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.
Something tickled by his cheek, sufficient to invade the numbness of sleep and sprout forth several sensations at once: pain, aches and a general discomfort from his leg. A voice penetrated the sleepy haze he'd been caught up and Gary carefully blinked apart heavy eyelids, searching in the twilight of their dark apartment for whatever had spoken. His steel blue eyes, shimmering grey in the darkness, landed on Ariana's worried face. He hadn't quite caught up to speed or what he was meant to do, or even where he was, until she started to coax him into coming along. She'd 'help'?
"With what?" Gary started sleepily, scraping the drowsiness from his throat. He let his eyes drift about the room with a bit more energy and found their home, his back melted to the couch and nothing much else. A faded memory of resting on the couch while Ri had gone to bed cropped up from the furthest reaches of his fragmented memory.
"I fell asleep," Gary said with a sharp inhale.
"Hmm, I'm sorry, Ri," he started and grabbed the back of the couch to laboriously hoist himself into a sit. His leg was uncomfortable and it'd been a little too long since he'd taken anything to thwart the pain. Gary hissed at the pain stabbing up his leg and just sat there for a minute, gathering his wit about him.
"Somehow I don't think my back will be the main offender, no matter how hard it tries," Gary said tiredly and searched around for his crutches. They'd slipped onto the floor, right next to the couch. Carefully, feeling at least twenty years older than he ought to be, Gary shifted and grabbed the crutches. Sleep gripped him tight enough to cause some clumsiness about his movements. He felt vaguely dizzy, like he hadn't entirely managed to shake the adverse effects of sleep on the brain.
Gary propped himself up using the crutches and then carefully shuffled forward, taking it slow. His body protested the movements and it took an abnormal amount of concentration to properly put one foot in front of the other, or in his case the crutches.
Slowly but surely, Gary made his way over to the kitchen and started to rummage about the drawers for something against the pain, belatedly realized Ri might have moved them elsewhere and looked at her imploringly, "where did the box go?"
He waited, then caught himself again and opened a cupboard to blindly reach for a glass. If it weren't for the kitchen-counter, Gary might have face-planted himself. As it was, the counter-top held him admirably and he managed to pour a glass of water for himself. He took careful sips of it and didn't resist when his eyes started to sink closed again. Only the pain from his leg made him uncomfortable enough to actually go through the effort of making it to bed. Gary lifted his gaze at Ariana and regarded her with an almost lost look.
"I'm tired, Ri," he sighed out.
Bed was far too seductive right then and all she wanted to do was curl up beneath the warm blankets. Before slipping on her T-shirt for bed, she chanced a look at her reflection. She wasn’t showing any signs of pregnancy yet but she would no doubt begin to within the next couple of weeks. What day was it anyway? Wednesday? No-. Ariana was more tired than she perhaps first guessed as she glanced at her phone and it clues away the day. They had a scan up at the hospital the day after tomorrow and that was daunting, mostly because it would bring about raw emotions she wasn’t quite sure either of them were ready for. And then, over time Gary’s cast would come off and he would face the long road of physio. It was going to be so difficult for them both, dealing with their own frustrations and emotions in ways they weren’t used to. But Gary had stayed and she planned on staying too.
She gave the room a brisk tidy up before glancing to the clock and falling amongst the pillows. Ariana did want Gary beside her but she knew sometimes it was best to let him work through whatever was going on in that kind of his at his own pace. Still, when she woke a short time later and found him absent from her side, she grew slightly worried. The blonde pulled herself up and cursed the cold air outside the blankets. She huffed a little and headed downstairs, bare footed and bare legged. She looked to Gary on the sofa and part of her didn’t want to wake him. She didn’t want to disturb whatever peaceful sleep he had found, but it wasn’t good for his back or all of his other injuries to be sleeping on the couch like that. In the silence, and the cold world of the night, it was so difficult to pinpoint where they had gone wrong and when it had all fallen apart so badly between them.
The bruises were healing and so were the cuts, he looked more himself now. Ariana was pulled back for a split second to how he had looked in that hospital bed, lifeless and too young. She swallowed a little and shook herself free of the thoughts as she reached out to touch his cheek,
“Gary?” She cleared her throat when it came out quieter than she wanted.
“You can’t sleep down here, love. It’ll be murder for your back.” Maybe he hasn’t wanted to come to bed, given they’d actually managed to speak for a change, still, it wouldn’t have felt right leaving him down on the couch and if he truly didn’t want to, she would switch places because she was smaller and didn’t have a broken leg.
