Harry used to buy me flowers back when we were dating. He would buy them before he came to pick me up and present them to me while I giggled in joy. He was sweet on me long before I said yes to a date. All my friends were jealous of him, and my father gruffly nodded his approval after meeting him for the first time.
It was like a dream.
When we got engaged, Harry decided that we ought to buy a house for when we were married. Our little townhome was smaller than he wanted, but I loved it. My favorite part of it was the window. When we first saw the house, I dreamed that the window would be in a bedroom, even if it were the smallest one. It turned out to be in the attic. But I was happy, and because Harry loved making me happy, he decided that it was perfect for us.
After the wedding, we went on our honeymoon. But I was more excited about moving into the house than anything. I was secretly hoping that we could put a bed in the attic and stay there, but Harry said it would be impractical. During the days when he was out at work, I would do all my chores. When I was done cleaning and prepping dinner, I would go to the attic and stare out the window, sometimes for hours.
The window was big and round, with a pattern made from the bars that I loved. It was almost like a spider web, circling into the center. We mostly kept storage up in the attic, and I put one box by the window so I could sit and look out it.
After we got married, Harry stopped buying flowers. He did at first, but it stopped after a bit. He still worked at the same job, doing the same things and making the same money, but he claimed he was too tired. He said that almost every day now, that he was so tired. I expected to feel disappointed when he stopped, but I just felt nothing. I always feel nothing now.
That started to happen a lot one day, but I don’t know when exactly. I started to feel nothing, and Harry stopped talking to me. He would just ignore me. It’s hard not to feel like everything is changing. On our one-year wedding anniversary, I decided to surprise Harry by pulling my wedding gown out of the boxes in the attic, veil and all. I did my hair and makeup exactly as it was that day.
Well, I tried to. Lately, Harry had been moving my stuff into the attic or just into boxes on the first floor. Even though he was ignoring me, he said that he was decluttering a few times so I would know what was happening. Typical. I don’t know why he changed so much after marriage, but I suppose that’s just men, as my mother used to say.
Once I was ready, I went to the attic to watch from the window for when he would get home. I started to get worried as the evening went on that he wasn’t back, but calmed myself by saying he was just working late. A last-minute project, I’m sure.
But then the sunset came, and he still wasn’t home. I was angry and worried sick. Was he hurt? Did he not love me anymore?
After an eternity of waiting, a taxi pulled up. The headlights filled the window, and I stared at them, not bothered by the harsh light in my eyes. Harry stumbled out, obviously drunk and…
And a girl followed.
He brought a girl to our home. Was he just that drunk or that stupid? Did he think I was out of town? Or that it was late enough that they could go to a guest room, and I wouldn’t notice because I was asleep?
I didn’t know what to think. I felt dirty. And I was still in the damn wedding dress, like a stupid dress could save my marriage to this… this… this pig! This is our home! It isn’t big, and it isn’t much, but it’s ours! Would this girl see the way it was so carefully decorated and realize a man could never have the time or the want to do this? Would she lay down on the high thread count sheets I begged Harry to splurge for because I knew that they were better no matter what he said and understand that these things were the touch of a woman, a wife?
Would this girl know that she was ruining a marriage?
I left my post at the window and went downstairs, waiting in our bedroom for this horrible night to be over. I sat on the edge of the bed, not breathing, not feeling. Just being. Then, the door opened. Harry stumbled in, and the girl followed, looking around. She wasn’t even pretty.
“This is a nice place. Did you decorate?” She asked. I stared at them in disbelief. The lights were off, but they had to see me in my bright white gown.
“No,” Harry said. He had more to drink than I thought he might have. He might not even remember this. But I would.
“You’re not married, are you?” The girl asked warily. She asked much too late.
Harry nodded, then started crying. This shocked me. He was not a crier. I looked at him in the dark and was surprised to see how tired he looked. And skinny. I had noticed he wasn’t eating much, but this was concerning.
“Do you want me to leave?” The girl asked. I almost forgot she was here. Harry nodded, still crying.
