The disappointment - Page 2
From Griffith REVIEW Edition 26: Stories for Today
© Copyright Griffith University & the author.
Written by Danielle Wood
THE CONCEPTION WAS fittingly disappointing. In part this was Bonnie's own doing, although she had help from her body, which conspired to reach its peak fertility on the anniversary of her first miscarriage. This was not a date she had intended to commemorate, but as it was also her birthday it was hard to forget. Although Tom said nothing, Bonnie could tell by the coddling way he moved around her in the kitchen as they cooked her birthday dinner that he, too, had remembered that it was three years to the day.
Bonnie stood at the sink, scrubbing at the mottled skins of the baby potatoes, amusing herself with the thought that even the humblest of vegetables could achieve something that she could not, and wondering why Tom didn't just come out and say something direct, rather than pussyfooting about, touching her lightly on her hip or shoulder as he passed and trying to look all downcast around the mouth and eyes. He set the table with good napkins, picked out exactly the right heartbroken jazz, lit candles. He landed the plates on the table with a soft ceramic click click. But to be cushioned was not what she wanted. She wanted to feel something between her teeth.
‘I think we should only try one more time,' she said, taking up her cutlery purposefully.
Tom made a noise which was neither assent nor dissent.
‘I'm wasting my life with all this wanting and all this grief. I should just accept it. I can't have children. I think it's about time that I just got over it.'
Tom looked at her intently, as if practising his listening skills.
‘Don't you think?'
He chewed, thoroughly.
‘Will you please say something?'
He dabbed at his mouth with the good napkin and, finally, said: ‘I don't think we have to make any big decisions right now.'
‘We do. We do have to. I need something definite. I need to know that we're only going to try one more time, and after that it's over. Behind me.'
She waited, holding her knife so hard that its handle pressed a mark into the palm of her hand.
‘First, let's wait and see how we go this time, hey?'
‘It's all the waiting that's killing me. Wait, wait, wait. Wait to try to get pregnant. Wait to find out if I'm pregnant. Count the days until the next miscarriage. I'm waiting my life away. I only have it in me to do this once more. And I want you to agree.'
‘We'll only try one more time,' he said, and she watched the words slip out of his mouth, easy as custard, edgeless. ‘If you're sure that's what you want.'
Bonnie snatched up her plate and frisbeed it past her husband's ear. Off spun its cargo of meat and baby potatoes and vegetables julienne. It crashed into the centre of the dresser, collecting two of its matching bowls and a gravy boat.
‘Stop fucking placating me!' she screamed.
The floor was an expensive mosaic, and the sex that night – although successful – was brief and resentful.
ON THE FIRST day that it would have been possible for Bonnie to discover whether she was pregnant, she didn't. It was not until the following day that she took a walk into town to buy a testing kit from the pharmacy. In a shopping-centre toilet cubicle, two blue lines darkened into certainty.
For each of her previous positive tests, Bonnie had treated herself to a little reward. Lunch, perfume, cushions, that sort of thing. The first time, foolishly, she had bought the maternity lingerie that was still attached to its tags at the bottom of her underwear drawer. But this time there would be no celebration, no congratulation. No hoping. So she did nothing more than go to a café, and not even a nice one. A waitress brought a chocolate milkshake and then returned to the kitchen, taking her as yet untried but most likely perfectly functional uterus with her. Bonnie brooded over the frothy head of her drink, watching the little clusters of milk bubbles – as fragile and insubstantial as dividing cells – as they began to burst. Then she evaporated most of the rest of them with vicious little stabs of her straw.
DR ALLCOCK TWISTS the probe inside her, jamming it hard against her cervix.
‘Just trying to locate the, ah, heartbeat,' he mutters.
Her own pulse speeds, as if it might offer a jumpstart to that minuscule organ.
‘He'll find it in a minute. You'll see,' the nurse says, patting Bonnie's hand.
Do not hope.
Do NOT hope.
Dr Allcock squints at the screen, pushing inside of her and twiddling his dials.