Family, Fiction, Melbourne, Parenting, Relationship and marriage, Writing

Working together

Sarah and Craig lay awake in their bed. Not touching, not speaking. The space between them a gaping chasm.

Sarah pondered this while she stared at the ceiling. His job loss, and his interfering mother were part of the problem. But it wasn’t the main reason. She pushed the thought back down, back into its box labelled Things to Never Think of Again.

‘Sarah?’ Craig’s voice was quiet and small in the dark. She heard him swallow. ‘You awake?’

‘Hmm. Yes.’ Falling asleep was difficult these days. She remembered not so long ago, she’d fall into bed and drop off as soon as her head hit the pillow.

‘We need to talk.’

The air around them felt damp and heavy. Sarah knew what was coming. ‘No, please. Let’s not.’

Craig huffed. Rolled over. ‘Fine. We’ll keep ignoring it. What a great way to live our life.’

Sarah’s gut swayed, like seaweed moving in the ocean. It wasn’t any way to live. But she felt guilty for living when her son was cold, in the ground. She clenched her jaw, bit back the tears.

‘I can’t Craig. I just can’t.’

Craig sighed. ‘It’s fine. But just know that I can’t go on like this.’

This time, Sarah felt her tummy roil. She sat up, bile rose in the back of her throat. Leaping from the bed, she only just made it to the bathroom before it spewed from her.

Craig appeared in the doorway with a glass of water.

‘Thanks,’ she said, taking it and greedily gulping. She stooped over the toilet. ‘What do you mean, you can’t go on like this.’

He collapsed on the tiled floor. The two of them gazed at each other as if in a showdown. ‘Sarah,’ he said gently. ‘Michael’s dead. We failed him. But we need to move on, otherwise our marriage is in here.’ He nudged his head towards the toilet seat.

With her bottom lip trembling, Sarah said, ‘I really can’t face it.’

And all that was unsaid, screamed aloud within her: because it’s my fault. Because I let him ride ahead of me. Because I watched the car hit him and I couldn’t stop it from happening. Because I laughed and loved. Because my pride swelled within me at his glee and giggles over riding a bike.

‘It’s not your fault, Sarah.’ Craig held her. Sobs overtook her body; she shook and shivered as Craig’s arms gripped her tightly. ‘It’s the driver’s fault, for being on his phone while driving.’

Sarah sniffed. Pulled on the toilet roll and blew her nose on the tissue.

Craig rubbed her back. ‘Let’s get some help. We need to work through this together.’

Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash

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