"This can't be happening."
She was very aware of what was wrong. She feared that in addition to knowing the problem, that she was part of it.
"Our budget is tight; tighter than it should be for just two people. We have to make some changes. Big changes, if we want to stay out of debt. We can't take out another loan…" he said, shuffling through the papers again. Across the table, his wife fidgeted slightly, biting her lower lip and looking away from him. His words reverberated in her mind.
'Tighter than it should be for just two people...just two people...'
A moment later, he continued thinking about loud about their financial problems, ignoring his wife's nervous movements. "All unnecessary spending has to be cut out right away. Maybe I could ask for a raise…it's not like I don't deserve it." He paused momentarily, scribbling quickly on the back of a nearby envelope. The dinner table in front of them was littered with bills and unopened mail. Looking up at his wife so quickly that it made her jump, he addressed her. "I think it'd be a good idea for you to take a few more hours a week at work. It wouldn't be for long, but we really need the money."
Noting the look of desperation on her husband's face, Nichole sighed. He really was trying hard to keep their family afloat, and she could not ask more of him. She was growing more and more tired by the day, and her body yearned for her to tell he husband that, in addition to her reasoning for feeling so tired. She reasoned to herself, that it would only be a little while; he said so himself. And when the two of them were in a better place financially, she'd tell him. Taking another breath, she replied. "Alright. I can take on a few more clients." she said, smiling.
Standing up from his chair, gathering his pile of mail (made mostly of bills and notices), and coming around the table to her, he bent down to lay a chaste kiss on her cheek. "Thanks so much, honey. This won't be permanent, I promise. I'm going to finish these up in the office downstairs. You should get some sleep."
"Good night." she called after him, before covering her face with her hands and lowering herself to the table.
Nichole sunk deeper into her blankets, even though she was already warm. She couldn't seem to get comfortable, or stay asleep for very long, and it was taking a toll on her. It'd been nearly three weeks since she asked her boss if she could take on more clients. The added clients were indeed helpful; she was earning more money, and the positive feedback from her clients earned her a modest pay raise. Michael was more than happy, but was oblivious to the strain that his wife was under, mostly because she refused to voice it to anyone. Even her boss and clients had no idea about the secret that she kept inside her, literally. No use having someone un into Michael in the supermarket and congratulating him regarding something he was blissfully unaware of.
Even she had to admit, that Michael was unconscious to what was going on, but he was far from stupid. That very same morning, he asked her why it was the middle of April and she was still wearing heavy sweaters to work. She lied and told him that she still got chilly and just took it as a precaution. He shrugged it off, and she mark it as a save on her part.
Thinking of work, Nichole felt a twinge of guilt at having to leave work early that day. She still had two more riding lessons to do that afternoon, but between her headaches, nausea and general fatigue, she remorsefully told her called her clients and cancelled. They seemed to understand, and she scheduled them in later on in the week. She was thankful that for at least a few days she didn't have to worry about the horse's rhythmic galloping causing her to lose her breakfast, if she hadn't already.
Stirring in the bed, she recognized the turning of a lock in the door, and realized her mistake. Michael came home for lunch instead of going out with colleagues, as a way to conserve more money, and no doubt saw her car in the driveway. He entered the house, calling her name and walking towards the bedroom. Nichole found herself too tired to free herself from the bed, and pretend to have left something at home as her reason for being there in the middle of what should have been a riding lesson. Covering her face with the cotton blanket, she anticipated his arrival into the room.
"Nichole?" she heard from under the covers, and moaned in coherently in response. Joking to herself, she momentarily thought about pretending to be dead, before realizing that she'd only further his anger by dong so.
Pulling the blanket from her face carefully, Michael's face, soft with worry and concern, greeted he, calming some of her fears. "Are you aright, sweetheart?"
Attempting to sit up, but managing to only lift her head, she answered, "I'm fine." she had to admit, she was barely convincing herself with that tone.
"You've been sleeping a lot lately. Are you sure you're alright? Maybe we should see a doctor." he suggested, kneeling down in front of the bed so as to be at eye level with her.
