4 Women

4 Women

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Summary

This book tells the story of four women: Alyssa, Linda, Stephanie and Tegan. Each of them has a story. Such different women - such different destinies. But they are all deeply unhappy and can not find themselves in this world of stereotypes, where a woman is supposed to be a weak gender, have a husband and children and engage in routine and family. The 4 women are trying to find their happiness without losing what they already have, but it is not as simple as it seems at first glance.

Summary

This book tells the story of four women: Alyssa, Linda, Stephanie and Tegan. Each of them has a story. Such different women - such different destinies. But they are all deeply unhappy and can not find themselves in this world of stereotypes, where a woman is supposed to be a weak gender, have a husband and children and engage in routine and family. The 4 women are trying to find their happiness without losing what they already have, but it is not as simple as it seems at first glance.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Monday/Alyssa

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: August 05, 2017

Reads: 261

Comments: 1

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: August 05, 2017

A A A

A A A

Monday

A weak light is struggling to get past through the grim of my blinds. It’s only 5:30 in the morning. I need to try to go back to sleep. I have to look fresh today, can’t afford to have dark circles or puffy eyes which would shamelessly reveal my age.

I’m feeling apprehensive. I’m sure I’ll get my head around new tasks quickly enough but meeting new people makes me nervous. I relax my face and close my heavy eyelids in an attempt to get another hour of sleep. I ask my heart not to beat fast.

My dream ends abruptly when a smell of bacon fills up my nostrils. It’s time for me to wake up. Reluctantly, I sit up, drag my feet off the bed and rub my knuckles onto my eyes. I stretch my arms above my head and yawn. It looks like a beautiful morning; the bright sun is rising high.

Today is an important day, new job–new beginning; doctor’s appointment–new hope or bad news.

Long inhale, words of gratitude and I’m ready to start my day.

I open the blinds, and dazzling sun hurts my tired eyes. I let ocean air inside. How lucky am I to live so close to the water in the affluent beach suburb of Sydney? Bondi Beach–is the dream suburb of many. Our terrace house is located on a quiet street, 10-minute walk to the beach.

“Breakfast is ready” James’s voice calls me from the kitchen.

I wrap my arms around James’s muscular torso while he places a piece of bacon onto my plate. James still looks like a surfer dude that I met six years ago. Time hasn’t caught up with him. I love playing with his tousled, thick hair. His blue eyes are full of fire and playfulness. I like staring at his strong defined face. When he holds me in his arms, I feel protected.

“How did you sleep?” he turns and looks at me.

“Good, I suppose. Struggled to fall as sleep.”

“Nervous?”

“Just a little bit” I smile and grab my breakfast plate. Bacon and eggs are the best start of the day.

“I’ll drive you, and then you finish at five? What time is the doctor’s appointment?”

“6 o’clock.”

“I’ll pick you up at five.”

“Do you work today?”

“Nope, I have a day off. Going surfing.”

“Must be nice,” I say sarcastically.

James gives me half a smile and shoves the last piece of bacon into his mouth.

We leave the house an hour early even though we live only ten kilometers away from the city center. Sydney traffic is brutal, especially during peak hours. Traffic usually wounds its way down the road like a snake, it would take me less time biking than driving, but I could never get used to the aggressiveness of Sydneysiders drivers toward bikers.

If there are showers at my new work, I will consider running in the morning. It should take me less than an hour to run 10 kilometers, better than staring at car bumpers for an hour or being squeezed on a bus amongst sweaty bodies.

I check my phone to make sure I know where to go. My palms are getting sweaty. Finally, I got the job that I wanted–Digital Marketing Manager at the major advertising firm. I get to be creative; I get to explore my imagination and ideas. It will keep my mind off my major problem–struggle to accept my infertility.

My new office is located on 17th floor. Wonder if my desk will be facing a window?

We’re about five blocks away from my office tower; I ask James to let me out. I want to take a walk and get my thoughts in order. The first impression is the key. I hope I’ll like my new team, at my previous job it was a challenge. I should be feeling happier–I get to do what I love, and money is good. Unfortunately, though, I can’t get my upcoming doctor’s appointment out of my head.

