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.
“At least I didn’t lose myself in the bottom of a bottle!” Ariana spat back and instantly regretted it. She didn’t shift her gaze to watch him though, not until he started moving.
Ariana watched Gary settle on the couch. She wanted to rest too but her mind was going a thousand miles to the minute. A stray hand rested over her stomach, absently stroking her fingers over the jumper that hid precious cargo. Gary has dozed off, well, she figured as much. She sighed and pushed herself off the couch, padding over to the kitchen. The vitamins were washed down with water, the woman keeping as quiet as possible as she took out the Aspirin packet and filled a glass of water. She decided against waking Gary for now, not ready to face arguments yet. His words had only cut because they were true, and that was the worst part. She had pushed him away, she had wanted solitude and silence. There was a deep set guilt within her.
Chicken for dinner, she figured as she kept as quiet as possible. She sighed and took a moment to just think. Besides the TV buzzing away it was quiet and Gary was sleeping so his insults and sneers wouldn’t come for a while yet. Ariana just huffed at herself and moved to check the dinner, clumsy and tired fingers brushing by the glass of water and it was sent toppling over the edge of the counter. Of course, because her day hadn’t been bad enough. At least the aspirin had stayed in place on the counter.
“Shit.” She muttered as she knelt down, picking up the larger pieces of glass, a small sting indicating a sharper piece had grazed and broken skin on her palm.
Her hand formed a fist to stop any errant blood dropping onto the floor as she quickly swept up the shattered glass pieces, cursing herself for drifting off into la-la-land. She dumped the pieces into the trash can and rinsed her palm under the water. It stung enough to make her suck in air as she wrapped it in paper towels for a second to fetch a band aid. Given the day she had struggled through, it seemed like she couldn’t do anything right. Fixing the band aid in place, she saw Gary waking up and went back to focusing on dinner. Had it all been her fault? Had she caused everything like he so valiantly accused her? He had been no angel, skittering off to the pub with his friends and workmates. She had kept everything to herself because who the Hell was she supposed to talk to? Him when he was drunk and coming home? Even when he had been home and sober, he’d shuffled around like it was the last place he wanted to be.
Cold stabs at his behaviour, that was all he got.
“She’s going to find out anyway,” Gary bit back and painstakingly made his way over to the kitchen, rummaging through the drawers. There’d been headaches after drinking and regular stress-related ones, but this beat them all by miles. He slammed a drawer shut none too kindly.
“Because you down-playing how you feel is exactly what made things go to shit last time! And after, for that matter. Or do you just like being holed up inside, feeling depressed and sorry for yourself?” he chewed out harshly. The light in the house was bothering him. Gary shut the blinds in the kitchen, but the living room was still overflowing. Of course, it had to be a sunny day.
Gary gave her a wan look, but then closed his eyes and realized she was right. Even if all they’d done was visit the doctor, he was beyond spent. He leaned against the kitchen-counter, pushed his hair back and tried to think past the pounding headache. It was focussed around where he’d hit his head. Maybe not even part of the concussion, but who was he fooling? Today had already started slow and it wasn’t exactly getting any better.
Gary could feel the tension in Ariana as if it was something he could actually touch. He pushed off and slowly made his way over to the couch. He’d never found any of the Aspirin or whatever else to soothe the pain. It was like his brain couldn’t remember where the items were and then even if they did, wouldn’t help him recognize what was in the drawers to begin with. There were too many items all at once to make sense of. Gary sank down slowly and put his leg up. He couldn’t even be bothered by the cold and hot war they were supposedly fighting. He was in pain.
Time. She’d needed time and it was a fair argument to make, but still. Who were they fooling? Time was against them. Gary pressed a hand to his head and sagged on the couch. He hadn’t even meant to just go off at Lisa like that. The words had just come out. There’d been no filter in place for some reason. His breathing gradually slowed down, and Gary put his hand down. Ariana’s suggestion of sleep wasn’t a bad one.
Reality was still too bright, too harsh and too loud. He couldn’t quite get comfortable though. The headache kept hacking away at whatever was left of his brains, floating untethered inside his skull. Images of the accident bubbled up. It was loud this time. He didn’t recalled hearing anything, but there had to have been sound. The sound of metal scraping against metal. A saw cutting through whatever was bent around his leg. Gary twitched, took a breath and owlishly blinked at the television.
Had he slept?
It didn’t feel like he had. At the same time he felt sluggish and the headache had been pushed back a little to something tolerable. He was stiff from the awkward position on the couch. Gary pushed himself up a little and hissed. He sagged back again.
Gary’s sneering did little to help the atmosphere, and embarrass Ariana. She swallowed any arguments and it could wait. She didn’t want to worry anyone else with their issues, two of them worrying was enough. It wasn’t correct logic, but it was all Ariana knew how to right then, damage limitation.
