Every Friday at 12 am, I publish a chapter from my novel “Dependables“. This is the third chapter.
Chapter 3: Hanna & Rick: Cravings
“GET IN THERE!” Rick roared with glee that made his pregnant wife startle.
“Jesus, what was that for?” Hanna screamed. Only a fleeting moment earlier Hanna had been rubbing her swollen belly with a glowing smile on her face, but now Hanna was pretty certain she had just wet the couch. Her bottom felt awfully…warm.
“My team won! Oh wait, did I make you jump? Sorry,” Rick glanced at her with a quick reassuring smile and turned back to the flat screen, feverishly tapping on the game control.
Hanna rolled her eyes and started to get up. There was no other way about it, either she had done it or not. She screwed up her face trying to discern if her underpants felt wet. Maybe a bit? Or was she being too optimistic? Surely, she would know if…
Rick had the courtesy to pause the game to wonder aloud where his wife was going.
“Loo and the kitchen, if you must know,” Hanna answered breathlessly. Every day it was getting harder to get up from the couch. She slapped Rick’s helping hand out of the way irritably and wiggled her bum forward. She got to the edge of the settee and managed to shift her weight on to her feet.
She couldn’t believe she was just 30 weeks pregnant and only barely getting up from the couch without help. Was it normal? Or should she be worried? She had no trouble at the antenatal yoga class, but then the instructor had said something about the joints and the weight points and stiffness after sitting motionless for a while. Hanna glanced at the impression of her bottom on the couch and saw no tell-tale signs of dampness. A relief flooded her. Victoriously, Hanna shuffled towards the bathroom. Her legs did feel stiff, and she quickly shook them before hurrying towards the bathroom. She did desperately need to pee.
She praised herself for not losing the bladder control when Rick had startled her. That would have been so embarrassing. As she was sitting on the porcelain, she did the one thing she always pestered her husband for. She dug out her phone and messaged her friends.
Hanna: I can’t believe I almost wet the couch.
Emma: Excuse me?
Hanna: Seriously, I didn’t even realise I needed to go but then Rick yelled because his team won on Xbox. It startled me so bad I nearly lost the control of the bloody bladder!
Katie: How far gone are you again?
Hanna: Just 30 weeks! Can’t believe I’m so huge already, it was a struggle enough to get off the couch to go to the loo!
Emma: Is it normal to be that big yet?
Katie: Everyone’s different, the size of the tummy is really no indicator. Some don’t even show when they are full-term, like my co-worker!
In the kitchen she was looking in the cupboards and fridge-freezer for something to eat. No apples, she did not definitely want any bread, perhaps some cheese… No.
Frustrated, Hanna shouted to Rick: “Do you know if we got any blueberries?”
“Blueberries? In the fridge, maybe?” Rick shouted amidst his game.
“There’s only an empty packet, and no raspberries either…” Hanna slammed the fridge door shut. She wanted to scream. Why wasn’t there anything to eat? Huffing, she opened the freezer door. Could frozen berries do? Were they safe to eat when pregnant? Hanna picked up her phone to google it quickly. Even with her strong desire to stump this horrid craving, she didn’t want to make any mistakes. Whatever she ate, so did the baby. She had to be careful.
Rick turned up by the kitchen door. He was tall and skinny, which meant his slowly greying hair nearly touched the top of the doorframe.
“Don’t tell me, you really absolutely and no doubt in the world need some blueberries pressed inside raspberries, and mango sorbet?”
“Yes, and with some lemon sorbet too. Like yesterday,” Hanna growled, peering again in the freezer. Frozen berries were no good, there was a risk of listeria unless the berries were heated properly before consuming them. And Hanna did not want any microwaved, soupy berries. Even the thought made her gag.
They had chocolate ice-cream, but it had no appeal to Hanna. Not that she was allowed it either. She wanted fresh berries and sorbet. Nothing else.
“Fine,” Rick said and threw the controls to the couch, “I’ll get some from Tesco. Anything else?” Hanna stopped in her search and flushed with pleasure. She didn’t even need to ask!
“Oh, you are a sweetheart!” she gushed, but Rick was already banging in the hallway, looking for his tired, battered and trusted sneakers.
Hanna investigated their cupboards with a new mission in mind. She opened the fridge, checked the freezer, fruit basket, the pantry.
“I think just milk will do, alongside my sorbets and fresh berries. Oh, and maybe some other fruits too? We’ve only got apples.”
“Anything particular?” Rick appeared again at the door, fully dressed in outdoor gear this time.
“Mmm, pineapples? Mango? Something sweet. Or maybe that’s just my sorbet yearning talking. Get something, but no apples,” Hanna looked sternly in the fruit basket, where a week-old patch of six apples were untouched. Bananas, pears, and oranges had all been eaten a long ago.
“Right, on it. If you think of anything else, text me. See you soon, mummy,” Rick murmured and kissed his plumb wife, whose usually slim body had filled up not only at the front, but equally around. Tentatively, he pushed one of Hanna’s naturally blonde hair strand behind her ear. Then off he went.
Hanna settled herself back down on the settee and grabbed her phone. She thought of her yoga instructor and wondered briefly, if instead of spreading her limbs on the couch she should be arranging them on top of the yoga matt in a series of pregnancy friendly postures. She dismissed the idea as soon as she saw that there were several messages from the girls, and she read them through carefully, trying to read between the lines. What weren’t they saying? Were there any underlying issues that they might be trying to hide? Then she fired up an update from her end.
