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