I was in the kitchen, sat in a chair near the stove as others, a cook and a server moved about and brought food for me to taste. The kitchen was hot, oven and stove running at the same time. The cook and server were in uniform. I was in bedclothes, a robe, and with a blanket draped over my lap. I was sick, my stomach turned with the smell of food and put a hand up to stop the cook from coming over with yet another spoonful of whatever.
Then he walked in, bow tie in hand and shirt collar up. He smiled at me, sweet and gentle and my insides melted. He kissed the top of my head, asked how the food was and how I was feeling. He put his hand to my lower abdomen and his eyes softened.
I put my hand over his and he knelt before me, laying his head on my lap. I leaned and kissed his temple, murmuring that I was feeling better and that I really should go get ready for the dinner party.
At this he turned concerned eyes to mine. He reminded me that I was meant to be in bed by doctor’s orders. He promised to come and check up on me throughout the night.
There was no arguing, I simply nodded and took the tie from his hands. I expertly did up the bow tie, my fingers never faltering, and then I turned down his collar and smoothed it out. He kissed my hands and then took me in his arms.
He made his way slowly up the stairs and I felt embarrassed as he walked into our bedroom and he placed me in the middle of the bed. He stroked hair out of my face and kissed my lips gently.
“I’ll catch you up in all the gossip after they all leave.” He went to greet the guests, mostly people from his family and work colleagues. I could hear them chattering from the bedroom, glasses clinking and silverware scraping china.
Then the comments began. “Where is that little wife of yours?” His aunt asked. Her tone was as bitter as the black coffee she preferred in the mornings. “Yes, where is she hidden away? We were hoping to see her today.” Another female, his cousin perhaps. There’s an awkward silence and I wish I had the strength to get out of bed and down the stairs to his side.
“She’s resting, doctor’s orders. But she sends you all her best.” His voice is distant, mechanical. He’s taken offense to their line of questioning. I close my eyes and try not to feel guiltier. “Well, maybe you ought to have another dinner party for when she’s better, I’m sure she’d like that.” His friend, Charles speaks up.
I look down at my stomach, my hands pressed to it. “Be well, baby.”