The front door of Grace’s apartment flies open. She comes running in; her purse is dropped at the door as she runs to the bathroom.
Swinging the bathroom door open, Grace gets on her knees and pukes in the toilet bowl. Her body heaves in it, coughing in between her breaks. Once she completely stops, she wipes her mouth and weakly flushes the toilet. She takes a couple of deep breaths before she hears her phone ringing in her denim jacket. She takes it out to see who it is. She picks it up after she sees the name on her phone.
Max: Hey Grace, I just wanted to remind you about dinner on Monday night.
Grace: What for?
Max: … Grace, I told you when I came back that my Auntie and Nan wanted to see you and Willow when they came to visit.
Grace shuts her eyes.
Grace: Why do I gotta be there again?
Max: They don’t know about us yet.
Grace sighs and winces in pain.
Grace: That’s on you, Max. You should’ve told them that we weren’t together anymore.
Max: The amount of times I spent with you and your family after we separated is astonishing, Grace. All I ask is just for one dinner with my family now.
Grace doesn’t say anything back.
Max: Be at my place by 7 on Monday. Take care, Grace.
The line goes dead and Grace hangs up the phone. She quickly turns back around to face the toilet bowl again, taking in deep breaths thinking she’s about to puke once again.
Grace lifts herself off of the ground and straightens out her clothes. She stands in front of the bathroom mirror. She’s wearing a navy blue blouse with a chunky sweater. She holds her pregnant belly as she stared at herself. She turns to the door and opens it; Max is standing there, looking worried.
Max: Are you sure you’re up for tonight? I could always tell them to come another day while they’re here.
Grace: *forces a smile* Nonsense, they came all this way to see you.
Max: You and the baby come first though.
Grace takes a breath to herself. She smiles at the thought that Max puts their baby first and it’s not even born yet. Grace embraces him with a leg.
Grace: Baby and I are alright.
Max looks down at her as she looks up; she gives him a reassuring smile. Max gently kisses her forehead.
Max: Alright, darling. I’ll start to set everything up.
Max walks back to kitchen as Grace stands there. Grace’s smile disappears as he’s out of sight.
Time passes by and the doorbell is heard. Max looks at Grace to see if she’s okay. Grace shoos him to go and answer the door. There stands Max’s aunt and Grandma; Katie and Eleanor.
Max: Auntie, Nan! Welcome!
He greets the woman by hugging them. When Max grabs the coats from the women, both notice Grace standing in the living room area, shy and timid. Max notices and tries to ease up the tension.
Max: Ah, Auntie and Nan…
Max walks to Grace and puts his arms around her.
Max: This is Grace.
Grace extends her arm to shake the women’s hands.
Grace: It’s so nice to meet you.
Katie: Likewise. I’m Katie, Max’s auntie.
Grace smiles and proceeds to shake Eleanor’s hand.
Eleanor: I’m his nan, Eleanor.
Grace smiles and greets the women. Everyone moves to the living room area.
In the living room, the women are sitting on the sofa while Grace sits in a single sofa seat; Max sits on the arm of that chair.
Eleanor: I’m surprised to see you’re so far into your pregnancy, Grace. It seems like it was just not long ago Max gave me the news that I was going to be a great-grandmother.
Grace: Yeah, time truly does fly.
Max squeezes Grace’s hand to reassure her safety in the new setting. Katie places her cup of tea on the coffee table.
Katie: You guys met at your firm?
Max: Yeah, we’re currently wrapping up a case.
Katie: *to Grace* You’re still working in your condition, darling?
Grace: *nervously smiles* Yeah, I’m taking it easy though; nothing that would put me in harm’s way.
Katie: It must be hard.
Grace: It’s easier than you think.
Katie leaves the conversation there and sips on her tea.
Eleanor: Do you know the gender of the baby yet?
Max: We decided to wait until the baby is born. I think it’s going to be a girl, but this one over here thinks it’s going to be a boy.
Eleanor: *happily* How sweet. Are you going to get married before or after the baby is born? Regardless, I would love to be here when it arrives and for the wedding.
Katie: Unless you guys hold the wedding in the UK to be close to family.
Grace shifts in her seat.
Max: Her family is here, and I wouldn’t want Grace to travel while she’s pregnant.
Katie: Well, I believe Grace has a mind of her own, Max. *to Grace* Anything particular you’d like to do?
Grace looks up at Max, then back at the women; speechless.
Grace: I definitely would like to wait until the baby is born before we think about any wedding plans…
Eleanor: *to Max* I ask on the behalf of your mum, Max. She would love to be a apart of such a major milestone of your life.
Max: *dismissive* We’ll discuss about it more when the time comes.
The room is suddenly silent.
Katie: Are you guys thinking about potential leave from your jobs to raise the baby in the early months?
Max: Yes. / Grace: No.
The couple look at each other. Grace is just as confused with Max’s answer as much as he is with hers.
Max: You have to recover, Grace. *chuckles* Babies aren’t just born and you’re back to normal.
Grace doesn’t say anything. Instead, the women begin to talk.
Katie: I agree. I think it would be beneficial for you both to take a leave when the baby is born, and then have Max return shortly after while Grace watches the baby.
Before Grace can say anything, Max is already answering Katie back.
Max: I was thinking that, or perhaps leave the firm altogether.
Grace quickly turns her head to face Max.
Grace: You’re leaving the firm?
Max: We spoke about this briefly the other day, Grace.
Eleanor: *intervenes* I think you guys should work on your communication; you both seem to not be on the same page.
Max: I was thinking about leaving the firm to go into teaching so that I can be home with the baby for longer periods of time. The firm was an amazing experience, but I don’t think it’s what I really wanna do after handling this case.
Grace wants to desperately say something, but keeps being interrupted by someone.
Katie: Perhaps that’s what best for you two. I know how intense these cases can get and it could take away from being with the baby.
Max: Exactly. Grace most likely will take an indefinite hiatus once the baby is born.
Grace doesn’t know what’s going on but this isn’t what she signed up for. As she Max pretty much sit here and plan her own future out with his family is now making Grace visibly uncomfortable. She shifts in her seat until Max notices.
Max: Are you okay, darling?
Grace: I’m fine, I’m fine…
Grace begins to catch her breath in a panic. The women and Max watch Grace until she can’t handle the unsettling feeling she’s having. She immediately runs to the bathroom in a hurry. Max goes after her.
Grace swings open the door of the bathroom and kneels down to vomit. In the moment, it feels like it’s never ending. Grace begins to cry as she takes breaks between her puking and flushing the toilet. She feels like she’s been punched in the stomach by the person she loves and doesn’t know what to feel about this situation. She wants to wrap up the case, but she also doesn’t want to go through this journey on her own without Max there by her side.
A knock is heard on the bathroom door. Grace weakly gets up and opens it. Max stands there, worried and concerned.
Max: Are you okay? Maybe you should rest.
Grace: I’m fine.
Max: Grace, you literally came running to the bathroom and–
Grace: *annoyed* I know my body better than anyone else and if I say that ‘m okay, it means that I’m fucking okay.
Grace walks past Max out of the bathroom, leaving him to stand there.
Grace closes the bathroom behind her to stand in the open area of her apartment. She walks to the sofa and slumps into it. She stares into nothingness, just taking in the silence that is around her.