I closed the file I was holding in my hand and placed it on the table. Sighing, I closed my eyes and instantly Alice’s face flashed before my eyes. Those innocent green eyes, the plump lips, that radiant smile, it made me sad knowing she was going to leave once this year was over.
It was crazy how in such a short amount of time Alice had burrowed her way in my heart. She by no means owned it, but she definitely had a special place in my heart. And I was glad that not only had I found a wife but a friend in her too.
Not once had I imagined having a woman like Alice in my life, let alone as my wife. She and I grew up in different places, came from different backgrounds. Women like Alice were the perfect candidates for charity while I was the one who gave those poor women charity, so Alice and I were definitely not the ideal couple; but we were not a disastrous one either.
When she had first walked into my office, trying to look confident but failing miserably, I decided then and there that I was not going to marry her, simply because she did not meet my standards; but the moment those green eyes met mine, my heart said one thing, something my heart never said.
This is it. She’s the one.
At first I had no idea what happened and why did my heart say that, or maybe I was imagining it all, but after a while I realized that it was definitely my heart that said that, because it remained its usual silent self after she left and I interviewed the other women.
Once the interviews were over for the day, I asked my family which woman they liked. My heart on the other hand kept on chanting Alice’s name, while my mind was stating all the negative things about her. It was clear that my mind and heart were conflicting, which made me unsure whether to choose Alice or not.
“I like that cute one, the strawberry blonde one, she has substance,” Kieran stated. Well Alice got Kieran’s vote, which increased her chances of becoming my wife.
“I agree with Kieran, she has substance and a backbone, not many had a backbone, but she is poor with an awful family history of heart diseases so she wouldn’t exactly be my first pick...maybe the second or the third,” Brenton told me.
“Was there any other woman you liked, Brent?” I asked him.
“That dark haired one...what was her name, Vilma, I liked her,” he answered.
“Vilma was boring, I liked Alice, she is cute, like a mushroom,” Kieran responded.
“Dude, you are dating a girl who works at a toy store, what do you know about having the perfect wife?” Brenton threw at Kieran.
“Excuse me, Jenny is adorable and I’m thinking about bringing her to the next family dinner,” Kieran defended.
“Let’s see if she will agree to come once she becomes acquainted with your dark nature and kinky preferences,” Brenton shot back.
Kieran narrowed his eyes at Brenton; I cleared my throat to get their attention. Now, I was looking at my father to know his opinion.
“Stacy would be your perfect match when it comes to social functions and all. Vilma would be your perfect match when it comes to making decisions and doing business. But if you are looking for a stay-at-home mom then Alice is perfect for that role, but then again, the heart problems is a huge downside to having her as a wife,” my father stated.
I wrote down the names of Stacy, Vilma and Alice on a piece of paper before leaving my workplace, as there was one more person I needed to know the opinion of before I either made my decision or looked forward to tomorrow, the second day of interviews.
When I had arrived back at the estate, I asked Kieran to accompany me to the cemetery. Over there, I had knelt in front of my mother’s grave and asked her who she thought would be my perfect wife after I had read out the names of the three women. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, some kind of a sign or something, maybe I wasn’t really expecting anything, but a sudden breeze started and maybe it was just the wind or my mind was playing tricks on me, but I distinctly heard the name Alice being whispered. I nodded at my mother’s grave to let her know that I had gotten the answer. Not wasting any time, I told Brenton to cancel the interviews for tomorrow and all four of us went straight to Alice’s place.
Now it had been nearly a month since we had been married and Alice was proving to be a wonderful wife. She was so sweet and caring; despite what I’d done, how I’d treated her, she still smiled and did everything that one would expect from a good wife. It was a shame that she was going to leave me.
Well why don’t you make this arrangement permanent. You obviously don’t want her to leave. My subconscious suggested.
But I couldn’t do that. Alice was only my wife for the baby, she wasn’t the type of woman you took to social functions. She was your typical wife, the one who greeted you every time you came home, made lunch for the family, took care of the house and children.
Isn’t that what you want? A wife who greets you with a smile, who you can share your problems with, who is there with you through thick and thin. Alice is perfect and you’d be a fool to let her go, this my was heart talking.
I couldn’t deny that Alice indeed was the definition of the perfect wife. Despite her small stature, she could accomplish big, difficult things. It felt so good when she would crawl on my lap, or just merely held my hand. When I was upset about visiting my mother, she held on to me and kept on telling me how she was going to stay with me no matter what happened because she had made a promise in front of God to be a good wife. That was the moment, when I knew that it would be difficult to let her go. She was digging her way into my heart and I was afraid she was soon going to own it. She was proving by her actions and words that my heart was right, and I did not regret my decision about marrying her.
