In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt Green-Eyed Lady.
We all get jealous from time to time — what wakes the green-eyed monster for you?
“Hey Kate! We’re here.”
Catherine waved back to her friends, taking a deep breath before crossing the street towards them. She hadn’t seen them in a while. For the most part, it was her fault. She’d worked a lot; she’d buried herself in work. She’d declined every invitation under the excuse that she was swamped. She was, but she was avoiding them.
She reached Sally and Lydia and their baby carriages with a smile – one that felt so fake it hurt – on her face. But they were her friends. Lydia hugged her.
“God, I’ve missed you. Don’t you go disappearing on us like that for so long again.”
Sally too offered a warm and kind hug.
“She’s right honey. Life’s not all about work. Does Stephen even see you once in a while?”
She bit her lips.
“Sure, we live together you know.”
She nodded. They started towards the park; they’d always loved the place. It was their rendezvous point when they were teenagers and then at university. Every weekend they knew that if they were in town they could meet here. Every time she returned for the weekend, Kate had come here. It was a surprise when all three of them were there at the same time, which was the fun part of the game but it was always special. And today… well. Kate guessed it was special too but not in the way her friends could imagine.
The two of them went on about being mothers. The more they said, the harder it was for Kate to follow. She kept that smile, that stupid fake smile on her face. If she didn’t, she knew she’d cry. Lydia spoke of how annoying it was to have to wake up every three hours or so to feed the baby, but how amazing it felt when Gladys fell asleep on her breast. Sally nodded vigorously. As they sat, Sally went on to say that the most frustrating thing was how helpless Jackson was. She’d hoped they could play together but he still couldn’t sit. So she was left doing not a lot and being bored.
“And I can’t lose the last 5kg of my pregnancy. I don’t know why.” Sally added. “You have no idea how lucky you are Kate. I mean, you still have that toned, beautiful body.”
“Hmmm.” She answered biting the inside of her cheeks. Sally pulled Jackson out of the baby carriage, holding him against her chest.
“Do you want to hold him?”
“Sure.” Kate answered. It wasn’t a good idea. She should know better. But she couldn’t help it. Every day at the hospital, women gave birth to children. Every day she held the babies, cleaned them and gave them back to their mothers. Every day her heart broke in million pieces. The boy was so beautiful, his eyes wide opened as if he were trying to swallow the world, understand it.
What did he see this tiny boy? What did he understand of the world? What did his mother? Sally had married a man who made it possible for her to not work. She only had to take care of herself and of her child.
“So… I have news.” Sally said.
“What?” Kate asked, as she gently cradled the boy.
“You remember Devon’s older sister?”
“The junkie?” Lydia retorted.
Sally punched Lydia’s shoulder.
“She’s my sister-in-law come on. Well, she finally went to rehab. Devon wanted to know why. I mean, he thought it might be a ploy to get back into his parents’ good graces. But it turns out she’s pregnant. And she wants to change, give a chance to her baby. Isn’t it amazing?”
It was great. Wonderful. Yet another woman who hadn’t planned anything, who didn’t even have a life to talk about. And she would still have a child. And she could not. Why was it that even the lowest of the low could have children and she couldn’t? Had she done something in a past life to deserve this punishment? What had she done in this life to deserve this? How badly did she mess up with karma?
“Yes.” She started. Sally was trying to take Jackson back and the boy was crying. She released him. “Sorry.”
“Are you ok?”
“I’m fine.” She stood up. “I have to go.”
“Oh please, we’ve only just arrived. We haven’t seen you in forever.”
“I have a surgery later.”
“I thought you’d taken the day off.”
“I did too but they texted me earlier today.”
“You’re lying.” Lydia said. “Kate, what’s wrong? Talk to us.”
“Forget it Lydia,” Sally said. “We’re no longer interesting. We’re mothers. She’s a well-known obstetrician and paediatric surgeon. People come from the entire country to see her.”
Kate turned to her friend, eyes burning.
“Really Sally? Is that what you think?”
“Well you have been avoiding us since we got pregnant.”
She turned and walked away. But Lydia wasn’t to be deterred. She left the baby carriage with Sally and ran, standing right in front of her. Her friend took her hand.
“Let me go.” She whispered.
“Talk to me. Talk to us.”
“And say what Lydia? That I envy you? That I hate you for having what I’ll never have?”
Lydia’s face fell, her eyes widening, understanding spreading across her beautiful face. She’d grown even more beautiful since becoming a mother.
“About a year ago.”
“I’m sorry. But you can…”
“Don’t. Please. Adoption is out. They’ve denied our request. So you see even society thinks I can’t be a good mother. Yet, a junkie can be.”
“That’s a horrible thing to say. I know. But I can’t help feeling that way. I have to go. I’ll see you soon.”