Just an idea I’m playing with.
She lost everything so quickly, she thought she was on track and then it happened. A miscarriage. Poor weight being the main thought of many doctors but of course it was never that black and white with such things.
She struggles thinking there was something she could do. Blames herself. Perhaps even her significant other.
They need to overcome it but she seems to have hit the self-destruction button. The couple spirals downwards together, argues every day, everything seems to go wrong so quickly. Then.... she falls pregnant again.
This time will be different.
This time she’ll do everything, to the point of obsession almost.
Meanwhile, he feels like a sideline in his own life. He can only watch for fear of shattering already brittle glass.
All the while he wonders if perhaps he could have helped, he could have made her better the first time.
9 months stands between them and a family.
Old injuries resurface.
Gary’s presence warmed the bed as Ariana sifted through papers and didn’t object when he plucked some from her. She glanced to him as he spoke, he smelled fresh from the shower and looked somewhat better than earlier. She understood his issues and concerns but he didn’t seem to know what he wanted. One minute she was giving up, the next she shouldn’t consider pregnancy. She kept her eyes on the words on the paper that seemed to swim around. She sighed, running a hand through her hair, scraping it back from her face as she looked to Gary finally. Yes it had been negative but it wasn’t impossible for them. Ariana was clutching at the silver lining to the endless clouds that seemed to be swirling over their heads.
“Just hear me out-“ she knew he probably wouldn’t like what she was going to say and she was asking a lot, she knew that.
“We didn’t have all this help before. Look- two weekly check ups, hospital supervision for the last few weeks and a specific number to call if I even think anything is wrong.” She commented, as she reeled off a few details from the paper. She wouldn’t forgive herself if she didn’t at least try, there wasn’t even a guarantee she would even fall pregnant. But maybe if she ate better, took the medicines and supplements provided by the doctor and all the advice that came with it, they would scrape by. Maybe Gary would even be more present.
She set her paperwork down and looked to Gary, thinking incredibly hard and choosing her words so carefully because she knew the weight of what she was suggesting, but she knew how much they both wanted a child.
“We have help this time. And I know how quickly it could go wrong but it’s not like last time, Doctor Harriet’s given me stuff for vitamins and hormone control or something.” She said to him, reaching out to take his hand, praying he forgot about the laptop momentarily. She was trying to desperately, and it felt like these days she was battling to win his attention from work, nights out and god knows what else. She also knew what she was risking, she wasn’t foolish enough to think the storybook ending would be good.
“Please- can we at least discuss it?” She asked him. Maybe Gary would be right in the end, and it would be too risky for them both. She sighed and laid back on the pillows beside him, fingers pinching the bridge of her nose, a common trait for her when she was thinking too hard. She wouldn’t do this alone and she would only try all of this if Gary was with her. Either way, whatever they decided, she didn’t want her mother knowing. She spoke poorly of Gary so often that she didn’t want her mother having another reason to go on the attack with fresh ammunition. Her father always said it was her Irish roots, that fiery temper but Ariana never bought that nonsense.
“Regardless of what we decide, I don’t want my mother knowing.” It wasn’t anyone’s business but her and Gary’s anyways but she knew twenty questions would be in store when they visited.
Sure, he wanted that room cleaned out, but not like this. He didn’t want an empty room to become the new symbol of their misfortune after the other one. Gary spat into the toilet again for good measure and flushed again, to make sure all the filth and grime had been flushed away. He was shaky in a bad way, hungover and unable to put a name or place to the emotions that were flooding his thoughts. Instead of facing what he felt, Gary dragged his sorry ass under the shower and washed up slowly. The hot spray soothed the hangover and his sore muscles, but the cascading drone of water did nothing to stop the overbearing thoughts from taking root and growing disproportionate to what they were.
He wanted Ariana to be safe, to live, so another child from her womb wouldn’t be an option. Even if another doctor decided that Ri might make it, the risk was just too great. Gary knew how much the woman wanted a child however. So to see her give up like that was just. He wouldn’t believe it. Somewhere along the line, Ariana was going to decide that having a child was something she could somehow achieve, regardless of everything and then what? What would he do then? If she came to him, saying she was already pregnant, at the risk of her own life?
He stepped out of the shower, cleaner, but feeling no less shitty. Gary surrendered to his body’s misery and went back to bed. A couple of bites of the cooled down toast was all he could manage to help soothe the rotten feeling in his gut. But no matter how exhausted and spent he felt, sleep wouldn’t come.
In the end, Gary waited for his stomach to settle and got up. Dressed in some sweats and a loose, black shirt, he ventured down to get his laptop. He didn’t even know what to tell Ariana. Whether to apologize, or take back his words, or stress then even more. He just didn’t know.