“C’mon, I’ll help.” She offered. Lisa would no doubt be round tomorrow to drop off a phone and check in on everything but at least it wasn’t her parents because she didn’t ever want to repeat the days drama. She was fearful for Gary and what their future might be because babies didn’t fix everything. It wouldn’t fix her grief or the blame she set upon herself and it wouldn’t fix Gary’s absence. All either of them could o was try, and hope.
Why would it sound stupid? Gary raised an unimpressed eyebrow and waited for Ariana to finish her thought. 'I know I've not been me'. He sighed at that. Neither of them had been themselves after losing what could've been an exceptionally bright future as a family. And now they were given that same opportunity a second time and Gary just didn't have it in him to be happy for it. Instead, he felt suspicious and worried that this might kill his wife.
"Where else would I be?" Gary said, but he knew he hadn't truly stuck by Ri.
"I-... actually. I haven't really been there, have I?" He hadn't left, but he hadn't really been there either. Each time there'd been an excuse to leave the house or to stay away from coming home for just a little while longer. There was always another article to look into or write, another contact to talk to or colleagues to catch up with.
It turned quiet between them and Gary only noticed when Ariana forcibly pulled herself from whatever world they'd both gone down and a knock came to their door. Gary looked up, over his shoulder, but it was Ariana who answered the door. He listened in, a little concerned, but it was just the food delivery guy with their order.
Soon the scent of food filled the house. Gary carefully took the plate of hot food from Ariana's hands and started to eat. Despite the pain, he felt hungry, though he didn't quite eat as much as he might have when completely healthy. That said, he'd spent the majority of his time in bed, so he didn't really need the same amount he usually would. Gary left the plate on his lap and when Ri settled against his side, put an arm around her shoulders. She was warm, tucked in like that and Gary couldn't help but relax in her presence. It wasn't that he didn't love Ri, because he did. It'd just been too difficult to see the woman he loved hurt so bad and he hadn't known what to do to make it better. What was a man to do when the heart was ripped out of a woman's life?
When he wasn't the one capable of providing that comfort and reassurance? Nothing had worked and it'd made him miss the clues Ri gave when she finally was ready to let him back in. And then he hadn't wanted back in, cold and tired from being boxed out.
Ri stretched out next to him and Gary watched her. Sleep, already?
"Are you tired?" he asked, brushing some hair from her face. Gary watched her a second longer, until it dawned on him that she'd asked a question. He blinked awake, "no, no, of course not. Get some rest, you've earned it."
Gary leaned in and pressed a kiss to Ariana's forehead.
"I'll join you in a bit," Gary said with a soft smile. He was tired, but no longer sleepy after having slept for so long already. Gary put the plate on the table, and rested back, staring at the bland wall. No television, no radio, no reading, no writing, nothing that could in any way tax or stimulate his brain. Apparently arguments with the family-in law were accepted and fine though. Gary tipped his head back and stared at the ceiling instead, listening to the sounds of Ariana getting ready for bed.
For a few hours he sat there, mulling over thoughts that didn't quite cling or come together to create a bigger picture. He adjusted his leg to be on the couch after a while. Tired of the mental exertion, Gary started to doze off and he was helpless to fight his body's need for rest.
There was no resistance as Gary pulled her to his side. His warmth in general had been missed, not just the physical warmth he offered. The last year had made them both cold spirited towards each other, unsurprisingly.
“I know. I just thought it would sound stupid, y’know? Out loud.” She shrugged a little and thought it through, well she’d done everything except tell him what was on her mind.
“I was just going to say thanks for sticking with me. I know I’ve not been me for a long time.” It was true neither of them had been themselves.
It seemed so long ago that they would go out together, go to bars, dinner and do normal things. Even longer still since that weekend she had taken her first pregnancy test and come through to pounce an unsuspecting Gary in bed and exclaim they were going to have a baby together. Neither of them had expected such a sudden loss to tear their world apart at the time. The endless condolences and doctors telling them it wasn’t their fault and ‘these things just happened’ didn’t make either of them feel any better or stop the self blame.