'We can't afford a doctor.' she said to herself. Placing her hand over her stomach, she thought back on her last doctor's appointment. Sighing a moment later, she plastered on a smile and met Michael's gaze.
"I'm just fine. The Carlson's cancelled their lesson today. I think they're out of town, or something." she lied. She was beginning to surprise herself with how quickly she could come up with something to counter Michael's suspicions.
He looked at her firmly then, his worry dissipating and being replaced with curiosity. "Nichole," he said, seriously. She could tell she was in trouble now. He rarely, if eve used her first name. "I saw the Mrs. Carlson on my way home from work. They said they hope you're feeling better in time for little Claire's riding lesson next week."
Nichole's face flashed guilt and fear for a split second, before her hands flew up to her face. Before she was aware of it, her eyes were stinging with the tears that seeped through her fingers. She was slightly aware of Michael saying something, more than likely to calm her down.
As her breaths grew shorter, and more erratic she attempted again to sit up. Seeing he struggle, Michael grasped her upper arm, and helped her to sit up straight. Before he could ask her what exactly was wrong, or offer any more consolation, Nichole placed her hand over his silently. Michael grew confused until she took his hand from it's position on her arm and placed it gingerly on her stomach. From the layers she wore, she didn't expect him to feel anything; it had been nearly five weeks, and she had yet to feel anything.
Cautiously, she met his gaze and nodded, answering the question he had yet to ask.
"Oh my gosh…" he breathed, his stare never leaving those of his wife. He was nothing shot of completely blindsided by the modest revelation. Pat of him wondered how this could have gotten past him. Nichole certainly didn't act like a woman who was expecting. He hadn't noticed any changes in her diet, or moods, except that she seemed to sleep more often and spoke less. He silently wondered how far along she was. Before he could ask, she gave him his answer.
"Four weeks, six days." she whispered, turning away from him as more discreet tears made their way down her face.
His eyes widened before he responded.
'Five weeks?! I've been out of the loop for five weeks?!' He asked himself. "Wh…Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, trying not to be upset, knowing she had to have had a good reason for keeping something so important from him.
"Because", she began, feeling another wave of sadness come over her. "We were having so many problems with money, and you said it yourself, we're barely getting by with just the two of us. And I thought, if I could wok a little more, make some extra money, that we wouldn't have to struggle so much when the baby came." she finished, pressing her lips together to keep from crying out. She barely noticed when he motioned to hold her face in his large hands, and tenderly wiped away her tears.
Laughing faintly, he smiled reassuringly at his wife. "You silly, silly woman. Can't you see how happy I am? I don't care about the money; it's the last thing on my mind. I care fist and foremost about you. You are my wife, Nichole, and I love you. We'll make it somehow, but I don't want that to be your concern right now. We have to put this baby first." he said, seriously.
Nichole smiled and lowered her gaze to her stomach where Michael's hand still sat. "It's strange, isn't it?' she asked.
"Which? Knowing that you've created a life or having your wife keep it from you for five weeks?" he asked, jokingly.
"Don't feel bad. I still have to tell my mother."
Kissing his wife's cheek, and sending a loving glance at her stomach, Michael stood to leave their tiny bedroom.
"Where are you going?" Nichole asked, already missing the warmth of his hand against her abdomen.
"Let's see: you're about to tell your mother that you're five weeks into your pregnancy and you've kept it from her for over a month. Honey, I think this is something you nee to do alone." he said, closing the door and barely missing the throw pillow that whizzed across the room. She nearly shouted "coward!" after hi, but realized how foolish she would have sounded.
Groping around under the covers, she found the phone and dialed her parents number.
'This should be fun.' she thought as the ring on the other end of the phone ended and a voice greeted her, happily.
I don't mind this but it's not my best. Written for the sake of breaking some writer's block. Thinking back, it didn't quite work, at least not well enough to talk about. So, I guess I'll be quiet.
Thanks for reading!