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To those who took the trouble to email me feedback, thank you for your enthusiastic and encouraging words. I know it’s been a long time since chapter 6 and I hope chapter 7 is worth the wait. The story of Catherine and Thomas is nearly at an end and I’m as curious as you are to find out what fate has in store for them. I foresee one more chapter before I move on to telling someone else’s story.
After my first session with Louisa I arrived home feeling completely drained, emotionally and physically. It was such a relief to share the burden of my terrible secret. I got into bed and almost immediately fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. Waking up several hours later in the quiet early morning, I had a few seconds of blissful forgetfulness, before awareness rushed in like a dark overwhelming wave. I burrowed deeper under the duvet and pulled the pillow over my head. Like a child, I wanted to hide from the ugly grown-up world with its incomprehensible problems.
If only life’s problems could be solved that easily.
Eventually I dragged myself out of bed and confronted my haggard face in the bathroom mirror. I looked like a mess – hair standing on end, make-up smudged and worst of all, the awful hollowness of my eyes. I turned away hurriedly and stripped off for a shower.
Twenty minutes later I sat at my bedroom window, nursing a cup of coffee and watching the early risers on their way to work and school. As I watched those strangers go about their business I finally allowed myself to confront what I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant – I would not go through with this pregnancy. Logically, I knew I had a choice. I could have the baby and then have it adopted. I could even keep the baby. But, the truth would come out eventually. Adopted children sometimes seek out their birth mothers. What would I tell my child about his or her father? What would I tell Thomas? If I decided to keep the baby I couldn’t claim someone else was the father. He would insist on playing a role in the baby’s life and I couldn’t deal with that.
A quiet, insidious voice told me I was being cowardly – I would terminate this pregnancy to protect myself, not for the good my unborn child. I didn’t want my secret revealed and I didn’t want to face my family’s disgust and devastation. I was running away. I shook my head violently, as if to shake away those awful, insistent thoughts. This wasn’t just for me – no child should be born under these circumstances I reasoned. And who knew what the medical consequences could be? No, this was the right decision for all concerned, even those who were unaware of my predicament.
I waited until I thought Louisa might be at the office and called her to tell her my decision.
“I want an abortion.” I stated.
“Ok. Are you sure Catherine? Have you thought carefully about all your options?” Louisa asked.
“I’m sure.” I said, with barely a quiver in my voice. “I want an abortion and I want it done as soon as possible.”
“Alright Catherine, come in today and we’ll make the arrangements.” Louisa said.
We agreed to meet at 11:00 and now all I had to do was occupy myself until it was time to leave. I paged aimlessly through a few magazines, not registering the words on the pages. I tried to watch TV but after flipping through all the channels and finding nothing that could hold my interest for longer than a few seconds I switched off in disgust. Maybe a walk would make me feel better. I dressed hurriedly in comfortable sweats and shoes and headed out. I opened my door and gasped in shock as I confronted Thomas, hand raised as he was about to knock. We stared at each other for a moment before I found my voice.
“Thomas, what are you doing here?” I asked hoarsely. “How did you find my address?”
“Hello Catherine. May I come inside?” he replied, ignoring my questions.
I hesitated and then stepped aside, allowing him to enter. My already small apartment seemed to shrink further at his presence. I took a ragged breath and closed my door, turning to face him. The morning light slanted across his face and I was shocked to see lines of exhaustion and unhappiness etched there.
“What are you doing here Thomas? How did you find me?” I asked again.
He shrugged. “It wasn’t difficult to find you Catherine. What does it matter any way? I’m here and we need to talk. I can’t bear this any longer.”
“I can’t talk to you now Thomas. I have to be somewhere and I can’t be late.” I said, half lying. I still had a few hours before my appointment with Louisa.
“Surely you can spare me a few minutes? I’m only asking for a few minutes of your precious time to talk about our relationship.” Thomas said sourly.
“I don’t know what to say to you.” I said.
“Maybe you could listen to me then?” he asked.
I shrugged. After a few seconds he took my silence for compliance.
“I know you needed to take time out to think. Watching you walk away that day at my office, that was the hardest thing I ever had casino oyna to do. Catherine, it’s been two months; you’ve had time to think. All I ask of you is that you listen to me before making a final decision.”