Ariana pulled herself from the memories that would probably never stop haunting her. She would be lying if she ever said she didn’t miss the fun, the playfulness they had once shown each other. A knock at the door surprised her and she looked confused for a second before remembering they had ordered out as she got up and went to fetch it. She balanced the bag and closed the door before placing the goods on the counter. She looked through the bag as she got the plates set up and split everything between two. She balanced the two plates as she handed Gary’s his carefully before sitting down beside him and balancing her plate on her lap. Her appetite was more than it had been as of late. She couldn’t complain that was for sure because the food was good, digging through the rice with her fork.
In the end she managed most of it, settling at Gary’s side again. She could have slept right then and there but was so desperate to stay awake so her sleeping pattern wasn’t totally in shambles.
“That was good.” She murmured as she settled to get comfortable. Wrong move because if she got too cosy she would end up falling asleep. She stretched a little and rubbed her eyes.
“I feel awful for wanting to just sleep but it’s barely nine.” She muttered and glared at the clock. She ran her fingers through her hair and huffed a little, frustrated with herself as her eyebrows furrowed in annoyance that she was so tired. She supposed it was natural though, given she was pregnant and her body was adjusting to all sorts of changes. Plus she had been up early and dealt with her mother’s scorn.
“Would you mind if I went to bed?” She asked Gary, figuring she must’ve sounded boring and dull.
Ariana's hand was so much smaller than his. She'd been worried about the doctor's news, while in fact, she shouldn't have worried about getting pregnant at all. That hadn't been the main concern either, had it? Carrying a potential child to term had been and there was nothing they could change about their situation right now. Gary let out a thick sigh and lingered for a few long seconds before he let go. Ordering in. Sure, he could do that. Hopefully. Frustrated by his mind's continued preoccupied state, Gary hobbled towards the kitchen and got out some of the pamphlets from the drawer. A nice Chinese might do them, though Gary figured they ought to order some lights foods, just in case Ariana's pregnancy ailments would rear their ugly heads.
Gary stifled a yawn. Already seven?
"I slept for most of it, no surprise there," he said with a meek sigh. Gary carried over the pamphlet and picked up Ariana's phone to ring in their order. The small buttons and numbers danced on the screen as he tried to focus, but it was somehow easier than it had been when he'd been in hospital. It didn't take quite as long as he had before to make something of what the digits were and soon enough he'd figured out how to dial the number.
He ordered them some rice-dishes, easy, familiar meals with a few additions that weren't too spicy. When he put down the phone, Gary was glad that chore was done with. It seemed even the smallest tasks were suddenly insurmountable challenges.
Ri's voice cut through his thoughts with ease. Gary looked up, still stood near the table, and furrowed his brow.
Ariana seemed to relax on the couch, eyes closed. Nothing. Gary stepped a little closer, the clicking of his crutches betraying his every movement. 'Never mind'.
What? Did she stop herself from starting another argument? Gary let out a breath and slowly manoeuvred himself to stand in front of the couch and lowered himself down with a grunt. Now that his head was starting to clear, his leg was complaining more fervently. Underneath the cast was a sorely abused limb. Gary wasn't even sure what they'd done to it, but he recalled it involved some hardware to make sure everything was still bolted together.
In bold attempts of suppressing some of the complaints stemming from the ailing limb, Gary propped his leg up on the table.
He rested his head back and then turned to face Ariana. They were both at the end of their ropes, in slightly different ways. Gary reached out and put his arm across her shoulders, pulling Ariana in against his side. There were some bruises there still, but they were minor sores in comparison to his leg.
"You know you can tell me anything, right?" he said softly. If they didn't have that trust, then what? Ri had been right. He'd been too evasive, unable to deal with the depth of her grief over a child they'd never had. It was time to change that, if he could stay alert enough to remember it all for long enough.
Ariana watched her husband carefully as he spoke.
“I wasn’t thinking right, about the room. I came back from the doctor and you were out and stuff,” She murmured, “And I remembered we’d argued so many times about clearing it away. And the news hadn’t been great from the doctors so… I needed to keep busy.” She explained quietly. It was wrong, she should have sated her worries with another task but she couldn’t change it now. She felt Gary’s hand on her shoulder and she slipped her own hand up to rest atop his gently. She sighed ever so softly, having him close was like a rare event, something that only happened now and then and may well be deemed a wonder of the world.
Ariana was quiet for a little longer before seeming to catch up to everything.
“Ordering something in sounds better than cooking.” Given she was trying to add weight on, a takeout didn’t sound like too much of a bad idea.
