Mia's tiny hand curls around my finger unquestioningly. It is perfect and warm.
Settling back against a cushion, I look down into her sleeping face. A moment of peace washes over me. I realise that this is where I'm meant to be, and know that I couldn't be happier if I were part of sunlight itself.
The only sound is gentle breathing as she slumbers, and for a moment everything seems still.
"Well, I guess I'd better take her home..." The voice of my best friend shatters my illusion so forcefully that I actually feel it crumble around me.
For a while the baby was mine and I glimpsed into a world that I know I will never be part of. The bond between mother and child is one that I will never share.
"Yes you'd better..." I say, shaking myself from my reverie. Handing the bundle over, the tiny hand is torn reluctantly from mine, and the last link is severed.
"I'll bring her over again soon" my best friend says quietly, as she takes the little girl fully into her loving arm. With the other, she reaches across to hug me.
I struggle with every fibre of my being not to resent her. I know it is not her fault that I can't ever have a baby.
I feel glad that she is happy and since Mia's birth, there is a new contentment about her, and a light in her eyes. Despite the lack of sleep, she looks serene, and finally complete.
With one finger, I stroke the baby's cheek, and whisper "goodbye..."
When the door closes, I feel empty and cold. Leaning back against the solid frame, the unshed tears roll down my face.