Wednesday, 16 May 2012

'One of Those Conversations' by Juliet Boyd


Leanne sunk into the sofa, her limbs shrinking into insignificance beside the fullness of her belly.
"But would you really though?" she said.
Ned looked straight into her eyes, a thoughtful, if somewhat bemused, smile on his face. He imagined that every couple must have this conversation at some time during the nine months – and the one about being a house husband.
"Of course I would," he said, safe in the comfort of knowing that he never could. It was definitely the right answer to give, if maybe less than completely honest.
"And you wouldn't mind the pain and the sickness?" she said. That was clearly a snipe at the way he took to his bed at the slightest sign of a cold – she had never got the hang of sick days – but he needed to counter.
"And you wouldn't mind being the one who had to stay at work?" he said, thinking how much more he would have done with all that time off.
"What if there was a way you could take over right now? If we were just to say the words and it happened?"
Ned snorted. It wasn't attractive, but given the circumstances.
"I'm serious," she said as she stretched over and picked up an object from beside the sofa. It was old and tarnished, but it had an unmistakable shape. "I found this at the flea market."
The 'dare you' in her eyes was overwhelming. Of course, it was a joke. He took the lamp from her and turned it over. He lifted the lid.
"Hello? Anybody there?" he shouted. The words echoed.
"Chicken," she said, folding her arms as best she could.
He stood up and pulled his shirt sleeve down over his palm.
"I have three wishes, right?" he said. As he buffed the surface a tingle fluttered through every nerve ending in his body. "Shit!" he cried, flinging the lamp into the air.
They both screamed and Ned dived onto the sofa to shield Leanne as the lamp fell to the ground. When silence once again prevailed, he slowly lifted his head and looked around the room.
"Idiot," she said.
"You screamed as well," he said, and they both laughed until their throats were dry and their faces wet with tears.
"What would you have wished for really?"
Ned gently caressed the form of his child.
"I would've wished for a girl," he said, "because that's what you want. That she was healthy, of course. And that you would go into labour straight away so we could put all this interminable waiting behind us."
"Ow!" screamed Leanne.
Ned giggled.
"No, really," she said.

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