In Lieu Of
Things had not been smooth between Holden and Grace off lately. They were into the fifth year of their marriage and the bond between them had already fissured. He wanted to understand her mindset, but she was gone far off. It began with the miscarriage she had a couple of years back. If he thought about the time before that, all he could conjure in his mind were happy memories, they were high school sweethearts after all.
Their relationship had not been a happily ever after affair after he had proposed her in high school. There were several setbacks. When you are in high school, everything appears to be a fairy tale. It is however the time that follows that tests your love. Going to different colleges and maintaining a long distant relationship looks good only in paper or the silver screen, but they had survived.
The next hurdle was her parents. He had to find a good job to be able to ask for her hand. They say that if you really want something and work for it, the stars turn in your favor. After a little struggle, he was able to grab a good opportunity and even though her parents were reluctant with him being Jewish, they had agreed after both of them persuaded them endlessly. He still remembered how beautiful she looked in her white gown while walking down the aisle. He still remembered how happy he had felt while kissing her not as his boyfriend but as his husband in the church after reading his vows. Nothing could ever replace those memories.
Despite of a few little fights, they were extremely happy with each other for the first three years of their marriage. Life had become even more blissful when she had announced her pregnancy on his birthday. It was the best gift he had ever received on his birthday.
However, their happiness did not last long. Due to some complications, they had lost their child. Grace was broken beyond imagination and it took months for Holden to divert her mind from the loss. She was not the chirpy self she used to be, but things were improving. When things were finally looking good, they were hit by another blow. Even after trying for months, she was not able to conceive. They consulted a doctor and found out that she will never be able to.
It was heartbreaking for both of them, but Grace had become distant. She would talk sometimes and on his lucky days, she would even be like her usual self until something reminded her of their lost child.
After contemplating between a shrink and medical help, Holden had decided that they needed a change. He thought it might give her a new perspective and once she is ready, he would also talk regarding adoption possibilities with her.
They had shifted to a new state last evening and she found it a welcome change; evident from the way she spent the initial couple of hours in the garden, admiring the blooming flowers. He was happy because the new house actually gave her things to explore. Although it was a little expensive for his yearly pay cheque, it was worth if it could help her climb out the mental abyss she was living in.
They had unpacked the furniture that came with the house together. She had always found popping bubble wraps extremely satisfying and when he noticed her indulging in the same habit, he felt happy. The happiness lasted only till she found a toy in the attic. He had even prepared the dining table with two tall candles to celebrate a new beginning, but she was not interested anymore. They ate food in silent in the bedroom instead. It was their first night together in their new bedroom and this is not how he had planned to spend it.
It was a lovely room with mauve illusion wall facing the bed. They had a small shelf besides the bed on both ends, a cupboard with matte finish, a life size mirror and a recliner. She would have loved to admire about the room in her usual self, but right now there was nothing to talk about. They went to sleep early as he had to leave for interviews on the following morning.
She was still sleeping when he left for the interviews in the morning. Before leaving, he had prepared scrambled eggs for her and penned down a message that could bring a smile on her face.
As he pulled his car into the garage, he looked at the flowers he had bought for her – blue orchids along with red roses; it was her favorite combination. He had nailed one of the interviews and had to join the office next week. He could not wait more to tell Grace about the good news.
“Hey honey!” she said hugging him.
“Hi!” He was surprised, but happy that her mood was good right now.
“You won’t believe me,” he said with pride swelling through his chest.
“You got the job?”
He nodded with a smile on his face.
“Oh wow! Am I not married to the most talented man?” she said excited with the news.
He took her in his arms. This was the happiness he wanted to see in his wife. “I love you!” he said.
“You will get enough time to love me, but first let’s eat; I’m famished! Oh and by the way, thank you so much for the scrambled eggs in the morning,” she said kissing his cheek.
“I love our new room,” she said while they were eating. “I have always craved for a full size mirror in my room, but you never got one for me!”
“But then, I bought a whole new house for you just because it had a full size mirror.”
“Who actually pronounces LOL?”
“Your beautiful wife!”
She was back to what she used to be; a jolly creature who was so full of life. “I have to be careful and prevent anything that may remind her of her loss,” he thought.
They did the dishes together and went straight to their bedroom. “Don’t you deserve a special treat after such a good news?” she asked playfully while keeping her hands on his shoulder.
“Like this,” she placed her lips on his.
He kissed her back passionately and took her in his arms. Moments later, their bodies were entwined with each other. The passion that was suppressed for too long was evident in the harmony with which they were moving against each other. They made love twice before getting exhausted and sleeping in each other’s arms.
Grace opened her eyes when Holden was deep asleep. She carefully took off his arm from above her and slid away from his embrace. Pulling up her night gown, she got off the bed and walked towards the mirror. She admired her reflection. “I am beautiful! I am everything that he wants. In lieu of a sad person, I am a happy soul, a good wife and a true lover! I will always keep him happy.” she said before walking towards the washroom. Inside the mirror, Grace was trying to break through the mirror.
“Wake up Holden! She’s not your Grace, she is my reflection! I am trapped inside this mirror! Help me break out!” She shouted, but her voice was inaudible in the real world.