“Thanks for that. That was a great display.” She murmured as she knelt down to undo her boots. She hung her jacket and finally moved to put the monitor away in a drawer. She leaned on the counter and thought for a while.
“Did it ever occur to you, at all, that I needed to process everything before you go spilling the gossip to my sister? Why did you have to stick your claws in like that?” She muttered and ran a hand through her hair. She wasn’t stupid, she knew the risks, she knew what hung in the balance. With her sister gone, at least they could speak freely behind their own front door.
“You could have given me time to process everything, I would have explained... Later on. You didn’t have to go telling our business to people. It’s just as much my business to share as your’s.” She said as she finally stood up straight and exhaled. What was the point in fighting with him? He was just going to trudge off to the bed soon enough and forget it happened, at least it wasn’t the nearest alcoholic place. Ariana hated herself for thinking so coldly of him but at least she didn’t put a voice to it.
“You should sleep. Long day.” It was all she could manage and honestly she wasn’t sure she wanted to descend into arguments with a man who had a concussion and a broken leg. Ariana took some water and settled on the couch. She was annoyed. She was upset. She was frustrated. It was awful feeling helpless and like you could lose everything and all she could do was check her blood pressure and eat better? Pop a couple of vitamins? But if Gary was going to be so scathing about it then she would do it alone.
Her eyes flicked to the glass of water in her hands and watched the liquid shift around in the glass. A quick slip and it would come crashing over the edge, how fitting. She huddled down on the couch, did Gary really still question why she had been so terrified to tell him anything, lately? They were both cold towards each other and the littlest spark would light a fire and cause the two sleeping dragons to awaken and start ripping flesh. Ariana was so tired of it all.
The blond wanted sleep. She just wanted to sleep and forget about it all. And she wanted to wake up and actually be happy that she was creating a life, rather than moping and only seeing the worst. She had to fight, she really did because if she didn’t then it was only defeat. She flickered her gaze to the television and fiddled absently with the remote.
More vitamins, less of the hormones -Ariana wasn't trying to become pregnant, after all. So what were they for exactly? He glanced at Ri, but the questions died on his lips as most of his attention was directed at the doctor. No guarantees. Appointments every two weeks and an emergency contact number. Gary's eyes were drawn to the blood-pressure cuff and its instructions. That was it? That was all they'd be doing for the unborn child? For Ariana? But what else could they do? The headache that had been simmering was now pounding away at his skull and Gary just wanted out of the stifling office and its bad news.
Normality. Did they even remember what that was like? Or happiness for that matter? Support each other. It sounded accusatory. Wasn't he here? Why else would he be here?
"Is that it?" Gary started, but Ariana's defeated gaze called him back. Gary closed his eyes for a long second, trying to get to grips with the torrent of emotions readying up to burst free. He was ill-equipped to deal with it all. The words Doctor Harriet had spoken were already dancing through his head half-forgotten.
Ri was leaving. Gary gathered himself and hoisted his sore body out of the chair, hobbling slowly after her. She paused for a second and Gary looked up expectantly.
"What?" He blinked. "I'm not. Are you?" Gary snapped, regretted speaking out like that and sighed. "I don't know, Ri, it's... She didn't-..." He deflated.
"Why is there so little we can do?"
He couldn't fault Ariana for abandoning whatever argument was brewing. Gary knew he wasn't in any mood or shape to even care at this second and he felt like he'd say things he would regret more than anything. Ariana wordlessly helped him back into the car and Gary sagged back, closed his eyes and willed the headache to simmer down to something he could actually manage. It was hard to tame and persistent.
"It didn't go 'fine'," Gary sneered from the back-seat.
He looked over at Ariana with small eyes, evidently fighting a fierce headache, and shook his head. "You're not going to down-play this. She's got a scan in a month, bi-weekly checkups and a stupid blood-pressure monitor to use every day," Gary explained Lisa. How was that 'fine', exactly? How on Earth did that constitute fine.
"And she had the gall to tell us to just be happy and act normal," he said, softer now. His energy was running out already.
Gary pinched the bridge of his nose and took a few deep breaths. "Tell me exactly what is normal about this situation?" Yeah, they were pregnant again, but it wasn't like before, was it? Nowhere near. They couldn't enjoy it if they had to monitor Ri every day. If they were reminded of all the risks every other week. When the scans would only be done more and more frequent.
And then what if it did finally go wrong?
Would they even be able to get help in time then?
Ariana was in some sort of stunned silence as she listened to the doctor. It didn't get any better listening to all the risks a second time around because she had done this once before, but at least Gary was with her this time. Gary put words to questions Ariana hadn't even thought of quite yet. She glanced to him as he spoke and then to the good doctor who was like an unmoved mountain.
