1| Congratulations should be in order
“Beatrice, what I’m trying to say is, will you marry me?” His hands start to tremble and I know I have to answer soon or he’ll faint from lack of blood flow. I can’t help but look into his eyes; they’ve started to twinkle with tears or from the fancy light dangling from the ceiling above us maybe reflecting onto them. I hope it’s the latter. I glance over his shoulder, at the people sitting around us in the restaurant all waiting for my response as if what I say could somehow impact their lives. I cautiously look at him, on one knee, on the ground, hoping that my face isn’t showing how upset I am at his proposal. I smile, at least I think I do and bend to hug him. Everyone claps. I hadn’t actually said yes.
“Congratulations,” I hear an elderly lady whisper as she passes me, her arm entwined in her husband’s. My lip twitches into a smile. The whole dinner he smiles at me and holds my now weighted hand. I can’t help but stare and pick at my food, my appetite had vanished.
“What’s wrong, did you want to order something else?” I look up at him alarmed.
“Oh no, I’m just too shocked to eat now.” I smile at him and he smiles back. This is what I wanted right?
“We can get something to take it home in.” I nod appreciatively and he gestures to the waitress.
The ride home is awkward, at least for me it was, he was chatting away about our future, when the wedding would be, all the stuff I was hoping he’d wait to discuss. I tune him out and nod every so often. He squeezes my hand and my heart momentarily falters. The trees are blowing back and forth in a sort of ritualistic dance I noticed as I gazed outside my window, the cloudy sky evidence of bad weather to come.
“Ryan, I think I might go to bed,” I call out once we arrive at home. Standing by the entrance to the downstairs sitting room I step out of my heels and pace into the kitchen. Opening the mahogany cupboard I reach for a glass and turn towards the fridge, he follows close behind and massages my shoulders as I sip.
“Of course, I’ll be up in a minute I have to thank Sam for babysitting” he says, his voice soft in my ear. Before walking away he kisses the top of my head and squeezes my hand. That was his thing, reassuring hand gestures.
When I reach the top of the stairs a quiet voice sounds from the dark, “Mommy is that you?” I switch on the lights and pick up the sleepy child.
“Yes baby, it’s mommy.” I stroke her soft and now unruly hair and push the bangs out of her eyes, she buries her head into my shoulder and lets out a little yawn that heats up the base of my neck.
“Can I sleep with you tonight?” she whispers a thumb in her mouth something I’ve been trying to get her to stop doing.
“Sure baby, you can sleep with me tonight,” I squeeze her cheek “just this once” I add. I lay her down on my bed and give her a kiss on the forehead before going into the bathroom to have a shower.
Turning on the shower I wait in front of the mirror for it to warm up. My reflection startles me, I should be happy. I’m getting married to a solid guy, one who loves me and my daughter. Sighing, I step into the water and let it run from my scalp down to my legs. By the time I get out Ryan and Mable are fast asleep, their deep snores playing a game of ping-pong.
Decidedly no longer tired, I make my way down the stairs to the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea and sit by the fireplace. The rain had picked up from a drizzle to a full start. The thunder rumbling off in the distance. I count to eight and quietly laugh at myself as I do. I loved hearing the sound of the rain, it felt like home.
I look at my hand, the sparkling diamond glittering from the light of the fire. I stare so hard I can no longer see my hand, just the brown faux fur rug under my feet.
The phone rings and I slowly stand up and walk to the office to answer it all the while wondering who would be calling so late at night.
“Hello?” I ask, slightly annoyed. It takes a long time to get Mable to sleep and if she’s woken up at this hour she’s not going to go back to sleep again tonight.
“Hello is this Beatrice Shaw?” A nasally voice ask, the smacking of her gum ringing through the phone.
“This is she-” I start but am cut off.
“I’m afraid your mother is in the hospital...” the lady continues but my ears stop listening to what she has to say. I drop the phone as soon as she hangs up and run upstairs to start rummaging through the closet for my long-abandoned suitcases.
“Babe, what’s going on?” Ryan looks up from the bed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He sits up and stretches letting out a little yawn before checking the clock. I ignore him and continue frantically looking through the closet. Ryan gets up and walks towards me, he holds my arms, “Tris what’s going on?” He asks again this time firmly.
I collapse into his chest and sob until I can no longer catch my breath, “My mom..she’s in the hospital..” Ryan sighs and runs a hand through his hair, holding me as the sobs wrack my body. All I can feel is his hand rubbing smooth circles around my back and in between my shoulder blades and the pain of the tightness in my chest. What was I going to do?