Steele on Our Own Part 1/6
By Linda Bonnell
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 1999
"Linda" <>

As her husband eased their sleek BMW roadster into the garage, Laura Steele contemplated just how close she was to tears and resolved that they remain unshed. As devastated as she was by this latest news, she knew that Harry must be even more so. A visit to their infertility specialist had confirmed what Laura had suspected, that the latest attempt at pregnancy had failed. They had tried them all, IVF, ZIFT, GIFT, TET, the alphabet soup of procedures they had subjected themselves to churned in Laura's head. And for what? For nothing. They had spent the first two years of their marriage avoiding pregnancy, and the last five years desperately seeking a child. The quest had worn Laura to a nub.

Bang! Laura inadvertently hit the wall of the garage as she opened her door. She screeched: "Harry, must you park so close to the wall? I am so tired of trying to -to..."

"Laura, I think you're just plain tired, and I am not rising to the bait tonight. Let's go inside," Harry responded, the edge in his voice evident. The rest of the journey from the garage through the utility room and into the kitchen was marked by cool silence.

Harry walked down the basement steps, and emerged a few moments later with a bottle of red wine. "I have a charming Shiraz here, and I am pouring you a very healthy glassful. Take it with you while you change, and I'll pull together a light dinner."

Laura was too drained to protest, to banter, or to even speak, so she obediently took the proffered glass and went upstairs to their bedroom. As she swung open the double doors, she breathed an audible sigh. This room was her very favorite of all the rooms in their house. The pale peach walls were accented with random leaves, a stenciling technique that Frances had taught her. A king-size bed wrought in iron stood commandingly in its center. Creativity and domesticity were still not exactly Laura's cup of tea, but she had enjoyed making this house a home when she and Harry bought it six years ago. They had giddily told each other that the house would some day be filled with children, their children, but that was very wishful thinking, Laura recalled ruefully. As Laura parted the French doors and stepped out on to the balcony, she caught the scent of the ocean. Although the house was nestled in the hills high above Malibu, when the wind was just right an ocean breeze winged its way up the hillside. Sometimes Laura imagined that she could even hear the waves bursting onto the shore, but she drove away those fanciful thoughts tonight.

Tonight, well tonight Laura wanted to think. And not pleasant thoughts, but frightening ones. She wanted to think about her marriage, and the promise she had made to Harry all those years ago. She knew how badly he wanted a family, wanted to surround himself, steep himself in a family's love and security. And she felt responsible for, no, guilty of, depriving him of his heart's desire. They had no children because she couldn't have them. Plain and simple. All the doctors, all the clinics, all the drugs, all the procedures had not altered that one terrifying truth.

Their union had been a happy one, Laura assessed, but she also thought that it had been a marriage on hold, waiting for someone or something else to make it complete. Once it became clear that parenthood would not come easily for them, they had both reverted to old ways, shielding from one another their innermost thoughts and fears. Each disappointment in conception wedged between them, until the wall seemed insurmountable to them both. Professional success no longer satisfied either of them, and their work became perfunctory. Now what? Would he leave her? Find someone who could give him everything he so agonizingly wished for? She had given him her love, years ago, but was it enough to cement their childless marriage? What if he did walk out on her? Could she survive that abandonment again?

"No, I can't," and the words she had spoken aloud echoed in the room behind her.

"Can't what, darling?" questioned Harry, as he strode through the open door of their bedroom and joined her on the balcony.

"Nothing, just thinking out loud," answered Laura.

"A penny for your thoughts.."

"I, well, I was thinking that I just don't want to go to work tomorrow," she said defiantly. "And I am not ready to face Frances, or my mother, or.."

"And so you shan't. But if you don't come downstairs and avail yourself of my scrumptious dinner.."

"Okay, okay, I'm coming. What is it tonight?"

"Oh, merely a salad of field greens, topped with sliced fennel and orange sections, and dressed with a heady balsamic vinaigrette," he announced, sounding rather more than a bit pleased with himself, despite the events of the day.


They ate their dinner, first in uneasy silence, and then more fluidly as they sought and found safe subjects to bring up. Today's test results, and the answer to the question 'where do we go from here,' were not alas, safe subjects, so they went unbroached.

After dinner, Laura cleared the table and stacked the dishes in the dishwasher. Harry helped himself to another overly generous glass of wine, and headed to their bedroom to change for bed. Laura worked methodically, finding some measure of peace in the work of restoring order to their kitchen. When she finished, she paced the rest of the rooms on the first floor, memorizing the warmth exuded by the surroundings. Laura took comfort in the trappings of her home, and the things that made it special, or rather made it hers and Harry's. She would miss it.

Later, she found Harry asleep, very much on his side of the bed. She caught a choke in her throat, and knew she had made the right decision for both of them. She wouldn't force Harry into the position of leaving her, or worse, staying with her out of a sense of duty. She'd put them both out their misery.


Laura eased the garage door open manually, not wanting to wake Harry now that her course had been set. Regretfully grabbing the keys to the Beemer, she wondered grimly whether he'd miss the car more than he missed her.

End of Part One
To Part Two