594 - Emma
Lucien can tell me a billion times how I shouldn't feel bad, how it's okay, that it's totally normal for me to forget, that even he did - I still feel guiltier than ever.
When he's out shopping, I rake my brain trying to figure out a way to make up for this, but there's nothing I can come up with. Nothing will make this birthday less miserable. With his party cancelled and everyone's eye on him, I can't imagine he's very happy. The reason behind it only makes it worse.
I've turned on some Adele, skipping her most sad songs, and traded the pajamas I was wearing for something a little less slobby - still comfortable and definitely not resembling anything anyone would wear for a birthday, but better than before.
The dangling of keys signals Lucien's return, and with a few candles lit, the house suddenly feels a little less like my own personal hole of sadness and grief.
He's carrying one big shopping bag, closing the door with his hip.
"Hey," he smiles faintly when he catches me look at him. "I dropped by the pharmacy too, got you some more painkillers." He hands me the little box, our hands touching for just a second as he does so, then distancing again.
"Thank you," it's two words I haven't told him enough. He's been my rock, taking care of me while I lay around in self-pity and sadness all day, and I think this is the first time I've actually thanked him for it. I can't believe how selfish I have been, not taking the time for his feelings. It's another rock that sinks to the bottom of my stomach, making me feel nauseous and guilty.
"No problem, lo- Em." And down goes one more rock. I can't hear him say it without wanting to cry, without feeling like the worst girlfriend in the history of girlfriends. All I've done is push him away.
It hurts me even more, seeing Lucien put his own candles on the cake he got just to please me, because I was too sucked up in my own emotions to even remember his birthday.
"Em," his hand is on my leg for just a split second. "It's okay."
Stubbornly, I shake my head. "It's not okay, Lucien. I just feel like a total ass."
"I know there's nothing I can do or say to make this feel okay for you," I watch him as he takes a lighter from the coffee table. "But I'm happy to be here with you now, and that's enough, okay?"
He should be celebrating big right now. There should be hundreds of people surrounding him, celebrating his life, partying with him until the crack of dawn. That's where he belongs, in that world, not on a couch with his girlfriend who can't even go an hour without crying.
I didn't even get him a present, something I usually start thinking of weeks in advance. I was so caught up in my own things that I forgot to think about him.
I'm not sure how many days fly by, since all of them are spent the exact same way - in bed, or on the couch. When Lucien isn't watching, I use my laptop and google everything I shouldn't want to know. Future risks, complications, why I could have possibly had this miscarriage. There's so many things, turns out, that could have caused it, but I still come back to the ones that could have been prevented - smoking, drinking, the casual joint I smoked when Lucien was away. The heaps of coffee I drank, the black tea, the cheeses and red meats. How badly I took care of myself when Lucien was away, not asking for help when I felt like I was at my lowest. How I helped Charles deep-clean their kitchen in early February, inhaling fumes that couldn't have been good for the baby.
All of this information causes panic, but weirdly enough it also calms me down. I read stories from other women, some of them experiencing this even further on in their pregnancy. Others had no support around them, no family or friends to help them, to be there for them.
It causes me to glance at Lucien, whose face looks very focussed as he stares at his screen. I don't know what he's doing every day, because I've never asked.
I get up from the couch, my stomach cramping uncomfortably - one of the many parts of this aftermath - and walk over to him.
His brow is furrowed as he's clicking things, and from the concentration I can tell he's not on social media.
"Luce?" he looks up immediately, like he's my guide dog, ready to serve as soon as I need him. "Don't you think it's time for you to go out?"
I shrug. "I don't know, do something, break the silence surrounding you. All you've done lately is go out for groceries and stay home."
"I didn't think...."
"That I wanted you to? Luce...," I take a deep breath. "I think you need some quality time away from here. See some friends, I don't know, ask Matt to go out for a drink or something. Spend time with people who care about you."
He seems to think about it, unsure if this is a good idea.
"Don't make me force you," I tell him, arms crossed.
"Maybe tomorrow, I could..." he starts, but I shake my head.
"Today. Luce, you've been nothing but caring, and now it's time for you to go out. I don't care what you do, you should just go. Forget about...," I gesture around the room. "All of this for a bit."
He knows better than to fight me on it, which is why about half an hour later, he's got his coat on and his keys ready.
"If there's anything you need..." he tells me, "just call."
"Will do," I assure him. "Be safe, yes?" The words leave a bitter taste in my mouth, reminded of the last time I asked him to be safe, but I swallow hard to make it disappear.
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