I buy a large cup of coffee even though I know it will make my anxiety worse, but I can’t give up my addiction.

A strong wave of caffeine hits my brain as I enter the elevator. I push the 17th-floor button and smile at two office workers standing next to me.

I walk through the glass doors to the empty reception desk. I’m hesitant and awkward. I can hear female voices and identify the topic of their conversation.

“So the new girl is starting today?”

“Yes, she should be here in a minute.”

“Have you met her?”

“Yes, I was one of the interviewers.”

“What do you think of her?”

“I liked her. Ok, girls, we should stop talking about her, she should be here soon.” 

I hear the footsteps approaching my way. Young blonde girl in her mid 20’s appears.

“Oh, sorry, how can I help you?” she smiles and her gaze sweeping rapidly over me from head to toe and back again.

“I’m Alyssa Clark. It’s my first day today” I hope my introduction is clear.

“Right” she extends her hand “I’m Tegan Karikios–an executive assistant” she smiles. I assume her workstation is the reception desk. Tegan is quite attractive young lady with the right amount of curves in most desirable places.

“Nice to meet you” I force the corners of my lips to lift up.

“Would you like any water, coffee or tea?”

“I’m all set, thank you” I point at my coffee cup.

“Alright, I’ll show you your desk.”

She ushers me to the open office area that is painted in light blue color and has two floor-to-ceiling windows which face the busy road and an office tower. There are four desks in the middle and a bookshelf that is bursting with books in the corner.

I recognize one of the women sitting at the front, Linda Currow–Director of Marketing and Communications; I had my first interview with her. Her golden brown hair is pulled back. I notice fine lines around her eyes which suit her perfectly; it makes her look sophisticated and mature. I guess her to be in her early 40’s.

“Hello Alyssa” she gets up and extends her hand to me.

“Hello, Linda” I shake her hand. 

“How was your way in this morning?” standard question for this city. Everyone knows how bad traffic can be.

“Good” I shake my head.

“What part of the city do you live in?” Tegan catches me off guard with the question as I don’t realize that she is standing behind me.

“Bondi” I look down.

“Wow, that’s a nice area” a girl at the other desk comments.

“Oh yes, this is Stephanie Dawson–our Communications Manager.” Linda makes an introduction

“Nice to meet you” I keep repeating a standard phrase. I get a standoffish vibe from Stephanie.

“This is your desk,” Linda points at the desk behind her.  I politely smile and take my seat. On the gray desk is a desktop computer with two screens, notebook and a stack of papers sitting under a turtle-shaped paperweight.

For the next three hours, I do my best to concentrate on my new responsibilities. I listen attentively and where I can, take notes. I don’t ask many questions; I rather find an answer myself.

My stomach is growling signaling it’s time to take a break and have some food. 

“I’m feeling peckish” Stephanie says, and I look over at her and smile. She just read my mind.

“Same.  I’m going to get my lunch from downstairs cafe” I spotted it on the way here.

“They’ve got good stuff there” Linda comments.

I buy myself a salad a sit alone at the table, don’t feel like eating at my desk. Need to get away and rest my eyes from the computer screen. So far, everything is going great. The girls seem to be nice, but you never know. Five hours left before my appointment, I’m getting anxious. I have a feeling this might be my chance.

 “How was your lunch?” Tegan asks. I sense that she’s one of those friendly receptionist that loves to hang out with her work colleagues.

“Really good” I attempt a smile.

“Hey, Alyssa, where is your accent from?” Stephanie asks, and I fight the urge not to roll my eyes. Frankly, I’m sick of this question and explaining people my origin.

“Umm….” I sit down and shove my purse underneath the desk “I’m Russian-Canadian” I drift my eyes to Stephanie and wait for her reaction.

“Oh wow, that’s unique!”

I know what her next question will be “what brings you to Australia?”

“What brings you to Australia?”

Bingo! All these questions are so standard and repetitive.