She has been a good wife to you, now you should be a good husband to her. Go to her, she needs you, she is all alone, there is no one with her.
The best thing about Alice was that she was always smiling. No matter what life threw at her, she stood strong and smiled despite all the heartache she been dealt with. Every morning, she would help me get ready for work and when I was about to leave she would give me the most beautiful smile and told me to have a good day. And despite not wanting to believe it, I always had a good day. But not this morning; this morning she was distracted, her mind was on her brother’s surgery, her smile was not as radiant today as it usually was, and as it was why I wasn’t having the best day. I couldn’t focus on anything, my mind flashing to the fragile girl who was in the hospital. I had been selfish and brought her back to our home even though she wanted to stay with her brother, only because I wanted to sleep and wake up next to her and have her smile at me in the morning, but it was no use.
Go to her, she needs you. And while you’re at it, call your lawyer and terminate the contract, don’t let her go, you wouldn’t be happy without her.
Knowing my heart was right, I picked up my phone and called my client who was supposed to be here in half an hour. It was because of this client that I refused to accompany my wife to the hospital. Since I couldn’t concentrate, there was no reason calling my client here.
“Mr. Lawson?” I spoke up as soon as the line connected.
“Mr. Maslow, I’m just about to reach your office,” he told me.
“Yes, about that, I would like to reschedule the meeting, something important has come up and I really need to go,” I told him.
“All right, no problem, we can reschedule,” he stated.
“Good, I’ll have my PA call you for the new details, thank you so much.” I hung up.
Standing up, I grabbed my coat and slipped it on. Slipping my phone in my pocket, I texted Bernard to go home and not to come pick me up. It would take Bernard a while to come pick me up and I did not want to wait. My text to Bernard was short and curt; despite changing Bernard’s post, I couldn’t help the scowl that marred my face whenever I saw him. Seeing Alice with him that day made me want to burn Bernard’s cottage down, but I couldn’t do that. Even after so many days, whenever I thought about that day when I saw Alice with him, anger bubbled deep inside me and made me want to hit something.
Grabbing my car keys from the drawer, I made my way out of my office but my PA entered my room before I could exit. She was holding some sort of envelope in her hand.
“Mr. Maslow, your wife’s medical reports have arrived,” she said while handing me the envelope then left the room.
My heart started pounding as I stared at the envelope. This was it; I was going to know whether Alice really was pregnant or not. My gut told me that she was carrying my baby, but these reports would tell me the truth upfront. And unlike my gut, the answer in these reports would be right.
Slipping my finger in the slit, I tore open the envelope and took out the folded sheet of paper. It took me a few seconds to go through the contents and when I saw the word I had been so desperate to see; my decision was made.
Alice was not going anywhere.
Folding the paper, I slipped it inside my coat’s pocket before exiting my office. I instructed my PA to cancel all my meetings for the next three days and to call Mr. Lawson to reschedule the meeting. Then I jogged out of the building and slipped inside my car. Turning on the ignition, I peeled out of the parking lot and drove to the hospital.
As soon as I arrived at the hospital, I quickly got the required information from the reception and headed in the direction of the OR. Once I arrived, my eyes immediately landed on my wife and what I saw made my heart clench.
Alice was standing a few feet away from the OR doors. Her head was bowed and her hands were cupped. It looked as if she was trying her best to stay strong but wasn’t succeeding. Seeing her like this, so fragile and helpless, the caveman inside me woke up. I wanted to protect this delicate woman from this world.
My feet led me all the way to her. Once she was within my reach, I turned her to face me. Her eyes were glassy with unshed tears; her cheeks had pink splotches on them; she was trembling, trying her best to stay strong.
“Little dove,” I said to her.
When she looked up at me, it was like she let go. A strangled sob tore through her before she launched herself at me, holding on to me tightly, afraid to let me go. I clutched her tightly to me, fully intending to hold her forever. I felt like an utter arsehole for abandoning her in her time of need. But not now, not anymore.
Carrying her to the waiting chairs, I sat down with her firmly on my lap. I placed her head on my chest, while I let my hand run over her arm, soothing her. Alice clutched my shirt, sobbing.
How could I leave this woman? How could I leave the woman who was the mother of my unborn baby? How could I let her walk all alone in the midst of this cruel world with her little fairy feet? How could I sit back and watch her face this dark and dangerous world all on her own? How could I be okay with watching her suffer?
No, I was not going to do it. I would protect her from this evil world. I would shield her from all the bad things that were happening around her. I would hold her when she fell and I’ll be her strength when she was weak. I would not let anyone hurt her; I would make her smile.
