“Anna!” Jodie said, snapping her fingers in front of my face, making me flinch. “Did you hear what you just said?”
“Huh?” I hadn’t blinked for a long time and at this point it felt like the moisture from my eyes had evaporated completely.
Jodie smiled, incredulous. “Did you hear what you just said?”
I shook my head. “Nope.”
Jodie laughed and nodded. “Oh, I think you do.”
I shook my head more fervently this time. “No, you’re mistaken.”
“I don’t think so, girl. You’re in love with Daniel?”
Did I really say that?
Jodie’s brows pulled at the centre. “Why are you so afraid?”
I hopped out of my stool. “I’m not afraid because I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Sorry, Jodie, but I have to get going. It’s getting pretty late.”
“But Anna—” she called out as I was gathering my things and set to leave.
“Talk to you later. Bye!”
I hopped into my car and practically sped home; as if the farther away I got from the place of birth of those words the more they’d seem as if they never existed. My heart was racing, and again, I barely blinked. My eyes were focused on the road and streets and yet somehow I wasn’t seeing anything. I could barely breathe, and despite the air-con being on in my car, because I felt like I was burning up, I still felt like I was under fire.
I can’t believe I’m in love with Daniel. Wasn’t it too soon? Is there even an appropriate time to fall in love? I didn’t know. I built a long and calculated relationship with my ex that everything down to the moment where I told my ex I loved him was the particular moment I chose for impact. Even though I didn’t know it then, it felt untrue because it was so calculated. But just now, with Jodie, it felt like it was real. Natural. I am in love with Daniel. I am. But I didn’t know if that was a good thing, because, well, was Daniel in love with me? Would he freak out if I was the first to say it? The first to feel it? Was I the first to feel it? And what if my feelings for him weren’t reciprocated, will I have to be patient and wait until he was ready to love me?
Ugh! There were so many questions, so much to deal with! All over a simple fact: I’m in love with Daniel. Now, it’ll be driving me crazy even as we are forced to be strung along at the awards ceremony. Locked in, hand-in-hand, so close to the man that didn’t know I was in love with.
As soon as I got home and through the doors, I texted Jodie. ‘Please don’t say anything!’
In a matter of seconds, she replied. ‘Cross my heart and hope to fly.’
I smiled at her response. It was always something I said that caught on within the group. I wanted something more positively playful and optimistic than ‘hope to die’ so I decided on ‘hope to fly’. It seemed to uplift in general down moods. And because I was slightly rigid the entire ride home, it seemed to relax me a bit.
I knocked on Chloe’s door to check up on her, but after not hearing a response for a while I gently opened the door just in case she was asleep. The bed was still completely made up, untouched. In my confusion I gravitated towards the bathroom. Surely she wasn’t still in the tub. I opened the door and entered, seeing Chloe still enveloped in the water and…sleeping? My heart started pounding in fear. Was this even alright? As I paced towards her I noticed the water had turned into a vile red colour. Not strong but noticeable enough.
I shook Chloe at her shoulders hard. “Chloe!” I was freaking out so bad.
Chloe woke up in seconds, her alarmed features quickly turning into a soft and tiresome smile. “Hey, you’re back.”
“Chloe, you’re bleeding!” my voice was shaking, my hands trembling, my body numbing. All in absolute fear.
Chloe assessed the water in wide-eyed shock. Then she looked back up at me, shaking her head, her eyes already spilling with tears. “But…I dozed off only minutes ago…I think. How long has it been like this?”
“I don’t know we have to get you out of this tub and to a hospital now!”
Chloe smiled but it didn’t reach her wet eyes, I could tell it was all hope for herself. “It could be nothing, Anna, don’t worry.”
“Chloe!” I yelled. I didn’t mean to but I was just so scared. After all, it was I who suggested that she sit in a hot bath to simmer. “We have to go now, please!”
Chloe nodded and extended her arm. I pulled her up on my shoulders and led her into her room. I tried dressing her but she insisted on doing everything herself. Her legs wobbled; she definitely sat in the tub for a very long time. Too long. I felt even guiltier.
“Call Daniel,” Chloe said.
“What?” I asked in surprise as I rushed to fill a bag with overnight clothing and food (hospital food is grotesque sometimes).
