Killing Me Softlybyrachlou©
The baby lay on her side, her thumb firmly plugged in her tiny rosebud mouth. Her breathing was slow and rhythmic, although her eyelids fluttered from time to time. Erica knelt beside the cot, resting her forehead on the painted wooden side, exhaustion stroking her head with cool fingers.
It was hard to believe that the angelic child lying fast asleep amidst the pink fleecy blankets had been screaming for endless hours all evening. Only now, after what felt like an eternity of pacing the polished floorboards, had she finally fallen asleep in her arms.
Rubbing her heavy eyes, Erica carefully stood up, wincing as her knee cracked painfully. It was nearly four am and if she went to bed now, she might be lucky enough to catch a couple of hours sleep.
Silently she tiptoed out of the nursery and made her way back to their room. Chris was lying on his stomach, snoring gently and managing to steal most of the duvet. For a moment she stood staring at him, resentment threatening to smother her.
Every night it was the same. Erica was the one left to try and calm the fractious baby as she screamed herself blue with colic. Chris's excuse for leaving her to it was that he needed his sleep.
"I have to go to work every day!" he had yelled at her when she had finally snapped the night before last.
"I'm not asking you to stay up all night -- just taking Charlotte out for an hour and giving me a break would be helpful."
Erica had felt like screaming with frustration by then. But she knew it was pointless -- Chris just didn't understand how hard it was dealing with a crying baby, day in and day out. Five months of no sleep and constant crying was killing her slowly.
Most days she was a zombie. She functioned, but only on a superficial level. Going out was impossible; Charlotte very rarely settled for any length of time and pushing a screaming baby round the shops just prompted busybody's to ask her if the baby was hungry.
The health visitor had promised her Charlotte would settle down once she had begun weaning her. Well that was one month ago and she was still waiting for the crying to abate. The baby was putting on weight, but she still cried all the time.
Erica dropped her dressing gown on the carpet and climbed into bed, yanking some of the duvet back from Chris. He grunted slightly, but he didn't wake up. Bloody typical, she thought venomously. It seemed that most nights an earthquake could have shook them to pieces and still he would have slept through the commotion.
She lay in the half-light, desperate for sleep, but unable to switch off. Too many jumbled thoughts ran round her head in a confusing maelstrom. She wondered whether she would have agreed to have a baby had she known how much her life would change.
Having a child was meant to bring them together. Instead it was slowly driving them apart. Some days they barely exchanged two words at all. As for sex, well that was pretty much non-existent. Erica was always too tired and Chris had given up trying.
As far as she was concerned, if she managed to snatch some time in bed when Charlotte was asleep, she wanted to sleep too. Making love was not exactly a priority in her daily schedule.
Unsurprisingly Chris had disagreed with her on this. They had almost come to blows one night when she finally fell into bed, exhausted after trying unsuccessfully to encourage Charlotte to sleep.
She had left the baby sobbing fitfully in her cot. For hours she had been rocking and trying to comfort her, with no discernable effect whatsoever. The baby had become increasingly irate; she didn't want feeding, she was neither too hot, nor too cold. She just wanted to cry.
In the end Erica had placed her in her cot after making sure she was warm enough and her nappy was clean. She left her to cry. It seemed cruel, but she was at the end of her tether. She could still hear her screaming loudly from their bedroom, but the crying was slightly muted. It did not stop the wrenching feeling in her gut however.
When she crawled into bed, all she wanted to do was to sleep. As soon as she felt Chris snuggle up behind her, his hard cock pressing insistently into her back, she knew exactly what was coming.
"I'm horny..." the words spoken softly in her ear made feel like crying. His hand stroked her breasts through the cotton nightdress she wore and with a discernable sigh, she moved out of reach.
"Not now -- I'm shattered. I need to sleep, not fuck," she said, struggling to control her temper.
"When WOULD be a good time for you?" Chris snapped icily, snatching his hand away. "It seems to me there is never a good time these days."
"Oh just drop it, Chris!"
Erica turned her back on him, curling her body into a tight ball, the tension knotting her shoulders and pushing any chance of sleep she might have had into the realms of distant memory.
