The Hand of Fate

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


Happily married Jack and Laura decide the time is right to start a family, but problems arise causing strain and blame within their marriage.

Submitted: October 19, 2017

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Submitted: October 19, 2017

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THE HAND OF FATE…

Laura was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired… it had been a hard twelve months. After the shock discovery of his double life, her marriage to Jack had ended in a bitter divorce. Admittedly, their marriage had been under considerable strain well before he had embarked on a life of lies.

They had been married for five years when they both decided the time was right to start a family. As the months rolled by without success, their desire for a child intensified. Former spontaneous and exciting intimacy turned into a scientific, calculated act… a means to an end, a job to be accomplished.

“Well, it’s not me,” Jack had insisted. “My ex suffered a miscarriage. I think you need to get checked out.”

Laura had been stunned by his bomb-shell. “Why haven’t you mentioned this before?”

“It’s never been an issue before.” His eyes were cold, accusing. She felt as if she had committed some sort of crime.

It had been during this stressful time in their lives that Jack was offered the position of Sales Executive with a packaging company. He had warned her that the inflated salary would involve extensive travel abroad but insisted, not without a hint of blame, that the extra income would come in useful, particularly should the need for costly assisted fertility treatment prove necessary.

Laura had not been prepared for the impact that his new job would have on their lifestyle. Most weeks involved him being away on business for at least three nights, and she missed him.

“We can’t go on like this… even when you’re home you’re always on the phone. I thought you wanted a family as much as I did. You’ve changed Jack.”

Jack rounded on her. “I warned you I would have to travel, and while we’re on the subject, I think you’ve changed. You’re not the woman I married, you’re longing for a family has turned into a neurotic obsession and I’ve had enough.” He jumped up and stomped from the room, slamming the front door behind him.

Laura had dissolved into floods of tears then, from the corner of the armchair where Jack had been sitting, she heard his phone vibrate… watched it light up. She quickly reached for it and knew instantly their marriage was over. A message from ‘Jodie’ had flashed on to the screen… ‘Miss you, can’t wait to see you again xxx.’ It transpired that Jack had cunningly divided his working week between Jodie, his mistress in Milton Keynes, and his wife.

*****************

At thirty six years old, Laura found being newly single hard. Not only had she lost her husband, but her dream of becoming a mother had suddenly and cruelly been snatched away. To make matters worse, all her friends were either married or in established relationships, with young children. She was by no means old, but not that young either which left her feeling awkward; a sort of sad, social misfit.

When the marital home was eventually sold, Laura moved into a small, modernised terraced house. One day, as she glanced at her reflection in the full-length mirror, the realisation hit her… there was no doubt, she had let herself go. She looked older than her years, dark circles the colour of livid bruises had formed under her hazel eyes, her skin was dull, her dark hair overgrown and greasy, but what shocked her most of all was the physical effect of all that comfort eating. She had thickened out… her sweater strained against numerous rolls of fat that had accumulated around her middle, she had become matronly and vowed there and then to take herself in hand.

She went on a diet, joined a gym, had her hair restyled and softened with subtle, honey coloured high-lights.  

“Wow, like the new hair,” Beck, her colleague complimented. “And you’ve lost weight. Looking good girl, well done.”

“You’ve worked really hard and it’s paid off?” Dan, her personal trainer, remarked. Their eyes met and held.

 “Um, I’ve been thinking, wondered if you might fancy a drink after.”

She took a gulp of water from the plastic bottle in her hand. “Dan I’m nearly thirty seven years old.”

“So? I’m twenty five, what’s the big deal? We’re both single, it’s not a crime. I really like you.”

The spark of sexual attraction was ignited and, for a few weeks, they exploited their gratuitous carnal desire for one another unashamedly. Laura had known from the outset it would be a no-strings-attached fling.

*******************

As Laura stared at the pregnancy test, her mouth gaped in astonishment and disbelief. She toyed with the idea of keeping it from Dan, but it was his baby, and he had a right to know. She smiled and patted her abdomen, this was what she had dreamed of and could not believe her good fortune. She was quite prepared to be a single mother, if that was what he wanted.

“I thought you said you couldn’t get pregnant,” Dan retorted, raking his fingers through his dark hair, his handsome face incredulous.

“Dan, this is nothing short of a miracle. I honestly thought that was the case. When I was married to my ex, we had tried for a baby without success. He told me his previous partner had suffered a miscarriage, so I naturally thought the problem was mine.”

Dan smirked. “The ‘problem’ was that his ex was sowing her wild oats elsewhere.”

“Dan I only told you because it’s your right to know. I am more than prepared to rear this baby on my own, it’s what I have yearned for.”

He reached for her hands and pulled her to him. “It’s takes two to make a baby, I’m in…”

As the doctor turned the monitor towards them, he smiled broadly. “Here, say hello to your twins.”


© Copyright 2018 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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