All I Want Is Silence
Tuesday 7th September
It’s the early hours of the morning, my life is a shambles, all hell broke loose this morning and now all I want is silence…
Isla began crying again as Nicolette held her to her chest, trying to calm her daughter down before she was due to feed her. Nicolette was pacing back and forth the kitchen at #24 Ramsay Street.
Except for Isla’s cries. All I want is silence but I can live with hearing my baby crying all night long if I need to. But I want the silence that comes without everybody yelling and screaming at me for the horrible things I’ve done the past six weeks…I deserve it…I know I do…I don’t even know what I’m doing back here…nobody is going to forgive me for what I’ve done…and yet you ridiculously hope that Chloe might just be that person to forgive you…
This all started when Chloe thought that she’d cheated on me with Leo, the brother of Isla’s father, David. David and his husband, Aaron, whom I was going to co-raise our baby with, lied to me for weeks, not only about what was going on with Chloe and Leo but that Chloe had doubts about me and wanted to end our relationship…after I’d proposed to her.
Then David’s Dad, Paul, had a go at me, told me I was to give the baby to the guys and then never have any contact with my daughter again.
I was selfish…I ran away…
Then I was really selfish…Paul found me in Canberra…five days after I’d given birth to Isla. He was upset I hadn’t gotten in contact with Aaron and David to tell them their daughter had been born…I was upset at myself too…but I was so angry at them for acting like the only thing those boys cared about was the baby, they never truly wanted me involved in raising our daughter…
Paul offered me $1 million to hand over Isla to him and to stay away from Erinsborough where David and Aaron, my Mum, Jane, and fiancé…girlfriend…ex…I don’t even know…Chloe live.
I took the money and handed over the baby to Paul…
Or so he thought.
What Paul didn’t know is that I wasn’t alone in Canberra. I met up with my friend, Audrey, who I used to work with when I lived in Canberra…’friend’ is probably a loose term for Audrey. There was also my friend, Maya, with me.
After the heartbreak of thinking Chloe cheated on me and the boys lied to me about it, I bumped into Maya. She was also heavily pregnant, but was a single Mum by choice, and was my only friend. Shows how much Chloe, Aaron and David knew about me…I went missing for weeks and the one friend I actually have…they didn’t even call Maya to see if she’d heard from me.
Maya and I ran off to Canberra together, she only had her grandmother here, no reason to stay. We thought we could raise our babies together as friends. We could put all expenses in Maya’s name and I paid her with the cash I did have until I could find the ability to get a fake ID and new bank account. We had our babies within 2 days of each other.
I didn’t want to hand over Isla to Paul for any amount of money.
But Maya did.
I wasn’t thinking about anything except been able to keep my daughter so I was in her life everyday…unlike what Paul told me before I left Erinsborough.
Maya took advantage of that. She heard about the $1 million up for grabs, her daughter, though dearly wanted, could be passed off as David’s because Maya is Asian too. Maya came up with a plan. I would keep Isla; Maya would get the $1 million and I would hand Paul her daughter to give to David and Aaron to raise.
Everybody would get what they wanted. David and Aaron wanted a baby, they’d been desperate for one for years. So desperate Chloe told me they propositioned her ex’s ex to have a baby with them within days of meeting her and they were secretly crushed when their first foray into fostering didn’t offer up a newborn but an abandoned teenager.
All I heard was been able to keep Isla…I was suffering with my mental health after giving birth without my family surrounding me.
Then a day later, Maya was gone with the money from Paul. I was alone with Isla, raising her on my own, doing what I could to provide for her without much money nor ability to go anywhere without Isla.
Less than two days ago, Leo found me in Canberra.
Leo had been suss on Paul the moment his father had returned to Aaron and David with their daughter but I had refused to come back home. Leo didn’t even know me that well, we spent all of 5 minutes together before Leo wanted to get into the pants of my fiancé…girlfriend...ex…
I opened the door to my tiny little studio apartment; afraid it was my landlord chasing me for rent after the money Maya had put down on the apartment had only been enough to secure the place for 6 weeks and I had no other money to pay more rent…maybe I should’ve tried to get some of the money out of Maya before I transferred the entire funds…
Seeing Leo on the front door stop gave me the biggest panic attack that everything was about to be revealed. Leo held the door open, stopping me from slamming it in his face, he started going on about how he made a mistake going after Chloe, that she’s heartbroken without me and that he was there to make things right between us by convincing me to come home.
