Content notice: This story – Hot Chocolate – mentions subjects of miscarriage, suicide and grief.
Cross-legged, her cardigan tightly wrapped around her and her hands clutching a mug of hot chocolate, Claire stared out over the ocean. For the past four weeks she’d been here on the beach every day, watching the sunset, staying until it was almost too dark to see a hand in front of her face. By the time she’d walked back to the house, the hot chocolate was gone, and the mug had long gone cold. Claire had hoped different surroundings would help to speed up her recovery.
Her thoughts involuntarily went back to that night, now almost six months ago. A terrible pain had woken her. It was the pain she’d been fearing for weeks and had hoped would never come. Why did it always happen at night? Michael had scrambled up beside her, woken by the screams she couldn’t hear.
Blood. The blood. Her blood.
Her fingers were covered in it and no matter how hard she’d pressed between her legs, she couldn’t stop the bleeding. That paramedics lifted her onto a stretcher and raced her to hospital, was something she’d not consciously experienced. Seventeen weeks. That was how long she was pregnant this time. They thought this third pregnancy would be the one, but again it had ended in a miscarriage.
After ten days in hospital, they had transferred her to the rehabilitation center. It wasn’t safe for her to go home, they had told her, but just like with all the other things they’d said to her, she hadn’t reacted to that either. Words like ‘apathetic’ and ‘burnout’ and ‘heavy depression’ mixed with the words in her head: ‘miscarriage’ and ‘failure’ and ‘I want to die’. Only after three months in rehabilitation, the verdict came: she could go home. She wasn’t a danger to herself anymore. Work was still out of the question. It was far too early for that, the health team had said.
Michael had done his best to support her. Most days she hated him that he could just go on with his life. After all, it was his child too. Why was she the only one grieving?
Only here on this isolated beach, the incoming waves her only companion, she had realized how wrong she was. Michael was grieving too, but stayed strong for her. He couldn’t express his grief after her collapse. He too longed for a child; a child that wasn’t rejected by her body. Tears ran down her cheeks. Michael needed her, but still he had agreed with her seclusion in this remote place. She needed to be alone, to find herself again. Despite being sent home, she had still been numb inside.
An intense longing for her husband overtook Claire. She needed to feel his arms around her. She wanted to cry with him about their loss; wanted to pick up the pieces and continue with their life. Her life with him.
Together they were strong.
The sun hadn’t fully disappeared into the sea, but Claire couldn’t wait any longer. She had totally forgotten about the half-cold hot chocolate in her hand, when she stood up and walked back to the house. For the first time since she arrived her, she noticed the beauty of this place: the impressive white mansion with its secluded beach, surrounded by rocks, hiding it away from the eyes of the neighbors. Michael had chosen well. Her pace accelerated and she almost ran up the stairs to the terrace above, put the mug down, and grabbed her mobile phone from the table. There was a message from Michael:
Happiness is loving you. I miss you!
Tears formed in her eyes, but this time it was different. Claire finally broke through the surface after she’d been under water for far too long. The grief was still there, but weight had fallen off her shoulders. She quickly tapped Michael’s name on her screen. The phone rang, but Michael didn’t answer. Claire tried it a couple of times more, but without success. She didn’t know what to do. Michael always answered the phone when she called.
Claire re-read the message he had sent. Even though at first she thought it was a sweet and loving message, she now wondered whether the first part was an accusation at her address. That he thought she didn’t love him anymore. She shook her head. No. Michael wasn’t like that. If he had something to say, he wouldn’t sent it in a message, but just tell her. But what if…?
She breathed in deep and closed her eyes. No. Stop! Stop-Stop-Stop! She repeated it like a mantra and mumbled it when she walked back to the beach. The cold mug, half-filled with what once was hot chocolate, stood forgotten on the table, next to her mobile phone. Her dress fluttered in the evening breeze as she walked back to the spot she had been earlier. A thin edge of the sun was still visible above the waves. Claire sat down on the sand, pulled her legs up and wrapped her long cardigan around it. Her chin rested on her knees. For the first time in weeks her mind wasn’t filled with what had happened.
All she could think of was Michael.
The sun had now completely disappeared in the sea. Despite the fact that it would soon be dark, Claire stayed on the beach. She instantly recognized the hand unexpectedly resting on her shoulder. His smell surrounded her. She sniffed it up, closed her eyes and rested her cheek against his hand. She hadn’t heard Michael approach. A peace she hadn’t felt in months enveloped her.
He sat on his knees behind her and hugged her. Claire turned around in his arms, her arms circling around him while her mouth searched for his. He kissed her carefully at first, but finally, he answered her passion. He fell back in the sand, pulling Claire with him. She landed on his chest. Her hands touched him all over, pulled frantically at his clothes. She had missed him so! She pushed his unbuttoned shirt from his shoulders and roughly pulled off her dress. Something tore, but she didn’t care. Both naked, Claire lowered herself over his erection and onto his chest. She wanted to feel his warm body against hers.
He fucked her slowly, but Claire urged him one. First by moving her hips and fucking him back, but then with words: take me, fuck me. He held back for another moment.
“Please, darling, fuck me. Deeper. Harder. I missed you so much. I’m so sorry. I want you. Yes, oh this is so good. I miss you. I love you.”
Claire talked non-stop. Michael let her urge him on. He upped the tempo and pushed Claire to sit up. In the dying light of the day, she saw his beautiful, sad eyes. But there was more than grief there. She saw love. Happiness. Claire took his hand and put it on her stomach. Tears shone in her eyes as she nodded to him. He understood her message: the hard time was behind them. It’s time to focus on the future.
Note: This story first appeared here on Christmas Day 2017, the year my mom passed. Back then, and in the year after, ‘Hot Chocolate’ was not the only story I wrote where grief was the central theme. When I read through this again, I cringed because of the writing mistakes in the story, which is why I decided to edit and share it again.
© Rebel’s Notes
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