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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Doctor/Nurse (11/02/06)

TITLE: In love and in anger
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan


In love and in anger

Lying down on the same bed, side-to-side, but not speaking. He’s breathing heavily and snoring lightly. That he is able to sleep surprises me, that he dares it infuriates me. Was it just the other night? Intriguing how hours seem to stretch into days when you’re angry with your husband.

After five long years of trying, God has finally given us a reason to smile. The visit to the lab had confirmed my suspicion. Floating instead of walking, I scoured the late evening market for snails and spinach, Mark’s favorite. Then a mad dash around the kitchen, chopping, shredding, frying. At seven, the table for two was set. I was extravagant with the silverware and scented candles.

As a doctor, Mark works crazy hours. He’d said he would be home by seven-thirty but it wasn’t until nine that I started worrying. The operator kept telling me his cell phone was switched off.

I’m blessed with a very fertile imagination, so I terrorized myself with it. What if he’d been waylaid at that deserted strip of road? What if he’d lost a patient, was distraught and couldn’t find his way home? What if…?

I finally ran out of what ifs.

The door rattling woke me up from sleep. Mark looked haggard and dirty, and was trying hard not to fall asleep on his feet.

“What happened?”

He stared at me like he didn’t know me. “Can we talk about it later? Perhaps tomorrow morning.”

I followed him into the bedroom. “But I prepared dinner. And I have news.”


That was when I lost it. I called him unsympathetic, uncaring, unloving. He looked at me weirdly but didn’t reply. Instead, he crawled into bed, still dirty, and promptly fell asleep.

Dejectedly, I walked to the dinning and packed up what should have been dinner. Then I worked up some more anger as I cleaned the dishes and the candleholder.

I’d thought I knew exactly what it took to be a doctor’s wife; your husband being away most of the time, him falling asleep at dinner, being unable to attend church on Sunday. But this? I wasn’t prepared for this.

After five years, didn’t I deserve to share the good news in a romantic setting?

I finally heave myself off the bed, as sleep is impossible. Mark stirs but goes on snoring. I cast him a glance that could shrivel him if I had psychic powers. The TV is a welcome reprieve. At least, I can fall headlong into the miseries of others. How come midnight soaps are so depressing?


I turn to see a still sleepy Mark in the doorway. I try to remember if I indeed called him all those names last night. My memory tells me yes and shame quietly creeps into my face. Usually, I’m not an uncouth wife.

I mumble what I think sounds like a “hello.”

“Can we talk?”

I don’t feel like but I nod anyway and mute the TV.

He comes to sit beside me. “I’m sorry about last night.”

I blink quickly as remorse, warm and fast, spreads through me. “Me too. I shouldn’t have called you names.”

“The thing is that…” he drags in a mouthful of air, “Just as I was about leaving, they brought in a young woman. Just seven months pregnant but having labor contractions…” He squeezes my hands and I’m suddenly tense. “I lost the both of them.”

For a full minute, none of us says anything. On the TV, the actors act without the privilege of speech. The wind rustles the curtains. The clock chimes three times.

I jerk myself back to life. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s never happened to me before.”

My eyes begin to prick with tears. Suddenly, I’m afraid. I cling to his neck and smell stale blood, sweat…and loss. With my second hand, I feel my stomach.

Then I blurt out what I’d meant to say over dinner by the candlelight. “I’m pregnant.”

His eyes suddenly fill with wonderment. He makes to talk but the words wouldn’t go past his throat.

“I’ll be okay, won’t I?”

“Yes. Yes, you will. A baby?” The surprise in his eyes give way to pure elation. “I’d better start work on the nursery tomorrow.”

I giggle. “Doctors don’t have time for that kind of thing, you know.”

He doesn’t seem to hear me. Instead, he bends his mouth to my stomach and tells our baby hello.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Birdie Courtright11/12/06
I loved the ending--and all the twists and turns in between.