Still I said nothing. He looked searchingly at me for a moment before continuing.
“I can’t seem to find the words to convince you that we can make it work. I’m under no illusions that it will be easy but I honestly think we can find a way. You love me. I know you do. I love you, more than I’ve ever loved anyone. More than I loved Lisa.”
I looked up sharply at his last words. He gazed at me steadily – no doubt or prevarication in his eyes. My resolve crumbled. I started crying. Thomas was at my side in a flash, holding me tight, telling me over and over how much he loved me and how everything was going to be alright. I cried even harder. I clung to him and sobbed my heart out. Thomas rocked me and kissed my tear-stained face, crooning soft encouraging words.
“It’s ok baby. Everything’s going to be alright, you’ll see. I love you so much and I won’t let anything bad happen to you, I promise. We’ll work it out my darling. There’s nothing we can’t overcome as long as we have each other. You’ll see honey, you’ll see, it will all work out. You’ll have to put up with me for a very long time because I’m not letting you go, ever.”
He tilted my face up to his and kissed me deeply. I melted. For a few exquisite moments I enjoyed being in his arms again and I kissed him back as passionately as he kissed me. When we finally broke apart he grinned happily at me.
“Oh God Catherine, I’ve missed you so much!” he exclaimed fervently. Laughing, he picked me up and spun me around.
I cut short his celebration by breaking out of his embrace to rush to the bathroom to be sick. Reality had rudely intruded. I locked the door against his urgent concerned questions.
When I emerged a few minutes later a worried Thomas immediately asked me what was wrong. Was I ill? Had I gone to a doctor? He would take me to a doctor immediately.
I cut short the flow of words.
“I’ve been to a doctor. I’m not ill.” I said sharply.
“Then what’s wrong? You look ill. Who is this doctor? Never mind, it doesn’t matter. I’ll take you to the best doctor in town.” Thomas insisted.
“Thomas! Please, just be quiet for a moment. I don’t need to go to another doctor. I know what’s wrong.” I interrupted.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Then I looked at him and said:
We stared at each other for seemingly endless seconds. Thomas took a step towards me.
“Catherine, Catherine,” he whispered. “You’re pregnant? You’re going to have a baby? You’re going to have my baby?
The grin spread slowly across his face and it was as if someone had switched on a light inside him.
“You’re pregnant. You’re going to have a baby.” He said again, louder this time.
I cringed at his glowing happiness. This couldn’t be real. How could he be happy about this?
“Oh Catherine, honey, my darling.” He laughed and reached out to embrace me.
“No!” I almost shouted at him. “Don’t touch me. Please, just…don’t…touch…me.”
Thomas froze, the happy grin slowly fading from his face.
“Catherine? What’s wrong honey?” he asked hesitantly.
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” I repeated, slightly hysterically. “What’s wrong you ask? What on earth could possibly be wrong? I’m in love with my brother, I slept with him and now I’m pregnant with his child – a child that will destroy our lives! That’s what’s wrong!”
“But…Catherine…” he started to say.
“But NOTHING!” I yelled at him.
The tension and unhappiness of the past few months broke over me like a burst dam.
“What’s wrong with YOU?” I demanded. “How can you even think that this is a good thing? I could be pregnant with…with…a monster! What kind of babies do you think brothers and sisters make? Do you think we’ll have a perfect little baby who will grow up to thank us for bringing him into the world? Are you delusional? Do you honestly think that everything’s going to be ok just because you say so?”
I was sobbing hysterically now. I dimly perceived Thomas’s ashen face as he stared at me, bewildered and anguished.
“This is terrible, this is a nightmare.” I cried.
I sank to the floor, hugging my knees and crying so hard I could hardly breathe. Thomas knelt carefully next to me. He touched me gingerly.
“Catherine? Honey? Please don’t cry. It’s going to be ok. We can make this work.” He said soothingly.
“We can’t make this work!” I screamed at him.
He recoiled from my anger. We stared at each other. I was suddenly very, very tired.
“We can’t make this work.” I repeated, quietly this time. “I don’t understand you Thomas. This is not going to be ok just because you want it to be. We’re not going to get married, move to the suburbs and have our parents over to admire and spoil their first grandchild. It’s just not going to happen. Why can’t you slot oyna see that?”
