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The pull-down ladder to the attic dropped with a finality, a creaky groan, matching how Bette felt inside and she sighed heavily before gamely making the climb to retrieve their suitcases, six in all. Neatly stored on the right side of the neatly organized space, she still paused, needing time to process what retrieving these cases meant.
At the bottom of the ladder, both hand on each side of the handrails, Tina waited patiently. She knew her wife saw symbolism everywhere, that Bette was moving slowly these days a reflection of the news they were still handling. Hearing motion above her, she steeled herself to be that oasis in the storm that would be so, desperately, needed.
One at a time, the suitcases were handed down, Bette going halfway down the ladder to hand them carefully so Tina could set them in the hallway. And each time, a soft whisper to “be careful, Honey,” drifted Bette’s way and she held tightly to it each time, like the sweet gifts that they were. Because God, how this settled her, gave her comfort, made each step on the ladder that much easier to take.
It had been a while since they traveled, the move to the river house and Bette’s pregnancy grounding them. Neither minded, it felt nice to have structure, the children’s needs guiding their decision making, paying off especially in the way Rosie responded so well to set routines, the needed consistency helping their little girl thrive.
They were what Shane referred to as “a well oiled machine”, Alice’s opinion more direct, calling them “boring.”
But Tina and Bette knew better.
They knew the work that went into their relationship. They knew the tears, the disappointments, the committment that made their family soar. The passion. The yearning. The devotion, the unbridled love, the romance. They knew love was an action word, that communication was their salvation as much as their downfall. They fucking knew.
Six suitcases in all were lined up in the master bedroom, not counting the carry-ons and one large diaper bag. “Everything but the kitchen sink.” Tina joked and she wasn’t wrong. The items needed to travel across the country with a 5 year old, a toddler and a baby were nothing short of plentiful.