“My husband. I came to Australia seven years ago, a year later I’ve met James, and we’ve been together ever since” I look up at the ceiling retrieving the memory of our first date.

“That’s romantic,” Stephanie says sarcastically. “Just living a dream, aren’t you? In Bondi? Do you guys own or rent?”

I almost choke on my water, it’s unexpected question for someone I just met, but I guess it’s an important one since it’s practically impossible to own in Sydney so if you do own, you’re automatically considered wealthy.

“Own” I show her half a smile and log in into my computer. She doesn’t need to know the full truth that James and I don’t own the place, more like his parents do. And the icing on the cake is the fact that James’s “lovely” mother lives underneath us so she can be close to her son. Gorgeous terrace house that I live in is split into two apartments–James and I live upstairs in a one bedroom with the beautiful balcony; James’s mother–Margaret–lives downstairs.

Stephanie doesn’t respond; I feel some jealousy, I try to brush it off and continue with my work.

Tegan gets back to her reception desk, and I spend my afternoon getting introduced to the rest of the team. Everyone is professional, and I don’t feel as nervous as I was this morning.  I would be able to get my head around my new job within a week or two; the main thing is to fake it until you make it. I heard on the news recently about a fake doctor in Sydney who worked in the medical system for over a decade before getting caught. If he could manage to do that, I’m sure I can pretend to know everything about Digital Marketing.

***

My heart is starting to pound as the clock approaches five pm. James texts me letting me know he’s downstairs.

I pack up quickly and wish the girls a good night.

“Are you scared?” James asks and puts his hand on my thigh.  I take a minute to respond and look out of the car window, observe people on the street, everyone is just going about their business. Everyone has their own worries and problems. Most of the people are selfish and self-absorbed, most certainly I’m.

“No” I respond and look at him, James turns and smiles.

“Keep your eyes on the road,” I ask politely.

A picture of a beach is sprawled on each wall, each depicting mesmerizing scenery: rolling waves on idyllic sand. Across from me is a tiny black wooden coffee table holding health magazines and fertility treatment pamphlets. Underneath it is a dull gray carpet that covers the whole room. A television hangs in one corner displaying boring commercials.  James sits next to me, and I keep tapping my foot impatiently, my eyes concentrated on the ugly carpet.

Perhaps I should try an acupuncture? Or fertility tea? How many more circles of hell will I go through?

The nurse escorts us to the doctor’s office, and my knees are feeling weak. It’s good that James is here, his support is important.

A female, middle-aged doctor looks over my file and then looks back at me. What is it? Just tell me.

“I looked over your results, and…” she pauses as if trying to take her time to execute me.

“–and?” I impatiently ask.

“In my opinion your only option is IVF.”

My heart drops. Once again I’m being robbed of my ability – that last glimmer of hope – to ever have children, pulled like a rug from underneath.

“Unfortunately your five round of insemination hasn’t worked, our best shot is IVF” the doctor pierces more needle into my heart.

“It’s IVF or wait for a miracle to happen,” I say with bitterness.

“Miracles do happen” the doctor strives to sound hopeful.

“Well…not for me…it won’t happen. It’s been five years of trying to conceive. I can’t sit around and wait for a miracle. I’m already 35! ”

Long boring discussion about our fertility options follows, but to me, it feels like a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself. It won’t happen for me naturally. Insemination didn’t work, now IVF with only 20 to 30 percent of it’s working on a first try and ten to twelve thousand a pop. On top of that, I’ll be injected with an enormous amount of hormones and chemicals. I also read that IVF could trigger cancer. I want to lock myself in a dark room and cry.

“Why? Why? Feels like a constant battle!” I complain to James while we walk back to the car.  “Nothing comes easy to me, always have to work so hard for everything. I don’t get it!”

“Do you want to look into adoption? May be we can adopt a little Filipino or African kid?” James says it almost in a jokingly manner.

“I don’t want a Filipino child! I want my own!” I hold back my tears and get inside the car.

The whole way home, I’m mute. I have nothing to say. We will have to get the money from somewhere; we will have to get ready for more and more disappointment, we will have to remember not to give up.

