Sean was in his room - sitting on his desk-chair, squinting at his laptop screen with his glasses resting on his head. The hard rock music blared out of his black headphone while his fingers were hastily moving around on the keyboard, utterly unaware of Anna’s presence behind him. The music prevented her voice from reaching him.
Anna let out a tired sigh before shuffling out of his room. Her palm rested on her swollen belly while the other held an empty water bottle. She plodded towards the kitchen-diner to refill the bottle when her eyes fell onto the piles of dirty dishware cluttered over the sink.
Her grip clenched against the bottle as her breaths turned short and quick. She slammed the bottle hard onto the wooden table. It was enough! Her thoughts screamed in her head, urging her to throw those stinky dishes at her husband and smash his head into pieces. He was aware of her sensitivity to smells, yet he left it uncleaned for her.
How could he be so careless? She thought. He promised he would change himself.
She kept thinking about the promises which he never even bothered to keep; he simply showed no change over the year.
Anger boiled deep in her system, as hot as lava. She tapped on the water, and suddenly a steady rhythmic thud of the falling water penetrated the stillness of the air. While scrubbing the plates, a memory slipped through her thoughts, a memory of the moment when she gave her pregnancy news to her husband- the news came like a beam of light to their lonely soul, he glowed from inside out; his excitement flowed out of him like sunshine through fine white linen.
But where has his excitement gone now? What happened to the cheerful, excited man thrilled to carry his son in his arms? Has his excitement of becoming a father crashed against the enthusiasm of achieving the life of his dreams?
“What are you doing here?” His gruff, throaty tone came from behind her, but she didn’t care to look at him. “I thought I asked you to rest,”
She placed the drenched plates on the rack and tapped off the water. Suddenly the air became still. “I felt parched.”
His light footsteps echoed through the silent room as he came closer, “You could have just called me,” The infection of his voice showed sudden concern for the girl.
She pursed her lips while rubbing her dripping hand on the cloth lingering from the holder. Her eyes hung low, dull and rigid. “Didn’t want to disturb your precious time,”
“Why would you disturb me?” He stood next to her, but she didn’t want her heated eyes to meet his’. Her anger churned inside her, hungry for destruction. She grabbed the rack and was about to lift it when a strong pair of hands gripped the side of the frame.
“Hey! what are you doing, babe?” He pulled the weight from her and placed the rack in one of the cabinets, “This could be dangerous for the baby,”
“Since when do you care about the baby?” She asked.
He froze for a split second before turning to her, a crease formed between his eyebrows, “What do you mean?”
She sighed and started walking out of the kitchen.
“Wait, Anna,” Dragging in a deep breath, she halted, her lips suppressed into an enraged pout. Sean strode towards her and stood in front of her. “Why would you think I don’t care about our baby?” His face bore the facade of feigned concern.
“Isn’t it obvious already?” She looked at him and came in contact with his intense eyes on her. Suddenly her eyes grew warmer. “Do you even realise how much pain I am going through every single moment with this baby in me?”
Anna paused for a moment as tears formed in the corner of her eyes. Sean’s hard eyes melted a bit as he stared vacantly at her, startled at her sudden outburst. He held her hand and raised it before covering it with his other palm.
“Babe, I know this is not easy-”
She seized her hand from his grip and threw her stern, rigid glare at him, “No, you don’t. How would you even know? All this time, I was going through this alone. You were not with me. I have been doing this all ‘alone’, Sean, this wasn’t the plan,” Her voice sounded more pained than anything. Her eyes stripped out of their usual warmth. “Was it?”
Sean kept staring at her blankly, not knowing what to say. He watched her walk out from there and plod to her room, slamming the door shut with a thud. His eyes hung low, mouth agape. He was not sure whether it was because of her usual mood swings or was it her true feelings.
The painful silence of the room veiled over him. He slowly shuffled inside and stood in front of the door. Sucking on his lips, he raised his hand to knock, but before his knuckle could hit the surface, it stopped. Soft whimpers and sniffles were coming from inside.
He hovered his ear over the door and listened to her sobs silently. The hand lowered slowly.
