Home > Watermelon (Walsh Family #1)(7)

Watermelon (Walsh Family #1)(7)
Marian Keyes

Judy, baby and I arrived home. I let us into our apartment and, even though James had told me he was moving out, I still wasn't prepared for the bare spaces in the bathroom, the empty wardrobe, the gaps in the bookshelf.

It was so awful.

I sat down slowly on our bed. The pillow still smelled like him. And I missed him so much.

"I can't believe it," I sobbed to Judy. "He's really gone."

My baby started to cry also, as if she felt the emptiness too.

And it was only about five minutes since she'd last stopped.

Poor Judy looked helpless. She didn't know which one of us to comfort.

After a while I stopped crying and slowly turned my tear-streaked face to Judy. I felt exhausted with grief.

"Come on," I said. "I'd better pack."

"Fine," she whispered, still rocking me and the baby in her arms.

I started throwing things into a baby bag. I packed everything I thought I would need. I was all set to bring a pile of disposable diapers the size of a small South American country, but Judy made me leave them behind. "They do sell them in Dublin too," she gently reminded me. I flung in baby bottles,

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a bottle warmer with a picture of a cow jumping over the moon on the side of it, pacifiers, toys, rattles, little socks the size of postage stamps, everything I could possibly think of for my poor fatherless child.

As I was now a single parent I was obviously overcompensating. "I'm sorry, darling, I've deprived you of your father because I wasn't smart or beautiful enough to hold on to him, but let me make it up to you by showering you with material goods."

Then I asked Judy to give me back a couple of diapers.

"What for?" she demanded, holding them tightly to her.

"In case we have an accident on the plane," I said, trying to grab them from her.

"Didn't they give you any sanitary pads in the hospital?" she asked, sounding shocked.

"Not if I have an accident, stupid. If the baby has one. Although strictly speaking, it wouldn't really be an accident, would it?" I said thoughtfully. "More like an occupational hazard."

She doled out three diapers. But reluctantly.

"You know, you can't keep calling her `the baby,'" said Judy. "You're going to have to give her a name."

"I can't think about that just at the moment," I said, starting to feel pan- icky.

"But what have you been doing for the past nine months?" Judy sounded shocked. "You must have thought of some names."

"I did," I said, my lip starting to tremble. "But I thought of them with James. And it wouldn't feel right to call her one of those names."

Judy looked a bit annoyed with me. But I was on the verge of tears again, so she didn't say anything further.

I hardly brought anything for myself apart from a handful of baby books. "Why would I bother," I thought, "now that my life is over?"

And besides, nothing fitted me any longer.

I opened my wardrobe and recoiled from the disgusted looks all my little dresses gave me. There was no doubt about it. They were all talking about me.

I could almost see them elbowing each other and saying

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"Look at her, the size of her. Does she honestly think that dainty little size tens like us would have any dealings with that size-fourteen body she's dragging around? Small wonder that her husband ran off with another woman."

I knew what they were thinking.

"You've let yourself go. And you always said that you wouldn't. You've let us down and you've let yourself down."

"I'm sorry," I explained cringingly. "I'll lose weight. I'll be back for you, I promise. Just as soon as I'm able."

Their skepticism was palpable.

I had a choice of wearing my maternity clothes or a pair of jeans that James had left behind in his haste to get going. I put on the jeans and caught sight of my revolting overweight body in the bedroom mirror. God, I was horrific! I looked as if I was wearing my big sister's Michelin Man suit. Or worse again, I looked like I was still pregnant.

In the few weeks before I gave birth I had been absolutely enormous.

Completely circular. The fact that the only thing that fit me was my green wool jumper, coupled with the fact that due to continuous nausea my face was always green, gave me the appearance of a watermelon who had put on a pair of boots and a bit of lipstick.

Now, although I was no longer green, I still looked like a watermelon in every other respect.

What was happening to me? Where had the real me and my real life gone?

With a heart that wasn't the only heavy thing about me, I went to call a taxi to take us to the airport.

When the buzzer rang, I took one last look around my living room, at the gap-toothed shelves, the shiny new unused baby intercom up on the wall (the waste!), the hillock of abandoned diapers on the floor.

I closed the door behind me before I could start crying again.

Firmly.

Then I realized that I was missing something. "Oh Jesus," I said, "my rings." I ran back in and got my engagement and wedding rings from my bedroom. They had been on the dressing table for the past two months because my fingers were so

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fat and swollen that I couldn't wear them. I jammed them onto my hand and they just about fit me.

I caught Judy giving me a funny look.

"He's still my husband, you know," I said defiantly to her. "Which means that I'm still married!"

"I didn't say anything," she said, affecting an innocent expression.

Judy and I struggled down in the elevator, juggling bags, purses, and a two-day-old child in her car seat.

And that's another thing they don't tell you about having a baby! The manuals should say something like "It is imperative that your husband does not leave you in the first few months after your child's birth, as other- wise you will have to carry everything yourself."

Judy was hoisting everything into the taxi when I saw, with horror, Denise's husband coming up the sidewalk. He must have been on his way home from work.

"Oh Christ," I said ominously.

"What?" asked Judy in alarm, her face red and sweaty from her exertions.

"Denise's husband," I muttered.

"So what?" she said loudly.

I was expecting some kind of terrible emotional scene from him. As I said, he was Italian. Or I was afraid that he would suggest some kind of alliance between me and him. Something along the lines of "my enemy's enemy is my friend." I certainly didn't want that.

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