“You pick, you’re always better at picking than me.” She pointed out with a soft smile. She didn’t want to linger on the past because she could tell it seemed to make them both uncomfortable when they did. It was like she couldn’t quite gauge what the tipping point was and by the time she did, it was too late. She rubbed her temples slightly, glancing at the clock. It was barely seven o’ clock and she huffed a little.
“Is it just me or has today been really long?” She asked before straightening up and snapping out of her griping. They both needed to eat and then they could rest. She fixed herself some juice and refilled Gary’s while she was at it before peering out the window. The snow was farting to melt, she would rather it stayed than the horrible grey slush it left behind and all of the sodden streets. Ariana drank some juice from her glass before setting it aside.
Gary really has been patient with her this past year. Now that she thought about it anyways. And he hadn’t left her, even through everything. He had gone out and drank himself into stupors and had her worried sick some nights it he hadn’t left her. He hadn’t asked for a divorce. She sank down on the couch as she set her phone on the coffee table, thinking to herself for a while. She had never considered divorce either, now that she thought about it. Perhaps their life wasn’t perfect and easy, and it had more bumps in the road than they could ever want but if they could survive the last year then they could survive anything.
“Hey, Gary?” She started and looked over the back of the couch, tilting her head back and closing her eyes as she relaxed a little. She was going to thank him for not leaving her but upon thinking it through, realised it would sound stupid out loud.
Lisa was getting him a phone? Typical. Gary nodded absentmindedly. If he wasn't even fit to recall some of the arguments he got himself into, phoning people might be something he wanted to postpone. For a moment, there was silence and even Gary noticed that it made the atmosphere thick and heavy, forcing them both to be ill at ease. Gary wanted to say something, but Ri beat him to the punch and then swallowed her words again. Some melon was unearthed from the refrigerator and Gary followed Ariana's gait as she puttered through the kitchen and found herself a seat.
He gave her an imperceivable nod when Ariana offered for him to use her phone if he needed to. "I should probably call work," Gary reasoned with a sigh. "...and Eddy," he added as an after-thought. He lifted his head to look at Ri. None of those things mattered, did they? None of that mattered any in comparison to the situation they faces and while it'd be months still before they knew whether or not this pregnancy could be carried to term, Gary was worried for Ariana's health.
"Ri, it's not-..." Gary sighed and closed his eyes for a second.
"I don't even properly remember what we argued about," he admitted. His head wasn't in a right place to make decisions or to 'talk' or even express what he felt. So much was just sat there in waiting for him to deal with it that it was overwhelming. Not just his emotions and feelings regarding clearing out the room and the loss of their child, but also the prospect of a new one and losing everything he loved and cared for. But he hadn't really expressed the latter much lately. Or any of it. Maybe that's just where the two of them differed.
"I just thought..." he tried and swallowed, then looked away.
"I thought clearing out the room would be something we would do together," Gary mentioned at long last, looking Ri in the eyes. "It was unexpected. I don't know what brought about the sudden change of heart in you. Maybe I wasn't around to see it or maybe not listening to what you were saying. I was just. Surprised," he said with a deep breath.
"I just need things to slow down," Gary decided. The world was moving just a tad too fast for him, was just a smidgen too harsh and real. The whole affair with Ariana's mother too hadn't had to happen. But it had.
Gary brushed his hair back and sagged a little in the chair.
"What do we have?" he asked regarding dinner. He stood and repeated Ariana's earlier behaviour of exploring the contents of their fridge. "Do you want to order something in?" Gary offered. Ri looked tired.
"I'm worried you might be getting into too much with work. Did you explain our situation at least?" he started, hobbling over to where Ri was sat. Gary put a hand to her shoulder and squeezed it. "I just don't want you to regret anything," he said with a sigh. For them to regret anything, honestly. Gary realized, not for the first time since the whole affair had come to light, just how powerless he was.
“In here-“ Ariana looked over her shoulder to see Gary and she set her emeralds on him as he looked to the laptop. Her fingers nimbly moved as she cleaned and rinsed the spoon she had used for the tea, perhaps only to keep herself busy.
“Yeah, Ruth was pretty accommodating.” She set the teaspoon down. Her mind whirred to fill the silence between them, plea to please say something before the quiet got too much to bare. She turned and took the hot mug in her hands, taking a small drink. She noticed Gary’s eyes straying to her stomach and felt a pang to go to him and offer reassurances but it would probably end in swift rejection.