 

“What do you want for dinner?” James asks.

“Doesn’t matter” I reply indifferently. I have no appetite. Thoughts of food make me nauseous.

“I feel like pizza.”

“Sure.”

I take a deep breath and swallow the lump in my throat.

James’s mother is standing on the front porch and watches us pulling in. She’s the last person I want to see. Not that I completely hate her but she ain’t my favorite. She thinks I’m useless and since her son is God’s gift to the world, he can do better.

I don’t want to fight with her, so I head to our upstairs suite without even saying hello.  My empty soul doesn’t need any disruptions right now.

I throw my purse in a corner and fall on a couch. I want to be alone. I can’t squeeze a single tear out.  Crying over my infertility became my regular choir. It will only get worse especially if we chose to go the IVF route.  How will I overcome another disappointment? How much more energy do I have left? How much money will I need?

“Do you want to eat?” James’s warm hand covers my shoulder.

“No, I’m fine. I’m gonna go for a run” I give him a plastic smile.

Running along the cliff top coastline from Bondi Beach to Coogee beach is my only salvation. Tears blind me, and I run as quickly as my long legs can carry me, bolting down the pathway like an Olympic champion; quickening my pace to an all out sprint.  The pounding noise of my running shoes matches my heart throbbing inside my chest.

I accelerate faster and faster, passing by runners and families with strollers. Life is not fair! Why can’t I be a mother and walk along this beautiful path with James and our baby? Why? What do I need to do to get where I want to be? What sacrifice shall I make to get to my goal?

There is no fatigue in my muscles even though I run almost 11 kilometers in just 40 minutes. My physical pain has been overpowered by my emotions.  Now, I’m back where I started, in front of my house.

As I open the front door, I inhale the strong stench of marijuana. My instant thought is to pack my bags and leave, fly away, finally go home!

James is laying on the couch with the bag of chips by his side. Right now it’s not what I want to see.  I glance at his bloodshot red eyes and ask,

“You’re getting high again?”

“Oh come on babe, just one joint?”

“One joint? Right…” I’m angry. I’m upset. James has his companion–pot, I’m on the other hand is all alone. I have nothing to substitute my sadness with.

“Was a stressful day,” James says slowly.

“You know James if we want to have a healthy baby, you should stop getting high!”

“I don’t think it matters,” James says indifferently.

“I think it does! Please, quit smoking pot! I’m tired of it! You’re always high! You don’t understand; you’re being high decreases my chances of getting pregnant” I’m ready to cry. I’ve been battling with James’s marijuana addiction for so long. I’m defeated, I have no more energy to fight. I’m done.

“It’s just one joint!” James argues.

“Whatever!” angrily I throw. I’m exhausted.

I step into the shower, toes flinching as they touch the chilled ceramic floor. The water pours down, it drips by my side, as my mind fades into dullness.  How do I accept the fact that I will never be a mother?

My whole existence is phony. On a surface–I live in one of the most desirable cities in the world, in the beautiful terrace house, in the prestigious beach suburb with the handsome and kind husband. In reality, the beautiful terrace house is run by James’s mother, who has zero respect for me and doesn’t pass a single opportunity to remind me how worthless I’m. In reality, the white knight–James–is a pot head who’s got gambling problems. I paid off his twenty thousand dollar debt in exchange for him to quit gambling and getting high. That never happened. He still smokes pot and places bets online. He’s happy to work in a supermarket, even though he holds a prestigious university degree. But why would he want a career when it’s so easy to work at the dead end job? Why would he want to work hard when he doesn’t need to pay a mortgage or any bills? I cover all of our utility bills and monthly entertainment.

Living in fantasy is easier than facing a harsh reality.

Emotionally drained I crawl into bed. James turns to me and holds me from behind.

“I’m sorry. I’ll quit, I promise” he whispers the words that I want to hear. The words that I’ve  heard for the past 6 years, in fact. Why does love have to hurt so much? 


© Copyright 2017 DK. All rights reserved.

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