Honestly…I didn’t even care to hear about Chloe been heartbroken…I was too busy silently pleading with Isla not to cry…
But cry she did and the game was up!
Leo’s face fell when he heard his niece crying in my apartment, he asked me whose baby that was in my apartment, he pushed his way in, found Isla in the crib and it was like he knew what I’d done and why I’d done it.
Leo was actually reasonable about the whole thing. He sat down on the bed and once I’d tended to Isla’s needs, I sat next to him and he let me explain myself. Everything that Paul had said and done, everything that I had done, that I got sucked into Maya’s scheme without thinking about the consequences of what giving Aaron and David a baby that wasn’t theirs to raise.
I explained to Leo everything and then he asked me to come back home with Isla so I could start making things right.
I really didn’t want to…but I knew I had to…I knew I already wasn’t giving Isla the best life…I was this close to begging Audrey for a place to stay or to help look after Isla so I could get a job that would pay me anything that would put food on my table and nappies for Isla.
Leo crashed on the floor next to my bed, perhaps afraid I would do a runner before we could get a flight back to Melbourne if he didn't stay with me, awoken numerous times during the night by Isla.
Then the next morning, I packed up some of my stuff with Isla’s. Brought the pram and cradle I had bought for Isla when Maya and I first got to Canberra, her bottles, nappies I had on me, left behind the crib I had for her as there was only so much luggage Leo and I could check in on the flight back to Melbourne.
Leo was useless helping with Isla on the flight when she was crying, all the other passengers assumed he was Isla’s Dad and he and I were together. As if.
Leo decided the flight was the best place to tell me all about how much Chloe loves me. I guess because I couldn’t escape him and not want to hear a word that he said about my fiancé…girlfriend…ex…
Leo told me that the whole reason he hired Chloe at his winery and then spent weeks trying to break us up by getting Chloe to see he was the perfect one for her was all because of Paul and Chloe’s ex-husband, Pierce, told him that I was bad news. He didn’t even have feelings for Chloe, she just represented someone that he could see himself with.
Leo told me he tried to kiss Chloe after I had left but she had turned him down, declared she had no interest in him. He then told me how cut up Chloe was without me in the weeks that followed. That Chloe had cut him out of her life and yet from a distance he could see how broken she was without me.
I didn’t really know what to make about that. Chloe left me messages on my voicemail everyday…of course I listened to them…the sound of Chloe’s voice was irresistible…despite knowing Chloe would want nothing to do with me when she found out about the baby swap…but it was nice to hear that she loves me and wanted me home…
When we landed in Melbourne, Leo made sure to arrange that David and Aaron with their baby Isla were out for the morning with Paul and Terese.
Leo then made sure the only people home were Chloe and Jane. He made the taxi circle the block a couple times until there were none of our neighbours hanging out on the street, before we drove up to the house I used to live at.
Whilst Leo was busy trying to unpack Isla’s pram and cradle and hide it up the driveway before anyone spotted us arriving back, I took the first step to trying to earn some forgiveness after my horrible decision and knocked on the front door.
Mum’s face when she opened the front door and saw me standing there with Isla cradled to my chest was a mix of relief before the inevitable ‘what the absolute fuck has my daughter done?’ look crossed her face.
I couldn’t even look Chloe in the eye when she rushed up to me…I presume to hug me to welcome me back before that same look fell to her face too...only with the fiancé...girlfriend...ex...where Mum had the daughter part. I was holding Isla, a baby that was not the baby I’d given to Paul to take to Aaron and David.
Next thing I knew I was sitting at the dining table, Chloe on one side of me, Mum on the other. I held Isla close to me, we overheard Leo struggling to drag all my gear up the driveway and the stairs that led up to the front door.
They listened to me too. Chloe and Mum sat there and they listened. They didn’t yell at me…until Mum did and it set Isla off crying. Is it wrong that I was glad that stopped Mum yelling at me? I still refused to look Chloe in the eyes. Seeing my Mum be horribly disappointed in me was one thing, I literally could not do the same with Chloe.