"The vitamins and hormones will help, yes. I would be inclined to lead more towards the vitamins for now." Deborah said and eyed them both, thinking carefully because she really had to choose her words very carefully.
"I cannot guarantee if it will go wrong or not. However, I can say that you both have help this time. Regular appointments will be every two weeks, this will be to determine everything is as it should be. Mrs Jenkin's will also have my emergency contact number in case you think anything is off. I'm also going to send you home with a blood pressure monitor. I'd like you to take your blood pressure daily, just so we can be on the lookout for any early signs." Doctor Harriet understood the frustration from both of them but this early on, there was little she could do. They could have Ariana in a hospital bed but that was a terrible idea and wouldn't stop a miscarriage.
"I find that normality is the best route. Be as normal to your routines as possible." She looked between the couple and it was very obvious there was underlying issues.
"Support each other." She said before standing and rifling around, plucking up a blood pressure monitor in clear plastic and handing it to Ariana along with a leaflet that explained what was normal and what wasn't.
"I will book you in for an appointment at the hospital for a scan, let's say in twenty-eight days. Unfortunately you won't see much on the scan but it will tell us if baby is developing at the right pace and is a good indication of any issues we might not be able to see from an examination." She said and sighed quietly. They had a lot to talk about and she had a home and a husband to see.
"I will see you then and please, don't forget to be happy. I know it's scary but endorphins and happiness can be better for you than you think."
Ariana took the blood pressure monitor and the leaflet it came with, looking to Gary. A while ago if there had been an opportunity to play doctor then she would have taken it up but this was wrong. She could take the hint that there was little else to be said. She stood and looked to Gary. What was there to say? As she left, she paused a little as if bracing to face her sister, she should have just driven here. She swallowed thickly and looked back to Gary.
"Are you alright?" She asked, knowing that these sort of things were taxing enough without a lingering concussion and broken leg to add to it. They could spare five minutes before confronting her sister who was bound to have questions, surely?
On second thoughts, getting Gary home and settled would make for a better atmosphere for them both to talk. Ariana clutched the monitor as she headed down to the car and helped Gary with the adventure of getting settled in the car.
"How'd it go?" Lisa asked as she kicked the car into action and Ariana just gave her a look.
"Fine. Just a lot to process." She said and Lisa seemed to understand that the couple wasn't keen on talking it over with her. She supposed they needed a chance to talk it over themselves.
Lisa parked up outside.
"I need to free my husband from the grasps of the toddler. You two just- look after each other, right? Ari, call me later, alright?" Lisa said as she made sure the couple got inside safely before pulling off. Ariana helped Gary inside and closed the door behind them, finally feeling like she could breathe freely.
Getting into a car still wasn't as easy as Gary hoped it'd be. Fortunately Ariana fought the war alongside him; getting his cast in a relatively comfortable position, the crutches a spot where he could reach for them if need be and then there were the memories that surfaced. Again and again he saw that snow-addled night, glistening black streets and a car, braking and failing, on a collision course for him. Gary snapped to when Lisa and Ri started talking. Or was it an argument? He looked up, a lost and dazed look in his eyes that he hopelessly tried to shed and failed to. After a moment's struggle with the car-door, his crutches, his poor balance and the unwieldy cast, Gary managed to slowly clack his way into the doctor's office.
Doctor Harriet was already there. It seemed today everyone was amused by his pain, because she didn't fail to comment on his looks. Gary just gave her a wan smile and had to leave the witty retort at the door-mat. His brain just didn't have the mental capacity to come up with something clever right then and there.
Gary followed the doctor into the office and carefully lowered himself in a seat. The crutches he propped up against her desk and he stretched out the broken leg, a pained look on his face. There was only so much Aspirin was going to do for him.
Gary was stunned. No. Of course. It was- yeah. He flicked his eyes over at Ri to see her reaction. Were they allowed to be happy? Even if just for a few seconds? Ariana's question echoed in his head.
Gary blinked. Some? "Yeah-" Doctor Harriet was already moving on before he could get in a word edgewise. Ariana was invited to step onto the scales. Gary just watched her, as if judging whether or not the scale was going to tip in her favour. He knew she'd been trying to eat more, but the worry that the pregnancy instigated had robbed Ri of her appetite all over again.
She'd miscarried very early. Gary looked down at his hands.
Far too early. A sinking feeling opened a pit in his stomach. All his nerves and worries fluttered around the gap like vultures circling a prey.
Eat. Attend the check-ups. No stress and no strain. Gary tried to remember it all, but some of the words went in one ear and out the other. Questions? Gary snorted, though there was no mirth there, just despair. Where did they even start?
Ariana needed to eat, yeah.