“I want you with me the entire time. That’ll be impossible if you’re looking for parking. Or even driving me there alone, you won’t be by my side.”
I was silenced, trying to fathom why.
“I can’t call Jodie, or Janet,” Chloe finally said.
And because I didn’t even have to understand, I picked up my cell and immediately called Daniel. At each ring my heart pounded stronger, in anticipation, hoping that he’d pick up this late at night.
“Hello?” his muffled, sleepy voice answered.
I tried to calm myself. “I need you to come get me.”
“What?” I heard a shuffling sound. “Anna? What’s wrong? What happened?” his voice was stronger now, worried.
“It’s Chloe, I need your help. Please?”
“I’ll be right there,” he said. We hung up.
I was nervous about Daniel’s reaction to my call at this time of night. After that though, I didn’t know why. Daniel was unbelievable. And he didn’t even ask for an explanation beyond two words. He was amazing. He even sped to pick us up. I knew that because he took less time to get here than I did to his place. The entire drive to the hospital I was clutching Chloe. In the rear view mirror, Daniel checked on us every so often, darting his concerned eyes between Chloe and I.
“I’ll be right up,” Daniel said as he dropped us off at the dropping zone.
I nodded and pulled Chloe into the doors. I don’t know how long we waited but, after an assessment by the nurse and doctor, eventually the doctor approached Chloe. She sat up on the gurney and my posture straightened with attention.
Chloe burst into tears immediately after she heard the news. I cried silently with her, hoping that she didn’t notice because I wanted to be strong for her. I held Chloe again, and she wrapped her hands around my forearm. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have told her to sit in the bathtub. The hot water, losing the baby, it was all my fault. I shouldn’t have told her.
“I’m so sorry,” I muttered to Chloe.
She shook her head. “It’s not your fault.”
The doctor was standing there in silence as both Chloe and I digested the news. “Miscarriages are a lot more common than it appears,” he said. “It is still possible for you to get pregnant again. And when you do, be sure to come see a doctor and get the relevant and best information you need.”
Chloe nodded. “Thank you.”
The doctor let us be in our misery.
“I’m sorry, Chloe,” I said again, “it was me that told you to get in the tub. I’m so sorry.”
Chloe shook her head and looked at me with weary eyes. “It’s not your fault. Neither of us knew the right thing. Besides,” she shrugged, “it may all be for the better. When the time is right, it’ll be my time. I guess this just wasn’t it. I’ll be okay,” she smiled.
I smiled back.
“I guess now it’s easier to tell Jodie and Janet,” Chloe laughed, lazily. I didn’t.
Chloe didn’t have to stay long in the hospital because she miscarried so early on in the gestation. By the time we got home though, I was exhausted and she was practically passed out. When Chloe finally did pass out Daniel ended up carrying her to her room, and we tucked her in. I brushed away pieces of her hair that had fallen over her face and then pecked her on her forehead.
“Goodnight, Chloe,” I whispered.
She moaned in response and I smiled ever so slightly.
Daniel was in the kitchen doing I don’t know what when I rounded the corner to my room. I hopped under the covers and then saw Daniel enter with a single cup.
“Hot chocolate,” he smiled.
I smiled in response. “Thank you.” I placed it on the night stand.
He got into bed with me and rubbed my thigh, comforting me. “How are you?”
I shrugged and shook my head. “I don’t know. I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel.”
“But how do you feel?”
I hesitated, and as the thought entered my mind I began sobbing. “Sad,” I blubbered like a child.
He held me close. “I am too. I’ve very sorry for Chloe.”
I nodded into his chest. “Me too.”
“I know you are,” he said. “I know.”
“Do you think she’ll be alright?”
Daniel nodded. “In due time, she will. Just because miscarriages are common doesn’t make it all that much easier to accept,” he sighed. “But as long as she’s surrounded by loving and supportive people, then she’ll be fine. In fact, it’ll make the healing process a little bit smoother.”
I nodded, realising that I needed Daniel to comfort me.
“Now drink your hot chocolate,” he said. “Before it gets cold. Then we’ll go to sleep together, and by morning, you’ll start to feel the wounds mending.”
“Promise?” I asked helplessly, crying as soon as I did.
Daniel kissed my salty lips, wet with tears. “Promise.”