Time went on and I started to settle into my new routine. I found I enjoyed my new job and was soon promoted, which I was pleased about. It’s nice to be in an office after being stuck large room sorting newspapers out into runs. Mortimer came over a lot in the evenings now too. He told me he was grateful not to be alone in that big house. I’m not sure I believe his stories about all the ghosts though. Having him here reminded me of when Erik and I were trying for a baby. We never were able to conceive, I wondered if I ever would have children now.
Cornelia and I still haven’t sorted things out between us. She comes across a bit cold when she picks Mortimer up. I know she won’t let Gunther do it though, Cornelia’s paranoia about Gunther and any other woman prevents it. One evening, I can’t remember the exact day Cornelia picked Mortimer up as usual after finishing her shift at the consignment store. That’s where she works if I haven’t mentioned it already. It’s just to get her out of the house really, I mean it’s not like they need the money. Anyway after the usual polite conversation they left and I found myself gazing at a couple of paintings that hung on the wall near the staircase. I can’t remember how long they had been there but they certainly weren’t my taste, at least not any more. It was then that my gaze drifted around the room.
The decor was rather dark and the furniture was old. Why did I have so many chairs and sofas that seemed to serve no real purpose. Yes I like reading but but surely 4 sofas and 4 chairs was a bit excessive? I didn’t just sit and mope for the past year, did I? Well whatever, it was time for a change. That was my weekend sorted, I told myself. If I was willing to move on with my life and make changes then my house should reflect that I decided.
After work one day that week when I knew I didn’t have to look after my nephew I decided it was high time I paid a visit to my old friend and close neighbour Fiona McIrish. We had been friends for years but over the last year I neglected our friendship. I hoped that today I could fix that. My thinking was if I couldn’t mend my relationship with my sister then maybe I would have better luck with Fiona.
Considering I hadn’t seen or talked to Fiona for a while she seemed pleased to see me. She like most people these days complimented my on how much better I was looking. Anyone would think I had been seriously ill the way people talked! I filled her in on what had been going on recently.
“I’m sure Cornelia isn’t avoiding you on purpose.” She reassured me. “She might just be busy, you did say she works long shifts at the store.”
“You’re probably right” I told her though I was a bit sceptical about that. It’s not like Cornelia works at the store every day. Having just mended bridges with Fiona I didn’t want to rock the boat too much so I held my tongue and smiled.
Fiona and I talked for a while longer just catching up and each other’s lives. Then I noticed it was getting late.
“Wow is that the time.” I said glancing at the clock on her kitchen wall. “I should probably get going.”
“Oh OK” she replied. “Try not to leave it so long next time OK. I’ve missed our little chats.”
“Me too, and the coffee that usually goes with them!” I agreed as she pulled me into a hug. She always has been a hugger unlike me who would prefer a simple wave. I guess I’ve just been a loner for too long!
That weekend my house was being redecorated and the smell of paint was overwhelming. I needed to get out and I knew through a colleague at work that there was some kind of festival going on in the park so I took a walk to see what was going on. The guys decorating my house were trustworthy enough to be left alone. They had been friends of Erik’s so I knew my things would still be there when I got back, hopefully. I didn’t feel like wearing my usual black skirt so I hunted in my wardrobe for something more comfortable. I threw on a pair of leggings and a long pink top and left the house telling the guys to call if they needed anything. Obviously I left the teabags out, it is well known that workmen like their tea! Well it is round here at least.
After wandering around the park for a bit, seeing what was going on I headed over to the food stands for a bite to eat. It was nearly noon by that point after all. I was in a bit of daydream wondering what I fancied to eat as I looked at the menu propped up to the side of the food stand. As I moved to join the queue I bumped into a guy who was trying to join the queue at the same time. He was kind of cute so I forgave him for bumping into me.
“Oh I’m sorry” I said smiling bashfully.
“That’s ok.” he said waving my apology away. “I was miles away anyway. I’m Conner by the way.”