Hanna: Rick just went to get me some berries and sorbet from Tesco. I didn’t even need to ask!
Katie: You lucky bastard.
Katie: Don’t be! I wish mine was as considerate. Matt is still in the kitchen, I think he has beer number 2 on the go already.
Emma: What are you going to do? Confront him about his drinking?
Katie: I’m not sure if it is the best to do yet as he has already been drinking… Don’t know. Really don’t know.
Hanna: If it was the other way around, if it was Rick who was acting like Matt, what would you tell me to do?
Katie: Nothing as he had finally knocked you up!
Hanna: Well okay if I wasn’t preggo.
Katie: … Couple counselling?
Emma: That would only work if he recognised there was a problem in the first place.
Rick came back, kicked off his shoes by the door and hurried to the kitchen. Hanna made a move to get herself back up, which Rick saw as he peered through the doors to check up on his wife.
“No no, I’m on it. The same way than yesterday?” Rick disappeared to the kitchen.
“Yes please,” Hanna replied and got herself comfortable again, “I did boil the kettle for you, it should still be warm.”
Instead of stuffing blueberries inside raspberries like Rick doing just then in the kitchen, Hanna scrolled on the group chat. She felt emotional affection towards these two women, who she had known for most of her life. If it wasn’t for the pre-school they all had attended, they might never have met. They were her sisters, not bound my blood but choice.
She sighed as she stopped to admire Ted’s handsome face. She couldn’t fathom how Emma had been living up in Scotland for 2 years now and not once had Hanna managed to go up there to see her. If she had, she would have recognised those warm, brown eyes and chiselled face features to belong to one of Emma’s bosses. Instead, all the people Emma talked about were only names to her. It broke her heart to be so distant from her best friend’s everyday life.
The three of them had grown up together here in Bournemouth, but now she was the only one left still potting about here by the best beach of the United Kingdom. Katie had moved in with Matt years ago, building their love nest in Manchester. She knows they are lucky to be so close as they are, against all odds and distance. Then Emma had left, but it hadn’t made them grow apart. The opposite had happened, their messenger app had been on fire ever since.
Rick came back in with a bowl of berries and sorbet. He extended his arm with the bowl to her like a lion trainer with a piece of meat, his eyes averted from hers comically.
“Oh stop it,” Hanna laughed and grabbed the bowl, dropping the phone to her lap.
Rick stopped to look at Hanna’s phone screen.
Hanna had closed her eyes in pure ecstasy as the perfect flavour combination of berries and sorbet hit her taste buds.
“Hmm?” she managed to breath before the next spoonful was thrown into her gob.
“On your phone?” Rick asked, settling down next to her. Hanna opened one eye to see what her husband was on about and saw Rick pointing to the photo of Ted holding a little piggie in his muscular arms.
“Oh, him! Apparently, he is one of Emma’s bosses.”
“She interested in him?” Rick asked, picking up the Xbox controls again.
“No, you know what she’s like. She doesn’t do dating,” Hanna said, trying to scoop just tiniest spoonful of sorbet at the time, so that the portion would last as long as possible.
Rick grunted. A moment of silence was created as Rick waited for the Xbox to load up his game again and Hanna operated the spoon in her bowl like a surgeon making the first cut.
“Why though?” Rick asked.
Hanna had already lost the thread of the conversation. “Why what?”
“Why doesn’t she date? I know I’m the only man he likes on this entire planet, but still…”
“Oh, you big-headed walnut,” Hanna slapped Rick playfully, “She only likes you because you are with me. That makes you safe.”
“And there I thought it was because of my emotional intelligence and good humour that made me so popular…” Rick rolled his eyes.
“That does help,” Hanna agreed and turned her attention back on her bowl, scooping up a bit of sorbet and one blueberry within a raspberry.
“She never really liked Matt, did she?” Rick said absentmindedly, as the football game started.
“What, Emma? What makes you say that?” Hanna looked at her husband sharply. Rick shrugged.
“Just the impression I got.”
As Hanna placed the last spoonful of goodness in her mouth, the image of Matt popped to her head. Them all, frolicking on the Bournemouth beach, laughing and teasing each other. Now as she thought about it, she really did see what Rick meant. Emma had always been wary of Matt. Hanna wondered if she had been watchful of him for Katie, or for herself…
Reading her mind, Rick said: “Maybe she saw her dad in him.”
“Maybe,” Hanna sighed and sadly placed the empty bowl next to her. She picked up her phone.
“Don’t you say anything to her about it though!” Rick warned, not even pausing his game.
“Of course not, why would I?” Hanna scoffed.
“Cause you guys share everything in that group, don’t you? I wouldn’t be too surprised to know if they knew the size of my genitals too.”
Hanna burst with laughter. “Oh honey, your genitals are just for my eyes only – not to be shared even with my girls.”
Rick smirked. “Just checking!”
Next chapter will be published on 12 am on Friday the 23rd of April 2021.
You have just read the third chapter of my book, Dependables. If you liked it, please let your friends and family know about it. Make some noise about it in the comment section too! As an amateur writer, I would love all the feedback especially from you. Yes, you! So, share away, and write me a comment, please!