She joined him on the bed not long after. Gary was still looking at his screen trying to tell him to be patient while it was booting up.
“What’re those?” Gary asked. Paperwork. Numbers and small texts. Gary recognized the logo as being that from the hospital. He grabbed one and started to read through them. Advise. A prescription on vitamins and hormones.
“I thought you said the advice was negative?” It probably was. But it was their decision in the end.
“This…you shouldn’t, Ri,” Gary started. He opened his mouth, decided on something else and sighed out. “I know what I said, but I don’t want to risk losing you,” he put out there. “If- I mean, there are other things we can do.” Like adoption. It hurt even his pride. Gary pushed his soggy hair back and licked his suddenly dry lips. He leaned back into the pillows and watched Ariana and the mountain of papers.
He would always choose her over a promise of something that might not be.
Ariana almost expected that kind of reaction, but she had to admit when he accused her of giving up and scolded her for clearing out that room, she was angry. She rubbed her eyes and watched him leave her on the bed alone.
“You wanted that room cleared out, remember?” She muttered and sighed, frustrated with herself and with Gary now. They had spent many nights arguing about that damn room, and now he suddenly wanted to get annoyed about her clearing it? He needed to make up his mind about what he wanted and Ariana couldn’t do that for him. She huffed and got up, clearing away the plates and dumping them in the dish washer, switching it on and leaning her back on the counter. She remembered the papers and leant down into the drawer she had stuffed them in last night, pulling them out. She tossed them on the counter and glared at them, like it was somehow the parchments faults this had all happened. She was sorry, so sorry to Gary and herself.
If Gary wanted to rage at her and get frustrated then she wouldn’t fight back, what was the point? Come Monday he would be back to his usual late nights and the two of them would be shuffling around in awkward silence while Gary drank himself into oblivion and Ariana denied any of it was real. She thought she had done well by him, he had wanted that room cleared out and how many arguments had they had? And she had never said she was giving up on anything, he had wanted to know what ya happened and she had told him, never once had she gone back on trying again, but Gary deserved to know the risks. She reached forward and read over the words, all the risks and there was a orange paper for a prescription to some vitamins or something which she supposed she would need to go and get filled at some point. She didn’t feel like it today. What was the use? Hormone pills, as well it seemed that would up her system but she didn’t know.
A second opinion was an option but what if it was the same result? And Ariana was seriously questioning whether she even wanted to risk carrying a child for the same thing to happen again or even if she did, would it actually solve her and Gary’s issues? Gary had found sanctuary with his friends from work and a beer bottle it seemed, not that she blamed him but it did hurt her more than she would ever let on to him. It was bad enough she felt alone, but to be alone when even sharing a bed. She plucked up the papers and went through to the bedroom, flicking through them. There was so many medical terms she didn’t understand but she did know if they wanted to try this then she needed to eat better, take the stupid vitamin pills and what seemed to be hormone tablets to up her fertility and understand the risks associated with baby and Ariana. She rubbed her face and scraped her drying hair back from her face, trying to make sense of it all. They couldn’t even communicate with each other, what hope did they have if actually having a child.
Good news. So there was good news too? She was healthy? But then... Gary's eyes narrowed at Ri, trying to wrap his head around what she was saying, exactly. If she was healthy, then why the sullen expression? Why that sorrow? Why last night? A pregnant silence hung between them after Ariana's voice caught. After some deliberation, she started back up, from a different angle this point.
"I love you too, but Ri-"
There it was.
Trouble conceiving. "That's not right," Gary started. They had had no trouble first, so then. Gary closed his eyes, heaving in a deep sigh. Ariana's words turned to a buzz. Caesarean section, hospitalization, 'not impossible', but highly improbable and quite possibly dangerous, wasn't it?
Ri said she was sorry, but Gary shook his head. He sat up a little, watching her. Tears threatened to moisten her face and Gary softened a little. All the anger and frustration he felt, there was no place for it right now. She should've told him yesterday.
"You what?" Cleared out the room?
"So what? This is just you giving up?" he started, unable to temper himself. How was she so, so god-damn submissive about this? Where was her fire? Where was the fight? Surely there was something they could do? They had to fix this! How could it just be 'ill-advised' to have a child and they'd just take that and leave it?
"We need to get a second opinion," Gary started. He sat on the edge of the bed, trying to come to grips with everything Ariana said.
"They must be wrong, they just-" he sighed out. And what if they weren't wrong? Gary ran his hair back, then got up and wandered down the hallway. He didn't even have to open the door to know she was speaking the truth, but he did so anyway. An empty room gaped back at him. It felt cold and hollow inside.
Deflated, Gary rested his shoulder against the door-post and let his hand fall from the door handle. It sluggishly swung open further. So that was it?
