DISCLAIMER: This is an indefinitely unfinished story. There will only be three chapters posted. Read at your own risk.
Yuka and Lee glanced at each other, eyes widened, breaths held. The sound of their daughter screaming sliced through the concrete walls and the ambient noise of the night. They knew that they were going to be in a world of trouble. She didn’t take to them coming home late very well, even if for work. Lee shrugged and patted Yuka on the back before proceeding to unlock the door.
“What took you so long?” Miyuki demanded as soon as they stepped into the apartment.
“Miyuki, I told you. Mummy met an old friend that she hasn’t seen in a while and she went to spend some time with her,” Kame tried to stay calm and reason with her, but her voice was getting a step quicker than usual.
“But I haven’t seen Mummy in a while too! The last time I saw her was this morning!”
Yuka tried to stifle her laughter but a grin peeked out through her tense demeanour. She got down on her knees and scooped Miyuki into her arms.
“Who is this person anyway? Have I met them before?”
“No, you haven’t.”
“Why didn’t you bring me along?”
“Because, it’s your bedtime now!”
As she lifted Miyuki, a sharp pain shot up her back causing her to freeze up. Seeing this, Lee walked over and took Miyuki away from her. He planted a heavy kiss on her rosy cheek and carried her off to bed. He felt Yuka watching him effortlessly swing her from side to side as he carried her down the hallway. Miyuki wasn’t as tiny as she used to be. Yuka wasn’t as physically strong as she used to be.
After putting Miyuki to bed, he left her room to look for Yuka. She probably had something that she wanted to say to him regarding what happened earlier that day. As he walked down the hallway and to the living room, he saw Kame standing at the doorway of her room.
“You saw that, didn’t you?”
“Please do something. Force nee-chan to see a doctor. She doesn’t seem to be getting better.”
Lee’s eyes glanced down and away from Kame.
“I should never have suggested that we have another child.”
The kitchen light had been switched on. Lee walked towards it.
He watched Yuka take out plastic containers of leftovers that were in the refrigerator. She opened them and scoop their contents out onto a microwave-safe ceramic plate. She turned to look at him and smiled.
“Dinner?” asked Yuka.
“No. I’ve already eaten.”
The jarring ring of the microwave interrupted the comfortable silence shared between them. Yuka carried her plate of food to the dining room and placed it on the table. Lee followed her and pulled out a chair for her before sitting on the chair next to it.
He watched as she listlessly pushed spoonful after spoonful of food into her mouth. He wondered if she stopped being able to taste food since her miscarriage. She never seemed to enjoy anything since that day. He knew that she tried to hide it with smiles and laughter, but he had been living with her long enough to remain unconvinced. After all, he had been woken up in the middle of many night to the sound of her crying in the cold bathroom. Alone.
“It was so awkward,” she said suddenly.
Lee chuckled. He reached out and stroked her hair then pat her on the shoulder twice.
“When I called to tell you I would be home late I had all these question I wanted to ask her. I didn’t ask her any of them. I am such a terrible… Question asker. I should never work in law enforcement.”
“If it makes you feel any better, I think you’d be great at it. You already have the experience of being a mother.”
Yuka raised an eyebrow at him.
“I can say that. I’m a cop.”
“You’re on admin duty most of the time. You’re no different from a clerk!”
“So how was work today?”
“Well, I was not on admin duty,” Lee pretended to sulk, “I was doing my rounds in the neighbourhood. There was a child that thought she was about to get abducted because this man placed a hand on her. The perpetrator was drunk, and he was a lethargic drunk. He was actually trying to regain his balance by grabbing onto the first thing he saw – which happened to be her shoulder. One shove and he collapsed onto the ground.”
“You’d think that nobody would have money to spare for alcohol in this economy. Somehow, there still are people who manage.”
“Well, for some, it’s a priority. For others, it’s a necessity. Who are we to judge?”
“But you know who the real victims are? Their children. Just imagine being a child with a parent like that – someone who cares more about getting drunk than about their children having enough to eat.”
“Who’s to say that they all have children?”
Yuka went silent.
Having finished her food, she got up to place the plate and utensils in the dishwasher. She walked back into the dining room and kissed Lee’s forehead. She took his hand and led him onto the sofa in the living room.
“Lee, do you want children?”
“What are you talking about? We have Miyuki.”
“You know what I mean.”
Lee took a deep breath and said, “Well yes, but not if it’s something you don’t want.”
“I think I could want another one, soon.”
“Are you sure? It hasn’t been long since-…”
“I know. I’m just a little worried that we won’t be able to handle two of them.”
“What’s there to worry about? We can always get Miyuki to change their diapers. She’d be old enough to handle it. We’ll tell her that it’s a type of advanced origami.”
Both of them erupted into a fits of laughter. Yuka put her finger on her lips while moving her eyes to the direction of Miyuki’s and Kame’s rooms. Not so loud, her expression implied.
Lee whispered, “See, law enforcement.”
Yuka gave him a backhanded swing which caused him to laugh even more. Finally, he calmed down and pulled her into a side hug. She reached out for the remote control on the coffee table next to the sofa and switched on the television. After flipping through about a hundred channels, she finally settled on watching a cooking show. She sighed when she realised that the chef was showing the audience how to prepare eggs benedict.
“Do chefs these days know how to prepare anything else? I mean, it’s a good dish but I’m sure there are other better dishes.”
“You know how it is.”
Lee loosed his grip on her, then kissed her on the cheek. He loved it when she allowed herself to get annoyed over something that wasn’t her fault in some way. He knew that she sometimes forced herself to do it so that he would feel relieved that the therapy was working. He knew that she didn’t want him to worry about her. He knew that she didn’t want him to ever doubt how much better she was doing with him around.
She changed channels until the remote control slipped out of her tired fingers. She slumped over to the armrest on her side of the sofa as she felt her eyelids get heavy. Slowly, she lifted her feet onto the sofa and curled up into a fetal position. She was always falling asleep on the sofa like that.
Lee walked over to the armchair to get her the throw blanket. He picked it up and draped it over her.
“Thanks Jen…,” she muttered.
The air tightened around Lee’s chest.
“No,” his voice was trembling, “It’s not Jen.”