Part XIV: Bad News
’Oh dear,’ thought Annalise, as she searched frantically in the family safe. ’Where’s that check I wrote to the magazine to send to-day?! Did I lose it?! Oh God, no!!’
Then, she shook her head. ’No, I need to stay strong. I probably misplaced it, is all. All right, Anna, just sit down on the bed here.’
She sat down on the edge of the bed. ’All right – now think! Where did you keep it? No…no panicking!’
Annalise took in deep breaths and exhaled equally deeply. Then, a thought occurred to her: ’Of course! Gale wanted to send it off to-day – on his way to work!’
She sighed in relief. “Well, if that didn’t give me a cardiac arrest!”
“It would, if you keep leaving your doors open!”
The sudden sharp voice behind her made her turn around, her heart in her throat. When she saw that it was only her good friend and neighbour, Rachel, she sighed.
“Rachel!” she exclaimed. “Thank God it’s you! Yes, I’ve been scatter-brained as usual… Please forgive me!” she stood up and walked towards the older woman.
Rachel smiled kindly at her. “Well, just don’t forget to lock your doors again. You’re lucky this is a trustworthy neighbourhood!”
“Yes, yes, I will never forget!”
Rachel sighed. “If you’re like this now, how will you take care of your own baby, sweetheart?”
Annalise’s eyes clouded at this. “You’ve got a point there,” she said. “I suppose I must keep my mind in my head, instead of in the heavenly clouds?”
Rachel suppressed a chuckle. “If you want my help, just ask, airhead!”
“Rachel, I want your help when the baby comes!”
The older woman looked at her sceptically. “Are you even expecting one?”
Annalise giggled nervously. “I don’t think so. Gale and I decided to go for a check-up to-day when he arrives back home.”
Rachel’s eyes turned grim. “To see where the problem is?”
Annalise nodded. “Yes… It’s mostly on my side…I have this feeling, you see.”
“Yes, I can see.” Rachel sighed. “Ann, will you be fine…in case the doctor confirms it?”
The younger girl put on a determined face. “Yes, it’ll be fine…I’ll be fine! I’m not going to cry and make it harder on Gale…he’s already thinking that I can’t handle pregnancy!”
“Well, I think he’s right,” remarked Rachel with a shrug.
“I am!” she cried. “I so am!”
The older woman smiled at her. “We’ll see.”
Annalise gave her trademark giggle. “Yes, but right now, Rachel, we’re trying to figure how to divide our expenses. You know, when he got his salary two weeks ago, I suggested it and he said we could decide it later.
“And I think this is later. What do you say?”
“Yep, but don’t go asking me about it!”
“Oh no, you have your own problems to deal with,” Annalise told her with some sympathy. “Your idiot of a husband left you with a baby to deal with… Speaking of, how’s Bob doing?”
Rachel shrugged. “I guess ‘struggling’ would be the best way to say it.”
Annalise sighed. “Still cannot speak, huh?” When Rachel nodded her head wordlessly, she gave the young mother a warm hug. “Don’t you worry – it’s probably because Bob’s special…perhaps, he gets to speak at a later age that is usual.”
Rachel chuckled. “I supposed one could put it that way.”
“Anna!” called Gale, as he shut the door behind him.
Annalise appeared out of nowhere and tackled him into a hug. “Gale, you’re back!”
Gale smiled and set down his briefcase. “We have to go to the clinic, remember?”
Annalise sighed. “Yes, I remember.”
“And that’s why you’re so afraid.”
She turned her head up at him and nodded her head. “That’s true. But, I’m ready for anything the doctor might say – you just see!”
He chuckled and ruffled her hair. “Of course you will… after all, you’re my strong tigress! I know you can handle tough!”
She nodded her head, determined. “Then, let’s go!”
Gale helped Annalise into the house the next evening.
He knew she was upset by what the doctor had feared about her, but she was trying her best to look not-so-downcast.
He sat her down at an arm-chair and pulled another to sit beside her. He stroked her silky blonde hair comfortingly. She let out a suppressed sniffle.
“Anna,” he muttered quietly. “Please let it out.” When she did not seem to acknowledge him, he cleared his throat and spoke louder: “Anna my love, please say something. I know you’re deeply upset inside and suffering…and it’s killing me. Do say something, I beg of you!”
Annalise finally turned to him, tears beginning to well up in her eyes. “You know I wanted to stay strong for you,” she whispered.
“Yes, I’m aware of that.”
“Well then, if I cry now, what’s the point?”
He gave her the dazzling smile he knew would melt her heart. “Nothing brings me more happiness than sharing things with each other – even if it sounds sorrowful.”
A silent stare-match ensued, before Annalise broke it by dissolving into light laughter; soon enough, Gale joined her.
A few minutes later, they sobered up.
“So, I’ve an abnormal womb…so what?!” exclaimed Annalise. “We can still keep trying!”
Gale nodded equally enthusiastically. “That’s right! Or, if we still can’t, we can try and adopt somebody who’s in dire need of loving parents.”
“Yes,” she said, “and I’m sure we’d make lovely parents!”
“The best parents in the world!” he added, before pecking her on the cheek.
They turned away, smiles on their faces, waiting.
It was not long before Annalise broke down completely, weeping for all she was worth. And Gale held her close to him, trying to pull all the sorrow and suffering from her to himself.