Their dream was gone?
Gary just stood there, barely able to breathe, jaw clenched. He glanced up. If God existed, he sure enjoyed testing them. His stomach turned. The alcohol he'd drank last night and the tea from earlier mixed in a bad way, exacerbated by Ariana's news. Gary pressed the back of his hand against his lips and waited for the nausea to abate.
When it didn't, he moved to the bathroom. He was just in time to expel the acrid mess into the toilet, rather than on the tiles. How could it be that a thing that could be so simple; so fundamental, would be so hard, for just them? People bred like fucking rabbits and here they were; incapable. Unfit.
Gary tried to catch his breath and spat at the toilet, the only visible sign of his anger he was capable of showing. He flushed, shaky, cold and clammy.
"Why us? Why does it need to be us?" he whispered under his breath.
Absent fingers fiddled with Gary’s hair as he relaxed and she so wanted to give in and relax in bed all day with him but his question broke her thoughts. She couldn’t shrug off his blue gaze and she sighed softly. She had to think carefully about how she was going to explain it because even she didn’t quite understand. Her hands found their way to his as she ran a finger over his wedding ring and she bit her lip, the metal smooth beneath her touch. For better or for worse, right? Those were the vows they had taken but she had never imagined it meant they would be tested like this.
“The good news is, I’m not sick or anything. But-“ She gets adding a ‘but’ to the end of that sentence. How did any woman do this? How did they admit to being less of a woman because the simple, basic purpose they were put on this planet had failed them?
“Before I tell you- I just want you to know I love you, Gary. I always have and I never stopped.” She braced for the words she was about to say.
“Doctor Harriet, he said I have problems conceiving and even if I do.... it’s difficult for me to carry to term and if I did I would be in hospital the last month an I would need a Caesarean Section. It’s not impossible but...” she trailed off, as if to catch her breath. She didn’t understand the ins and outs, the paperwork probably explained it better but Ariana hadn’t even read it properly. It was too real.
“I’m sorry.” She confessed. She knew Gary wanted a child, just as much as she did and how would they explain being childless to everyone else? To their families? Her mother would go on about herbal remedies and natural cures for such things, that didn’t exist. Her father would be broken but he would never tell her that. He’d smile and assure her it was okay and comfort her. And her sister, Lisa, had just had a baby, must’ve been around three months now. She could already see the looks she would get, pity and despairing glances from across the room.
She felt like she had completely failed Gary and herself. The house seemed bigger and more empty since the news, and now it was unlikely they would ever fill it. She would have understood if Gary wanted someone else, someone fertile and healthy. It would kill her but she would have understood his reasonings.
“I sorted the room. It seems silly to keep it altogether for nothing.” She said quietly. Even if they did try it was a huge risk for them both. They risked losing the child again and given the Doctor had explained risks of haemorrhage and complications was high, it was a risk to Ariana as well. It was something she would risk for the chance of a child. Her eyes searched Gary’s face for any hint of how he felt, because she felt like a brick had been dropped in her stomach, and her heart had stopped in her chest. Her eyes pricked with tears, but she wiped away any trace. She was already pitiful, she didn’t need to look even worse right then. She had pushed Gary away so many times and now she needed him more than anything else in the world.
His thoughts swirled about as much as the world. Gary leaned against the wall, aiming half-heartedly for the bowl and sighed in relief. Though meek, queasy and weighted down by a headache, he still felt better for having gone through the trouble of making it to the bathroom. He flushed and staggered back to bed, ready to continue sleep, when Ariana entered the room. Gary gave her a quizzical look. Apparently his drunken self had done something good then? He couldn't quite imagine what exactly, but he'd take it. It wasn't often Ri brought him breakfast in bed these days. Gary couldn't even recall the last time that'd happened.
"Morning," he whispered back. It was too early to be loud. His own voice beat through his head like a drum. Gary closed his eyes and sighed out, waiting for the spike to die down.
"Hmm, so is mine," he admitted. Gary stole a glance at Ariana. She looked extremely cozy, wearing comfortable clothes and a jumper against the chill. He didn't quite feel the cold Ri did, but Gary guessed that had more to do with how much Ariana ate these days than anything else. Her weight had been steadily declining. Hopefully last night would mark a turning point for her. Gary pushed up on his elbows and pulled the tea closer.
For a moment he just held the hot mug in his hands, cradling it, then he took a tentative sip. His stomach protested at first, but the sensation of needing to puke dissipated and settled after a few more swallows of tea. Evidently his body had decided it needed fluids more than to expel any excess alcohol from his system.
Gary set the cup back, still half filled, and laid back down with his head on Ariana's legs.
