A Story

life vest

She tells him she loves him. She does not tell him that she is pregnant. They get married because he is afraid of being alone and she does not want to be alone with the baby. She has always been against abortions. A week after their wedding she can no longer hide the bulge and she tells him, making him nervous. After the disclosure there is a period where he spends most of his time away from home, but then she shames him into staying with her. They have a multitude of evenings sitting side by side on the sofa, watching cooking shows. Neither of them likes cooking.

They tell themselves that it will be better when the baby is born and in a way it is. For almost two years after the baby is born, they are too tired to be bored.

When the child is five, she tires of him and taking care of the child alone no longer seems like a large burden. Still afraid to be alone, he clings to her as she splits everything they own in two. Before shaking him off her properly, she allows him to have the child for a weekend every fortnight.

For close to a year he lives for that weekend, then he finds someone else to keep him company. His new girlfriend adores the child, but the child is terrified of her long red nails. Soon the child stays only with her mother.

One night as the mother reads her child a bedtime story the child frowns. Forgetting the story, the child says: ‘Mummy, does daddy love me?’

‘Of course he does,’ she says, ‘and so do I.’ She hugs and kisses the child and she wonders how anyone could ever think a life vest a burden.

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