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Here is an extract from The Stories She Tells by LK Chapman
‘Not again,’ Sadie said, ‘please, not again.’ Michael looked down at the pregnancy test in her hand, and saw that it was negative. He sat down beside her on the bathroom floor, and put his arm around her awkwardly. ‘Sadie…’ he said. ‘No!’ she shouted, the suddenness and loudness of her voice taking him aback. She shoved his arm away. ‘No,’ she said again quietly. Michael gave up. He knew how desperate she was for a baby and never had a clue what to say when she got a negative result. When he tried to talk to her he usually ended up putting his foot in it and making things worse. Sadie put the test down on the floor and rested her forehead on her knees, her hair falling forward and brushing her bare legs. It was six-thirty in the morning and she’d done the test the second she got up, so she was still wearing a baggy old t-shirt of his that she wore in bed. When she’d called him into the bathroom to wait for the result she’d looked glazed with sleep.
He watched her as she slowly lifted her head again, took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. ‘I’m all right,’ she said. ‘I’m going to be all right. Just… just give me a minute.’ Michael left her and when she appeared half an hour later she was dressed and ready to go out. ‘Come on,’ she said when she found him in the living room eating a bowl of cereal in front of the TV, ‘we’re going to the shop today, aren’t we? You wanted to go in early before it opens―’ ‘You don’t have to come,’ he said. ‘If you can’t face it I can go on my own―’ ‘What would I do here? I don’t want to rattle around the house all day. I want to be busy.’ ‘Sadie―’ ‘Please. Let’s just go.’ It was a cool, misty morning and Sadie shivered a little as they stood outside Benton’s Furniture. Michael struggled to unlock the old door, which always seemed to catch and get stuck, swelling up or shrinking according to the weather. Most things in the shop had been old when Michael had taken it over from his parents. They were retired now, but it had taken a good couple of years before they’d trusted that they could leave him to it without the shop falling to pieces in their absence. The new stock that Sadie had come in to help him arrange was the first step in the sweeping changes he had planned for the store. Once inside, Michael felt daunted at the size of the task. Spread over two storeys, the shop floor was like a rabbit warren, packed full of far too many items that were badly displayed and made him feel claustrophobic. It would take weeks if not months to get it all sorted out. But Sadie was in her element. Completely unfazed she jumped in immediately, suggesting where he should place furniture and lamps and cushions, roping all the other staff in to help, until by the time they got home they were both exhausted. ‘Oh. God,’ she said as they walked through the front door. ‘What is it?’ ‘We’ve got to go out tonight,’ she said, ‘Emily and Andy invited us round for dinner. I’d forgotten about it.’ ‘That’s tonight?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Sadie, we should cancel, after the news we had this morning―’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘I won’t cancel because of that.’ ‘But―’ ‘It’s not Emily’s fault that she’s pregnant and I’m not. I refuse to take it out on her.’ Michael sighed. ‘Okay,’ he said, ‘if you’re sure.’ He gave her a look. ‘I don’t know why she had to tell you the second she found out,’ he said. ‘We’ve been through this. She thought it would be easier for me if I had a bit of warning rather than finding out when they do their big announcement in a couple of months. She was thinking of my feelings.’ He sighed. ‘Yeah, I guess.’ ‘It’s been a year, Michael,’ she said after a brief pause. ‘We’ve been trying for a year.’ ‘I know,’ he said. ‘Let’s try not to think about it right now. Let’s just get through tonight.’
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