This is the twenty-eighth part of a fiction serial, in 825 words.
There was too much else to worry about for me to bother over Olly working late. After all, there was only his salary coming in now, so it was more important than ever for him to keep his job, and do well. We still had a substantial savings buffer with the profit from the flat sale, but that wouldn’t last long if we were both not working.
Polly was there at the next appointment, and did a few of the usual tests. She didn’t seem to be excited as I had wanted her to be about Leah crawling, and of course when we put her down that morning, she didn’t crawl an inch. I was left wondering whether or not anyone believed me. Nobody else had seen her crawl, and I hadn’t had the presence of mind to use Olly’s video camera to record the moment. When I had finished babbling on about standing and crawling, she told me what to expect next.
“Not walking isn’t an issue, Angela. many babies don’t do that for a while after they turn one. But Leah should be standing all the time now. Holding onto things for support, and at least trying to walk. She should also be able to grip small objects, and throw them or drop them deliberately. There should be at least three recognisable words by now, hopefully more. I know you are talking to her and involving her, but her only reaction to anything is that Gah sound she makes. Leah’s height and weight are both good, in fact she is a little heavy, but we won’t wory about that. I think we should see her again at eighteen months. Meanwhile, you should schedule her vaccinations”.
That was it? No brain scan? No specialist treatment or intervention? Had they already given up on my little girl?
All questions I should have been asking Polly. For some reason, all I did was nod.
In the car outside, I was furious with myself for not asking her fifty things. Why did I just tolerate this? Why didn’t I stand up to them? I seemed able to ask myself so many questions about what might be my own failures as a mother, then allow myself to be intimidated by the hospital environment, and the qualifications of someone I hardly knew. So I rang Polly on my mobile, without starting the car. I asked her the three big questions I had thought of, and she gave me a completely pat answer. “All in good time. We will get to that, I promise you”. I said thank you, and hung up.
Then as I was driving home, I slammed my fists against the steering wheel, angry at myself. I actually said thank you. How pathetic was that?
At just after five, Olly rang to say he was meeting an author later, and I shouldn’t cook anything for him. Just as well I hadn’t started dinner, though I couldn’t be bothered to argue. It was at least twice a week that he came home very late now, and he always had excuses about publishing deadlines, meetings with book printers, or agents. I guessed it must be hectic, because he had even stopped watching his beloved football, and didn’t even bother to record the matches so he could watch them later when I had gone to bed.
When he didn’t ask how it had gone at the hospital, I tore him off a strip for not remembering, or remembering but not caring. He stayed quiet as I ranted for a few minutes, then quietly said. “Ang, you are on speaker”. Then he hung up. I felt like shit for doing that. Blaming myself again, and not him.
Microwaving a lasagna was an easy option for dinner. And after trying to get Leah interested in a picture book story for ten minutes, I gave up and took her for her bath. I had not long settled her, when the doorbell rang just before nine. I should have been more wary of late callers, but I had so few visitors, I opened the door without hesitation. It was my brother, Ronnie.
He hadn’t spoken to me since that night we had drinks, and that had been a few weeks now. I had been leaving it, expecting him to come around eventually, and also not being that bothered whether he did or not. Since having Leah, she had come first in everything, and that included my brother.
He walked past me, and sat down. Though he was shabbily dressed, and looked like he could do with a bath and a shave, his eyes were bright and alert, and his face had a strange look on it. My brain searched for the word to descibe it, and came up with ‘Triumph’. Pointing at the sofa, he gestured that I should sit down, then confirmed that verbally.
“You should have a seat, Angie, I have something to show you”.