“Oh! Lisa is going to look out a phone for you, if not I can get one in, it’s no problem.” The formality sickened her. This wasn’t a stranger she was talking to, it was her husband, the father of the offspring growing within her. Today had been long, somehow. Her mother’s visit had drawn the morning out and Ariana wouldn’t have said no to sleep right then but it was still early. The hospital visit looked on them too, the first scan that would determine how things were going. Right before New Years too, how fitting. New year, new start, so they always said. If only it were true.
“Do we have- Hm.” Ariana chattered half to herself so that the canyon between them didn’t seem so long. Her eyes flirted to the fridge and all it’s well kept goods as she dug around. She hasn’t even thought about dinner. The plastic container with watermelon seemed a fitting substitute until she could muster the motivation to cook. Her hair was coming out of place now, messy in her opinion as she looked to Gary after popping a piece of the fruit into her mouth.
Why was this so hard? She knew why but admitting it to herself was more difficult than anything.
“You can use my phone if you need to.” Kinda lame substitute to his previous phone but she had never been one to keep up to date with technological evolution. She set the plastic container on the table and lowered herself into a chair. Fingers worked back through her hair to keep it from falling into her face.
“You don’t have to talk to me, about anything if you don’t wanna.” Ariana leant her chin on her palm and bit her lip, treading very carefully because breaking eggshells wouldn’t bode well for them.
“But you can- I mean, if you want to.” Her words quiet, no command behind them or order and certainly no demand for him to open up to her immediately. She wouldn’t press it further though as she left the open invitation hanging in the air for a few moments before helping herself to one of the watermelon pieces in the container again.
“I should probably get something ready for dinner, anything you want?”
Gary woke with a gasp or air. He wasn't even sure what'd woken him up either. Their bedroom was a familiar scenery blinking back at him, unchanged and unmoving. Gary let out some air he hadn't realized he was holding and carefully sat up. How had he even managed to fall asleep again after all that? He sighed out and carefully moved his legs to rest on the carpet next to the bed. The plaster cast was starting to really work on his nerves. With a grunt, Gary stood and reached for his crutches. His body was calling for several mundane chores to be performed and after him and the bathroom had reconciled, he slowly made his way down the stairs. It smelled like strong tea.
"Ri?" he called out and found a bag on the counter-top. Curious as he was, Gary opened it to find a laptop inside. His? No. His must've broken during the crash as well. He'd have to ask Eddy and the boys on what'd happened to his equipment, but if his phone was anything to go by, there wouldn't be much left.
So then this was Ariana's?
"You visited work?" he started. So she'd finally do as she said she would and start working from home. Gary didn't know what to think about that, but at the very least it meant Ariana would do something more than just wallow in misery. Sure. And then when the child was lost? Then what? Would she find fault with herself then? Would the guilt eat at her?
Gary gathered his crutches underneath himself and poured some juice. Rather than try and carry the glass anywhere, he just stood there and polished it off. There was only so much nothing he could do on a day. It was quickly eating his brain from the inside out, threatening to decompose his brains, not that he could even hold anything together for long enough to not cause another accident.
He wasn't even a hundred percent sure what'd happened before Ariana had left, but Gary knew it hadn't been good. Margaret leaving stood sharp in memory, though Ariana and his argument was a little more watered down. It wasn't that he wanted to forget it, but maybe he hadn't been so clear-headed as he thought to be after all. He still felt like he was fairly distant, to be honest. Gary sighed out and paddled towards the kitchen table to sit down. Maybe he did feel threatened by Ariana's ability to just decided to recover, leaving him in the dust of his accident's wake.
It was a frightening thought to just be left behind like that. Ariana had a tendency to do that; make you wait for centuries and then take off without you realizing. Gary pushed his hair back and slumped down a little. He ought to be cheering her on, not rain on Ri's parade. His cool blue eyes landed on Ariana's stomach. Soon she'd be showing why she ought to slow down and not speed things up though.
Gary’s words hurt, the sting not losing any effect on her but she did her very best not to show it as she watched him. Of course he would still flee the scene, Ariana was asking far too much of him to just stay and talk and temper his words so they weren’t fierce tongue lashings. She watched him go up the stairs in silence before cleaning away the dishes and making sure everything was nicely set away. She checked the time and grabbed her coat, slinging it around her shoulders. The buttons were fickle things, damn them. She grabbed her bag and before she could properly register what she was doing, she was in her car.
