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“It must be you! It has to be. How can everyone but you be wrong? Come on Eddie, we are family. How is it possible we all conspired to make you this miserable? We are the reason you misunderstand everything.” “We make it so difficult to talk to you!” Come on Eddie! Must we walk on egg shells around you? I’m sick of this! Deal with the consequences of your words. It’s all on you Eddie. Now get out of my office!”

I took a final look at her face and saw defeat. She was done with me. At this point I switched off. I felt hollow inside. The pain centered on my heart, making it difficult to breathe. I ran out of the office and bumped into someone as I pushed through the door, blinded by tears. I could not make out who it was.

Out on the grounds, I slowed down and made my way to one of several benches scattered about. My heart still thumped. I took slow deliberate breaths, counting to five as I exhaled before inhaling again. Gradually my breathing returned to normal.

“Are you okay? Tell me what to do. You need something to drink? How about home? Let’s go home.”

The voice was all too familiar; it was Caleb, my lover and best friend for the last twenty years.  I persuaded him to accompany me to work just so I had a witness. He came along reluctantly. He never wants to come between my sisters and me.

He sat beside me pulling me gently into his arms. A slow smile crept up my lips. I nestled my head upon his chest. At the same time, I felt relief, and yet sorrow engulfed me. Unlike me, he was calm. His heartbeat was gentle and I felt my worries ease away.  He caressed the small of my back and I wondered how he was able to understand my family better than I did. I placed my arms around him and squeezed.

He proposed once again last night…. “Something wrong with me mango, or am I a sucker for punishment? Either way I long to call you my wife, so please mango, marry me.”

I remember looking away. I didn’t look at the ring or his face. I don’t quite remember saying the words, but my voice said, “Yes, why not? You’ve asked long enough.”

“And I would have asked another twenty years mango, until you said yes. Right now, why not sounds like heaven! Not the yes I expected, but one I’ll accept anyways.”

The joy in his voice made me put aside the pain I felt. I savored his happiness.

What a strange man… four miscarriages and one still-born. Still he’s remained undaunted, unwavering and still wanting me. I on the other hand had become numb over the years. He says it’s life playing out.

“…It’s you I want Eddie. I want you and everything you have to give.”
“Can’t you see I’m damaged? I can’t even carry a baby long enough for it to draw breath. A man needs a son and a daughter. Evidence that you were and are, and I can’t give you either.”
I was lost in thought during this last conversation, I was not conscious of him picking me up from the sofa. He twirled me around and I retched.

“Put me down this instant you maniac, I’m about to vomit!”

If he heard, he gave no indication. He twirled me around even more, muttering to himself, until my 145 pounds of flesh, began to weigh on him. Then he did put me back down on the sofa and held my hands within his. There was nowhere else to look beyond my reflection in the wells of his amber eyes.
“Eddie?” His voice jolted me back to the bench.

Yes, my sweetness. Home would be fine.” I fidgeted with the solitaire around my finger as I got off the bench. My sisters, neither of them noticed it. Myopic minds…I could not wait to get home.