"Just come back into bed," he encouraged her. They had nowhere to be, no-one to answer for. Nothing to do. Other than clear out that room. Gary felt like he might've been too harsh the other day however. Perhaps he'd let Ri make her excuse and get away with it. In the end he hated watching her be in pain.
"We can be lazy today," Gary tried to sweeten the deal. His eyes stared dully ahead and caught sight of the wedding-band still stuck on his finger. He'd never taken it off yesterday; he'd been too drunk to care. It'd been so long.
Just resting like this, with the scent of Ariana to soothe him, felt like a miraculous spell he didn't want to ever break again.
But he had to. In the comfort of yesterday's afterglow, he felt it safe to try and broach the topic they'd decided to forego on yesterday.
"What did the hospital say?" Gary asked softly. He lifted his steel blue eyes to look at Ri, to see her reaction and make sure she wasn't hiding anything. "It was bad news, wasn't it?" Though some of yesterday night had turned to a blur, Gary still recalled the sorrow in Ariana's eyes when she'd greeted him at the door. He still remembered how hesitant she was to leave. Perhaps she had wanted to be intimate, just to stop being alone with the weight of what she knew. Gary was convinced that, even if their intimacy might have started out that way, it wasn't the way it ended.
It was probably the first night since everything that Ariana had slept well. Hot water ran over her frame as she rinsed away last night in the shower and scrubbed her hair. She was not looking forwards to the conversation they would have later and maybe Gary would just forget? And they could walk through the rest of their lives both trying to forget? There was a deep set fear in her that Gary would walk away when she told him, after all he wanted a child. She knew it wasn’t impossible but it was a risk carrying a child to term. She wasn’t even sure how to explain it. She stepped out the hot water and towelled herself off, throwing on some comfortable clothes. Her head was aching somewhere within itself and she rubbed at it. Maybe wine wasn’t a great idea last night.
She got herself a glass of water, aiming to rehydrate as she swallowed some mouthfuls down and she wasn’t really surprised Gary wasn’t up yet. She had forgotten she had cleared that room and honestly she didn’t regret it because she had promise Gary it would get done but she wished he had been sober last night, all they had done was put off the inevitable. Breakfast, right. She threw some bread in the toaster and drummed her fingertips on the counter, leaning on it as she waited for the full ache in her head to go away, yawning. She lifted her head and watched the toaster, apparently willing it to work faster wasn’t effective and she instead focused on boiling the kettle and making herself a strong cup of tea. She made one up for Gary in case he came down and she buttered some toast, picking it at it. Couldn’t she crawl back into bed for the rest of the day? Order some takeaway and just hide away for the entire weekend with Gary under the safety of the blankets.
To Hell with it, she didn’t want to avoid Gary, not after last night when they were so close to reconnecting like a normal couple. She took the tea and toast upstairs, raising an eyebrow at Gary.
“Morning.” She said to him with a small smile. She put the toast and the strong tea on his bedside table and sat on the bed, rubbing her eyes and trying to wake up. She pulled a blanket around herself and took a sip of her own tea so it didn’t feel neglected.
“My head is killing me.” She grumbled and tucked her legs up under her, who’s bright idea was last night anyway? She narrowed her eyes at Gary, almost sure it had been his and now they were both paying for it this morning. She shrugged a jumper on, feeling a slight chill in the air and she figured she should go out the heating on for a while. Maybe they could just avoid the conversation? They could never have it and then she wouldn’t have to worry what his reaction would be and she could pretend she was a normal, fully functioning woman with nothing wrong with her.
His chest was still heaving from the exertion, skin tingling with the electrical charged pleasure Ariana had incited, all thoughts erased from his mind into a white, clean canvas. Gary felt disconnected from his body, dizzy and dazed. The only thing anchoring him was the warm presence or Ariana resting on his chest. When she left, he lazily shifted to see where she went, ready to pull her back if need be.
Luckily, she was merely drawing the blankets to cover them both up and obscure the evidence of their love-making from the world. A hand rose to welcome her back, an arm wrapped around Ariana’s shoulders. Playful fingers curled the hair that cascaded down Ari’s back around the tip. He couldn’t quite fathom the softness of her. She was so different and yet so familiar.
Gary didn’t have the energy to move more than that, though some part of him suggested they ought to wash off and clean up. He was too inebriated to even think. A niggling in the back of his head suggested that the news Ari had gotten might be the reason for her weird sorrow earlier that evening, but a far greater part of Gary gave up on being awake. Spent from the long day and lured in by alcohol, sleep came easily. His hand stilled, his breathing evened out. There were no dreams that clung to his consciousness.