"Wh-what about the vitamins, the uhm... hormones?" Gary stammered. It'd been in the papers, from the tests Ri had done before. The ones that concluded a pregnancy would be utterly irresponsible.
"What are our chances? Four months- the..." Gary paused for a moment. His headache was pounding now. It was like a storm inside his head and he kept grasping at ideas and questions, only for most of them to evaporate the second he touched on them. Gary pressed some fingers against his temple as if to press his brains back in place.
He wiped his face and let out some air.
"What else can we do? Just rest, taking it easy and eat? That's it?" he started. It seemed so little and yet, what else could they do? Four weeks seemed so far away. So much could go wrong in those four weeks.
"There has to be more we can do," Gary insisted.
"What if it goes wrong again?" His steel blue eyes flashed to Ariana. They wouldn't live through it. "How often is regularly? For the visits," Gary pushed.
Ariana watched Gary and all of her being wanted to offer help but she hesitated because she knew it would seem like she was clucking over him like a mother hen. She just kept a close watch on him, ready to catch him if he fell. Lisa gave a smile,
“Hey hopalong!” She greeted and pushed herself up,
“Right. Come on then, you two.” She said and honestly, Ariana figured she had too much energy for the two right then but it was no doubt her sisters way of coping. Ariana settled her thoughts on just getting through today.
Lisa’s car was more spacious than Ariana’s for sure and Ariana did her best to help Gary settle before climbing in. Lisa switched the radio station and the drive was oddly quiet. Everyone had things on their mind and the silence was deafening to Ariana as she looked out the window.
“You’re not coming in?” Ariana asked when Lisa parked up and she shook her head.
“No, this is for you and Gary.” Lisa said to her sister. The two of them needed to start learning to cope with situations together and not have a safety net constantly.
“I’ll wait here, alright?” She said and pulled out her phone, there would be no arguing. Ariana sighed and got the door for Gary, her colour already slightly faded by the inevitable words of doom on the horizon. She walked in and kept a close eye on Gary.
Doctor Harriet was waiting in the reception and she smiled to the two,
“Oh good gracious, you’ve been through the wars, Mr Jenkins!” She greeted. Her dark hair set back in a bun as she ushered them into her office. They were the last appointment for the day and she settled behind her desk, clicking through some things.
“Right, now. First of all, I’ll say congratulations.” She said and eyed the two over her glasses as they sat opposite her. Whatever happened, the fact Ariana was pregnant was a blessing. She looked to Gary.
“I suppose you understand some of the risks involved, yes?” She quipped but didn’t stop to hear him out.
“As I said before, Mrs Jenkins. There are numerous risks involved that would stop you carrying to term.” She said and gestured for Ariana to stand on the scales, taking her jacket. Ariana of course obliged, knowing better than to argue. Deborah Harriet notes down her weight and sighed.
“Now. You’ve put on weight, not a lot but enough to keep me happy that there’s changes.” She murmured and looked to the couple.
“You miscarried very early, previously. Now, the next four months are precious. I’ll see you as regularly as possible, both of you, because I know this can be very stressful. Keep stress to a minimum, don’t go carrying heavy loads or straining and keep up eating. Usually I’d tell you not to eat burgers and such but you certainly could do with gaining weight.” The doctor explained and took off her glasses to look at the two.
“I’ll refer you to the hospital in four weeks, you’ll have a scan done and examination.” She explained.
“If we can get you past four months, your chances go up. It’s highly likely that we will get baby out before nine months, to lessen your risks of preeclampsia, haemorrhaging and other complications and the delivery will be by Caesarean section.” She finally leant back. It was such a shame to see a lovely young couple so stricken down, she hated this part of her job.
“I suppose you have questions.” She said, looking to them both. It was a lot to take in and Ariana was kind of stunned into silence, her hair falling into her face and she swept it back. It seemed like hopes of being happy and normal were solidified with the doctors words.
Voices disturbed his sleep. They were soft-spoken and broached the fine barrier between sleep and wakefulness, to intrude upon that state presenting as ghostly noises he could barely make sense of. Gary still managed to start away when Ariana's voice cut through the haze with the sharpness of a tack. His eyes opened to drowsily take in he room and Gary almost felt the moment where his brain kicked in gear and started processing things, rather than allowing everything to just filter through.
"Are we going?" Gary started, brushing a hand by his eyes to wipe away the sleep. He'd missed lunch and his stomach growled at him, annoyed for the oversight. Maybe they'd get something on the way back or eat at a restaurant or whatever before they'd go home. Wait, he'd heard Lisa's voice too, hadn't he?
Gary pushed to sit up and looked around owlishly. At least he'd taken the time to get cleaned up and dressed before he'd laid down. Surely Ariana's doctor would understand the situation if he showed up a little less presentable than usual. She'd have to, because he wasn't going through the effort of pretending to be okay. They weren't.