She couldn’t sit in silence for eight months, walking on eggshells afraid of what to say or what to do in case it dented Gary’s pride. Neither of them had been perfect but he was always the one so quick to point out the flaws of others. She parked up and went inside her workplace. Luckily her manager was in and Ariana settled to explain, rather vaguely, what had been going on. Her boss was a strict woman, but always fair. Eventually they reached a consensus and Ariana left the place with a laptop secured in a bag. She at least would be able to keep busy and it wasn’t exactly strenuous work answering emails and taking the occasional call.
Speaking of calls, her phone buzzed and rang out her favourite songs melody. She plucked it up and answered. Lisa. Of course she had heard what happened from her father.
“No- well, yeah. I’m fine, I’ve just been to work they’re letting me answer the emails and everything at home so that’s something?” Lisa didn’t sound overly approving but she didn’t press it and Ariana was grateful.
“New year? Oh yeah. No that’s fine. I think me and Gary could do with going out- well not out but you know what I mean.” Ariana said as she parked up outside the house.
“Oh! Lisa, you don’t happen to have a phone lying around? Gary’s was pretty messed up in the accident.” She asked and Lisa explained she would have a look and drop one off if she found one. Ariana thanked her and hung up. She took a breath in the car, just sitting for a few minutes before she realised she couldn’t avoid the house or Gary. She clambered our and grabbed the bag before slotting the key in and opening the door, stepping in and untangling herself from her coat. She switched the kettle on, setting the laptop and it’s bag down on the counter top. She’d never been the technical minded sort but answering emails wasn’t difficult. Ruth, her manager, had explained she was only a phone call away if she needed anything.
A strong tea in the quiet was hardly a luxury but Ariana figured she couldn’t do much else. She didn’t want to wake Gary if he was sleeping and nor did she want to go over everything. Maybe she should have defended herself, pointed out he was hardly perfect but it would have lead to an argument that she simply didn’t have the energy for right then.
Ri was there, in his way. Gary opened his mouth to ask her to move, when she decided, at long last, to take a stand. Perhaps emboldened by his previous behaviour against her mother, Ariana finally decided she would grow a back-bone and force him to do something she pleased, rather than coerce, black-mail or play on his guilt. Her voice sounded small, not used to the current situation. Gary blinked back. He wasn't used to it either. Gary opened his mouth, took a deep breath and glanced away from Ariana's searching eyes. When he'd gathered enough, he shook his head and came back.
"I don't want to do this right now, Ri," Gary said, and it was honest. "We've already talked about this, there's nothing more to say." And they had. Yes, the feelings were there and they likely were going to be for another while, but what was he going to do? Even if Ri apologized, it likely wouldn't take away the hurt or soften it. That simply wasn't how it worked.
"Besides, what's the point?" he sighed out. "You'll draw your own plan and maybe take my advice, exactly at a time where it feels right for you or where it will hurt others," Gary said and immediately regretted saying so. He just had no filter. Was this weakness Ariana preyed upon?
"I don't want to kick any more shins today. Just, just let it rest?" he mumbled and started to laboriously work around Ariana. He didn't want to shove her aside or anything, so instead, took the extra distance and continued on his way upstairs.
It seemed he was fine to go, because after that Gary didn't have as much trouble making his way up the stairs, except for the usual struggle with crutches, steps up and railings. He felt mentally and physically drained once he made it to the bedroom, but for the first time in a long while, Gary didn't feel like sleeping. Boredom had already begun to set in. No reading, no television, no mental strain... they were quickly taking their toll.
In the end Gary just rested back on the bed, leg propped up, and stared at the ceiling to find that he couldn't even string together too long a thought at the moment. Each time he tried, he started to lose the beginning, as if his brain was tearing down his attention-span from the opposing end.
Maybe Ri was right. Maybe it was better if they let out their emotions a little more and clear the air, rather than keep up pretences. Each time he did though, it felt like he was hurting her. He didn't want to see her face on the verge of tears on his account. The trick was finding a way to openly communicate with one another, to weed out the bad growth and free up space for a healthier kind. His head hurt just thinking about it.
