test chapter 2
Life After Death – A Post-Reichenbach Trilogy
Part Two - Consequences
Molly sat on the side of her bath and stared at the object in her hand. She had read the instructions very carefully, but she checked them again.
One stripe – negative; two stripes – positive.
There were definitely two stripes.
She wasn’t surprised. This was just confirmation. She would do a more scientific test at work, tomorrow, to confirm even more positively, but she had known already. She was as regular as clockwork in her monthly cycle – twenty eight days, spot on. It was six weeks since Sherlock left and she had just missed her second deadline. She was six weeks pregnant.
She was not entirely sure, yet, how she felt about that. Her most dominant feeling, at this moment, was wonder. She was struck by the awesome concept that she knew something that no one else in the whole world knew – she was pregnant with Sherlock Holmes’s baby.
The day he left, she had been utterly devastated. She could not stop crying, not even long enough to phone in sick to work. She was forced to email her boss, apologising for the short notice and pleading a sore throat and lost voice, for want of a better excuse for not phoning. She had sat in the armchair, leaking hot, salt tears. Every time she thought she could not cry anymore, she cried some more.
After several hours of convulsive sobbing, she felt weak, tremulous and completely drained. Her eyes were sore, her ribs ached and her cheeks burned. She tottered to the bathroom to splash cold water on her stinging face, bending over the basin and scooping the cooling liquid straight from the running tap. She held the hand towel to her eyes, to blot them dry, and looked at her ruined face in the bathroom mirror.
It was then that she saw it, hanging on the back of the bathroom door - Sherlock’s blue dressing gown. He had forgotten it. He had left it behind. She stumbled across the room, gathered the fabric in her hands and inhaled the achingly familiar scent of his aftershave. Lifting the garment off the hook, she hugged it to her and sank down on the floor behind the door, beside herself once again.
For the next two days, Molly sat in her flat, her heart aching, barely able to move off the sofa. On the third day, she forced herself to go into the guest bedroom to strip the bed that Sherlock had occupied, during his stay. On opening the door, she was surprised to find that he had stripped it himself, folded the duvet and left it and the pillows in a neat pile at the bottom of the bed. The used linen and his towel were stuffed into one of the pillow cases and left on the floor.
Had he known how hard she would find this task of removing his presence from her home?
Looking around the room, there was no physical evidence that he had ever been there – apart from his blue dressing gown, which she was now wearing, over her own. She was struck by the finality of the scene and it dawned on her that this was, indeed, like a death and she was in mourning. He was never coming back – and even if he did, it could never be the same again. They had shared a unique moment in time but that was all it was – just a moment.
Strangely, this realisation helped Molly to get back on track. She knew she couldn’t spend the rest of her life pining for him. She had a bath, got dressed and spent the day cleaning the flat. She cleaned his room and washed his bedding. She took his dressing gown, folded it neatly into a plastic bag and put it in the back of her wardrobe. It would be there for him, if he ever came back to claim it.
On the fourth day, she went back to work. It was not hard to convince people she had been ill. She was pale and thin. Some of her colleagues were concerned she had come back too soon but she thanked them for their consideration and buried herself in her work.
When she missed her first period, she didn’t think much about it. She had lost quite a bit of weight and she knew that a low BMI could cause one’s periods to stop. At that point, it never occurred to her that she might be pregnant. But four weeks later, when her second period failed to put in an appearance, the idea suddenly struck her.
When she thought about it, she realised there were other tell-tale signs – her breasts were a little swollen and tingly, though not exactly painful, and she had started to feel a little nauseous when she smelt certain aromas, notably coffee, tea and anything frying. She loved tea and could drink about ten cups a day, given the chance, but she found she could not face the thought of it, let alone the taste. This was the conclusive piece of evidence and the thing that prompted Molly to buy the predictor kit and take the test.
Confirmation of her new status of mother-to-be focused Molly’s mind and galvanised her into action. Walking from the bathroom to the sitting room, via the kitchen fridge, to pour a large glass of milk - the only beverage she could tolerate, at the moment - she sat in the armchair and began to make a list, a plan of action.
She would make an appointment to see her GP and get registered with an obstetrician. She would tell her boss that she wanted to stay in work as far into the pregnancy as possible, so that she could take maximum maternity leave, after the birth. She would not tell anyone about the baby until after her twelve week scan, just in case anything happened in the meantime. She was fully aware that about twenty percent of all pregnancies spontaneously aborted because the embryos were nonviable, often before the host mothers even knew they were carrying, so there was no point in telling anybody, yet.
Molly was a scientist. She knew that a foetus was the most efficient kind of parasite. Having taken up residence in the womb of its host and plugged itself in, via the placenta and umbilical cord, it would set about making changes to the mother’s physiology to maximise its own comfort and meet its own needs. This was not a symbiotic relationship. The baby took and the mother gave.
She was aware that all the hormonal changes going on inside her body were triggered by the embryo sending chemical messages to her pituitary gland. As a woman of science, Molly marvelled at the efficiency with which this tiny creature had taken control. She was going to make the most of this experience, the whole process of procreation, on both an emotional and an intellectual level. She surprised herself when she realised that her approach to this situation was not unlike how Sherlock might have approached it, had the roles been reversed. They were not dissimilar at all.
Next day, Molly went to see her boss. He listened to what she had to say and responded in a very professional way. He advised her that HR would do a risk assessment, if she intended to continue working up to the last possible moment, since there were some duties in a Pathology lab which might be potentially harmful to the foetus and she would have to change her working practices, appropriately.
He respected her wish for confidentiality and assured her that no one would hear anything from him. At the end of the interview, after going over all the practicalities, he stood up, leaned forward, putting his hand on hers and smiled broadly.
‘Congratulations, Molly’, he said, warmly, and she smiled, too, probably for the first time in weeks, as she realised that she was very excited.