She huffed but turned around and left, closing the door behind her and leaving us in darkness. Harry went to our dresser and took one of the framed photos off of it. He brought it to the bed and lay down, staring at it. Our wedding photo. He continued crying, staring at it.
“Grace, I miss you.” He said through his tears. “Oh, Gracie, why did you leave?” He asked. “I need you. Where are you?”
I told him I was right here, but he ignored me. It’s every day now. And when he talks to me, it’s like I’m only overhearing him talking to himself. It’s getting annoying. I deserve better than a drunk husband who brings girls into our bedroom!
“Why did you jump?” He asked the picture softly.
I rolled my eyes and got up. He couldn’t even ask me questions anymore. I went back to the attic, to my window. I loved how high up it was. I like to imagine sometimes that I’m a bird and that I can leave through the window. That if I push it open and let myself go, I’ll fly. I’ve always wanted to fly.
It occurs to me as I stare out my window that I did fly once. Of course, it was months ago. I’m sure no one saw me. That was around the time that Harry stopped talking to me. He must have found out. He must be embarrassed, and that’s why he isn’t speaking to me. Of course! Yes, he brought a girl home, but I can forgive that. He sent her away after all. I went back downstairs with a fresh heart.
He must be so embarrassed that I tried to fly and got hurt when I landed. Sure I did in the wee hours of the morning, but he must have woken up and found out. Why did I try it again? Because I wanted to?
Oh no, I remember now. It was the baby.
The doctor said that the baby was gone, which was a little silly because the baby was right here in my stomach, he just couldn’t see it because I wasn’t showing yet. Besides, a mother knows better than some silly doctor. I was in the attic a lot after that because I was still so morning sick, and looking out the window calmed me.
I imagined that the baby wanted to try to fly, so I did, even though it was silly. Is that Harry doesn’t love me anymore? Because I did something silly and it could have hurt our baby? He must have believed the doctor. But I can feel the baby kicking almost every day. I opened our bedroom, and Harry shot up, startled. His eyes widened when he saw me, and he got out of bed, still holding the framed picture in one hand.
“Gracie?” He said. He didn’t sound happy, but I forgave him. It’s good practice for motherhood to forgive, I think. “Grace, how are you here? You… you…”
“I didn’t lose the baby. I know you thought I did, but I didn’t. It’s kicking right now! Maybe he’ll play football. Or be a ballerina if it’s a girl.” I said happily. I figured it out. Now Harry had to love me again.
“Gracie, we… we lost the baby.” He said sadly. “Do you not remember? I thought that was why…”
“Why what?” I asked. I sighed. “Why you brought that girl back? It’s alright, Harry, I forgive you. You sent her home. Everything is ok!” I told him brightly.
“But Gracie,” He shook his head, looking confused. “It’s not ok. You died. You jumped out the attic window. After we lost the baby. You went there every day because you said looking out made you feel better. Then one morning you…”
“Harry, I was fine! See?” I said, twirling around. “I put on my wedding dress for our one-year anniversary.”
“But Grace, it’s not.” He shook his head again. “You died four years ago? After we had been married for almost three. Don’t you remember?” He asked. I laughed.
“You’re silly, Harry. And maybe a bit over-served. You should go to bed, darling.”
“If I fall asleep, you may be gone.” He whispered, and I thought he might cry again. I smiled.
“I’m not gone, Harry. I’m right here. And when I’m not here, I’m in the attic.” I explained nicely. Poor Harry. He did not handle his liquor well.
“Stay with me until I fall asleep, Gracie. Please.”
“Of course, silly!” I told him, giggling. He laid down in bed again, and I lay next to him. He wouldn’t touch me for some reason, but he was talking to me again, which was nice.
“I love you, Gracie. With all my heart.” He whispered with his eyes closed.
“I love you too, Harry,” I told him, smiling. Finally, some progress!
Maybe he’ll buy me flowers tomorrow. Wouldn’t that be something?