"Maybe there's more we all could have done, but we just have to let the guilt remind us to do better next time." Veronica Roth, Divergent
The screaming had stopped. The screaming had stopped completely, and there was an eerie silence coming from his bedroom.
Matthew knew exactly what had happened before the doctor had even emerged. The birth had been too dangerous. It had been foolish to try for a third child. He had been foolish to allow it. He had been weak and selfish.
Matthew sent Georgiana and William away to their bedrooms. He did not want them to see their mother like this.
He took a deep breath before opening the door, in an attempt to prepare himself for what he was about to see inside.
But nothing could have prepared him for what he saw. The doctor and Harriet's three attendants all stood silently over her body. The ladies were crying softly. The doctor was holding a grizzling infant in his bloody hands.
There was blood, so much blood. The white bedsheets were stained red. The lower half of his wife's nightgown was stained the same colour.
Harriet lay motionless on the bed. His wife was notoriously loud, and forceful, and indignant, but in this moment she was silent, and powerless. Her head was propped up on a few pillows, though she was turned away from him. Her arms were strewn up above her head and her exposed skin was slick with sweat. But she was not breathing. There was no movement in her chest.
She was dead.
"She haemorrhaged, sir," Doctor Gregson said quietly. "There was nothing I could do this time."
Matthew's eyes shot open and he did his best to slow his heartbeat. He had not dreamt of that harrowing day in a long time. He would curse himself for that day for years to come.
It was his fault that Harriet had died. Because of him, his children were left without their mother far too young. He would never forget the heartbroken expressions of grief Georgiana and William had had when they had learned that their mother was dead. Although he loved Eva dearly, like he did all his children, had they simply abstained, Harriet would still be alive.
The image of Harriet's lifeless body was permanently etched into his mind. That image was what he saw every time he ever thought about touching another woman.
It was still dark out, though Matthew had no idea what time it was. He still felt very tired, and he would need his energy to face the day. Annaliese's family were having a wonderful time spending his money while planning the wedding.
Matthew rolled back over and closed his eyes in an attempt to get another couple of hours of sleep.
Matthew was once again in the bedroom with his lifeless wife and grizzling child.
"She haemorrhaged, sir," Doctor Gregson said quietly. "There was nothing I could do this time." Doctor Gregson came over to the grieving widower and placed the baby in his hands.
Matthew was overwhelmed with grief once again. It felt as raw and as fresh as though Harriet had died yesterday.
Matthew did a double take when he looked down at the child. It was not Eva. Who was this baby? It was tiny, and it was a little girl, but it was not Eva.
All of a sudden, his mother was in front of him, tears streaming down her face. "We should name her after her mother. We should name her Annaliese."
YOU ARE READING
One ChanceHistorical Fiction
To save her family from financial ruin, Annaliese Dawson agrees to marry a stranger. She knows that the arrangement would probably never lead to love, but as the two begin to trust each other, could it be that they have a chance at true love? ...