HOME HEALS ALL HURT
Surrounded by memories of her youth – a carefree, happier time – Emily began to feel her spirits slowly lift again. There were moments in the day that she felt like herself again. Unfortunately, it didn’t take much for her mind to travel back down the difficult path she had been on a few months earlier and the smallest triggers were enough to cause her to get lost in a dark world from which she seemed unable to fully escape. Selfishly, she was glad that Abbey had moved away from their hometown and could not visit that often. She was sure she would not have been able to handle it if she had been around with her growing womb while hers was and would possibly remain empty forever.
One morning when she had almost finished watering the tiny tomato plants she had in her bedroom balcony, the bell rang. She didn’t feel up to entertaining so remained where she was hoping that one of her parents would answer the door. When it rang again, she slowly put down the watering can and sauntered to open it. Arun was there with a package in his hands.
“You?” they both said at the same time.
“I’m here on a holiday Imli. Just came by to give Aunty and Uncle this package of goodies from the States.” Arun replied, grinning.
“I’m here…on a short holiday too.” Emily said haltingly, inviting Arun inside.
While Arun chatted with her parents about his American dream and life in the United States of America, Emily fell silent; lost in her thoughts. Arun kept looking at her, trying to get her attention by gesturing wildly and cracking loud jokes. She hardly noticed he was there.
“She’s a little off colour since…” Ma began to tell Arun, noticing how his gaze often wandered in Emily’s direction.
“I heard Aunty. I didn’t want to say anything. I thought she would be, I don’t know, herself, again?”
Ma smiled sadly and shook her head. “She has taken it very badly. I suppose any mother would. It’s absolutely terrible for us to see her this way. Somehow, everything reminds her of Grace. I don’t know what to do…” She looked at her daughter who was staring blankly out the window. Then she looked at Arun, “Perhaps it would be a good idea if you could take her out? It could help get her mind off things while you’re here. If you are free that is of course. You two used to be good friends after she got over the whole ‘Imli’ thing.”
Arun laughed and stroked his nose reflexively. He rose to leave. “Sure Aunty, I’m here for a while. I’ll see if she’s up to it.”
“Emily, Arun is leaving. Would you show him out please?” The sound of her name brought her back to the present and she got up to take Arun to the door.
“Listen Imli, I’m here for a long break. It would be great to catch up. What do you say? Let’s go get some coffee or dinner or a movie or something some time?”
Emily looked at him and was quiet for a moment. Then she shrugged. “Sure. Call me.”
A couple of days later, Arun and Emily went out for coffee and for the first time in months, Emily laughed. It was a raspy sound, unlike her old laugh, and she couldn’t help wondering if that is what had happened to it on account of non-use. In Arun’s company, she began to finally heal. In Arun’s company, she was able to take her mind off the loss of Grace, forget to brood about the grave injustice of Abbey’s pregnancy and ignore the fact that Ethan had hardly been reachable since she got home. She wouldn’t openly admit it because doing that would be accepting it was actually happening, but every day that he didn’t call caused her heart which was held together with flimsy sticky-tape to splinter more and more.
One evening, Arun came home to visit her and found her staring at her phone.
“Imli, what’s up?”
She looked at him a little blankly and then said, “It’s Ethan. Since I’ve got here I’ve spoken to him maybe three or four times. Three or four times in a month Arun! After the engagement, we used to talk three or four times a day and sometimes for hours at a stretch and he was always swamped with work, even then! I…I don’t know what happened. I know I took a long while to start talking again after we lost Grace. I just couldn’t. I wanted to die. I spent every waking moment reliving my pregnancy, wondering what I did wrong. Angry? Exhausted? Depressed? That doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. I tried. I think I did. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe I took too long….” then she looked up from her phone and into Arun’s eyes. “Do you think that he hates me because I wasn’t able to keep Grace safe?” she asked, instinctively clutching her belly. “When we first got married, Ethan couldn’t keep his hands off me…now, it’s almost an anomaly if he kisses me good morning or good night and even then, it’s perfunctory at best. Do you think he doesn’t want to or simply can’t make love to a woman like me because I have the stretch marks and nothing to show for it? Do you think he hates that I don’t look the way I used to? That I’m broken? I’m damaged? I’m ugly? I’m…”
Arun put his hand over her mouth to stop the rant that she was on and then gently held her face in his hands. He looked deep into her eyes. “Shush! You listen to me, Emily. You need to stop thinking and talking that way. You’re beautiful…”
Emily held his gaze for a few moments. She felt drawn to him and found herself wondering what it would be like to kiss him. Milliseconds before things got out of hand, she pulled away. She shook her head as if to empty her mind of the impure thoughts she had just had and protectively pulled her clothes tighter around her body.
“You need to go Arun. Leave now. Please.”
Arun started to say something and then decided against it. He walked out of the door as Emily’s knees gave way and she sank onto the sofa, unsure of what had happened.
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UBC: Post 25