“I’m not stupid Catherine. I know this is not going to be easy. I know that it’s a complicated situation. But I’m still happy you’re pregnant. Ok?” Thomas replied.
“I know that there’s a chance the baby could have…problems…but there are tests the doctors can do.” He continued.
“Tests? Tests?” I asked him wearily.
“And what do you plan to tell them? Please test my baby for signs of incest-related deformities?” I continued nastily.
His face hardened. “I’m happy you’re pregnant and I’m not going to apologise for that. I’ll think of a way to deal with this.”
“No, you’re not,” I replied, “because I’m not having this baby.”
“What?” he asked.
“I’m not having this baby. I’m going to have an abortion. I have an appointment this morning with a counselor to make the arrangements.” I told him.
“You can’t do that! I have a say too. This is my baby too, not just yours.” He said urgently.
He reached down and grabbed my arms, his fingers digging painfully into my flesh.
“You’re hurting me!” I told him. “You’re hurting me Thomas!
He let go as if he was holding hot coals.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry honey. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m sorry. I…please…please…don’t kill our baby. Please don’t, please don’t.” he begged me, crying now.
“I have to. I have to do it. I can’t have this baby. It will kill me Thomas. I can’t have this baby. Please understand that.” I sobbed.
Thomas knelt down next to me, gently disengaging my arms from their strangle-hold on my legs and wrapped his arms around me, resting his head against my abdomen.
“Our baby is inside you. Our innocent little baby is inside you Catherine.” He pleaded through his tears.
“I can send you overseas and you can have the baby there and no one here has to know you were pregnant. I’ll tell them I sent you over there for work. And then I’ll visit you and we can tell everyone that the baby is mine from an old girlfriend and I didn’t know she was pregnant and she couldn’t look after him and so she gave him to me.” He babbled frantically.
“No!” I cut him off. “No, no, no. I can’t do it. I can’t carry this child. I don’t want it inside me. I don’t want it Thomas.”
I tried to push him away but he clung to me. His sobs tore through me, hurting me physically.
“Stop, Thomas, please stop, please stop.” I begged.
He clung tighter and my arms slowly crept around him. We rocked each other, both of us crying uncontrollably. I don’t know how long we stayed like that. It felt like hours but was probably only a few minutes. Eventually I was able to pull away and I crawled over to my bed. I curled up in a ball, too tired to cry any more, my body still shuddering.
I looked over at Thomas, who was now propped up against the wall, holding his head in his hands. I didn’t know what to say. There were no words that could make this better.
Thomas raised his head and stared hollowly at me, his bleak expression touching me even in my extreme misery. I couldn’t look away and we stared wordlessly at each other, until:
“Is there anything I can say that will make you change your mind?” he asked softly, the hope not entirely dead.
“No.” I replied, just as softly.
He nodded tiredly. I think a part of him knew from the beginning how it had to be.
“I can’t be there when you do it. I can’t be there. I’m sorry.” He whispered.
“Ok.” I managed.
He climbed wearily to his feet. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see him leave. I kept my eyes closed even after the door clicked softly shut and his heavy footsteps retreated into silence. Then I pulled a pillow close and stuffed as much of it as I could in my mouth and I howled. I howled out all the pain and longing and fear that were in me but my muffled screams brought me no relief. I only stopped when my throat burned too much to continue.
Eventually I had to pull myself together. I had an appointment with Louisa and I couldn’t fall apart now. I washed my face and tried my best to fix up the damage. I don’t think I did a very good job, judging from the look on Louisa’s face when she saw me.
Wordlessly she motioned me to sit down and sat across from me silently, her concerned eyes never leaving my face. She waited patiently as I hesitantly related what had transpired between me and Thomas earlier in the day. When I was done she asked,
“Do you want him to be here Catherine?”
I shrugged tiredly. The only thing I wanted was for it all to be over and I told her so.
“Ok Catherine. I’ll make the arrangements. Wait here while I make the call.”
She left the room and returned about 10 minutes later with a slip of paper.
“It’s all arranged. Here are the details. Do you have someone to go with you?” she asked.
I shook my head, “I don’t want anyone with me. I just want to get this over with.”