Even with Ariana's pregnancy absent, they weren't okay.
He reached out for a crutch and slowly pushed to a wobbly stand, that got better in the few seconds that followed in which Gary managed to get a good grip on his crutches. His leg immediately protested, but he didn't want to take anything against the pain yet. For now, he wanted to be as clear as his concussion would allow him to be. Not very clear, that was. Hopefully Lisa would help ask the correct questions if he or Ri failed doing so.
Going down the stairs was always a battle and a half with crutches. Gary made every step a deliberate chore and finally managed to arrive downstairs in one piece.
"Hey," he greeted Lisa, found a sneaker to wear and sat down to prepare for going out. He ignored any looks of doubt on any of the women's faces. They were doing this. He'd made a promise.
Gary intended to keep it, even if it was going to be a grueling hell waiting for everything to turn out okay. A nine month vigil, honestly, just to make sure nothing happened to Ariana. And that was all he'd be able to do. He tied off his laces and carefully lifted his head. It felt like his brain was unhinged and unstable inside his skull, sluggishly sloshing around inside his cranium whenever he moved unexpectedly. It'd gotten a lot better since he'd been discharged from the hospital, but he could still feel it every now and again.
Gary got up and propped his crutches against the wall as he wrestled into his coat. It'd have to do. He wasn't changing out of his sweat-pants or his comfortable jumper. No jeans would fit the cast he wore anyway.
"I'm ready," he announced and awkwardly leaned agains the wall, balancing on his crutches. It felt as if he hadn't woken up entirely from his nap. Maybe that was more true than he cared to admit. Hopefully it'd be better once they arrived at the doctor's office.
It was almost a relief to hear that Gary was scared too, that she wasn’t utterly alone in her fear of what may or may not happen. She felt the squeeze of his hand and watched him for a few quiet moments as he spoke.
“I was going to ask Lisa, she might be able to.” Mostly because she wasn’t sure she would be a very steady and focused driver after the appointment and the last thing they needed was another accident. If Lisa couldn’t then she guessed she would have to drive because she didn’t really have a choice otherwise. Lisa already knew about the pregnancy, no one else did right then and until they got this appointment out the way, Ariana wasn’t sure she wanted anyone else to know. It seemed silly, almost, like she was afraid she would jinx it.
“That’s alright.” She murmured when Gary mentioned rest. It wasn’t a bad idea but she was pretty sure with her mind going a million miles per hour, resting would be out of the question. Ariana has managed toast at least, despite the butterflies having a party in her stomach. She gathered the plates and looked to Gary when he said he would be there. She smiled to him softly, placing a gentle kiss to his cheek,
“I know.” She said quietly before going to sort the dishes and grabbing her phone.
Of course Lisa was happy to oblige her sister. It felt so strange to be asking for help but this time around, they needed it. Ariana cleaned away the plates and sorted another cup of tea. Lisa’s familiar car pulled up and Ariana greeted her at the door, motioning Gary was having a rest.
“How’s it going?” Lisa asked as she settled with a cup of coffee.
“Stressful.” Her younger sister replied with a shrug. Lisa watched her and blew away some hot air from her coffee before she took a small sip.
“Try not to, I know that’s stupid but- Let’s get today out the way, right? I’ll wait in the car.” Lisa would never have intruded on such a thing and no amount of begging would make her enter that room. Gary and Ariana needed to do this, she was just the designated driver.
Ariana just nodded along with her sister because arguing with her would be futile..
“How’s Gary been?” Lisa asked, she had not forgotten the issues they had had with each other, and a baby wasn’t a magic fix.
“He’s healing, takes a lot out of him.” One look at her sister and Ariana knew what was meant with the question.
“Better. We haven’t argued if that’s what you mean, he hasn’t been drinking and I suppose I haven’t been shying away as much and shutting him out.” She rambled. It was true though, Gary hadn’t been drinking and Ariana had been trying to be less withdrawn. And they hadn’t argued, not since that night, really.
“Alright.” Lisa knew wounds like that didn’t just disappear. She wasn’t foolish. Ariana smiled and glanced to the clock,
“I’ll get ready and see if Gary is awake.” He still had time to back out, he could still say he was tired and sore and Ariana probably wouldn’t chastise him for it. She stepped into the bedroom and pulled her boots on, it was still cold and she looked to Gary.
“We gotta go- Sorry.” She said to him quietly, as if almost not wanting to admit that it was time to face the music.
He was floating already. Ariana's entering their bedroom near enough escaped his awareness, until she let her fingers flutter absently through his hair. Gary opened his eyes, blinking owlishly up at the beautiful woman and slowly started to make sense of what she was saying. His eyes drifted to the plates set out nearby and he sighed.