The next thing Gary was aware of, was the light streaming into their bedroom through the window. Ri hadn’t bothered closing the curtains, had she? Gary shifted, uncomfortable and achy. His stomach protested the motion and he opened his eyes to regard their bedroom with a sullen, dead stare. At least it was a familiar room and not the backseat of his car. Or the couch, for that matter.
Which brought about a new revelation; he was naked as the day he was born.
Memories started to bubble up slowly, alongside the rising headache pounding behind his temples. Bare flesh. Long blonde hair. Ariana’s blushing face, her expression trapped in that of lust and desire, eyes dark. And then that sorrow. Gary sighed and buried his face into his pillow, trying to block out the intrusive light.
He didn’t want to face today. He didn’t want to know the news the hospital had given Ariana, because Gary already knew it’d be bad. How could it be good news? She’d looked so disheartened. Yet at the same time, she had felt strong last night.
Gary peeked from the sanctuary of his pillow at the other side of the bed, trying to see whether Ri was still there. Maybe he could get her to fetch some water. He scrunched his face up and conferred with his bladder, reaching a decision on going himself, rather than having Ri cater to him. If only he could go without actually moving. Gary still felt tired; it'd been a grating week and the weekend didn't aspire to be much better, the way it'd started out.
Ariana was pleasantly surprised he joined her, half expecting him to have passed out on the couch but she wasn’t going to complain at his presence, especially with the mood she was in. She opened her eyes and watched him, blushing like a school girl at his compliment. He was always so sincere, never giving a compliment unless it was real. She didn’t speak, there was no need to as the moment became something more than fleeting, something deeper. It was as if every connection within them conjoined and reignited. Deep kissing, roaming hands brushing hot skin gently, her nimble fingers tugging at his clothes and the moment was their own. Nothing mattered. The world could have fallen away to dust around them and Ariana wouldn’t have noticed, lost in the haze of passion and unconditional love to the man she had married. Tipsy, drunk or sober it didn’t matter, their emotions were genuine. They were as real as the very touches they bestowed upon each other. It was bliss, it was utter contentment lost in a moment filled with colours and sparks.
Out of breath but beyond the threshold of content, Ariana lay at Gary’s side, taking a few moments to catch herself and her addled mind to come to terms with what had happened. Her heart beat a quick rhythm and she rested her head on Gary’s chest, lost for words it seemed but this time it was in a positive way. Perhaps it had been exactly what they had needed, a night of feverish romance to get rid of any lingering doubts they had that past emotions had fled them. Her love for Gary still stood as strongly as the day she met him, perhaps more so given what they had been through. She wondered if Gary even knew what he meant to her, that the very heart that beat beneath his chest was the reason that throughout everything she had grasped to fragile strings because he was her reality and her rock, even if they did argue and shuffle around the house in some awkward silence most of the time. He had reaffirmed his love for her, and her love for him. She sat up slightly and moved some hair from her face pulling the blankets up around them, not quite ready to have the moment lost.
She rested back against Gary, feeling some sort of spark return to her, like she was alive again and like she had been wrenched from the darkness and pushed into the light. There was hope after all, there had always been. Maybe it was the wine in her mind making her buzzed or fuzzy and she was sure tomorrow would be another worry to overcome but maybe with Gary at her side they could manage? Of course that was based on his reaction. He could well be disgusted or frightened off by the promise of yet more issues. She had stuck to her promise though, that room was no longer a shine for something no longer present. She rubbed her eyes and looked up at him, a little awkwardly from her position and smiled a bit.
Fingers brushed by his cheek, followed by sweet words. Gary opened a set of bleary eyes, found the wine glass peeled from his fingers and just sat there, trying to come to grips with the sudden cold of Ariana’s departure. The wine tipped him over an edge, mixing in with the other drinks he’d had and consolidating the drunkenness he felt. Another encouragement was meant to get him moving and lured by the sweet promises of Ariana’s kiss, Gary started to shift on the couch. He leaned forward, plucked at the laces of his shoes and kicked them underneath the table.
Like Ari, standing made the world sway anew. Gary put a hand out to the couch and with heavy footsteps rounded the object, carefully and sluggishly picking his way through the living room and towards the stairs. He leaned heavily on the banister, shuffling up one step at a time, until he finally teetered into the bedroom. Ri was already there, waiting for him to join her. He didn’t pretend to be capable of undressing and just laid down next to her, face first on a pillow, one arm slung across her stomach. She was warm. Ever so warm.
Through heavy eyelids, Gary watched Ariana, mapped her blush, how her loose hair tangled on the bed in silky waves, the curves of her silhouette in the dim light.