What had she expected? For him to stay and the two of them actually communicate about their emotions? Ariana could tell his mood had shifted and usually, she would have let him saunter off down the bar and blow off steam but she couldn’t keep allowing this to happen to them both. Although she did fall mute as she watched Gary with the crutches. He was running again, away from whatever thoughts plagued him and she would have preferred honesty over this stubborn avoidance he displayed. Even if his honesty hurt her, at least he would have spoken about it. But running was not a fix.
An able bodied woman was quicker than a man with a broken leg. Perhaps it was out of character but Ariana planted herself in front of Gary, between him and the bedroom. Her eyes searched his face, if he wanted to get angry then he could because at least it would be something.
“Will you please talk to me instead of leaving?” Her voice was small, as if she had planned out in her head it was going to be a roar but came out a squeak. Gary easily outmatched her in height but Ariana has never found him intimidating, perhaps cutting because Gary had a way with words both loving and cutting. She preferred the loving but just wanted him to be truthful.
“Just- please, let me know what is going on in your head, Gary. If it’s anger then let it be anger, if it’s sadness then let it be sadness but stop running from me, please.” Ariana was not in the habit of begging and despite her words there was a look of determination written on her face because this wasn’t just about them both anymore, they had a child to consider in the mix of all this, hopefully. Ariana didn’t understand Gary, not these days. He had once been a remarkably bold and boldly remarkable man, but even before the accident he had become hollow and distant. The past few days she had felt like they were pulling back the scraps of their marriage but it was so quickly undone by a wrong sentence or a fleeing body.
Ariana wouldn’t trap him though and if he moved around her then she would not chase him or hound him. She was beginning to feel a little foolish as she stood before him, her curls slightly messy from being tied up previously and her makeup looking a little worn but her emerald eyes shone with emotion. She had already grieved the death of their child, she did not want to grieve the death of their relationship. Once upon the time this home they had made would have been full of talk and hopes, laughter and playful loving. Now it was barely a home. That was on both of them, not just Ariana and not just Gary.
No rush, she said. Gary watched Ariana and wondered what was going through her mind. A million and one things, most of which were likely to do with guilt and shame, if he knew Ri well enough. She sat up slightly and started on work. Gary raised his eyebrows and let out a baffled noise. Now? Now of all times Ariana chose to go back to work? He'd been hounding her to pick back up her life and start facing reality for months and now, when she was pregnant and supposed to take it easy, she suddenly wanted to challenge herself again? Gary glanced away with an unamused chuckle, "why now?" His eyes searched Ariana's face for an honest response.
At least she planned to work from home, but hell, he'd feel better if she just didn't. And then what? Did he expected Ri to just sit still for another eight months and wait for the child to be born, like some thoughtless incubator? Maybe. If Gary was being honest, he'd feel a lot more comfortable if that would be the case.
Of course she'd tell him he was right at a time where it was almost a stab in and of itself.
"What are you going to tell work? About the pregnancy?" Gary posed. If she planned on going back to work and taking back on resposibilities, she best be ready to answer some of those questions.
The Room. Capital letters. The room she'd emptied on her own, as if it was her right. All this time he'd waited for her to be ready, only for Ri to just go ahead and do it all by herself. Alone. Gary looked away at that, shocked by how profoundly hurt he felt. It was almost overwhelming, the strength of the emotion and he had nowhere to go in attempts of escaping it. Gary shifted his leg, felt the jab of pain from it and somehow it took away some of the feelings. It wasn't pleasant. She was 'sorry'. Gary shook his head and swallowed the words that threatened to escape. What good would they do now? The room was already empty and she was right. They would need to prepare for this child as they had for the one they'd lost, in hopes that event wouldn't occur a second time.
"I'm going to rest for a bit," Gary said. He got up slowly and went through the slow process of getting his crutches so they'd support his weight. It felt like he was running away again, unable to deal with his feelings and Ri's. They disagreed on so many of these things, it felt tiring. He didn't actually need to rest, but he didn't want to accidentally blow up against Ariana the same way he had against her mother all in the same day. Without waiting for Ri's reply, Gary started the trek back towards the bedroom, hoping he could just rest in quiet for a while. He really didn't feel like himself yet for some reason. Well, not just 'some' reason. But could he blame the concussion for everything?