"Yeah, I'm just-..." Words escaped him. Gary waved his hand next to his head, willing the words to come up, but they were hard to grasp.
In the end he gave up and let his hand fall back on the bed. His steel cool eyes kept their focus on Ariana however, lazily watching her. When it was like this, relaxed and without thought, the headache didn't bother him as much.
Gary narrowed his eyes at her when she spoke again.
She was scared. She had every right to be. So was he. Gary's face softened a little, hand reaching for hers.
"I am too," he admitted. They had so much to be afraid of, but now that they were here, right there in that moment, there was no point in backing down or cowering. Gary was prepared to face whatever was on their path head-on. Not that his body would allow him to do that much. He squeezed Ariana's hand and pushed himself up a little to take the toast. He was hungry. Not eating was not an option. At least he could take care of himself and recover quickly.
Gary looked down at the plate on his lap, fingers toying with the toast.
"We'll just have to take it step by step, Ri," he soothed. What else could they do? Not having the child or foregoing the possibility of having it wasn't an option; they were both well aware of that. Even if it would break them, they'd have this child. Somehow.
He knew Ariana had that resolve in her, even if she was scared. Perhaps because she was scared especially.
After another moment's thought, Gary started in on the toast, making quick work of it. His body had been craving nutrients lately, it was a little worrying. It dawned on him that he'd also been sober the same amount of time. It actually explained a lot. Gary put the plate away and stretched.
"Are you driving us to the doctor?" Gary asked softly. Maybe they ought to ask Lisa or his parents to drive instead. He felt a shiver of dread at the prospect of having to get into a car again. Those last few memories still haunted him in his dreams.
"I think I'll rest for a bit so I can actually pay attention when we're there," he said with a sour undertone. His head wasn't with things lately. Everything seemed so scattered. It was a little better in the morning, but degraded astonishingly quickly as time wore on. Yesterday was already a blurred memory and Gary was worried at how slowly this healing process was going to be. Maybe he was pushing things too much.
Everyone at the hospital had told him to take it easy.
"I'll be there for you, Ri, promise," he mumbled softly.
A small part of Ariana wanted to stay firmly put at his side for the rest of the day and not bother moving. When they moved, it would be for the appointment where she would listen to garbled stories about how she could die or they could lose the child growing in her womb. It wasn’t something she wanted to do, but rather, something that they had to. It was scary though. Scary for both of them, not just her. It was their child, not just hers. It was both of theirs, a little life created by them and Ariana wanted nothing more than to make sure that the infant drew its first breath. Gary left no room for argument with his words and Ariana surrendered to him. As long as he was sure.
“Hm? Oh-” She’d forgotten breakfast, of course she had. She watched him go, albeit clumsily but he was getting a touch better with the crutches. She sighed as she stood up, abandoning her cup in the sink as she put some toast on for them. Her appetite was hanging in the balance right that minute because she felt a little sick with the prospect that in a few hours she would be in the doctor’s office. Her mind must have drifted a little because the sudden ‘pop’ of the toast startled her. She flicked her gaze to the toasted bread and scraped some butter on, fingers dancing slightly as she held it in place so she wouldn’t burn her digits.
She plated up some toast, some for her and some for Gary. She wondered where he had gotten to. She picked up the plates and opened the door, balancing both plates perfectly, well almost. She looked to Gary on the bed and set the plates down on the nearest surface before looking to him,
“Tire you out, already?” She murmured and she supposed she had been overlooking his injury the past twenty-four hours, what with everything else going on. Absent hands fluttered through his hair, feeling the strands and how they passed through her fingertips. Her eyes flickered over his face, as if somewhat entranced as she tried to think, Gary was good at stealing her thoughts when things were quiet like this though.
“Is it-” Her words seemed to be jumbled as they went from mind to mouth.
Ariana took a moment to gather herself, as if processing what she was going to say properly.
“I’m scared.” Finally, she had pinpointed the lead emotion on all of this. Fear. She was fearful of a lot of things, losing their child, her life, fearful of what the doctor would tell them and fearful of Gary’s reaction. She was worried, of course she was and somewhere deep inside her, she knew it was normal to be scared but that didn’t make it any easier to admit to her husband as she looked down, reading his face and his expression. Sometimes, it was like she didn't know him, especially recently but right then, he was the man she married. Despite all the stress and the anxieties of the endless misfortune they had gone through, he was still here.
Ariana's presence was steady and quiet. Gary barely even noticed as her feather-light weight settled on the couch beside him. He rolled his head to face her, eyes lazy and tired still. Last night hadn't been as restful as he'd hoped it'd be, though by some miracle the thoughts had stopped long enough for him to fall back asleep. Gary raised an eyebrow as he caught Ariana's searching gaze mapping him out. What?