Mum wanted to go yell at Paul for his involvement in keeping me away from Erinsborough, for been the reason that I was so desperate to keep Isla that I gave him someone else’s baby for Aaron and David to raise.
Leo finally joined us and had my back.
Because Leo knew that David and Aaron needed to be the next to know.
That was brutal. I knew it was going to be but all hell broke loose and I don’t know if things will ever be the same.
Chloe asked her brother and his husband to come over. I stood with Isla in the hallway. Leo went off to find Terese and Paul. Mum and Chloe were in the kitchen, they needed to prepare Aaron and David for how their lives were about to blow up.
The guys came over with their daughter because of course they did. Aaron realized something was up first, Chloe broke first and told him that I had returned. I imagine the look on his and David’s faces was simply disappointment, they probably thought they truly would never have the mother of their child back in their lives. David sounded like he was about to mouth off about what I’d done by making them miss their daughter’s birth…David had no idea just how much I’d made them miss…
Before Mum or Chloe could say anything else, I stepped out from the hallway, cradling Isla to my chest.
There aren’t words to describe the looks on David and Aaron’s faces as they stared at Isla in horror then down at their baby Isla before back at my Isla…
I don’t remember what happened next.
There was so much yelling and screaming. David and Aaron were beyond furious when they realized what I had done. I tried to explain that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind when Paul made his offer and that Maya had taken advantage of that but one of them retorted I was never planning on returning and they would’ve raised their baby as their own for their entire lives without knowing their baby wasn’t the one David and I had created, thanks to a turkey baster.
I think Chloe and Mum tried to defend me, point out what Paul had done, I don’t know…it felt like an hour or longer that Aaron and David were yelling at me. Isla remained sleeping against my chest throughout…really could’ve used her crying…
Aaron and David stormed out of the house with their daughter, they were so angry they didn’t even seem to register they hadn’t asked to hold their real daughter. I think they went to go yell at Paul. Then probably to yell at each other about how I’d ruined their lives and made them fall in love with a child that wasn’t theirs.
I didn’t know when or if they would be back.
I remember turning to my Mum and Chloe, telling them I was going to stay at the hotel until Aaron and David could stand the sight of me to get to know their daughter. Chloe mumbled something about this place still been my home, that I could stay in the guest bedroom with Isla until the boys and I had decided where Isla would live. She was meant to live with them because they were meant to be Isla’s primary parents…but now I worried if they would ever want anything to do with Isla…or take her from me and cut me out of Isla’s life.
I dragged the pram, cradle, my bag that was filled with the rest of Isla’s belongings into the guest bedroom.
Then without realizing how, I handed Isla over to Mum to mind for the very first time and I was in Chloe’s car sitting in the passenger seat and she was driving the two of us to a baby store to get a new cot for Isla. Chloe and I said nothing to each other during the car ride there. When we were shopping, Chloe grabbed far more supplies than I thought Isla needed but since I wasn’t talking to Chloe because I was afraid that she would yell and scream at me too, I didn’t say anything to curb Chloe’s sudden shopping spree for baby supplies. We were just as silent in the car ride back.
When we dragged our purchases through the doorway of Chloe’s home, Aaron was there with my Mum. Mum was still cradling Isla; it didn’t look like Aaron had held her yet. Aaron said that David had torn Paul apart publicly in the middle of the Lassiters complex for buying a baby for $1 million and been stupid enough to have handed him and Aaron a baby that wasn’t even theirs. I guess Leo had failed at finding Paul and Terese or to give them fair warning I was back.
Aaron saw the bags from the baby shop in mine and Chloe’s hands and he tore Chloe apart. He was furious at his sister. To him, it looked like Chloe had forgiven me and she would be housing her fiancé…girlfriend…ex back into her bed with his daughter to boot in her bedroom.
I think there was a part where Aaron accused me of coming back only because Chloe was rich enough to do all this baby supply shopping and not even notice the money missing from her account. I guess I’m just after Chloe’s money is what Aaron claimed of me.
