Out of the Darkness – Short Story
By: Diana Karanja
“Have a good day love.”
The door banged shut. With it her brave face fell.
A sudden unfair anger and resentment for Dean came over her. Nothing had changed for him. He could come and go as he pleased. He didn’t have to consult anybody. For a moment she hated her loving sweet husband for his freedom. Why did she have to be the one to make sacrifices?
Sheila’s head fell forward and she gave in to the tears that she had been fighting to contain. Her shoulders shook and with trembling hands she placed Baby Tamara on the Moses basket standing on the carpet. The baby slept peacefully unaware of the turmoil in her mother’s heart.
She couldn’t understand herself. Hell she didn’t even know anymore what she wanted and where she fit into the scheme of things. Sure she was a wife and a mum and a daughter and many other labels. So why then did she feel like a puppy who couldn’t find her way home?
Wearily, Sheila stood up and trudged to the kitchen to clean up the breakfast dishes. The window overlooked the parking lot of their apartment block. Once her favourite spot, now it served as a reminder of what she could not do.
A woman in her mid thirties from the downstairs apartment who lived alone came out in her smart red skirt suit and high heels that would break a lesser woman’s legs. She shook her matching red umbrella open and darted into the rain. Sheila would have given anything to swap places if only for a day.
Don’t be silly, she scolded herself, shocked at such a thought. Guilt as strong as a gale left her panting for breath. How could she want another woman’s life when she had Dean and Tamara?
Her eyes felt heavy with sleep as she lumbered towards the bedroom to make the beds. Sheila stood looking at the freshly made bed, and wished she could slip between the crisp cream cotton sheets. She quickly dismissed it. The baby might wake up anytime and she couldn’t bear the thought of baby Tamara crying even for a minute unattended.
How she had longed for that day when she could hold her baby in her arms. When the day came, an overwhelming love and protectiveness filled her for the tiny vulnerable baby. Tamara completed her.
Working faster now, Sheila put dirty clothes into the washing machine and returned to the kitchen to make a flask of porridge and another of hot chocolate. When they were ready she carried them to the living room along with two mugs. Funny how monotonous her job as a city receptionist had been but she had never felt bored and constricted.
She hated this daily routine of making herself hot drinks. Her mum and all the women who came to see the baby stressed the importance of drinking rich liquids for milk production. It made her feel like a cow getting ready for fattening. But for Tamara she did it.
Her feet tired, she sank into the couch. Tamara chose that moment to let out a scream as an announcement that she was now awake. Sheila lifted her up from the couch and held her close to her body. Wearing no bra it took as much time to give Tamara her breakfast as the time it took to flick on a light switch.
Sometimes she spent whole days in her night dress. She rushed to wash up half an hour before Dean got home. Somehow he must not know how unhappy she felt. The worry would kill him.
You made your bed, now lie on it, she heard her mother saying. It was true that it had been her choice. She had quit her job to stay home and care for her new baby. That had not changed so why then did she feel such a heaviness of heart?
The sun was bright and the clouds blue to match her jovial mood. She hummed a tune as she stooped over the bed and dressed baby Tamara.
They were going to the paediatrician for a vaccination shot but it felt like a day out to the beach. In any case it usually turned out like that with lunch at the hospital café. Sheila loved it but would not admit to Dean how much she looked forward to it. It would make her look pathetic, like she was unhappy with her life, which she wasn’t.
An hour later, they were on the way. At the traffic lights, Sheila glanced sideways at Dean. Feeling her stare he too turned to stare at her.
“I love you so much. Tamara and I need you to be well.” He said solemnly.
Sheila’s eyes flooded with tears and she could not answer. He knew.
Baby Tamara groaned softly when the long thin needle invaded the soft skin on her arm.
“Daddy, please go with the baby to the reception, I’d like to see mum alone.” Dr. Michael said.
“How’s everything with you, OK?” he asked the now familiar question.
Sheila took a deep breath and looked at him straight in the eyes and said. “No it’s not. I need help. ”
That was the turning point. She told him everything. The misery, the helplessness and the anger.
With pills, counselling and a lot of love and support from Dean, the darkness started to lift.