AUTHOR'S NOTE – This is an excerpt from the same story that "Bermuda" is taken from. Sequentially, "Bermuda" happens first, so it's best to read that one before this one. I liked this as a stand-alone scene, so i thought I'd share it. As always, I welcome and appreciate all comments and feedback.
Thirty-seven year old Laurie Kerrington stands in front of the mirror in her bathroom and studies her reflection. She wonders if anyone has noticed the dark circles under her eyes. She hasn't been sleeping well lately, and she always feels run-down and tired. The doctor said this would happen, and now she wonders why she didn't believe him. She hadn't really believed him about the other things, either. She'd dismissed his warnings about headaches and dizziness. She can deal with the headaches. It's the sickness she can't cope with. Some mornings, her stomach feels as though it's turning itself literally inside out. During these bouts of nausea she cries and trembles and wishes desperately for it to stop. She hates feeling weak.
This morning, she only feels a little queasy. She silently thanks God or whatever force controls the universe. Today, she can't be weak. She has too many things to do. She turns and looks at herself in profile. She can notice very subtle changes in her own body. She wonders if Eddie has noticed them, too. If he has observed anything he hasn't said a word about it. Of course, he hasn't seen her naked for weeks. She has been reluctant to make love with him, ever since she found out about her condition. Laurie slides the palm of her hand over her stomach. She can detect the very slightest curve. She tries to imagine what it will look like when her belly no longer appears virtually flat.
She's not sure she likes the idea of thinking ahead that far. She can't plan that far in advance. Lately, she does well just to get through one day at a time. She turns away from the mirror and crosses the room. She adjusts the water in the shower. She steps into the warm spray and closes her eyes.
Eddie is leaving for Edmonton today. Laurie still can't believe he's going. She still has trouble comprehending all the events that have led up to today, but she steadfastly believes Eddie is innocent, no matter what the partners at his old law firm have accused him of. He may have many flaws, but deceitfulness is not one of them. He would never let himself get involved as an accomplice in anything dishonest. Her opinion doesn't matter, though, in the grand scheme of things. She supposes Eddie is fortunate that his firm has dealt with the matter quietly, without involving the Law Society. Losing his job is a small sacrifice compared with losing his license to practice law.
Secretly, Laurie wanted Eddie to find a new associate position here in Halifax, but she understands why he didn't. The legal community is small and the partners of the prominent firms all talk with each other on a regular basis. If one firm has a problem with an associate, everyone will know about it. The working climate would be too uncomfortable here, after that. She only wishes Eddie wasn't going so far away. She doesn't know what she's going to do without him.
She remembers how she'd followed him to Toronto, the year after they were called to the bar. She thinks she probably would have followed Eddie Radcliffe to the ends of the earth, then. She'd loved him. She still loves him, but she tells herself she's more realistic now. She knows it's pointless to let herself be utterly consumed with an emotion that Eddie will never reciprocate. He will never love her the way she wants him to. She knows he cares about her; he is her best friend and her sometimes lover, but she understands he will never make a firm commitment to be anything more. This is why she hasn't told him about their baby. She doesn't want to trap him, doesn't want to make him feel compelled to stay with her when deep down he doesn't really want to. She supposes the fact that he is leaving today makes it easier for her to keep her secret. If he'd stayed, she couldn't keep it from him.
The water starts to run cold, and Laurie steps out of the shower. She dries herself and dresses carefully. In another few hours, she will be taking Eddie to the airport. She tries not to think about saying goodbye.
She goes about the morning's business as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening today. She leaves her apartment and goes to the drug store for toothpaste and shampoo. She stops at the cleaners and drops off her suits and dresses. She sits in a coffee shop and reads the newspaper and has a cup of tea. She wants everyone who looks at her to see an ordinary woman. She wants to perfect her mask of normalcy. Nobody can ever know that something is wrong.
She picks Eddie up at his brother Dan's house at eleven o'clock. His flight is at one o'clock, but the airport is outside the city and is nearly an hour away by car. Dan helps Eddie put his two enormous suitcases into the back seat of Laurie's car. Eddie puts his small carry-on bag in the trunk. Eddie gets into the passenger's seat of Laurie's car. Dan and his wife Sarah wave from their front door. Laurie guesses they've already said their goodbyes.
Eddie and Laurie don't talk much on the way to the airport. Laurie can't think of anything to say. The airport is crowded when they get there. Laurie stands in line with Eddie while he waits to check his suitcases and get his boarding pass. By the time they finally get to the beginning of the line, it's nearly half-past twelve, and when the lady behind the desk gives Eddie the boarding pass for his flight, it's nearly time for him to head for the gate.
Laurie follows him all the way to the wide glass doors that lead to the security area. She wills herself not to cry. She doesn't want Eddie's last sight of her to be a sad one. She tries to smile bravely. She holds out her arms for a hug, and Eddie envelops her in his embrace. She feels so safe when he holds her like this, and she can't imagine ever feeling safe or happy again once he is gone. She hadn't been able to talk on the way here, but suddenly, she wants to tell him [i]everything[/i]. She doesn't want him to fly out of her life before she has a chance to tell him how she really feels. She wishes she could reclaim a few lost hours so she could tell him all the things that are in her heart.
The public address system chimes and a female voice announces, "Attention all passengers: this is a final boarding call for Air Canada flight 532 with service to Edmonton. Your flight is departing from Gate 18. All passengers should now proceed to the security area."
"That's my plane," Eddie says.
Laurie doesn't want to let go, even though she knows she has to. She bites down on her lip to keep it from trembling. She takes a step back. She says, "Call me when you get there."
Eddie smiles. "When I get there, you'll be sleeping. I'll phone you in the morning, I promise."
"First thing in the morning?"
"First thing," he says.
The Asian woman in the dark blue uniform who is standing by the glass doors takes a step forward. She says, "Excuse me, sir. Are you going to Edmonton?"
Eddie turns toward her. "Yes."
'Your flight is boarding, sir. You'll need to go through security."
"All right. I know," he says. He faces Laurie again. "I have to go."
"I'll write you, and I promise I'll call," Eddie says.
"When will we see each other again?"
"I don't know."
She almost tells him she doesn't want him to go. She almost cries out that she can't be without him, that she needs him. She almost says 'I love you'. The words are right on the tip of her tongue, but that's as far as they go. Her voice falters as she says, "Eddie, I…I'm going to miss you."
Eddie catches her in his arms again and holds her tightly. "I'll miss you, too," he says. He kisses the top of her head and says against her hair, "Be brave, Laurie."
All she can manage is a whispered, "I'll try."
This time, when Eddie lets her go, she knows it's final. He picks up his carry-on bag, and he turns toward the Asian lady. He shows her his boarding pass, and she admits him through the wide glass doors. Laurie watches him walk away. All of a sudden, she can't stand still. Some impulse makes her hurry toward the glass barrier. The Asian lady steps in front of the door.
"Ma'am, do you have a boarding pass?" the Asian lady says.
Laurie shakes her head. "No."
"I'm sorry. Only passengers with valid boarding passes are allowed inside the security area."
"I understand," Laurie says. The words sound hollow. She moves away from the Asian lady, to a part of the glass barrier where there is no door. She presses her palms against the cool glass and gazes through it. She sees Eddie reclaim his little carry-on bag from the man who's just checked it. He clutches the small valise, and walks through a door at the far end of the room. He doesn't look back even once. Laurie rests her forehead against the glass, and finally gives in to her tears