He didn’t say anything and simply walked out from there - it was not the first time she had a breakdown, he knew she would be alright the next day.
He came back to his room and stood in front of his desk. The laptop screen illuminated the dark, shadowy place, and on that screen shone the words - Dream Project. He had been working on this project for months now, the project, he was sure, could change his reality completely.
Sean looked at his black headphone before grabbing it, but as he raised it to his ears, his hand stopped. It kept hovering over his ears. Lips pursed before putting down the object with a low, dull sound.
Sean slumped on his chair and let out a deep breath before closing the file opened on the screen. As soon as all the tabs closed, the desktop wallpaper popped out - a photo of Anna and him cuddling and kissing each other. A huge smile was present on both of their faces. None of them was faking it.
Sean leaned against his chair, shifting his eyes from the screen to the dark ceiling. He closed his eyes gently, feeling the silence of outside and hearing the chaos of inside.
Why didn’t their relationship work out? What went wrong?
Soon, the day tiptoed to their doorstep, Anna and Sean were in the hospital. Painful screams echoed out of the hospital room, overlapping the midwives’ soft voices, asking her to push. Her labour was advanced, and she’s in considerable pain, the pain was more intense than anything Anna had ever imagined. Nothing could be more brutal, not whips or chains.
The time passed without her being able to keep track. Her stomach tightened, she heard her scream without being aware of making it. Her grip tightened around Sean’s hand, scratching and squeaking it brutally. She’s screaming like her guts ripped out with a blunt instrument even against this terrible wind that threatens to rip the limbs from the trees, especially the young ones. She felt the baby crowning, the hot stretching of flesh and held her breath. Without any further effort, the baby slid into the hands of the midwife.
Newborn cries filled the room, and the father burst out into tears of relief and joy. He turned his glassy eyes to his wife and noticed her eyes watering up.
Anna’s eyes blinked tears as she looked into those new eyes, a new consciousness, perfect and reaching out for her love. In that instant, she knew she would do anything to protect her child. Warm drops were rolling down her eyes as the midwife handed the baby to her.
Tiny fingers curl around her pinky. She watched the newborn peer through brand new eyes at what must be such a strange world after his life in the womb. His legs kick in a tiny jagged motion, looking for that resistance they were used to, but finding nothing but air. She couldn’t believe how little new humans are, how vulnerable, how awe-inspiring.
Anna looked back at Sean and noticed a different expression in his face. His tears burst forth like water from a dam, spilling down his face, but his lips stretched into a soft, wide grin.
“Sean,” She looked at his sparkling eyes with a soft smile, he looked back at her with wide eyes, “Wanna carry him?”
She handed the baby to him, and the moment he felt the little weight against his arms, his eyes warmed even more. The warm drops fell on the baby’s cheeks as he lowered his face to place a gentle kiss on his forehead.
He looked back at Anna with the eternal glint in his eyes, but the smile subsided a little, which caused Anna to frown. He returned the baby to his wife while she kept staring at him.
“Thank you,” His voice cracked, he looked like invisible strings from above are jangling him, and his puppeteer was drunk. The only thing she could make out beneath his moving hair was a smile that could light up any day, no matter how dark. “Babe, I don’t know what am I feeling, what is this feeling?”
He stopped and looked at his baby before raising his palm to place on her tiny white-clothed body, “Trust me, I am feeling a special feeling - I don’t know what it is. I’ve never felt so complete and empowered in my life. No success, no achievement could make me feel this way, this is special.”
Anna’s smile returned, broader and fuller. She was feeling an overwhelming amount of pleasure and euphoria that she had never felt before. She has got her loving husband back; she has got a tiny little angel playing in her arms. What else could she want?
Seam leaned forward and gave his wife a soft kiss while keeping his palm under his baby’s head, caressing it gently.
“I love you, babe,”
Anna let a soft chuckle and whispered, “I love you more, babe.”
The two eyes locked with each other, and slowly their faces leaned towards each other. Closer and closer, more and more, until their lips met with the delicate and fragile cheeks of the newborn.
In their eyes, ignited a flame of love, the sort of flame that goes for eternity.