“Agnes” I told him as we joined the queue. “You hear alone too?”
This seemed like a good line to fish for details about his relationship status. You got the information you wanted without seeming to forward. As I looked at him I thought it would be nice to get married again and maybe have a couple of kids.
“I am at the moment but my girlfriend is supposed to be meeting me here for lunch. She works nearby.” He explained. “She is expecting our first child so I guess I have a bit of a baby brain at the moment.”
I laughed a little but inside I was thinking ‘what a shame’. Why is it the good ones are always taken. “Congratulations” I said out of politeness. “Do you know what you’re having?”
“No we want it to be a surprise.” Conner told me. “It’s exciting though, I can’t wait to be a father. Do you have any kids?”
“No, it’s just me” I said simply. The conversation fizzled out after that. It was my turn to order anyway. I ordered a bagel and a coffee and sat down. After eating I thought I should head home, see how the decorators where getting on. I made me way to the exit and ran into Gunther who was then coming into the park.
“Hi Agnes” Gunther said as I approached him. He was smiling warmly at me.
“Hi Gunther” I replied. “You here alone, Cornelia working today?”
Gunther sighed. “Yes she’s working all day. I’m sure she takes these long shifts just to avoid me.”
Trying to pin Cornelia down for a chat was proving difficult. It amused me that I saw more of my brother-in-law than my own sister.
“I’m sure that’s not true” I said trying to reassure him.
“Oh just a warning she was not happy when she found out we had been alone in the house” Gunther told me.
“We weren’t alone though.” I commented. “Mortimer was there.”
“You know what she’s like” Gunther explained. “She has this idea in her head that we weren’t just talking that afternoon.”
This was what I had expected and I rolled my eyes. I knew all too well what Cornelia was like where Gunther was concerned. She was so worried about loosing him that she saw any and every woman as a threat to her marriage even me, her own sister. After asking Gunther to pass on a message for Cornelia to call me we parted ways.
“Oh hang on!” Gunther said suddenly to my retreating back. I stopped and turned around. Gunther ran up to me and handed me an envelope. “We are having a party next weekend, you will be there won’t you?”
“Of course!” I said trying to sound at least a bit enthusiastic. A party, I thought that won’t be uncomfortable at all. I could just imagine Cornelia watching me like a hawk. When she has something in her head she won’t let go regardless if there is any truth to it or not.
After parting ways with Gunther I got a call from the decorators to say they had finished. They had been working on the main living area on the ground floor and I was so excited to see what they had done. It was safe to say I was not disappointed when I walked in. The room looked so much bigger and was brighter and more importantly less useless seating!
“Much better” I said as I looked around. As I admired the room I wished I had done this a lot sooner. This was a warmer and more welcoming room now. I was keen for someone to visit me now so I could show it off!
The following week went all too quickly and the day of Gunther & Cornelia’s party arrived. When I arrived at Goth Manor there weren’t many people there and Cornelia was nowhere in sight. “Typical” I muttered to myself
I wandered towards the door and glanced around. I spotted Gunther by the pool. He grinned and waved me over.
“Agnes glad you could make it.” He said pulling me into a hug. Honestly what was it with people and hugging? Was this a new trend I hadn’t heard off?
“It’s a bit quiet for a party” I commented looking around. “Where is everyone?”
“I’m sure they will be here, It’s still early yet.” Gunther said and wandered of to mingle with his guests.
I went to change into my swimsuit, it was a pool party after all. The cool water of the pool was inviting so I lowered myself in and swam around for a bit. After a while Gunther and a couple of the other guests joined me.
A while later the party was in full swing. There were more people here yet I hadn’t seen Cornelia anywhere. I guessed she probably had to work again. I sighed and went to talk to some of the other guests. There may have been a couple of glasses of wine drunk too.
Gunther joined the group to check the drink supply. “I’d better go get some more. You lot sure can drink!” he said looking at all the empty bottles. There was not just wine available, a variety of soft drinks had been put out too. “Agnes would you come help me?”