Chris retreated back to his side of the bed, turning his back on her too. The area of mattress between them turned into Siberia in the space of a few seconds. Eventually Erica heard Chris begin to snore. With a careful movement she turned onto her back and stared at the ceiling.
From the nursery Charlotte was still sobbing fitfully. The plaintive sound echoed down the hallway and tugged at Erica's heartstrings. She knew the baby was fine -- she had been fed and changed. It still didn't stop her feeling like a useless mother.
She turned back on her side and closed her eyes. Tears trickled slowly down her cheek, making the pillow wet. Thoughts of how her life used to be flooded her mind with rose-tinted memories. As much as she adored the baby, she missed her job and her freedom. It felt like she was no longer a person; she was just a mother and a drone.
What she missed most of all was her husband. They had grown so far apart it felt like they lived on different planets some days. Erica wondered just how long their relationship could survive this kind of pressure. She also wondered how long she would continue to care...
* * *
Chris awoke when the alarm went off. Quickly he reached out and turned it off, his eyes stinging in the light from the open curtains. Damn, he thought crossly, he should have pulled them shut last night. The early morning sun was lovely, but slap bang in his eyes first thing it was not so bloody lovely.
He turned over and realised to his surprise that Erica was lying fast asleep beside him. Normally she was up long before him as the baby tended to be nocturnal. In fact Charlotte just didn't sleep full stop, he reminded himself wryly.
His cock was hard and for a blissful second he debated waking Erica up for some fun. Then he remembered the words of last night and thought better of it. No doubt she would still be pissed at him. It felt like she was permanently pissed at him these days.
God knew he did his best -- but at the end of the day, what COULD he do? She had decided to breast feed so he was unable to help. She watched him like a hawk every time he tried to change a nappy or bath the baby. It was like she didn't trust him to do anything right.
Eventually he had stopped trying at all. If she wanted to be super-mum, then so be it. With a resigned sigh he climbed carefully out of bed. Erica didn't stir. For a second he paused to look at her thoughtfully.
Her face was pale and drawn, dark circles under her eyes. Her dark hair was lank and greasy, stuck to her forehead in stringy strands. He felt guilty for a moment, wishing he could make it all better, but not knowing how. He just hoped that things would improve soon -- if they didn't then he wasn't sure how much longer either of them could go on like this.
Padding down the landing, Chris peeked in through the nursery door. It was rare that he had any time alone with his daughter. Mostly Erica had the baby, either feeding her or trying to sooth her when she had one of her long crying jags.
The opportunities when he was left alone to care for Charlotte were few and far between. To say Erica was over-protective was an understatement. Most of the time Chris felt excluded from the close relationship Erica had with Charlotte; she acted like she didn't need him at all. He sometimes wondered if she would even notice if he didn't come home one day. In his worst moments, he seriously considered it.
Charlotte was lying in her cot wide-awake. For once she was happy and smiling, her small chubby legs kicking around in the air. Chris looked over the bars of the cot and felt his heart contract tightly with love. It was a miracle he thought tenderly, that something so beautiful could have come from him.
He was no oil painting and he knew it. He was tall, stocky and had often been described as 'interesting'. He knew this meant that he was not ugly, but nor was he handsome in the classical sense.
Not that he cared especially. He was in good shape and he had never had any trouble attracting women. They liked his easy charm and sense of humour. They also liked the fact that he was not vain and didn't spend hours preening himself in mirrors.
Reaching into the cot, he gently lifted the baby up and smiled as she cooed happily at him. She was adorable, he thought with a warm fuzzy feeling. "Come on sweetie," he said softly, holding her against his shoulder. "Let's go and find some food before mummy wakes up in another foul mood."
"Gagabagaba," said Charlotte happily as they headed downstairs.
Charlotte sat in her high chair playing with a toast crust, watching him intently as he moved quietly around the kitchen. She was just beginning to mouth on finger foods, pushing just about anything between her gums given half a chance.
It was unbelievable, he thought as he sat down at the table. The baby was never normally this sunny in the morning. She had co-operated when he changed her nappy and dressed her. She had not even objected when he strapped her in her chair after giving her a bottle of milk. She cooed at him and waved her crust around, happy smiles lighting up her angelic face. If only life was like this every morning, maybe then things would be okay...
