NANOWRIMO Novel – Cuttings – Day 23 – ( but really part 3 of day 22)

She stays on the sofa with him, because for once, it feels safe and warm, for once it feels like they could be a real family and for once he actually offers to make her a cup of tea.

He smokes a couple of spliffs, but is gentle with her, almost considerate and she leans into him, enjoying the feel of him against her skin.

He is convincing himself that the scan will find more babies, 5, maybe even 6, is planning a future of talk shows, photo shoots, reality TV, fame.

It’s making him happy and so she says nothing, just allows him to lean his hand against her belly as the other hand texts and rings the boys, talks through the future he sees ahead of them.

She decides to let it go, let him have this night, decides that she will deal with tomorrow when it comes and while he talks, shouts down the phone, she whispers to her babies, visualizes their faces, their arms wrapped around each other, sleeping soundly.

When she can stay awake no longer, he comes to bed with her, the first time since her pregnancy started to show and they lie together, dozing and waiting for morning.

She falls asleep and when she wakes, terrified that she has overslept, missed the appointment, he is up, dressed,not in joggers but his good jeans, he smiles at her, asks how she feels and she is overwhelmed with love for him, grateful for his attention.

He says they should go into town early, get breakfast, digs into his stash money and says he will take her anywhere, buy her anything she wants.

He even stands at the window when he lights a fag, doesnt moan when she says she feels sick.

They leave the house together, it’s cold and she pulls her jacket around her, it doesn’t reach across her middle any more and before yesterday, that would have annoyed him, made him call her a fat cow, but today he laughs, says they will go to Primark, buy her a new jacket after the scan.

She can’t remember the last time she had breakfast in town, month ago, before she lost her job, before she stopped leaving the house, before he took control of the money.

The milky latte is comforting, warming and she sips it slowly, savouring it. She feels to nauseous to eat anything, but watches him devour eggs, bacon, black pudding, beans  and slice after slice of toast.

Afterwards, he sighs with pleasure, leans back in his chair and pats her hand, public affection, her heart feels fit to burst.

He checks his phone, for texts and the time and says that they have enough time to get her a jacket, to make sure that the babies are warm enough and as they walk toward the precinct, he doesn’t stride ahead, occasionally looking back to check she is trotting to keep up, instead he walks at her side.

She catches sight of the two of them in a shop window, they look like a real couple, they look like everybody else and she smiles at their reflections.

He takes time to choose a jacket for her, slips it over her shoulders,makes sure it has enough room to allow for all the babies, makes sure it will keep her arm and when they go to pay he tells the girl on the till that his missus is expecting 4 maybe 5 babies and she thinks that at this moment she could actually die of happiness.

The ante-natal clinic is busy, lines of women, some, not very many men, but they are expected, ushered through into the scan area.

He loves it, loves the attention, the feeling of importance, she see him grow, fill the space and she smiles at him and for once he smiles back, pats her hand and then they are called in.

There are 2 radiographers and a doctor in attendance, a feeling of excitement and for the first time in her life she is at the centre of something. She is not sure how she feels about this and is relieved when she is told to get undressed and climb onto the couch.

It is familiar to be told what to do and she lies there, looking up at the faces around the bed. Ken is holding her hand and she grips tight,although not bad is happening,just to enjoy the feeling of his hand in hers.

They start the scan and there is a pause and then the older radiographer does it again and then another pause and the doctor moves away, starts to talk to both women.

She knows then that something is wrong, the wrongness catches in her throat, she grips Ken’s hand, because something bad is happening now.

There is another pause and then the doctor is back and he’s speaking, hands extended, offering apologies.

It takes her a moment of two to understand exactly what he’s saying. There’s been a mistake, her own doctor has been mistaken, there are not 4 babies, just 2, 2 identical twins.

Ken understands far quicker than she does, sees everything he has planned, the mapped out future turn to dust, fall away, again.

He looks down at her

“You fucking useless fat cow, you couldn’t even get this right” and then he is gone.

There is an embarrassed silence and then the doctor suggests that she gets dressed, goes home. None of them look at her.

The walk back to the estate takes a long time, she knows she is dragging her feet. She has tried texting him, calling, but his phone is switched off.

She knows its going to be bad, probably very bad, but just for a moment, she relives this morning, his gentleness, him spending money on her, she strokes the shiny fabric of her new jacket, rests her hands on her baby belly, smiles.

This morning has been one of the best times in her life.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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