"I'm fine," he countered before she could say anything. The pills slowly but surely took the edge off of the pain he felt and made existing just a little more bearable.
"I'm coming along," Gary said, with conviction strong enough to leave no space for a counter-argument. He promised he would and Gary himself had apologized for not being there often enough. If he didn't do this now, wouldn't that promise be a meaningless token of regret instead?
Uncertainty tainted the atmosphere the second Gary started on their parents. Of course Ariana's mother would want to know, but whether Ariana was ready for her knowing was up for grabs. Gary waited for a second and sighed out.
After the appointment. Did it matter?
It'd only be a couple of hours. Surely after all the debating they'd done, the losses they'd had and the hopes that'd been abandoned, a few hours wouldn't make that much difference. But they had, back when Ariana had miscarried their child. In just a few hours all of their hopes had died.
Gary put an arm around Ariana's shoulders as she tucked herself against his side. He leaned down to press a kiss to Ariana's head. He too felt the nerves rage in his gut; what was the doctor going to say? It couldn't be good, they both knew that, but now that the child was conceived, they had to do something.
Just sitting here and waiting didn't feel right. He caught Ariana looking at him and managed a meagre smile.
"We better eat some breakfast," Gary started. He'd seen Ri wander around with tea, but didn't smell any food. She'd have to cater to two soon and she was barely catering to one. The changes they had to make might be more difficult for Ariana than him.
Gary remained by Ariana's side for a moment longer, allowing his thoughts to drift into the weariness that resonated in his head. He wasn't by any means ready for any of it, but he didn't think he would've been were he healthy either.
Getting up and about was a challenge and a half, but Gary refused to let Ri do it all for him. He'd been home for plenty of time already. Just preparing some breakfast and getting dressed wasn't going to set him back any, was it now? It couldn't if he was meant to accompany his pregnant wife to the doctor's.
That still didn't stop his body from calling quits the second he was dressed. Gary sat down on the bed and stared ahead, dazed. There was plenty of time before they had to leave, like Ri said. It was just hard to think straight. Every single menial task cost him conscious effort. Gary let himself fall back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. It was frustrating.
Gary’s voice pulled her from the void and she turned to see him, feeling his arm around her waist and she smiled a little as he pulled her closer. His closeness and warmth had been dearly missed by the woman. She took a moment to answer his questions.
“Yes and yes.” She mumbled softly to him as she watched him go and already regretted letting him go to the couch. Her eyes watched him with a soft lament, as if they could will him back but it wasn’t to be. Whatever rift stood between them, it seemed to be closing somehow, it was a long way to go until it was closed and they were the people they used to be, but it was closing all the same.
“Three, we have plenty of time.” Ariana said as she gestured to the ticking clock. She set her mug down, almost already drained. She ended up on the couch beside him, not flopping down for fear of jostling him, sinking down slowly. Her eyes mapped out his features, he looked better but not exactly fighting fit. It would take time and by the time he was better and back to health, they would have a child, God willing. She did wonder if Gary would be alright, listening to the risks. Doctor Harriet could be somewhat cold in her approach to such things and horribly straight with the facts. The blonde was worried that it would be too much, for both of them and she wasn’t sure their marriage could handle another trauma.
“You sure you’re okay to come along?” Ariana asked as she eyed him over. He was a grown man who could make his own decisions and just because she had asked him last night didn’t mean he had had to come with her. The topic of her parents seemed to shift the mood and she wasn’t sure in all honesty. Her mother would preen and coo and pretend there were no issues. She didn’t even know about the risks involved and maybe that was for the best, Ariana thought. Gary’s parents knew, only because they deserved to know what they had argued about that had ended up with their son nearly dying in a crash.
“Maybe.” She murmured. Her mother would want to know and Ariana wasn’t sure she could deal with an extra load of questions and pressures and ‘you should do it this way’.
“Maybe start with your parents.” She suggested because they were a lot kinder than her mother.
“After the appointment.” She added for good measure because she had no idea how the good doctor would handle this. Very carefully, almost hesitantly, Ariana tucked herself into Gary’s side. She glanced to him, perhaps the accident had reminded her that he was just a man and his emotions were only human, no matter how strong he came across.
Voices woke him -actually, just Ariana's voice. Gary opened his eyes and sighed out. The spot next to him on the bed was still faintly warm with her body-heat, but it wasn't to last. Would it take only this much to grow apart again? Just a sneaky departure? An absence of mind? Gary winced and carefully peeled himself to a sit. It took his muddled brain a second to register the glass of water and Aspirin Ariana had kindly set out for him. Maybe he was rushed into thinking the two of them would grow apart this quickly. She was just taking his needs into account.