* * *
Erica opened her eyes with a vague feeling that something was not right. For a minute the daylight streaming through the window disorientated and confused her. Normally it was still dark when she was up and out of bed.
The silence struck an ice-cold shard of fear through her veins. Why was Charlotte quiet? Why wasn't she screaming for attention? With her heart racing she jumped out of bed and ran into the nursery.
The cot was empty and there was no sign of her daughter. Erica listened for a moment and heard the faint sound of the radio. She grabbed her dressing gown and headed downstairs to the kitchen, wondering frantically what on earth was going on.
Dashing into the kitchen, she rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Chris was sat at the table eating toast and reading the paper. Charlotte was in her high chair, happily chewing on a crust and making a mess. The pair of them looked at her innocently and Erica felt horribly excluded from their private club. She was surprised at how upset this made her feel.
"Morning," Chris said coolly, still remembering last night.
Erica ignored him and went to flick the kettle on again, reaching down to open the dishwasher in the hunt for a clean mug. She knew she ought to let things go, but she didn't feel like forgiving and forgetting. Why the hell should she roll over and say sorry all the time?
"Morning Chris..." he said sarcastically when he realised Erica was pointedly ignoring him. "Thanks for changing Charlotte's nappy and giving her a bottle."
Erica turned to face him, her green eyes flashing in anger. "Excuse me?" she said, seething furiously. "She's your daughter too and it's about time you did something with her." With a bang she slammed the dishwasher shut again.
"Oh really -- who the fuck goes out to work everyday and earns money to feed us? You?? No, it's me who works all hours, and all so you and our daughter have a nice home to live in."
"Don't you DARE lay a guilt trip on me," snarled Erica. "It was you who was so desperate for a baby! I wanted to wait until we had more money saved up, but oh no, you wanted to try for one immediately."
Chris stared at her in disbelief. "What are you saying here, Erica? Are you trying to tell me you regret having our daughter?"
Erica turned away and stared unseeing into the garden. The kettle boiled and clicked off, but she was oblivious. Was she saying she regretted having Charlotte? Suddenly she didn't know anything anymore. She was confused. She loved the baby, but she also resented her.
Sensing the tension and anger, Charlotte screwed up her face and began to cry. Hot tear ran down her chubby cheeks and within moments she was bawling loudly.
"Well done, Erica," said Chris flatly. "She was quite happy until you went off on one."
He drank the rest of his coffee and threw the dirty mug in the sink crossly. Christ, they couldn't even have a civil conversation these days. He was beginning to think that their relationship was heading for the rocks big time.
"Right, I'm off to work. At least there it's peaceful..." he muttered. He turned to face Erica, but she had her back to him. She was trying to pull the struggling baby from the high chair in an attempt to quieten her down. It wasn't working and Charlotte just screamed all the more.
In the face of zero response, Chris stalked out of the room, collected his stuff and headed to work. Hopefully she would be in a better mood tonight. If not, there was always a bottle of whiskey to finish off. Alcohol was an excellent anaesthetic.
* * *
Erica held the screaming child tightly as she watched Chris reverse out of their driveway. She felt numb seeing the black car disappearing down the road and out of sight. Eventually she gave up trying to hold the tears back. It was no use, nothing she did was ever right.
With a sense of desolation she allowed the misery wash over her again, the black depression rising up like a noxious cloud. Despite the fact she had had far more sleep than normal, she felt desperately tired. She wearily climbed the stairs and took Charlotte into bed with her. They lay together, both crying, but for very different reasons.
* * *
Chris moved the drawings round his desk mindlessly. He had a report to finish, but he had no real inclination to work on it. The seven million dollars the client was looking to claim for delays to the contract, seemed somehow irrelevant.
His coffee stood congealing in a flowery mug and he eyed it distastefully. He really needed a fresh cup and maybe then he might be able to concentrate on something useful. At the moment all he was doing was rehashing the events of the last twenty-four hours. Not that it helped in any way. Whichever way he looked at it, he saw no way of fixing things.
There was a knock on his office door and he said gruffly, "Yes, what it is?"
A young woman cautiously entered and asked hesitantly, "Would you like a fresh cup of coffee, Mr Langdon?"
