Part XVI: Child Problems
Although they had succeeded in preventing financial difficulties to some extent, there was one thing that they could not avoid—the possibility that the children in orphanages might not want parental love; that, most of them being in their teens, might be satisfied with whatever they were getting at their homes.
This saddened Annalise’s delicate heart, although she was happy for the orphans. They seemed to have cheerful childhoods.
However, one evening, about three months later, when Gale came back from his work and found his pretty wife missing, he immediately knew that something was wrong. He set aside his suitcase, locked the front door, and went in search of Annalise.
He found her sitting on the floor of the bathroom, eyes red from crying and rubbing her eyes over and over. It broke Gale’s heart to see Annalise this way.
He gathered her in his arms and carried her to their bed. He set her down on it and wrapped a blanket over her shoulders. Then, he seated himself beside her and stared intently at her face.
Annalise did not seem to notice anything at all – or, even if she did, she did not seem to acknowledge it.
Gale decided to break the silence first. “Anna, what’s the matter?” he asked her gently.
Still, she made no move to reply. She just stared at the floor below her, hardly blinking her eyes.
This scared Gale more than anything in his life. ’Oh my God, what’s wrong with her?? Has she finally taken leave of her senses?! It’s true that many hardships have come our way, but didn’t we promise to fight them all together?! Now, what’s wrong with her?!’
He was startled when Annalise suddenly turned to face him. A rueful smile played on her lips. Sweat nearly broke out on his face.
When she spoke, her voice sounded raspy and tired:
“Gale, I’m sorry for having you worried. I really am. Please forgive me.”
Her husband held her shoulders and turned her entire body towards him. “What’s the matter!? Tell me!”
She closed her eyes and cried, “Please forgive me!” Tears flowed down her eyes, nearly driving him crazy.
“Of course I forgive, you little idiot! Now, tell me—what’s the matter?!” He was growing anxious by every passing second, wondering if there was something direly wrong with his wife. He so badly wanted to ease her pain.
“I-I…” she began, trying to swallow the never-ending flow of tears. Gale was a little bit surprised – Annalise’s eyes looked so swollen that he was sure she had cried herself dry before he found her. But, here she was, crying all over again.
Although he was quite impatient for her to continue, he had sense enough not to pressurise her, especially since she was already making efforts to tell him. She just needed more time.
She gulped once more and went on, taking constant shaky breaths and stuttering every once in a while: “I…I we-went to the clinic this morning. I had been feeling a little faint, so got Rachel to take me there. Th-the doctor examined me and said that it would take at least an hour to see what’s wrong with me. Rachel took me to a park nearby”– here, she smiled slightly –“and cheered me up by telling tales of her childhood…rather f-funny they were, too.” She looked up at her husband. “I laughed so hard!
“However, about an hour and a half later, when we went back, the results were in and the doctor…he…” her voice failed and she broke down once again.
Gale tried to prod gently as he held her: “What did he say, Anna my love?”
“He said that she just suffered a miscarriage.”
The new voice startled both of them and they looked up to see Rachel Matthews standing in the doorway of their room, arms folding across her chest and a neutral expression on her face.
While Annalise expressed some pleasure upon seeing her best friend, Gale’s eyes were nearly popping out of their sockets.
“What are you…how are you…?” Gale could not form legible sentences.
“The back door,” replied Rachel the same neutral expression never once leaving her face. “Although you took care to lock the front door, it never occurred to you to lock the back one, as well. Annalise left everything open, didn’t she?”
Gale nodded his head sadly, as Annalise looked down, ashamed.
“Well,” Rachel said, disappearing for a moment and then reappearing with a couple of trays in her arms, “I made Supper for you both, in case Ann was too stunned to do anything.”
“You-you’re right,” Annalise stammered. “I’m so sorry…looks like I’m not myself tonight.”
Rachel left the couple to go back to her house.
Annalise and Gale had their Supper, talking to each other in quiet whispers. Annalise was trying to apologise to her husband, but he simply would hear of it.
“Annalise,” he said at last, putting out his hand with an air of finality, “you apologise to me about this one more time and I’m going straight to the registrar for a divorce!”
No matter how many times he used this trick with her and no matter how many times she knew that this was only a trick to keep her quiet, Annalise always fell right into it. She begged and pleaded him not to do anything of the sort.
And, just like always, Gale would assure her – with his stunning smile, no less – that he would never do that, as long as he lived.
After they had emptied their plates, Gale picked up both the trays.
“Ann, you go to bed early, okay? I’ll wash these up and give them back to Rachel. Will you be okay on your own for a while? I promise to join you soon.”
Annalise sniffed and nodded her head. “Yes, I’ll be fine. I’ll be waiting for you.”
“Well, if you can’t and want to drift off, then don’t stop yourself.”
And so, bidding good night to his wife, Gale went away with the plates and trays to the kitchen.
Soon, Gale was on his way to Rachel’s house with her things.
Just as he was about to ring the bell with his elbow [since his hands were full], the door opened by itself and Rachel appeared in the doorway, a finger on her lips.
“Hush, don’t make much noise,” she almost whispered; “the baby’s sleeping. Come on in!” She took the crockery from his hands. “Thanks and…hey, did you actually wash them?!”
Gale felt slightly offended. “Yes. Why? You seem surprised.”
“Well, it’s just that Ann does this kind of work, right? I didn’t know you could do them, too.” She gave him an amused smile as she walked into the kitchen and placed them all at the counter. Gale was following right behind her.
“Yes. Actually, she doesn’t allow me to do anything in the kitchen.” When Rachel gave him a pointed questioning gaze, he gulped and muttered simply, “Inside joke.”
“Anyway, you didn’t just come to hand these over, did you?” asked Rachel, a serious expression on her face, as she arranged her crockery. “Otherwise, you’d have decided to come in tomorrow morning.”
She glanced up to see Gale nodding his head.
She sighed. “Is it about Ann and the clinic?”
“Was she this upset when you left her?”
“No, actually. She was telling me that she’d – and I quote – ‘stand tall and brave’ for you.”
“For me?! Whatever for?!”
She glared at him. “You think I can read her mind? Your wife, your job!”
“Oh…er…of course…” his voice trailed off.
“Well, I knew that she would break down once I leave her. I knew, but left anyway… Bob was getting hungry, so…”
“Yes, you don’t have to apologise.”
“Thanks. Well, looks like I was right.”
“You should’ve seen her… I’d never felt so scared and anxious in my life!” Gale shuddered at the memory.
“Well, take a good care of her, okay? She’s good, she’ll pull through. Just…get her a kid. A good kid, whom she’ll love and cherish. You, too, of course!”
Gale chuckled. “Well, what about you? How’re you managing the baby on your own?”
Rachel shrugged. “I’ve my own ways. Dylan keeps sending money.”
“Rachel, thanks for taking care of my wife. I can’t seem to do that now…”
She placed firm hands on his shoulder. “Gale Watson, you don’t ever utter such things in my house!” she hissed in his ear. “You understand?!”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Gale with a small chuckle. “I’m just glad somebody is there when I’m not around.”
“I’m happy, Gale. I’m finally happy. Happier than I’d been with Dylan…but, you know about that already, don’t you?”
He nodded. “Yes, I do.”