Chapter 18: Melancholy Baby


Karen woke up that Sunday morning feeling the best she’d felt in ages. No morning sickness, a clear head…physically she was top notch.

Mentally it was a different story. She’d finally told Grant what was going on. She no longer had anything to hide about the pregnancy but while her mind was at ease, her heart was breaking.

She’d expected any number of reactions from Grant but the one she hadn’t expected was the one she got.
“He wants me to abort,” she thought, tears pricking at her eyes.

Then the guilt started in, after all, who could blame him. It wasn’t like she hadn’t thought exactly the same thing herself. It was just the bluntness of it all. There was no “Wow”. No “Well that’s a shock!” Just a flat expression of surprise that she was even considering going through with it. Given how hard they’d tried to have another baby after Grace , that really hurt.

Now he wasn’t even here. He’d come in, packed his gear and sloped off somewhere for the night. Terry’s place or into the bush or into some private man cave. She wasn’t really sure where and she wasn’t really sure what was going to happen when he came back.

She gave in to the wave of grief that swept over her and let herself cry.


She checked her eyes in a hand mirror before she went into the cafe. Good, not too puffy. It was the wrong time of year to be able to pass red rimmed eyes off as hay fever.

As she came in, she could see her sister-in-law Libby and Libby’s friend Meegs, both looking a little haggard, plotting something at the corner table. She gave them a quick wave but didn’t go over and talk. If there was one person who would guess that something was wrong it would be Libby, and Karen didn’t feel like a heart to heart this morning.

Out the back, she quickly got into the rhythm and routine of the kitchen. It was good to let go of everything and just concentrate on the everyday magic of cooking. She didn’t lose herself completely though. She kept one eye on the clock, knowing that she’d have to go and pick Grace up from the hospital after lunch.

Of course, Grant’s disappearance in their only working vehicle had made the logistics of that a bit difficult. She tried phoning Grant’s cell but he didn’t answer. Reception in the man-cave was obviously non existent.

Karen didn’t particularly want to pay for a cab, nor did she fancy dragging a no doubt hungover and sulky teenager back home on the bus. Perhaps Libby was still here?

Karen went out the front but Libby was long gone. She stood behind the counter biting her lip as she considered her next move.

“Why so glum, Mrs Miller?” It was Carl Lowry, gossip king extraordinaire. “You look like someone has been fiddling with your friands – and not in a pleasing way!”

Karen laughed. “Nothing as simple as that, Carl. I’m just nutting something out.”

“Well could you get me a frothy coffee, darling. I need a little something to perk me up and I’m all out of Class As!”

“Another big night was it, Carl?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe it!” he exclaimed. “I’ve been banned from all the Goodbars bars for life!”
“ What on earth did you do to do deserve that?”

“I’m not sure” he said, looking rather despondent. ” I was standing at the bar at Barmuda, admittedly a little trolleyed but nothing out of the ordinary, the next thing I know my drink’s been poured out in front of me, I’ve been escorted out of the premises and told to never show my face in there again. My sources tell me Al’s readying to write my name in gold paint on the lifetime ban board at Harry’s Pool Bar – right up there with Clive Geddes, Helen Clark and Steve Wilde from National Radio.”

Karen handed him his cappuccino. “Given that Clive and Helen don’t drink, it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t be trying to gain entry anyway, but what about you? You spend most of your time in those bars. Are you sure you can’t remember what you did.”

“Well, no,” he said sipping thoughtfully on his coffee. “It’s all a bit of a mystery…although I’m sure I’ll find out eventually. People will be only too eager to tell me whatever it was I said or did. And I have no doubt it will be three times more interesting and lurid than what actually happened. Oh well, it’s all more lustre for the legend, isn’t it? Anyway what about you, Mrs Miller? What was it that was causing you to look so concerned?”
Karen quickly outlined the Grace situation and her transport problems.

Carl clapped his hands delightedly. “ Nice to know I’m not the only person in the dog box for undesirable behaviour! Tell you what, Mrs Miller, I’m more than happy to drive you out to the hospital. Little Gracie and I can compare hangovers and on the way out, I have a riveting story to tell you about a local identity caught cheating using his cellphone at the Queenstown Primary School PTA Quiz Night. Phoning his babysitter, my bumhole…and as we all know, that’s a very sensitive piece of equipment. Get your coat, Mrs Miller, your chariot awaits.”