You are only with her because of the baby. You don’t really have feelings for her. My subconscious stated.
But my subconscious was wrong. It was not about the baby, not anymore. Sure, I had married her for the baby, but in just one month she had made me need her. Now, I didn’t just want a baby from her, I wanted her.
“He’s going to die, Gideon, Nico is going to die,” Alice cried.
“No, little peach, don’t say that, Nico is going to be just fine,” I replied, holding her tightly against me. If God forbid something happened to Nico, I was not going to leave her; I would stay by her side and help her move on.
“He’s going to die. He’s going to leave me like everyone else had.” She continued to sob.
I am not going to leave you.
“No, little dove, he is strong, trust me he will make it,” I assured her.
“Don’t l—lie to me, I know he w—won’t come back. Look, my nec—necklace broke, Nico ga—gave me this neck—necklace and I had this necklace on for years, and now it’s bro—broken; this is a sign, Gideon,” she stated, showing me the broken necklace. The chain was broken; I didn’t expect the necklace to last long, the chain was getting rusty.
“Little fairy, it’s just a necklace, and the chain was old so it broke, don’t take it as a sign,” I murmured, kissing her cheek.
“You know, when Nico gave me this necklace, he sa—said that he would always be with me as long as I wore the necklace, and now it’s broken...it means he is going leave me,” she told me, closing her eyes as fresh tears streamed down her cheeks.
“No, little one, no, he is going to be just fine, I promise you,” I muttered.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, don’t give me false hope.” She continued crying. “I’m going to die without my brother, Gideon, it would kill me if Nico left me,” she said.
No little peach, you won’t die. I won’t let anything happen to you. You are going to stay with me forever.
“He is going to be just fine,” I reassured her.
“He has to be fine, Gideon; he has to make it out of this surgery. He has to be a doctor and save people’s lives, I—I am going to send him to medical school, and we planned a trip to Disney Land, he has to be okay, he has to be...”
In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to take Alice’s pain away and give her my happiness. It was in that moment, when I realized just how alone she really was. I had my brothers and my father to love and support me, and she had no one. Alice did not have a father who would protect her; she did not have a mother who would share her pain; she only had a little brother, who at this moment could leave her.
“Nico is going to be a doctor, and you are going to Disney Land, just pray to God and Nico will be all right,” I stated.
“What if he isn’t?”
The doors of the OR opened just as the question left Alice’s lips. Dr. Hallaway exited the OR and walked over to us. Alice pushed herself off of me and stood in front of Dr. Hallaway.
“Doctor, how did the surgery go, is my brother okay?” She asked, fear dripping from her words.
“Congratulations, the surgery went great, Nico is just fine. We have fixed the VSD by using the hybrid procedure as you wanted, and Nico is expected to make a full recovery in just a few days,” Dr. Hallaway answered with a smile.
Relief radiated on Alice’s face. Her legs gave out and she would’ve fallen if I hadn’t caught her. I held her tightly against me, not intending to let her fall.
“My brother is okay? He’s really okay?” Alice kept saying, it was like she couldn’t believe it. Relief spread through me at hearing Nico was going to be all right.
“Yes, Mrs. Maslow, your brother will be just fine. He has a bright future ahead of him. Make sure to send him to medical school where he so desperately wants to go,” Dr. Hallaway replied.
“Thank you, doctor, thank you so much.” Alice wrapped her arms around Dr. Hallaway in a surprised hug, catching him off guard.
“You’re welcome.” Alice pulled away from the doctor. “You can see your brother in a little while, we’ll be moving him to his room and he’ll wake up once the anesthesia wears off,” Dr. Hallaway stated.
Alice nodded. “Thank you so much.”
Dr. Hallaway shook my hand before walking away. I took out my phone and texted my family about the good news of Nico’s surgery being a success. Alice wrapped her arms around me.
“Thank you for being there for me,” she murmured.
I’ll always be there for you, little peach.
“You don’t need to thank me,” I replied, holding her close to me.
“How come you’re here? Didn’t you have an important meeting?”
“Yeah, it got cancelled, so I came, plus you needed me here.” I wasn’t going to tell her I cancelled the meeting, she would only feel guilty about it.
She nodded and smiled. The smile I had been yearning for since morning. “Yes, I needed you, come, let’s go and wait for the doctors to bring Nico to his room,” Alice stated.
“Sure, wait, I dropped something.” I bent down and picked up the broken necklace and slipped it inside my pocket. Now was not the right time to tell her she was pregnant, she had too much on her mind. Taking her hand, I led her away from the doors of the OR.
Glancing at her had me making up my mind. I may have married Alice for only a year, but this marriage was not going to last for 365 days.
It was going to last forever.