Paper bags piled high with groceries tower above my hands, keeping in close contact with the rest of my body. My feet stumble over the curb and I quickly balance out to keep from spilling the groceries and toppling over along with them.
Using my back to push against the glass door into our building, I continue forward towards the elevator with my shoes tapping against the polished floor in our lobby. The smell of cardboard emanates off of the bags. As weird as it sounds the smell is oddly comforting. It's reminiscent of home. I keep walking, though my mind has now lost focus of watching where I am going and is filled with thoughts of home. My old home. I smile softly to myself. I have a new home now.
I don't hear it, but a small sound echoes off of the elevator as its doors open. Unaware of the people coming out of the elevator I immediately run into someone, spilling the contents of the paper bags in my hands everywhere. I groan. Why am I so darn clumsy?
"Sorry." I utter to the man who I rammed into and bend down to pick everything up.
"Oh no. I'm sorry Miss. It was my fault. Here, let me help."
One by one, we finish putting everything back.
"Anytime." He must have just gotten his first real look at my face because he seemed a little taken aback when he looked at me. "Grace? Is that you?"
My thoughts fumble around my brain. I didn't recognize the man whatsoever. "Yes..." I reply cautiously.
He looks relieved. "Grace, it's me. Doctor Baer.'
His face registers in my brain. "Oh! Doctor Baer! I am so sorry. I didn't recognize you at first. How have you been?"
"Fine. Fine. Do you and James live here now?" He cringes slightly when he says James' name.
The question takes me aback a little. Of course. He thinks I'm with James. James hired him as my own personal doctor when he had kidnapped me. I don't think Doctor Baer knew the full story of course but also don't doubt James threatened him a few times to keep me secret.
"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that."
"No, it's fine. I'm really happy here. I was ready for some change."
"Yeah. So do you live in the building?"
"Yes actually, I do."
"Well if you ever need anything just knock. I'm in 302."
"Thank you Grace. Same for you. I mean it too."
"All right. It was-" I pause and hold my hand to my head. It's cool touch helps the dizziness subside. "I'm sorry Doctor Baer. Just got a little dizzy there. Nothing to worry about."
A crease between his eyebrows forms. "Please, I beg your pardon for asking this, but have you been to a doctor since James and you split?"
"No, actually. I haven't.
"Told me what? Doctor Baer you're scaring me."
"Grace," he hesitates. "There was I reason I was hired. I'm very good at what I do. And you have a special case."
"Special case? I don't understand."
His eyes examine the room for a moment before he speaks again. "Do you have some time? This might be hard on you. I don't think we should talk about this in public. Can you stop by the hospital tonight?"
"Whatever it is you can tell me now. Please."
"No. Not here. James is. . . Well he was very serious when he said not to mention this to anyone. You have a right to know but I do not wish for anyone else to know. Patient confidentiality."
"Ok." Worry etches my face and gnaws at my heartstrings. Everything is ok Grace. "Tonight then. Can I bring someone with me?"
He hesitates. "Please just come alone. This might just be for nothing anyways. I don't want to be responsible for frightening anyone else."
"Alright. I'll meet you then."
"I'm looking for Doctor Baer."
The irate receptionist just keeps staring at the computer screen in front of her. "In the back."
"Thanks." My voice is shaky. I'm so confused about everything. What's wrong with me?
I feel the touch of the cool handle of the hospital door, close my eyes briefly, take a deep breath, and open it.
"Ah. Grace. I'm glad you came. Please take a seat." He gestures towards a chair and I sit. The chair cushion squeals a little as I do. The only sound breaking the silence around us.
My heart feels like it's been yanked out. The life I imagined for Sam and I has come crumbling down in a matter of seconds.
"Does that mean I can't? At all?"
"It means that if you do it could potentially be fatal for you. Now I don't know if this problem still exists. After I left any number of things could have happened. If you like, I could perform some tests to make sure."
I nod. "Thank you."
I wait for Grace. She should have been home hours ago. I stand up from the couch and pace back and forth. My heels tapping on the wood floor is the only sound breaking the silence. A thousand thoughts rush throughout my brain. James could have gotten her! She's lost. She's not lost and she doesn't want to come home. That was the worst thought.
My phone rings and I rush to answer even before checking the caller ID. As Grace's voice sounds relief floods through my veins.
"Are you alright Grace?"
"Nothing. But will you meet me at the hospital?"
"Why the hospital? What happened?"
"Nothing. Just meet me here and ask for Doctor Baer. I'm meeting with him now. He's an old friend. Please, don't worry just yet. I'll see you soon. Bye."
She hangs up just like that. Before I even get the chance to reply.
I grab a sweatshirt and hurry out the door, anxiety reaching across my face.
The cool, dry air of the hospital welcomes me when I rush through the doors. I walk straight to the back to a sharp-featured receptionist. "I'm looking for Doctor Baer. I was told I was supposed to ask for him. Do know where he is?"
Her pointy nose angles upward, her lips form a line and her eyes narrow on my face. "Doctor Baer is already meeting with someone."
"Yes, that's my fiancee. She's the one who I'm supposed to meet."
"I cannot let you back there. Wait." Her stiff voice rises up a bit and she hobbles her aging body out of her chair and down the back hallways.
Within a few moments a friendly face walks down the corridor and shakes my hand.
"You're Sam, correct?"
"Oh. Hello Sir."
"So Grace has called you here, correct?"
"Yes. Do you know where she is?"
"Mhmm. But first I need to give you the update on what's going on. She has something she wants to tell you herself but I think it's best saved for last."
I agree and follow him as he explains everything that's happened to Grace. My heart breaks for her. She shouldn't have children. What she's wanted for so long. . .
"Are you ready to see her now?"
"Alright then." He stands up and opens the door on the opposite end of the room. "Grace? You can come in now."
I hear the shuffling of clothing and the taps of footsteps on the tile floor. When she stands in front of me her face looks relieved. I'm shocked. After everything she's had to go through she's actually smiling and looking happy. Then I notice where her hand is. Its cradling her stomach gently. She looks down and then back up at me. "I'm pregnant."
And that's when I realize it. Shouldn't being able to have children isn't the same as not being able to have them at all. And in our case, this means I just might lose her forever.
A call comes in at eleven from a number I have long since forgotten.
"What do you want?"
"I-uh. Well I just thought you should know where your girlfriend is."
"Where?!" I grow steadily more excited.
"In the city. Please don't go after her. I just thought you had a right to know."
"The hell with that! She's coming back whether she likes it or not!"
"Yes. But James. . . there's something you should know."
"What?" I snap, frustrated.
"Grace is pregnant with his child."
My face drops. I go silent.
I don't reply.
My fist strengthens its grasp on the phone and before I know it, a vase is shattered and my phone lies amongst the shattered pieces.