“I would advise you not to go though this alone Catherine. Do you have a friend I can call?” Louisa canlı casino siteleri tried again.
“There’s no one.” I insisted.
She merely nodded this time. I looked at the slip of paper she’d given me and was startled to see that my appointment was for the next day. Even though I wanted to get it over with I was still surprised that it would happen so soon.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I tossed and turned for hours, eventually getting up to sit at the window, where I kept vigil throughout the long, dark night. My thoughts turned inexorably to the little life inside me, the fragile soul who hadn’t asked for life, hadn’t asked to be conceived by two deeply confused people. How could I do this? How could I not do this? What kind of life could such a child have? I mulled over every conceivable option but all my thoughts returned to the same conclusion. I had to have the abortion. I had to. Didn’t I?
I watched the sun rise over the dirty grey buildings and I made my decision.
I arrived at Louisa’s office before it opened and the 20 minute wait took an eternity. She took one look at my face and ushered me immediately into her office. She motioned me to sit as she shrugged off her coat and switched the coffee machine on.
“Excuse me Catherine but I need my morning cup of coffee and you look like you need one too.” She said firmly.
I sipped the hot bitter brew and felt a little better as the heat seeped into me. Louisa waited until we’d finished our coffee and then said without preamble,
“Something’s happened. What is it?”
I was silent for a beat then replied, “I’m not sure I can go through with the abortion.”
My words hung in the air. I couldn’t breathe.
Louisa sighed softly and said, “Alright Catherine, you don’t have to go through with the abortion if you’re not sure. Have you thought about the alternatives? Have you thought about what you’re going to do?”
“I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do. All I know is that I’m not certain an abortion is the answer. I don’t even know why I feel that way; I just do, that’s all.” I replied lamely.
“Then we should discuss your options now Catherine.” Louisa said decisively.
We spent the next hour talking about the various options and I was surprised at how easy it was to reach my final decision at the end of our talk. Louisa still had concerns and she said so but I remained firm. Some things I needed to do on my own. I left her office a different person, my resolve straightening my spine and allowing me to hold my head up for the first time in a long time.
I returned to my apartment and immediately set about packing. I had enough money to last me for a while, long enough to do what I had to do. I booked my flight online and arranged for a taxi to take me to the airport. While I waited I thought about what I would say to my parents. I didn’t know what to tell them and decided cravenly to put off talking to them just yet. The taxi arrived all too soon and then I was leaving, my old life slipping away. I checked in at the airport and boarded without looking back. I couldn’t let anything distract me. Only once we were airborne did the enormity of what I had let myself in for finally start to penetrate. I was alone and scared and no one could help me through this.
I managed to doze fitfully through the short flight and later disembarked groggily into the bright afternoon sunshine. I headed for the taxi rank and gave the driver the address Louisa had given me that morning. A scant half hour later we pulled up outside a pleasant looking house on a quiet tree-lined street. I wondered if this was the correct address but the driver confirmed it was the same as the one Louisa had printed on a slip of paper. I retrieved my bags and walked slowly up the path to the brightly painted front door. I lifted my hand to knock but before I could complete the motion the door swung open to reveal a plump, attractive woman in her sixties, sporting a broad smile on her face.
“Hello, you must be Catherine. Louisa told me to expect you but I didn’t think you’d get here so soon. I heard a car pull up and the afternoons here are so quiet so I wondered who it could be. Of course when I saw you get out of the taxi I realised it must be the Catherine Louisa told me about. You must be exhausted my dear. Plane trips are so tiring, don’t you think? Come in, come in my dear. Goodness gracious, here I am babbling away when anyone can see that you’re dead on your feet. Come through to the living room dear. I’m Maria, but you probably guessed that already.”
I staggered under the onslaught of her cheerful babbling and wondered what I had let myself in for. All I knew of this woman were the few details given to me by Louisa that morning. Maria was an old friend of hers, someone she said I could trust and who wouldn’t ask too many questions. I had barely listened to the whispered conversation Louisa had with Maria on the phone. Louisa had negotiated a reasonable amount that I would pay to Maria for room and board and had told her I would be there soon.
Maria led me into a comfortable and pleasantly furnished living room. I felt a little better in the midst of such normalcy. I sank down onto the huge overstuffed couch and breathed a sigh of relief.
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