Natasha’s pace always quickened as she walked down 5th toward Stark tower. About a mile out was the hospital, opening up directly into the new life center. On one of her first trips by during a run, a flash of foil caught her attention. She turned to see multiple pink balloons exclaiming, “It’s a girl!” tied to a wheelchair that held a new mother, holding a tiny bundle of blankets. The scene held her there for a few moments. She felt nothing but a dull ache.
She was told multiple times that time would heal all wounds. That seemed to be everyone’s only answer at the time. When the sixteen year old looked at them with horrifyingly sad eyes that burned with tears. Not a single one of them had yet to witness her crying but they knew. So time would heal her. There was nothing more to do so they left it in the hands of an arbitrary measurement. How fitting.
At the time, she struggled to keep herself composed. Every waking moment was a battle, and each thought threatened to break her down even further. It was then that she got in the habit of distracting herself from her thoughts, because if she left herself alone too long she would swear she could feel the tiny kicks to her ribs and the added weight to her belly. But that was decades ago.
When she saw the woman holding her newborn daughter, looking at her as if she held the universe within her hands, she felt that almost familiar threatening hysteria for the first time in what felt like forever. It sent her into a full sprint down the pavement and back up to her room in the tower. Even if to the public she still seemed fully composed, she could feel it tearing inside her. She had realized that time doesn’t heal the wounds left in the past. Time makes human minds forget and that was the most terrifying realization of them all. She hadn’t thought about her daughter in so many years. The child she had failed. The infant she had brought into the world without a pulse. In that moment she would have killed to even feel the most painful thing she had experienced; the weakening of the kicks; he weight in her belly that finally grew so painfully still by the end. But she couldn’t. In even the deepest recesses of her mind she wasn’t able to imagine what that had felt like. There was nothing about that that slightly resembled a healed wound. It more closely resembled a knife that tore through the stitches that had been holding shut an open wound for so many years. She had forgotten the most important thing she had ever done for the world and also her greatest failure, and she couldn’t bear that thought.