This is the first part of a fiction serial, in 1001 words.
Anita watched as he tightened his tie, then grabbed the suit jacket off the bed. Even after eight years, she still loved to look at him. The broad shoulders, thick dark hair always neatly trimmed, and just that much taller than her so they fitted together perfectly. His aftershave smelt strong first thing in the morning, but she loved the way it hung around the bedroom after he left for work.
The kiss was brief, but welcome. Toothpaste-fresh, reminding her she hadn’t brushed yet. He didn’t seem to care. Picking up the car keys from the dressing table, he turned with a broad smile. “Don’t go overdoing it today, Nita. I will see you later, love. Should be home about six”.
Stretching out her legs under the duvet, she rubbed her belly, and spoke to her unborn child through the considerable bump. “Daddy’s gone to work now. It’s just you and me until he gets home”.
Three months to go, give or take a few days. As they had discussed, Anita had given up work for now. She wanted to be around for the baby, at least until she started school. At first it had seemed like a holiday, but with Mike out at work all day, the hours started to drag. Sometimes she would drive over to see her older sister, Jill. But there were only so many times she could drink tea and eat cake whilst listening to her moan about the lack of activity in her bedroom, since the divorce. At one time, she had expected Mum to get a lot more involved and excited. But after Dad had died, there had been the dancing classes, Yoga for Oldies, and tennis club too. Now she was even going on dates arranged online.
There were times when Anita felt as if she was the old fuddy-duddy in her family.
Evenings in, sat on the sofa after dinner, cuddled up with Mike watching the latest thing on Netflix. That was her idea of heaven. And now the new baby girl would be the icing on the cake, making their small family complete. It was funny how they kept arguing about a name. Mike wanted something traditional, even Victorian. His current favourite was Eleanor. Anita fancied something short, snappy, and modern. She was hoping they would come to a compromise on Zoe, as Mike didn’t object too much when she suggested it.
After making some tea and toast, she took it back up to bed. Two hours before she had to think about getting ready for the doctor’s appointment. Just a routine checkup, and so far everything was going well. She sent a text to her best friend Claudia, the girl she had asked to be her birthing partner on the day. Claude liked to know she was fine every morning, especially as she had moved a long way away with a new job.
Showered and dressed, it was time to make a shopping list. Something nice for Mike this evening, she thought, regretting not being able to add a nice bottle of wine to the list, as she had sworn off the booze as soon as she had the test confirmed as positive. It always felt good driving the yellow mini-cooper, but it would have to go soon. No way was she going to fiddle around with a two-door car, baby seat, baby bag, and whatever else. Mike had a company car, so he said they could afford to change to something practical for her. They looked online, and Mike suggested a strange-looking thing with a siding door on one side. He had smiled when her eyebrows raised. “You are going to hate driving around in something like that, Nita, but you will thank me for it later, believe me”.
They were going to the dealer to look at one on Saturday morning. That sort of car made her feel very grown up.
In and out the doctor’s in record time, and straight onto a free checkout at Waitrose. Anita was beginning to think she must be doing something right. She had been careful with the shopping, even though Mike had told her not to worry. His team were doing great, and he was in line for a huge bonus as he was nationwide top salesman this year so far. She didn’t understand much about his job. Industrial glues and fixings were a mystery to her, and one that she had no desire to learn more about. Still, he earned twice as much as she used to at customer services for the gas supply company. And even though he had to drive all over the place to see clients, he always did his best to be back home by six.
With a low backache necessitating a rest on the sofa for a while, Anita finally got around to preparing the meal. One of Mike’s favourites, Chicken Kiev with dauphinoise potatoes, and green beans. She hadn’t had any particularly unusual cravings during her pregnancy, but her love for garlic seemed to have increased tenfold, so as well as the garlic butter in the chicken, she added more to the potatoes too. Mike wouldn’t mind. I was all soon ready to go into the oven, which she would do when he got home. After laying the table at the other end of the long living room, she sat back down on the sofa, and switched on the TV to watch the six-o-clock news.
He would be home soon, and she would see the headlights of his car as it pulled into the parking space next to hers outside.
The national news finished at 6:30, and the local news programme started. Anita checked her phone. No text message, no missed calls. He must be stuck on a road somewhere, unable to use his phone. But it was hands free, so surely he could call. When the second news finished at 7 pm, she started to be a little concerned.
This wasn’t like him at all.