“Alright” I said and I followed him into the house.
“Thanks for inviting me.” I told him when we were inside. “Shame Cornelia couldn’t be here.”
Gunther, I noticed was looking at me a little strangely. Without warning he grabbed my hands and pulled me close.
“I’ve wanted to do this for so long.” he said before kissing me.
What was happening and why wasn’t I stopping it? I guess I got caught up in the heat of the moment and the wine I’d had probably didn’t help.
Before I realised what was happening we had moved upstairs to Gunther’s bedroom and, well you can fill in the blanks. Afterwards we both realised the mistake we had made and made a mutual agreement never to speak of it. It would be as if it had never happened which was fine by me. No good would come of it if anyone especially Cornelia were to find out.
Unfortunately fate had other ideas. A couple of months after the party I discovered I was pregnant. What the hell was I going to do? I hadn’t told Gunther yet and I wasn’t sure if I ever would. Cornelia was going to hit the roof regardless if I told the truth about the baby’s father or not.
This came shortly after there was another addition to the family. For a long time I have wanted to get a dog but Erik wasn’t keen on them. I went down to the shelter and picked out cute little dog called Austin. The name suited him so I kept it. He can be a bit of a lazy thing but I wouldn’t be without him. Pushing the issue of Gunther being the father of my unborn child aside I think my life is finally getting better. I feel like I have come out of the darkness and am now standing in the light. Although there is always something that can take that good feeling away.
In my case that something was my sister Cornelia. I didn’t want her to find out about my pregnancy second hand so I deliberately went to the consignment store near closing time when I knew I would run into her. Having spent so long trying to pin her down and get her to talk to me it saddens me that cornering her as she left work is the way it had to be done.
It had been a while since I last saw her, she had stopped picking Mortimer up. Gunther was doing it instead. She had to be avoiding me, I just wish I knew why.
“Agnes what are you doing here?” Cornelia asked coldly. I could tell this was not how she wanted her evening to go.
“I just wanted to talk to you” I explained. “There’s something I want to tell you, before you find out from someone else.”
“Come on then, out with it.” Cornelia urged. It was like she really didn’t want to be here.
“OK” I said slightly taken aback by her impatience. As such I decided there was no point beating around the bush. “I’m pregnant.”
As expected Cornelia’s reaction was not a pleasant one. You could literally see the frown on her face deepen
“You’re what!” she exclaimed. “Do you even know who the father is or did you just latch onto the first man who stood still long enough?”
“That was uncalled for.” I said a little shocked by her response. “Do you want to know or do you just want to carry on insulting me?”
Cornelia folded her arms and looked at me with that cold stare she did so well. Mother would be so proud of her. “Fine enlighten me.” she said coldly. I could tell she wasn’t expecting much.
“I don’t know who the father is” I lied. There was no way on earth I was going to tell her it was Gunther. “There was a party, a works thing I think. I got a little drunk and I found myself in bed with someone.”
“You don’t remember who it was?” Cornelia asked slightly sceptical.
“No I don’t” I said carrying on with my lie and praying she bought it. “As soon as I realised what had obviously happened I got out of there. I thought I could just forget it ever happened.”
Cornelia’s frown seemed to lessen. “Are you keeping the baby?” she asked though I think she already knew the answer.
I nodded “Of course. It’s conception may not have come at an ideal time but having a child is something I have wanted for so long. I am just so scared though, I never thought I would have to do this alone.”
“You won’t be alone.” Cornelia said putting her hand on my shoulder. Her tone was warmer, kinder. What had happened to my sister?
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Cornelia sighed. “I think it’s time we left the past were it belongs and look to the future. There is one option open to you, I hope you take it. In fact I wont take no for an answer”
She put her hands up in front of her when she said that last bit to stop any protests I might have had. Not that I had any. Despite never really being that close to Cornelia at any point in our lives I couldn’t have been happier at that moment to her as my sister. She was willing to help me despite any differences we may have had in the past.
“Thank you” I said smiling at her.