Chloe tried to explain about the guest bedroom, that it didn’t actually matter who she bought the baby supplies for because Aaron and David didn’t have enough for two babies so even if the real Isla spent one night here with me to give them time to adjust before taking Isla in tomorrow and starting the process of healing from my deception, Isla still needed the stuff I couldn’t provide so it would go with Isla no matter where she ended up.
I think there was also confirmation in there from Chloe to Aaron that she and I weren’t back together and I wouldn’t be sleeping in her bed…she didn’t need to tell me that. The guest bedroom is probably too kind even for Chloe to offer me considering I’d blown up her brothers lives.
Aaron stormed back out of the house, without looking at Isla. Chloe shrugged then told me to follow her to the guest bedroom. We set the cot up together, not a single word spoken between us. I just wanted Chloe to yell at me like everyone else had done.
Why is it that with everyone yelling at me and me only wanting silence, do I still want Chloe to yell at me too?
And now it's nearly 2am in the morning and I'm here with my daughter, wondering if tonight is the last night that I'll ever get to spend with her on my own. Aaron and David are so angry at me and I know the only thing to make things right is for me to let them raise Isla and pray that they will understand I still want a place in our daughter's life even if it means she lives with them and Maya's baby...assuming they can keep her too...they would want to--
Jesus, fuck, Chloe! Scared me! Why is she up and standing by the hallway door...? Right...crying baby...that's why I came out here to the kitchen away from the bedrooms so I didn't wake Chloe or Mum. How long has Chloe been there for?
"Did we wake you?" Nicolette gently asked Chloe, before offering, "We'll go back to our room, go back to sleep."
Chloe leant against the door frame, "Yes, you woke me but that's okay, I was hoping we could talk."
This is the part where Chloe confirms what I already know...we're exes.
And just like that, Isla stops crying...like she's telling me she wants to hear what Chloe has to say...and also, she's hungry.
"I have to feed Isla," is all Nicolette could manage to say as she sat down at the dining table, expecting Chloe not to follow her but instead Chloe did and sat down next to Nicolette.
Nicolette refused to look at Chloe as she undid the buttons of her dressing gown, silently glad to see one of the small blankets on the table, placing that over her upper body before placing Isla under it to feed her.
Why am I so nervous to feed my daughter like this in front of Chloe? She's seen your boobs before. Yeah...it's so not that, it's knowing that Chloe had so many doubts about me and my thoughts of having a family with Chloe after Isla are completely over so we'll never have moments like this with our own child.
"Why did you do this?" Chloe finally asked when it looked like Nicolette was settled into feeding the baby.
"I was desperate," was all Nicolette could answer with.
"Desperate enough to let my brother and his husband raise a child that wasn't theirs for the rest of their lives?" Chloe asked.
"No...I came back, didn't I...? Before it got too far and they did raise their Isla for the rest of their lives? I don't know when I would've come back if Leo hadn't found me and convinced me to...I can't answer that but I do know my guilt was eating away at me and I was close to breaking and returning. Not that you have any reason to trust me," Nicolette acknowledged.
"I don't know what to trust," Chloe admitted, sighing when Nicolette still refused to look her in the eyes, "I understand after the things Paul said you were desperate to be part of Isla's life and felt like after running away and giving birth without them, David and Aaron would never want you in Isla's life...why didn't you just call me?"
Nicolette shrugged, then grimaced as she felt Isla drooling on her before latching back onto her, "Figured you hated me for what I did and you didn't even know just what terrible thing I had done," then before Chloe could respond, Nicolette decided she would continue feeding Isla in her room even though she knew she was been selfish to her daughters' need to keep feeding, so detached her, placed Isla over the blanket still thrown over her shoulder to burp her and stood up, "Thank you for letting us stay in the guest bedroom tonight, it's more than you should've offered me after what I did. We'll be out of here later this morning; I'll hand Isla to David and Aaron in the morning. You can take them all the stuff you bought her. I'll find another place to live, close enough for Mum to visit but you, Aaron, David and Isla will never need to worry about me ruining your lives again. If the boys can one day forgive me to let me into her life, then I'll...be in Isla's life but you don't need to worry about me ever again."
"Wait, what?" Chloe responded in surprise to Nicolette's decision, standing up and finding herself circling the other side of the kitchen island bench so that the red head couldn't walk past her without talking to her which is what she wanted, "I don't want you to go anywhere."