“You’re beautiful,” Gary slurred with a heavy sigh. The arm that’d been lifelessly draped across her was removed, and instead functioned as his eyes in trying to see more of the woman he loved. First down the line of her stomach, following the curves of her hips and her thighs, then back up, tracing the fine and expressive lines of her collar bones. They were easily visible now. Gary moved then, resting on his elbows, hovering above Ariana. He kissed her for the second time that night, though this time when he kissed her, it was filled with the promise of more.
He was drunk, Gary would admit that readily now. He wasn’t even sure how he’d managed to drive home in one piece and it didn’t matter now either. His fingers explored the hem of Ariana’s shirt and underneath it, relishing the tantalizing sensation of her warm skin against his fingers. Gary pulled her in close then and just held her, spooned up to her to breathe in the scent of her. There was the faint fragrance of her shampoo, the body-soap she used and her perfume. Underneath it all was something more primal; her own unique scent and it turned him on. Fingers slipped underneath the elastic lightly pressing against her lower stomach, only to discover the softness he’d felt before wasn’t quite as soft or warm as what he found there.
Gary almost felt overwhelmed by it all, by the woman and all that she embodied. His head was reeling, though their bodies seemed to be perfectly capable of communicating without any interference on their part. At some point, Gary wasn’t even sure where he ended and Ariana began. All there was, was them.
Ariana couldn’t help but giggle a little at his remarks about the new intern.
“Gary, you seem to forget you were an intern once upon a time.” She pointed out and watched him. He had come on leaps and bounds in his career, Ariana had been blessed enough to watch him grow and climb the ladder. He never liked any intern he was stuck with it seemed. Still, he must have been doing something right with them if Robert kept putting them with him. He was probably a good example, or so Robert thought it seemed.
“You and Ray are a force to be reckoned with out on the town.” She commented. She never worried about picking them up, at least they got home safe that way. How did he get home safely anyway? She smiled a bit and fiddled with the wine glass. Gary had never really changed since she had met him. She’d been out with friends, it had been someone’s birthday and the weather had been awful. Eventually they had gotten a taxi but she had offered to stay back and wait for the next one as the first has been full. She had almost ended up drenched if Gary hadn’t offered her an umberella. She never made it to the after party, she’d stayed with the rugged and handsome stranger that she now shared her life with. And she never looked back. Honestly the night was a blur now, she just remembered those steel blue eyes and that boyish smile that spelled mischief.
His words were like music, like he was just laying to rest all her doubts and everything she worried about. She looked to him,
“I know, I love you to Gary.” She said softly and watched him close his eyes. She’d never stopped loving him, perhaps grown frustrated and tired with the arguing, but she certainly loved him.
“C’mon. Don’t fall asleep down here on me.” She brushed her fingers over his cheek and stood up, a tiny bit wobbly but she soon righted herself. She set the wine glasses on the kitchen island and the almost empty wine bottle before looking back to Gary.
“Come on.” She encouraged as she kissed his cheek gently and headed upstairs, using the banister to make sure she didn’t misplace a step and go tumbling up or down the stairs. She had forgotten, for the night just like the plan had wanted. Mission completed.
Finding her T-shirt to sleep in was one thing and trying to wiggle into it was something entirely different. Eventually, she settled on the bed and changed, finding it much easier than trying to stand and complete such a feat. She reduced her hair into a bun, well she tried to before giving up because the band was being rather fickle. She gave up and lay back on the bed, the most comfortable she had been all day in her T-shirt and cotton shorts with her hair loose. She rubbed her face, alcohol doing a good job of flushing her a shade of pink and adding colour to her cheeks. She sat up a little, propped up on her elbows and wondering if Gary would actually join her.
Something shifted. Ariana agreed, though at the same time she slinked away before he could actually hold her close. Gary staggered into the space she'd vacated and sighed out, head against the wall, begging for stability. He felt light-headed still. Hadn't eaten much, just a quick sandwich before the interview.
"I do," he admitted. Ray would sort out the problem of his intern for him however. Robert would be none the wiser. He pushed off from the wall, clumsily unwinding his scarf and undoing his coat. Gary carelessly draped them over one of their dining chairs and watched Ariana. An invitation. How long ago had it been?
A smile played across his lips, though he felt light-headed, heavy-limbed and tired. Perhaps they would fall asleep together and reacquaint in the morning. Gary reached into a cabinet for a second wine glass and joined Ariana on the couch with the bottle.
His cool steel blue eyes stole glanced of her. The rosy colour on her cheek complimented her blonde locks very nicely, though her eyes were sinken and she had lost a little too much weight lately. He still thought she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever met. Gary poured himself a glass and stole Ariana's to top hers off.
It wasn't often Ri drank anything alcohol. Usually she was the one agreeing to drive them home. But they had nowhere to be currently. It was too late for anything other than being in the privacy of each other's company.
