One Tiny Miracle...(3)

By: Carol Marinelli


He tensed, standing on the beach on a glorious warm morning, and was slammed back there again—just as he was almost every day, every night. Not all the time now but surely, given it was nearly four years on, too many times.

‘So long as you’re okay,’ he clipped, and went to go, but she was holding her swollen stomach now with both hands and blowing out a long, slow breath. ‘That,’ Ben said firmly, ‘is not a stitch.’

‘No.’ Her eyes screwed up just a touch and this time he did place his hand on her stomach, felt the weak tightening flowing around her uterus, and held his hand there till it passed, satisfied that it was nothing more than a Braxton-Hicks’ contraction.

‘It’s just the baby practising for its big day.’ She smiled. ‘Honestly, I’m fine.’

‘You’re positive?’ he pressed.

‘Absolutely.’

‘If they get stronger, or start coming—’

‘More regularly, I know, I know.’ She gave him a very wide smile. The sun was up now and he could see her tan and her freckly face. She really did have an incredible smile... ‘Well, thanks anyway,’ she said.

‘No problem.’

She turned to walk along the beach, in the direction he was going, and as he started to walk behind her, he half watched her to make sure she didn’t stop again, but she seemed fine now. Dressed in white shorts and a white tight-fitting top, she was curves everywhere, and Ben felt a touch awkward when her head turned around.

‘I’m not following you—I live up there,’ he explained.

‘Good!’ She slowed her pace down. ‘Where?’

‘In the units at the end.’

‘Since when?’ she asked.

‘Since the weekend.’

‘We’re neighbours, then.’ She smiled. ‘I’m Celeste Mitchell, I live in Unit 3.’

‘Ben, Ben Richardson—I’m at number 22.”

‘You’re at the quiet end, then.’ Celeste rolled her eyes.

‘Are you sure about that?’ Ben said, raising an eyebrow. ‘It certainly hasn’t been quiet the last two nights. Fights, parties...’

‘That’s nothing compared to my neighbours,’ she retorted.

They were there now, at the row of one-bedroom units that were a bit of an eyesore in such lovely setting. No doubt one day a developer would come in and swoop up the lot of them and build a luxury complex or a hotel, but for now they were just an old and rather rundown row of units that offered cheap rental and beach access—and were filled with backpackers looking to settle for a few weeks and the occasional regular tenant, which Celeste obviously was.

As they walked past her unit, it stood out from the rest—the little strip of grass at the front had been mowed and there were pots of sunflowers in the small porch.

Clearly this was her home.

‘Thanks again for your concern.’ She grinned. ‘And if you need a cup of sugar...’

He laughed. ‘I’ll know where to come.’

‘I was going to say you’ll have to go next door. The doctor just put me on a diet.’

He laughed again and waved goodbye. Heading up to his unit, he let himself in, put on the kettle and peered around the gloomy interior before heading for the cranky shower, wondering if it would spurt hot or cold this morning.

He hoped her flat was nicer than his. It was an odd thought to pop into his head, but he just hoped it was, that was all. It was certainly as neat as a pin on the outside—maybe her husband had painted it. And hopefully she had nicer furniture than his landlord had provided. Still, that wouldn’t make up for the noise...

Coming out of the shower, he could hear his neighbours fighting again and for Ben the auction couldn’t come soon enough.

He made some coffee and smiled again as he spooned in sugar.

She didn’t need to be on diet—she was curvy, yes, but she was pregnant. He thought of that lovely round bottom, wiggling up the beach in front of him, and just the image of her, so crystal clear in his memory, startled him, so that he immediately turned his mind to more practical thoughts.

Her blood glucose was probably high. She’d be around seven months or so...