"How do you mean?" Nicolette asked awkwardly, still refusing to look Chloe in the eyes.
"You went to beyond extreme lengths to keep Isla and yes, I am also mad at you for what you did but that doesn’t mean I want you to find a new place to live and avoid seeing me," Chloe insisted, then reaching out to hold Nicolette by the waist, “You were not the only one in the wrong in this situation and I am not talking about Paul…You were right…”
“About what?” Nicolette was confused.
“When you accused Aaron and David of only caring about the baby, that they didn’t care about the baby’s Mum nor the family you wanted to be part of,” Chloe admitted, “They didn’t care about you…they cared up until the point that Paul returned with the baby…then that was it, all they cared about was the baby. They did nothing to find you. They had no rush to read your letter, Aaron was annoyed at me for wanting to know what you’d said…to hear anything from you! When Jane was trying to track you down…they didn’t care to help to find you…they didn’t lift a finger to do anything that would bring you back to us…I don’t know if they ever would’ve… You came back, if you hadn’t, they wouldn’t have brought you home to…Isla…their Isla…”
Nicolette shrugged, “Maybe they would’ve one day…”
“No, they wouldn’t have,” Chloe shook her head at the thought, “Jane and I were the only ones who cared about you. For them, it was only about the baby. They even had an argument where David horribly told Aaron he wasn’t upset enough about losing their baby because she wasn’t his daughter before he apologized that biology doesn’t come into it. They love their baby Isla and when they have half a moment to not yell at you for what you’ve done, they’ll realize they love their daughter they’ve been raising and they’ll love this daughter you have in your arms just as much. I need you to know all this before you make the decision to hand Isla over to them and move away from us.”
Nicolette squeezed Isla to her closer, still not looking Chloe in the eye, “Chlo, I did the wrong thing, I took Isla from them when I shouldn’t have. The only way David, Aaron and I will ever make it past this is by allowing them to raise her and whatever they choose for my involvement in her life is what I will have to live with.”
"As hurt as the boys are right now at you, they got what they wanted - a baby. They didn't care about you. They haven't even bothered to want to meet their daughter. They already have one and they will continue to raise her. You did what you did because you didn't want to let Isla go so don't let her go," Chloe insisted.
"Are you trying to make Aaron and David hate me even more?" Nicolette was confused.
"I am trying to get you to see giving up your daughter and leaving us again is not your only option," Chloe admitted, "We can all raise her. David and Aaron can still raise her and be her Dad's but so can you as her Mum. I'll help you."
"How do you mean?" Nicolette found herself asking again.
"This is still your home, Nic," Chloe told her shyly, "I don't want you going anywhere. We can buy another cot for Aaron and David in the morning and keep the one we have here. You need Isla as much as she needs you. Aaron and David are just going to have to accept that Isla needs to be here with us some of the time. This co-parenting was never going to work with Isla never staying over with us...and I don't just mean in the guest bedroom with you. I want to move the cot into our bedroom tomorrow because I need you back where you belong...with me."
"I...I don't...understand," Nicolette stumbled her words in confusion, before finally lifting her eyes to look into Chloe's eyes for the first time since she'd returned with Isla, terrified of allowing herself to have any hope that she and Chloe weren't over.
Chloe hates me...
"Before you ran away, I messed up everything. I was afraid committing to you was too soon after I made the same mistake with Pierce, rushing into marriage and it ending so quickly. I should've told you about my concerns...but I have had a lot of time to think about everything without you. Leo wanted to be with me but I don't want to be with him, I don't want to be with anyone else. You're the one I want to be with. I know you did something horrible to Aaron and David and chances are they are not gonna be happy with me over this…but if you can forgive me for what I did, then I want us to have another chance…" Chloe declared confidently, then when Nicolette took her time to respond, Chloe added, “You, me and when we have Isla with us…we’d be a family…whatta ya say?”
Nicolette stood there cradling Isla to her chest, completely confused by Chloe’s feelings when she had been so sure they were over, “I…don’t know…what I’m meant to say… Don’t you hate me for what I’ve done to your family?”