"I don't even know where they got him from," Gary snorted. "Jones is his name," he explained. "Looked greener than a spring-leaf, young kid. Just what do they teach these kids to let them dart about the field this early?" Though he couldn't have been much older when he'd been taken along on one of these trips. It was good experience, all in all.
"Me and Ray showed him through town," Gary explained why he'd been late and more than a little tipsy. He sat back, one hand holding the wine steady while the other came to rest on Ariana's thigh.
Gary sat slumped down low, weary and tired. Yet he was soaking up their being together. It'd just been so long, he didn't want to sleep, despite the alcohol trying its best to make him drowsy.
Yesterday's twisted doubt had been replaced by resolve; if they did have another child, they'd work together to take care of it to the best of their abilities. Together they'd become stronger and overcome the adversities they'd been faced with.
"I love you so, so much, Ri," Gary confessed. The alcohol made it easier to talk about his emotions, amplified what he felt. He allowed his head to fall against her shoulder while the world slowly swayed to the beat of his heart and the rhythm of his breathing. Gary wished he'd managed some proper sleep last night. She was warm.
So warm. His eyes slipped closed as if on their own, though Gary fought sleep. He wanted to experience this for however long he could.
Ariana finally decided. The discussion could wait until tomorrow, they both needed to actually sit and talk through this, sober. She watched him close the distance, she felt his touch and she bit her lip when he prompted her to know what the hospital had said. His lips on hers was a surprise because lately they had been so estranged, strangers living together in a house that was once a home. She didn’t resist. He wanted to know about the hospital. But it was fleeting because he then requested they forget about it for a night. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea? One night of neither of them worrying or overthinking. It was easier said than done and her mind for a second went to the wine in the fridge.
“Alright. For tonight.” She said to him quietly, not really registering she was pinned between the wall and Gary. One thing Gary had never done to her, was frighten her. She reached a hand up and cupped his face gently on one side, running her thumb over his jawline. All her grief and sadness, had it really reduced them to this? Had it reduced Gary to this? Late nights, worried to come home to her. In that moment though, there was something else.
Her gaze didn’t falter, the close contact pushing aside thoughts of anything else. Despite everything, they were still a man and a woman. She closed the distance between them once more with her lips, meeting his and kissing him softly before pulling back with a small smile. No matter what had gone on, she couldn’t deny for them to be locked in a moment was something she dearly missed with Gary. She missed him, all of him. She also need some courage for the impending moment and what was so wrong with the two of them just enjoying one another before reality crashed in on them tomorrow? She gently slipped away from him, pouring herself some wine, taking a sip. If he wanted her to forget then she needed a slight help. She didn’t want to ply him with questions, or worries tonight. She wanted him to have this night, for both of them to have this night.
“You really hate interns, huh?” She remarked, meaning his past statement as she took another drink, eyes dancing over him with every passing swallow of wine. Normality, they were actually speaking, touching like any normal couple would. She sat on the couch with her wine in hand and gestured for him to join her.
“Tell me about it.” She invited him, although his day was not the only thing playing on her mind. This time she actually wanted to hear him speak, she had been missing his voice. She should have text him and asked but her day has been busy too. She drained her wine glass, her thin frame already starting to feel the effects of what two glasses of wine in a day could do. But they had agreed a truce for the night. She wouldn’t start anything or question him or pile on any more worries and given his state, she doubted he would start anything either. She watched him, watched how his features made up everything about him. He was a strong man, Ariana thought, not usually one to let things keep him down and she admired that. She wanted to be like that, she’d always been the worrier of the two. She liked organisation and plans whereas Gary had been more spontaneous and care free most of the time. She missed it, she missed him. She missed talking to him until late into the night and solidifying their love later still.
When the door finally opened, Gary stood there for a few long moments, right up until Ariana's voice cut through the buzzing in his ears. It was as if she had unchained the silence, because it was suddenly so deafening, he could hear his blood rush in his head. Her words seeped through with meaning and Gary staggered further inside. His bag dropped to the floor, slipped from his slack grip. A heel was shoved against the door to close it back up. In the twilight of the ill-lit hallway, Ariana looked as beautiful as she had the first time they'd met.
"Robert ditched an intern on me," Gary explained with a thick tongue. He didn't fail to register the disdain in Ari's voice, but then, she'd never liked it when he went out and got drunk. And he was drunk, wasn't he?
She certainly wouldn't like finding out that he'd driven himself home either, so he neglected to mention it.
Dinner was in the microwave. If he got hungry.
"Right..." he breathed, giving Ariana an imperceivable nod and a heavy blink of his eyes. Through narrow slits, he watched her, watched how her posture changed and her muscles plied themselves to become a wall of defensiveness and bolstered hurt. He didn't need to be sober to read the woman he'd been with for so long.
