .” He looks down at the plastic stick in his hand and tenses. “Mishka. How many lines should there be?”

“One. It means negative.”

“But there are two.”

I jump off the toilet and snatch the test out of his grasp. “But there was only one. Give me the box!”

Pasha passes me the box and I quickly read through the instructions until I reach the part where it says you need to wait for at least five minutes. When I read it the first time, I thought it said five seconds.

“It’s positive,” I choke out and look up at Pasha. He’s staring at me intently. “We’re going to have a baby.”

Slowly, his gaze glides over my chest to my stomach. He takes a deep breath and lowers himself to his knees in front of me. His big hands are shaking as he takes the hem of my top, pushes it up, and kisses just above my navel. Then, he presses his cheek to my midriff and, wrapping his arms around me, starts humming a lullaby.




“I already told you, I don’t do OB-GYN exams,” the doc snaps.

“We have an appointment with a gynecologist tomorrow,” I bark and shove him away from the door so Asya and I can get inside his office. “But I need to know that everything is okay. Now.”

“You’re overreacting.”

“I don’t give a fuck.” With my hands gently gripping Asya under her arms, I lift her onto the gurney. “You can start.”

The doc shakes his head and takes a seat, pulling up the ultrasound machine toward him.

My eyes fixate on the scene before me as I watch while he smears some goo on Asya’s stomach and moves the device above the waistband of her leggings. He glides the thing from left to right, then rotates it a bit, while keeping an eye on the monitor and hitting some buttons on the tower unit.

“I’d say you’re in week six. They both seem perfectly fine,” he says, then looks at Asya. “And you seem fine, too.”

I blink in confusion. “Both? Both Asya and the baby?”

“No. Both babies.”

My head snaps to the side, staring at Asya who’s looking at the monitor with a wide smile on her face. “Are you sure?” she whispers.

“Yes,” the doc says at the same time as I say, “No!”

They both turn to look at me.

“Do that again.” I point my finger at the ultrasound machine while terror seizes me on the inside.

“I’m pretty sure I know how to count!” the doc exclaims and slams the ultrasound printout against my chest, pointing his other finger at it. “One. Two.”

I grab the front of his shirt and get in his face. “Again!”

“Pasha?” Asya grips my forearm. “What’s going on?”

I release Doc and cup her face between my palms. “It’s dangerous, mishka. And you’re so tiny. What if something happens?”

Asya presses her finger over my lips. “I’m going to be fine. There are twins in almost every generation of my family, and no one ever had any problems. Don’t panic.”

“I’m not panicking. I’m not.” I throw a look over my shoulder at the doc. “Should she be admitted to a hospital? I’ll drive straight there.”

“Pasha.” Asya pulls at my shirt.

“Can she walk?” I continue. “No, I better carry her there.”

“I’m not going to a fucking hospital!” Asya roars into my ear, grabs my chin, and turns my head to face her. “Let’s thank the doctor and head home.”

“Mishka . . .”

“I wouldn’t advise enraging a woman pregnant with twins, Pasha,” the doc throws in.

“He won’t.” Asya leans forward and presses her lips to mine. “Relax. Everything is going to be okay.”



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