by Rebecca Dore

He couldn’t stand it when she cried. It was too painful. All he could do was hold her.
Try to soothe her. Love her. She was Clare, but she was incomplete. “Of course I feel everything! I feel the pain, I feel the regret that I know I’m supposed to feel, and occasionally, just fucking occasionally, I feel bursts of happiness. But the pain isn’t sharp. The feeling of regret doesn’t consume me. The bursts of happiness wither. It’s as if they just flash before me, they don’t touch me. Those feelings are just there, Mark. They are constant reminders of what I did wrong. My future”.

Nighttime was a bit easier. He would stay awake just to make sure she was sleeping, peacefully. He would brush the strands of loose hair from her face and ask why all her happiness had faded away. When she slept, she almost looked happy. But when she wakes, her eyes lack something. Life.

A year today. He could remember it so clearly. He remembered the sounds of that moment the most. They echo in his mind. A gasp. A plate smashing. Her scream, a combination of excruciating pain and fear. And a thud. Mark ran to the kitchen to find his wife cramped on the ground, shaking, and clutching her stomach. The doctor was talking to him. He was talking about statistics. But he couldn’t hear what he was saying. He didn’t want to. Because he knew what had happened. He walked into his wife’s hospital room. The blue and white hospital gown did not suit her, a drip protruded from her pale skin. He sat down beside her. She looked at him, her gaze was dim, distant. Her brow was creased ten times. “I would have called her Rachel”.

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