Trust Me - T.M. Logan

1

A shape, white and black and grey.

The curve of the spine, the forehead, the tiny snub nose, the perfect feet with toes curled. A shape that holds the promise of new life.

I stare at the grainy image, thumb frozen on the screen of my phone, emotion clogging my throat. The ecstatic caption beneath it written by a woman I have never met, full of optimism and joy and the excitement of approaching motherhood.

So . . . Richard and I have news! Junior has settled in nicely and is on his way. So pleased to be able to tell everyone! Excited!!! #12WeekScan #ultrasound #instamum #instababy #babylove

The knowledge settles like a rock in my stomach. She’s having my ex-husband’s baby. Richard has finally got what he wanted, what we both wanted, craved, more than anything.

I feel winded, dizzy, as if I’ve been kicked in the chest, all the air knocked out of me for the second time in a matter of hours. First this morning’s news, and now this.

I lay the phone face down on the table, biting down the ache, the longing, the wanting. I stare out of the train window, the Buckinghamshire countryside racing past in a blur of fields and hedgerows. Crops harvested and stalks cut low to the ground, the earth ploughed brown, tendrils of smoke from a distant bonfire curling up into the grey autumn sky. The gentle rock and sway of the train, the vibration rising up through the flat soles of my shoes. The train is taking me back to London, back to my little newbuild house, back to . . .

To what, exactly? An empty home that will be exactly as I left it this morning. Silent and cold. Half the wardrobes newly emptied and half the books and DVDs newly absent; the framed prints and the big corner armchair gone too. Richard left me with most of the furniture at least, that was something. And all of our photo albums; evidently the past is something he wants to leave behind. But somehow I can’t do the same. I’m stuck here, stuck in my own past, unable to move on. A prisoner of my own biology. Maybe my time really is up. This is it.

I settle back into my seat, the pockmarked blue material worn smooth by the years, and try to concentrate instead on the low hum of the engine, on the indistinct phone chatter behind me; a group of football fans singing at the other end of the carriage, their voices loud with alcohol.

A young woman makes her way slowly down the aisle, scanning the seats, a pink-clad baby tucked into the crook of her arm. I turn away, avoiding eye contact, looking out of the window again with a silent prayer that she will find somewhere else to sit down. Babies, babies, everywhere I look. It’s a mid-afternoon train, too early for commuters, plenty of spare seats further down this carriage or in the next. Please find somewhere else, anywhere, so I don’t have to look at your baby all the way to London. I sense the woman pass by, walking slowly down the carriage, and let out a guilty sigh of relief.

The rest of the day stretches out in front of me, blank and empty. The rest of the week. Work. Commute. Home. A few glasses of wine, a few shots of vodka. Pulling the duvet up over my head so I don’t have to think about anything. Sleeping alone in the big double bed. Next week, next month, next year. More of the same, looking for a reason to continue beyond the unthinking imperative to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. I feel empty, spent, hollowed out by a hunger that can never be sated. How can it be possible to hope and pray so hard, for so long, and end up with nothing?

I was a fool.

‘Hi,’ a woman’s voice says. ‘Is anyone sitting here?’

The young mother is back, hovering next to the set of four seats where I’m sitting alone.

‘No,’ I say. ‘There’s no one.’

‘Thanks.’ Swinging her rucksack into the window seat, she lowers herself gently opposite me. She’s in her mid-twenties, wearing a rust-coloured jacket and blue jeans, blonde hair falling to her shoulders. She’s pretty, even beautiful, in that way young mothers always seemed to me. She points down the carriage, where the football fans are still going with their half-shouted songs. ‘Had to move to get away

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