“No, you don’t have to apologise.” Ariana spoke quickly at Gary’s offer. Her mother had been wrong, not Gary. She knew her father should have spoke up a long time ago but he was stuck in the habit of silence. And she was sure she could sneak seeing her father now and then but right then, they didn’t need anymore stress in their lives. She was very skilful at avoiding his words about the accident not being her fault, he could say it until she was dead but she would still believe if she had kept quiet, he might have stayed home. It still terrified her that when he was healed, he would flee from her presence once more, find answers in the bottom of glasses and bottles. Then again, hadn’t she driven him to the endless nights at the pub? With her selfish attitude, her constant nitpicking and snide remarks, not to mention her depressed attitude.
Ariana pondered his words and watched him, perhaps the prompt had been too much for him to comprehend right then and she watched him, eyes slightly worried.
“It’s okay, no rush.” Patience was a virtue and she remembers the hospital saying he would be up and down, and here and not sometimes. He seemed more present for now, at least. His fingers on her cheek brought her eyes to his, softer and full of less worry. She would sort his phone for him, take it down to the shop tomorrow and she also wanted to check with her work, maybe work from home for a while. She could shuffle the paperwork and answer the emails.
“I was thinking.” She said as she sat up slightly.
“About working from home for a while- you were right, about what you said before-“ she waved a hand, “Everything.” She couldn’t continue to be absent from work, they wouldn’t put up with it.
It wasn’t a jibe to make him feel bad but she at least wanted to show him that she could do better, she could balance things. She knew working in the actual shop would do her no favours but at least from home she could manage her affairs accordingly. She wasn’t sure if Gary even remembered the argument and part of her hoped he didn’t, he didn’t need guilt.
“We’ll need to sort that room again… I mean, after the three month mark.” She leaned back and sighed out. That room had been the bane of their marriage for the longest time and she was worried it would start all their problems again.
It wasn’t the room though, was it? It was them. Both of them had been unforgiving, impatient and perhaps not dealt with the grief surrounding an unborn child’s death properly.
“Sorry.” She apologised, hoping it would stop any sharp words or offence caused to either of their prides. It still felt volatile and shaky between them, somehow and Ariana wasn’t sure how to fix it because she was afraid it would come crashing down once more.
Big mouth? Something clicked.
"Ri, it's not your fault, it's not... it's not anyone's fault," Gary eased her. He'd tell her over and over again, as many times as Ariana needed to hear it. The accident was stupid and Gary was pretty sure the other driver had tried to evade them or brake, but simply hadn't accounted for the ice. Whatever the case, it'd been out of anyone's control, for as far as he could remember. It was a little worrying, actually.
Gary was sure they'd have had to take his statement at some point, but he didn't remember any of it.
"Yeah," he breathed. He was back now. It didn't matter. Whatever had happened was behind them. Even the whole ordeal with Margaret. Gary cringed. He could've been a little more subtle with that one.
Ri returned with soup for the both of them and Gary started into the broth, stirring the chicken and noodled around. Despite feeling awake, it was still harder than usual to come up with coherent thoughts. Most of the time his head felt frighteningly empty still. Ariana's murmur broke the stalemate and Gary caught himself mindlessly finishing the soup.
"I... I'm... I don't even know what happened there, I- I can call, apologize, if you want me to?" Gary started. Honestly, it'd been a little out of character for him to just act out on his anger. Usually he was better at choking down his comments for the sake of peace.
At the same time, Ariana's face seemed lighter for it, not heavier. In many ways, his decision to take a stand might be a good change for the both of them. Ariana's mother could voice inapropriate and unwanted opinions that Ri took to heart far too many times. At the same time, Margaret was her mother and this might also mean she wouldn't see her father for a long time to come.
Gary put the empty bowl on the table and sagged back on the couch, slightly uncomfortable.
Eddie had dropped by at the hospital, Gary remembered seeing the man outside of visiting hours. "I need a new phone," he sighed out. Gary rubbed down his face and stared ahead. He wasn't a hundred percent certain on whether or not he was ready to face everyone yet. Whatever balance he'd manage to obtain felt very brittle. Too many people pushing might undo it.
"But you're right. I should call some people," Gary mumbled. His work, mainly. Then the blokes at the pub. They'd want to see him, maybe. Gary felt overwhelmed by the amount of tasks and things he'd have to get back in on.
"Maybe not just quite yet though," he decided and closed his eyes for a moment. Just that short outburst had him eager for quiet. Even though Gary finally felt like he was making progress, it was slow. He watched Ariana and brushed a hand by her cheek. Soon she'd be showing all the pregnancy symptoms. There'd be no denying things then. He couldn't post-pone any of that happening.
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