The storm may have been over but there was wreckage to contend with. That strange eerie silence that pervades after a storm was unsettling - no more wailing and sobbing and I had finally turned the sad songs off having grown sick of the tunes and the sentiment they portrayed. Going back to work was the best thing I could do. But showering and getting ready, of following my established routine felt alien to me, as though someone else was going through the motions and I was a mere bystander looking on. Nothing looked different. He hadn’t taken more than a couple of suits and a few shirts and things to see him through, such was his rush to get away; he could have just been away on another business trip, I told myself. But he’d gone for good, and part of the soul of the house had died when he took himself away with no hope of return. He’d reneged on our deal; reneged on the promises to always love me; to build a future with me; to let me love him in return. The viper had abandoned me.
But sadness turns to anger and anger is energising; is a tremendously invigorating emotion to be imbued of. Used correctly I could propel myself forward; I could find new legs to stand on and find enough strength to face the world, and God knows even face him, should our paths have crossed accidentally. I doubted that I was a safe prospect to be around him. I knew I could easily carry out a crime of passion around his big fat neck and I’d fantasised his 'passing' in a multitude of elaborate ways, each one more bizarre than the last – well a girl had to have a backup plan just in case the primary plan failed to see him off this mortal coil. His mortality rate was dropping on a daily basis.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry that we never had children together. Perhaps they would have been a comfort to me now. A couple of extra little heartbeats around the house. You see, when we got together, we were already established career hounds at a Global I.T. manufacturer and rising up the corporate ladder. It was an alien prospect to me to picture myself as mother earth. I would shudder at the thought of being a dependant wifie sitting at home with two nippers hanging off my mammary glands. I never really bought into that look of puke on the shoulder and baby pooh stuck under my fingernails. If you haven’t got five minutes to run a comb through your hair then life wasn’t worth living as far as I was concerned. Christ, who wants to look like Cherie Blair on her first morning in Downing Street? She looked like something out of Fraggle Rock – frightening.
I couldn’t imagine the isolation of waiting for him to return from a late meeting or another international business trip. I didn’t have the emotional foundations required to be a mother – well not in my early twenties anyway. Besides, I’d worked hard for my degree, I told myself, and wanted to enjoy the financial freedom that it brought me. It was the mid 70’s and computers, (we didn’t call it I.T. then), was the sexiest job you could have, especially if you were a woman. The Personal Computer hadn’t even been a twinkle in Bill Gates’ eyes by then – that was science fiction and the stuff of the future. We worked on mainframes that took up a room the size of Wembley football pitch. Today you get more memory and processing power in a mobile phone that fits into your pocket than we had on those mainframes of old. I worked with great people in a male dominated and glamorous profession and I couldn’t see why I would want to leave that to hide away in a house in some village backwater waiting for my man and breadwinner to come home. We spent our time working hard and playing hard and there was a lot of laughter. Having or not having children was never a bone of contention between us; he insisted that he didn’t want them; they were never on his horizon, he promised, and so we settled down together safe in the knowledge that we shared values and goals for our future and we had it all – a couple of self-satisfied cohorts, two smug bugs in a rug.
It was a great life, free from financial constraints, free from parental responsibility but as time went on I found the biological clock ticking louder and louder. Gradually a child sized gap appeared in my life and it wouldn’t go away. He and I talked around the subject but he couldn’t understand how female hormones worked. He had no comprehension of what it was like to need something so badly that it caused a permanent ache. I would feel tearful when my period came and each month I felt a loss of me, a part of me gone. One girlfriend encouraged me to ‘get pregnant by accident’ but I couldn’t be so duplicitous. Our relationship had been founded on complete honesty and he never led me to believe that it would change. We went into it with our eyes open and it was me that had changed. I hadn’t legislated for this in my life; hadn’t banked on the overwhelming emotion that I would feel each month and the raw agony of knowing that I wouldn’t be a mother. I would bury my emotions and let them go when I was away on business trips. There must have been many a businessman or woman holed up in their hotel room listening to the sobbing and groaning of some eejit next door and wondered what ailed me so.
In time, I came to accept that I had left it too late, banked on the wrong person to have a child with as he was as stubborn in his resolve as I was needy and desperate to have one. Work took over my life again as I managed a large project in Washington. I am good at finding diversionary tactics and found some kind of peace in delving back into twelve hour days and pushing delivery dates ever closer to distract me from the life I had put on hold, the one where I was a mother.
Our relationship settled into an easy manner yet again – I couldn’t blame him for not wanting a child – it was me that changed, it was me. If I could have him without a child then it had to be better than losing him altogether.
………………………..I crawled from the bed in agony and clutched my stomach as great big waves of pain swept through me. This was nothing like I had felt before and was confused at what was happening to me.
The doctor sat on the side of the bed and held my hand – I’m so sorry my dear he said in that fatherly way that they do. It was around twelve weeks in gestation, a little girl.
I hadn’t known I was pregnant. I never had that special time to fall a little in love with her. Now she was gone.
“Never mind”, he said when the doctor had gone. “If you didn’t know you were pregnant then I suppose it doesn’t really matter that much. You can’t really miss what you didn’t know you had”.
"Emotionally bankrupt bastard", I thought, as he drove a knife he didn't even know he was holding through my heart.