The throbbing pain in my wrist got worse the closer I got to my house, to the point I worried I broke something when I fell. To ease my mind, I walked to the medical team here. They could tell if I needed proper medical attention. I wasn’t fond of the prospect of having another broken bone or anything similar, though.
“Hi, James,” I said to the small, blonde man when I entered the little medical station.
He placed the package he carried on the floor and smiled. “Hello, Mia. What’s up?”
I pointed to my arm. “I hurt my wrist when I fell earlier.”
He furrowed his brows and gestured to me to sit down on the bench at the side of the room. He gently inspected my wrist, and pain shot through my arm when he moved my hand in different directions. Nothing too bad, though.
“How did that happen?”
“Oh, I was clumsy and fell over a box by the archery.” The lie tasted bitter in my mouth, but rather lying than admitting a bunch of wolf pups had knocked me over.
He remained silent for a while, and I started tapping my foot on the floor. “What do you think?”
“I don’t think you broke something, sprained maybe. Some cooling spray should ease the pain, and then I will stabilize it. But you should check with a doctor if it’s worse by tomorrow. An X-ray might be necessary.”
He walked to the shelf on the other side of the room and rummaged in a box. He threw me a scolding look over his shoulder. “Make sure to see a doctor, Mia. I know you always want to be the tough cookie, but this is not the time to be.”
I chuckled. “Don’t worry. When I can’t deal with the pain anymore, I will go to the hospital.”
He threw me a pointed look before going back to find what he was searching for. James wasn’t wrong about me acting tough and ignoring such things. But after I barely survived eight years ago, I got careful about going back to the hospital. It was a traumatic, scary, and lonely time, and caused me to dissociate from pain and injuries.
After my motorcycle accident a few years ago, I also believed it wasn’t a big deal. Only a broken leg, and a few broken ribs. Turned out it took months to heal because of complications. I probably didn’t learn my lesson anyway, though.
“This will be cold now,” James said, interrupting my thoughts. I watched him work and smiled at his swift motions. He was skilled at this job and I could count on him. I know he gets snarky remarks from time to time because he is rather frail-looking and relatively slim. Some even said he isn’t fit to save lives. Which is completely ridiculous.
He is smart, knowledgeable, and strong. His stamina is amazing, too. We used to run together in the past until George said it made him uncomfortable. I since ran alone and James didn’t seem too bothered by my decision. But I believe he had some thoughts on the tip of his tongue he wanted to say, but didn’t.
James finished wrapping around the bandage and put everything away again. “How are you doing lately?”
I smiled at my hand, glad the pain finally disappeared. “Doing fine. What about you?”
He frowned. “My girlfriend is going to be away for another six months. If it was possible, I would follow her on all those business trips. But since I can’t, I have to wait for her to return - yet again.”
He dropped next to me with a huff. I patted his knee with my healthy hand. “I’m sure the six months will fly by.”
“I wish. It will feel like ages, but we can appreciate the time together a lot more when she is back.”
Thinking about not seeing George for weeks or months made my stomach drop. We were never apart for longer than a day since we became a couple. I suppose it’s difficult to deal with, and from what I could gather, his girlfriend was more away than home.
He glanced at me from the side, his long hair falling into his eyes. He moved them aside. “Are you sure everything is alright?”
“Why are you asking again? Should there be something wrong?”
He leaned back and sighed, fumbling with the hem of his shirt. “Your fiancé was quite drunk the other night when we were all hanging out after work.”
“George being drunk?”
He never told me about going out with our colleagues, let alone drinking. He didn’t have to tell me every single detail of what he was up to, but he never had a lot of contact with the other people here. Or he didn’t tell me about their meetings for some reason.
James’ eyes darted around the room. “Yeah. He was.”
“So, he was drunk. And what else?”
His shoulders slumped as he glanced at me, looking paler than he usually was.
“James, what’s wrong?”
“He was rambling on about all your attempts to have children.”
A coldness rushed through me, almost taking my breath away. I stared at James, who winded under my stare. I felt my face turning red, imagining George talking about our situation with the others.
“He complained about my incapacity to become pregnant in front of all of you?!”
He winced at my loud voice, and I felt bad for lashing out at him. I wasn’t angry at James, and I shouldn’t let it out on him. But my thoughts were running wild in my brain, and I didn’t know how to react to this situation.
“I can’t believe him. As if I didn’t feel enough of a failure already.”
James grabbed my shoulder and shook his head. “It’s not your fault, Mia! You aren’t a failure.”
A lump formed in my throat, and I swallowed hard.
“He didn’t say it like this, either. And he never blamed you. What he said was that he feels like it’s not meant to be, and he is worried about forcing it too much.”
A lonely tear rolled down my cheek, and James quickly wiped it away.
“That doesn’t make it better. It’s an extremely private and sensitive topic. He shouldn’t discuss it with a bunch of colleagues over a few too many beers.”
He nodded. “He shouldn’t have brought it up the way he did, but no one judged you or him. We aren’t thinking any differently from either of you.”
He tried to ease the situation, but the damage was done.
“I might never have children with him,” I choked out, more tears streaming down my face. I didn’t even bother to stop them at this point. What Gunnar told me flashed to mind, and I felt a pang in my chest. No, he had to be wrong.
James pulled me into a hug and stroked my back. “Don’t give up hope, Mia. Sometimes it takes a long time for a couple to get pregnant. Maybe it will take a little longer for you guys, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”
I shook my head and pulled away from him. It was almost as if I had already given up on getting pregnant a long time ago, but kept going because I wanted to give George what he wished for so badly. Coming to that realization made me feel even more awful about everything. Was I even allowed to be angry at him?
James searched my eyes, worry written all over his face. “I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have told you. Are you okay?”
I looked him straight in the eyes. “I’m not sure.”
He furrowed his brows and was about to say something when a man stormed into the room, a crying girl in his arms. I wiped my face with my sleeves and quickly got up to make space for them. James rushed into action, and I took the chance to leave. I regretted saying anything to him. He wouldn’t be able to help me, anyway.