Lily planned to wake before William on Saturday morning, stroke him gently till his eyes opened in that crinkly way she loved, then make love to him the way he liked best but which she hated. She hated it because she couldn’t see his face. But afterwards, when he was relaxed and loving her for her unselfishness, she would introduce the subject of babies.

Lady of Shalott [photo: David Austin Roses]

Lady of Shalott [photo: David Austin Roses]

Instead, she awoke to the sound of William swearing in the en-suite because brown water was coming out of the taps and he couldn’t have a shower before setting off for the rugby game. The alarm clock hadn’t gone off and somehow it was her fault. It wasn’t a good start. Following him into the kitchen, she hovered as he stood in front of the fridge.

He turned round and bumped straight into her. “Jesus, Lily. Don’t creep up on me.”

“I’m not.” She flicked the switch of the kettle and danced around him to the mug tree. “Want one darling? And some toast?” She kept her voice light, determined not to let his grumpiness drag her down. She loved him dearly but he was a bear in the morning. She sank into the rocking chair, patted her lily cushion and made a wish. Her usual wish.

He shook his head as he rummaged through the fridge. “I haven’t got time to drink it, I’m very late. Damn it.” Bottles and packets fell to the floor.

Lily knelt to gather up the tins of iced tea, peach-flavoured spring water, cranberry juice, echinacea and lemon spritz. Last out were William’s purchases last night: something called La Fargé Fromage de Fruinet in a gold foil packet, boutique organic eggs and unsalted butter from a Norfolk farm. All things which William had slipped into the basket at the deli last night, the deli around the corner which was so tempting and expensive they never managed to buy a bottle of milk there without buying other treats.

Now he stepped around the gold foil packet and missed squishing it by millimetres. “Surely it’s not that difficult to make sure the fridge has bottles of ordinary still water.” He snatched a bottle of peach water and turned from the fridge, colliding with Lily again who was now standing at his elbow holding two mugs.

“Goddamit Lily I said I don’t want tea.”

She took a quick step back as if bitten. “Don’t shout. I know you’re late but I’m only trying to help.” The toaster binged and two pieces of wholemeal shot into the air and fell onto the worktop in front of them. Both of them stared at the toast.

He tipped his head to one side and looked at her. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I promised Freddie I’d be there before kick-off.”

“And you always keep your promises.” Lily smiled at him and was gratified when he smiled back. Now, she thought, do it now. “I got my period yesterday.” She waited for a response.

William was flicking through the unopened post.


“What? Oh, sorry sweetie, does your tummy hurt?” He put down a brown envelope and patted her on the arm. He’d never patted her on the arm like that before, the way you pat the arm of an aged aunt when she tells you the same thing for the eighth time.

Make eye contact, she thought, like the self-help books say you should do when your husband was grumpy. Reward him for being thoughtful. She forced a smile. “So I think the time has come for us to have a serious talk. About a baby.”

“We will, sweetie,” he checked his watch again then picked up his jacket. “Just not now. I’m late and, well, there’s obviously no urgency to do anything about it today, is there?” He nodded at her stomach.

Lily’s hand went instinctively to her tummy. “There are lots of things we… you don’t have to do anything… I’ll do it all.” The nearer he moved to the door the quicker her words were coming out. “I’ve got a list…”

“I’m sure you have.” He picked up his keys and then turned back to peck her on the cheek. “You start doing your stuff.” And he was gone.
© Sandra Danby

…in IGNORING GRAVITY #17: Rose and Lily empty their mother’s wardrobe.

This is the 16th instalment of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ about identity detective Rose Haldane. To start reading from the beginning, please click on the category ‘My Novel: Ignoring Gravity’ in the right hand menu.