Gifts

There was a good chance of snow in the morning, and they would be alone till lunchtime, when Jane’s parents were due. She’d the turkey stuffed and the ham glazed, and sitting in the dark with only the tree lights and the glow of the stove, Jane knew this Christmas was going to be special.
She thought of her mum, struggling with her arthritic hands to wrap the aftershave she bought John every year, and dad out polishing the car ready for the morning. She hoped the snow wouldn’t put them off the drive, or she’d be packing the turkey in tin foil like last year, and John would be raging about having to head out.
Still, they’d have the morning together, alone. They’d lounge in bed till she couldn’t keep him from his email or disappearing into the garden on his mobile. Nichole was her name; Jane had seen it on his texts. She wasn’t the first, but she’d be the last. This time, it would be different.
Jane was pregnant, after ten years of trying, and had only taken her second test yesterday. She’d gone straight out and bought a baby’s rattle and wrapped it for John, to go under the tree. She’d held her silence, even though she was desperate to tell him, pretending an upset stomach so as to refuse mulled wine at the neighbours’ drinks do. She was ecstatic at the news, after all the wasted hopes and the years of the clinic, and the wedge which trying had put between them. But now they could come back together and share their love again, and forget Nichole.
“No. I’m sorry I just can’t tell her before Christmas, I just can’t. She seems so happy and she’ll be devastated. Yes, I know it would, but we’ll all be together next year.” John was standing in the garden on his mobile, freezing and miserable. “How are you feeling? Have you been sick again this morning?” He’d been seeing Nichole for the last year, on and off. Jane had been so depressed by the whole IVF thing, and he couldn’t take the claustrophobic atmosphere at home. “I’ll tell her on Stephens Day, I promise, and I’ll be with you then, but you have to let me do this right.”
In truth, John had long since lost any hope of fatherhood, and Nichole had been no more than a distraction. And now she was pregnant, and John couldn’t imagine the hurt it would cause Jane, who’d wanted only that for so long.
Nichole had bought another pregnancy test kit today, and the result was negative, and part of her was relieved. Even if John said he was ready to take on the twins, Nichole wasn’t sure she could cope with another yet. She could have told him about the test just now, but she wanted someone to look after her, and tomorrow she’d be waiting for him to call and she’d be wondering if he’d come.

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