"Why? It's Friday," Gary pointed out. There was no reason for Ariana to 'need' to go to bed. He was taller than her. As he closed the distance between them, it became more apparent. Her glance was one of pity. Or disgust? He wasn't entirely sure. Gary pressed his hand to Ariana's cheek, shoulder resting against the wall to prevent himself from swaying in place, in a repeat performance of last night.
For a moment he just stood like that, trying to wrap his drunken brain around the discrepancy of Ariana saying she would leave him alone -as she usually would when he was like this- and her staying. All the sorrow that she'd felt upon hearing their baby would not and could not survive seemed to be reflected in her eyes anew. It was nothing like last night's resolve.
Had she done something?
It dawned on his inebriated brain that she'd call the hospital today.
"What did they say?" he drawled softly. He'd just had a few too many and he certainly wasn't daft. "What did they say, Ri?" Gary asked again.
He became distracted by her lips. A finger strayed, touched the corner of her lips. So soft. It'd been so long since they'd laid together in a sexually mature fashion. Anything more than a stray touch, a finger brushing against a hand, or a soft, careful touch, seemed to be able to shatter the brittle defences Ariana had built for herself. Gary wasn't sure what would happen if there were only shards left. He didn't have the strength to put back together a broken woman and himself at the same time.
Gary kissed her then.
"Can't we just forget that for a night?" he begged her when they parted. He'd pinned her to the wall, near enough. Gary wasn't even aware of it himself.
Fidgeting was something Ariana seemed to fall back on when she was nervous and thinking. She couldn’t keep still, she needed to stay busy because last night she had been bold and finally edged towards taking that first step. It had been so close, within reach and in the space of a few hours, snatched away by a different kind of trauma. She had to do something, because if she didn’t then she would end up calling Gary at work and he didn’t need that. They needed normality and he was going to go out drinking again, she never wanted to be ‘that wife’, the one that always called or text. And she knew he would just end up coming home and they would talk and it would probably end in disaster. She wanted to pretend that it was okay, even just for a few hours. She stuffed the notes from Dr Harriet into a drawer, out of sight therefore out of mind.
Delicate hands were kept busy making dinner, of course Gary’s was placed in the microwave in case he was hungry when he got in. It was still early and she looked to the digital clock, watching it flash with every second that went by. She didn’t know what time Gary would roll in at but she couldn’t sit still or do nothing because if she did then that meant she would have to think and she would have to accept everything that happened today. She had mananged a few forkfuls of her own dinner, although it didn’t taste of anything in her numb mouth.
“There’s still a chance.”
“You’re partner couldn’t join us?”
Phrases dashed too and from her mind and her wine had been forgotten about as she sighed softly and looked to the stairs and to that room. What good was it now? Maybe Gary could use it as an office? She drew in a deep breath, draining the remainder of her wine before pushing open the door. It smelled odd in there, like settled dust. It was so bright, colourful in comparison to everything that had been happening. Maybe it was shock or the need to keep busy but before Ariana even knew what she was doing, she was pushing tiny clothes into boxes, dismantling the cot as best she could and shoving it all into a wardrobe so it was out of sight. Whatever setting she was in, it needed reset to factory because she wasn’t thinking, she was avoiding everything about the situation even though she knew she would need to tell Gary when he came through that door later. The smell of polish was sickening by the time she had dusted, the hoover droned on as she ran it over the carpet. And then she left the room, with the door open because the contents inside were now enshrined elsewhere.
It seemed an age before she heard that rattle of keys, she knew Gary was in a state before he even opened the door because she could hear him go through several keys. She looked to the door, almost like a rabbit stuck in the headlights of an incoming truck. What would be the point in telling him tonight, when he was like this?
“Busy interview?” Perhaps that was more scathing than she wanted to let on but she only waved the thought away.
“There’s dinner in the microwave if you get hungry, more beers in the fridge.” There was a definite distaste towards his drunken demeanour but what was the use in arguing over it? She was glad she hadn’t text him, maybe tomorrow they would speak about it? And Gary wondered why she felt so alone all the time, whilst he found solace in a bottle with far more pleasing curves than her apparently.
“You-uh... you have fun. I need to go to bed.” She said quietly. She avoided eye contact because one look into those depths and she would want to apologise for her situation, and that would mean telling him and shattering the illusion. She didn’t want to be pushed tonight, as she glanced over Gary almost with pity in her eyes. She would have to check on him later if he didn’t come to bed, throw some blankets over him, maybe clean up some sick or help him get undressed. She didn’t move though, seemingly stuck to the spot in the hallway, she should tell him but there was something stopping her.
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