“Our family,” Chloe corrected with a shy smile, “You’re still Isla’s Mum and that will always make you part of our family. I know it’s going to take everyone a long time to come to terms with what you did…and Paul is not at all blameless now that we know exactly how badly he manipulated you and the rest of us to give up thinking you would ever come home to us. I know we’ve got work to do to get past what happened between us and what I almost did before you took off but I don’t want to give up on us…unless you want to…”
Nicolette shrugged, “I don’t know what I want…I guess I never even thought it would be an option for us to work through things…but I do know I still love you.”
Chloe smiled again, before leaning forwards and kissing Nicolette gently, leaning their foreheads together when their lips parted, “I know I still love you too,” then grinning at the infant in Nicolette’s arms, “Isla’s fallen asleep in your arms. Why don’t you put her down in the cot and if you’re okay with it…you can maybe fall asleep in my arms in your bed…until Isla inevitably wakes us up throughout the night the way she does…? Maybe we just begin there and see where our relationship goes over the next few days…and give us a chance to work on getting our relationship to where we both want it to be.”
“Okay,” was all Nicolette could manage, still amazed that Chloe wanted anything to do with her, brushing her lips to Chloe’s again, finally smiling back at the blonde when she took her into her arms, Isla cradled between them, before Chloe pulled back and holding her arm against Nicolette’s lower back, led her to the guest bedroom.
When they got to the bedroom, Chloe stood back as she watched Nicolette place Isla in the cot and settle her before the pair of them curled up into the bed together. Chloe wrapped her arms around Nicolette, burying her face into the crook of the red heads neck, “I’m glad I got you back.”
Later that morning, Nicolette sat at the dining table, with Isla curled against her chest and a cup of tea in front of her. She had left Chloe in the bed alone, not wanting to wake her as she spent time with her daughter, trying to let Chloe sleep in as much as she could with a newborn in the house.
Nicolette glanced up when Jane entered the kitchen from the hallway, then walked over to the dining room. Jane gave Nicolette a quick hug, smiling at the reminder her daughter was back home again, even though there was a lot of uncertainty and pain that came with what she’d done by keeping the baby she’d given birth to and giving up a friends’ baby to the couple Nicolette was meant to co-raise Isla with.
“I’m glad your home,” Jane smiled as she sat down next to the pair, “How was Isla last night been in a new place?”
“Isla seemed to adapt to it perfectly fine, woke up a handful of times but nothing I can’t handle,” Nicolette answered, taking a sip of her tea.
Jane tilted her head to the side, “And how was Chloe last night?”
Does Mum know everything?
Nicolette took her time placing her cup back on the table, not sure if she should tell her mother Chloe slept in the guest bedroom with her most of the night.
When Nicolette didn’t seem willing to answer, Jane smirked at her, “I might’ve knocked on the bedroom door when I got up to see if you needed any help with Isla…Chloe’s asleep in your bed…looking rather peaceful. Are you two…back together?”
Nicolette shrugged, not wanting to display too much hopefulness. It had felt incredible to have the woman she loved back in her arms, she felt Chloe’s love emanating from their embrace. But she knew enough to know whilst they might indeed have a future together, they had a lot to work on between them. That they both wanted to gave Nicolette hope they could find a way through everything together.
“Chloe and I talked a little last night before we…fell asleep in each other’s’ arms. We’re…taking our time to work through things…so no we’re not back together…but maybe one day soon…we will be,” Nicolette smiled at the thought.
Nicolette’s smile faded into a sigh as she heard footsteps on the stairs leading to the front door before the security door was slammed open with more force necessary.
I knew I shouldn’t have wanted the fresh air through the house when I opened the front door this morning.
Within seconds, Nicolette and Jane’s conversation was over, as Aaron and David burst into the house. The sleepless night not helping the couple move on from what Nicolette had done with her betrayals as they started back up where they had left off the previous day, yelling and screaming at her for ruining their lives. Nothing Jane said could convince them to give Nicolette a chance to earn their forgiveness, as they didn’t even look at the infant in the red heads’ arms, instead focusing their rage at the woman who’d turned their world upside down.
If David and Aaron would just stop screaming at me, look at this beautiful baby in my arms and want to give her the hug I’ve denied all of them for more than a month now…but they just keep yelling…
All I want is silence…