Gary took the pills and washed them down, then sat in the bed for a long while, lost and searching for something that wouldn't be found. At long last Ariana's voice stopped and silence returned to their apartment. Yesterday had gone by in a blur. Gary had trouble recalling everything that'd been said and done.
He dismissed the mental exercise and slowly got out of bed. One hand already reached for his crutch, the other secured his weight on the bedside table. Combining the two, Gary managed to stand up straight and puttered around for a second before he went down and joined Ariana. She'd already gotten herself some tea. Things were quiet and empty for a moment. It made it easier to think, but at the same time Gary wasn't sure.
His thoughts were sluggish, despite the pain and the fact that the Aspirin hadn't kicked in quite yet.
"Did you call the doctor?" Gary announced himself and stepped in close. They were hard-earned steps, but Gary realized he'd managed to work around the crutches reasonably well. He had to believe that he'd improve a little each day. Step by step.
That wasn't something he could say for Ariana, unfortunately. If the pregnancy held, it'd be an increasingly heavier burden on her body to carry. Gary wrapped his free arm around her waist and pulled her in to him.
"Will she see you?" he said softly, breathing in the scent of perfumed face-cream, makeup and tea. It was a familiar scent he hadn't stopped the enjoy or appreciate in a long while.
Gary realized he'd zoned out and slowly let go of Ariana.
"Should I get ready to go out?" He yawned and sank down on the couch. After a second, Gary propped his leg up as well and just waited for the pain to simmer down. It didn't feel real. Just a few days ago Ri had torn down everything they'd hoped for and gifted it back all over again. No. Not just a few days.
Gary rubbed at his forehead and winced as his fingers grazed the worst of the bruises. The stitches hadn't even been taken out of the cut either. He'd been in hospital for almost a week. It wouldn't feel real until they had confirmation.
"Do you...want to tell our parents?" Gary offered. It wasn't exactly three months yet, but given last time, wouldn't they be better off with a little more support? Especially considering he couldn't really be there for Ariana as he should be. Not that he would've been. Gary sighed out.
They were truly hopeless.
Ariana felt Gary’s hand atop hers and she mulled over his words. It was true, Doctor Harriet night not even be in her practice, but she would call tomorrow and find out when her earliest appointment would be. It felt nice that Gary would go with her, it wouldn’t be easy to listen to some things. But she would take it, if it meant getting all the help and support they would need. And she would be there just as much for Gary as he needed or wanted her to be. Her thin fingers played with his delicately, hearing his confession of love in the darkness. Sometimes she doubted his love, not all the time but she never doubted him.
“I love you, Gary.” She replied quietly and closed her eyes. Staying awake was not the best way to start this pregnancy rollercoaster and sleep eventually seemed to drown her in a warm embrace.
Emeralds fluttered open some hours later, squinting against the light. At some point in the night she had turned into Gary’s side. Dark, shaped eyebrows knitted together in protest of awakening and fingers rubbed at her face. In all honesty she wanted to ignore today, curl up in the blankets with her growing child and Gary, but she couldn’t. She needed to phone the good doctor and see if she could get an appointment. She groaned in protest, much like a child who just wanted to beg for five more minutes as she pushed herself up and grabbed a dressing gown as she made her way downstairs. Phones were fiddly objects when you weren’t properly awake and alert. With the phone pressed to her ear, held in place by a shoulder, she meandered around, listening to the ringing tone. She set two aspirin on the table and a glass of water for Gary as the kettle kicked in to boil.
“Ah- Doctor Harriet, it’s Ariana Jenkins.” She said finally, listening to the voice on the other end of the phone wish her a good Christmas and all that polite rubbish.
“No- I need an appointment. Preferably as soon as possible.” She murmured,
“No not an emergency, well I don’t think so?” Did it count as an emergency? For her and Gary, yes, but probably not for Doctor Harriet.
“I’m pregnant. We just, we’re a little stuck on how to go forwards.” She explained as tactfully as she could and listened to the voice. Doctor Harriet hasn’t been expecting this phone call and Ariana could hear her clicking away on a computer.
“Three? No that should be fine.” Ariana glanced to the clock, a few hours yet.
“No, thank you. See you at three.” She said and clicked the phone before setting it aside. Whilst Doctor Harriet hasn’t sounded concerned, Ariana knew it was their job to be calm and collected.
A good wash and making herself look more alive was a good place to start as she pulled on clothes and fixed her hair, a slick of makeup to finish the job. A cup of tea would sit nicely as she wrapped a cardigan around herself and stirred the beige liquid. She watched the street below as she took a sip of the hot fluids, a touch extra sugar so no one could complain. A stray hand drifted to her flat stomach, as if protecting whatever grew there from everything the world could throw at them.
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