‘We must never give our child a name they will detest,’ Vivien said one day, several years later.
The conception of the child they had tried so long for had revealed a more cautious side to Vivien that Dewey had never seen before. She was no longer the wild and carefree girl he had known in his youth, but had grown edgier with every passing month. Perhaps it was the prospect of motherhood and her instinct to take care of herself and the child, no longer taking the risks that she previously thought nothing of. Yet Dewey suspected that it also stemmed from their mutual fear of losing their long awaited firstborn.
‘How do we know what name our child would like?’ Dewey wondered aloud. ‘I know people with modern and attractive names which they hate,’ he added, pointedly.
‘Are you looking at me?’ Vivien laughed. ‘Well, for one thing I think we should give our child a name that is currently in fashion.’
‘What, Stiletto?’ Dewey joked.
‘Not that kind of fashion!’ Vivien laughed again, reminding Dewey of how beautiful she was when she laughed. ‘I mean something fairly popular, but not too common,’ she added. ‘I don’t want our child to end up in a class with about eight other Thomases or Tiffanies.’
‘I quite like Tiffany,’ Dewey piped up.
Suggesting names was all very well, but they decided not to name the baby until after its safe arrival. Although not superstitious, Vivien felt that doing so would jinx the pregnancy and, while Dewey did not share her view, he had no urge to tempt fate.
Towards the end of the pregnancy Vivien became more on edge than ever and began to have nightmares about losing the baby. Often, after waking from one of these dreams, she wouldn’t stop crying and Dewey could do nothing to comfort her. He was desperately worried about Vivien, and willed the birth, and the relief they would both feel once the baby was born.
He dropped his work hours so that they could spend more time together, and every evening they went out for a short stroll. Neither had the energy to walk far, but Vivien liked to watch the sun set behind the hills that surrounded their home, and watch the blue sky deepening in colour as the first tentative stars emerged.
‘Look at me, I’m as big as a house,’ she observed one day as they were walking along a pathway.
‘But still beautiful, nevertheless,’ he responded, kissing her dainty lips.
As they continued on their way, Dewey noticed that every so often Vivien would look back.
‘What are you looking at?’ he asked her, when she did this for the fifth or sixth time.
‘I thought I could hear footsteps,’ she said.
Frowning, Dewey commented that he couldn’t recall hearing any footsteps, and they continued onwards until Vivien stopped abruptly and looked back once more.
‘There they go again,’ she said, urgently.
Again, Dewey heard nothing. He tried not to make anything of Vivien’s convictions that they were being followed, but could not deny his apprehension. The days that succeeded did nothing to ease his growing concern, and no matter where they walked Vivien could still hear the footsteps.
One evening she looked back and cried out softly.
‘What is it?’ Dewey asked, wondering if her waters had broken, for her time had almost come.
‘There’s a man,’ she said.
‘Where?’ Dewey asked, following her gaze, but seeing nobody.
‘Over there. By the holly tree,’ she said, gesturing in that direction.
‘I don’t see him,’ Dewey murmured, trying not to sound as unnerved as he felt.
‘It must have been his footsteps I could hear,’ Vivien concluded. ‘What does this mean, Dewey?’ she asked, and he could hear the fear in her voice. ‘Why is he following us?’
‘I don’t see anyone,’ Dewey repeated quietly, shivering in spite of the warm evening air.
‘Let’s go home,’ Vivien pleaded.
At her insistence, they returned home by another route, and when the house was in sight she had visibly relaxed. With one final glance behind she informed Dewey that the man was gone.
That night she went into labour.
[To be continued]
© Kess 04-07-2008