Katherine pushed the food away from her, she felt nauseous, the noise and heat of the restaurant were stifling. She turned to Paul, but he was sharing a joke with her brother, Michael, quite unaware of how she felt. It was the last night of their holiday in New York – tomorrow they were flying home – and the men were intent on enjoying it. She said, “I think I’ll have an early night.” Paul said almost automatically, “O.K.” As he walked her to the exit to call a yellow cab, he thought what a pain she’d been the whole holiday. He had begun to question the value of their relationship – perhaps nine years was too long. He was glad she had decided to have an early night. As he rejoined Michael he put Katherine out of his mind.
In the cab she fought back the overwhelming desire to vomit. She now had pain that started in her back and radiated across her distended abdomen – it came in waves. Just when she thought she must scream out the pain started to subside, only to start again rising to a crescendo. She paid the cab driver and managed to get into the elevator. It was a huge relief to get into their room. Paul’s things were scattered everywhere. She had already packed most of her own.
Katherine had only wanted to get back to lie on the bed and perhaps to sleep this awful thing away. She knew it wasn’t right, but she hadn’t wanted to think about it. She remembered, when she was small, her mother saying, “Just wish it well.” If you wished hard enough bad things went away. She had hoped if she told no-one it wouldn’t be real and it would simply turn out to be a mistake.
Paul had not noticed, he thought she was just putting on weight and recently, because they were no longer close, he had stopped looking at her. It was only rarely now that he reached out for her in the night, letting his hand slip from the curve of her breast down her warm body to the soft fuzz and the tempting, moist place. She, with her secret, had not reached out for him.
As she went towards the bed she had an urgent desire to vomit. She rushed to the bathroom and threw up in the sink, as the crescendo of pain overwhelmed her. She cried out for her mother, but no-one heard her. It would be hours before Paul and Michael returned. She was lost and desperate. She had sat on the toilet when the pain reached its height, but there was no-one to support her, so she lay on the floor. The floor was hard, but she didn’t have the strength to get to the bed. The pauses between the pains were so short she lost all sense of time. She moaned for her mother, but no longer called out. When she thought she would die here all alone in this awful abyss of pain, the pain changed and she wanted to push.
Yes! Yes! Push and push. She wanted to be rid of this thing, this distension, this unbearable affliction. Suddenly, she felt the thing between her legs and with it a warm wet gush. Momentarily, she rested and then came the urge to push again. It was all over and she sat up a little to see what had emerged. It was wet and slippery, starting to wriggle on the hard floor – then its little whimpering sounds ushered into a cry.
Katherine exhausted, wet and bloody, wanted the noise to go away. She reached for the towel hanging over the edge of the bath and covered the baby to stop the crying. She felt another pain, and another, something else slid from her. She rested her face on her arm and tried to ease the stiffness in her back and legs.
All was quiet in the bathroom. The child did not move under the towel. Katherine got up, ran a bath, and cleaned the bathroom.
When Paul returned at dawn, Katherine was sleeping. She had finished her packing. Their daughter was in Katherine’s shoulder bag ready for the journey home.
© 2016 Yeadon Writers
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