For a moment Chris looked at her blankly. He had not seen her before; he knew he would have remembered if so. She was bloody gorgeous!
Long platinum blonde hair, slim figure, nice tits, pretty face...hell yes, he would not have forgotten her...
"Err...yes, that would be great thanks, err...sorry, I don't know your name?" He smiled congenially at the girl, suddenly feeling a whole lot more cheerful than he had five minutes ago.
"My name's Connie, Mr Langdon," the girl smiled sweetly. "I'm the new office junior."
"Hello, Connie, please call me Chris." He held out his hand warmly and Connie walked over to shake it politely.
For a moment he held her gaze and felt a warm buzz of interest seep through his veins. Up close the girl was even hotter. She fairly oozed sex appeal.
"Hi Chris," Connie said slightly huskily as she shook his hand, holding onto it for a fraction longer than necessary.
"How do you like it?" she asked suggestively. "Your coffee I mean!" she added with a flirtatious smile.
"White, one sugar," Chris said. He smiled back at her, noting the interest in her eyes. Then he mentally slapped himself. What in God's name was he thinking!
Fortuitously the phone rang and he turned away to answer the call. It was a client calling about a potential new job and he reluctantly dragged his mind back on to work matters. However it didn't stop him admiring Connie's pert bottom as she sashayed out of his office.
The conversation with Mr Wong was interminable. Chris found his concentration drifting away on a lustful reverie whereby Connie was bent over his desk wearing virginal white stockings. A photo of Erica and Charlotte caught his eye when he was prompted to add something to the dialogue and he felt a sharp twinge of guilt shoot through his midsection.
He had not looked at another woman since he met Erica. It was a scary symptom of just how bad things were between them. He wound up the conversation and replaced the phone on its cradle. Just what the hell was he going to do?
Connie reappeared with his coffee and he thanked her politely, managing to ignore her blatantly leaning forward and exposing some tempting cleavage. She spun on her heel and left him alone feeling guilty about the hard-on that filled his expensive trousers.
No, he mused regretfully, impure thoughts about the office junior were not going to help his marriage in the slightest.
* * *
Two weeks passed and the emotional chasm between them grew ever wider. Chris tried to make amends, but Erica was too stubborn to listen. As far as she could see, nothing had changed one iota. Her husband continued to spend all the hours God sent at work, while she had to deal with a screaming baby.
Charlotte was now teething which added insult to injury although Erica had had a brief respite from the endless crying. For a blissful two days Charlotte had seemed a whole lot happier. She had slept better and had generally been far easier to deal with.
Even the dreaded supermarket shop had passed without incident. Then the baby's cheeks had turned red and her gums became inflamed. Erica had consulted her books and realised with a sinking feeling that her daughter was teething.
Sure enough, that evening the crying had begun again. Nothing seemed to sooth her daughter. Painkillers worked for a short spell, but as soon as the medicine wore off, she began to scream again. It was a nightmare with no discernable end in sight.
Chris had then helpfully announced he was away for three days. He had a meeting in London he said, and he would be gone for two nights. Erica had said nothing. There seemed very little point really. She knew he had no choice about going; it just felt like the timing was too damn convenient.
They were barely talking beyond essential dialogue about Charlotte. Every night Chris went to bed and stayed firmly on his side of the mattress. He could feel the chill emanating from Erica and couldn't be bothered to try and talk to her. He knew she was in no mood to listen.
* * *
Chris packed his briefcase and grabbed his laptop. He had an hour to drive to the station in order to catch his train. His head was full of work related thoughts and taking the stairs down to the basement car park, he walked over to his car, mulling over a telephone conference he had had that morning.
A soft voice startled him and he jumped slightly.
"Hello, Mr Langdon," said Connie, a store carrier bag in her hand.
"Oh hello Connie, what are you doing down here?" Chris asked in surprise. He unlocked his car and placed his gear on the back seat carefully.
"Just putting my shopping away," she smiled sweetly. "I needed some new lingerie, so I had a spending spree in my lunch hour!"
Chris was slightly taken aback at such a bold admission. He was not sure why she was even talking to him really -- but the thought of a bag full of sexy lingerie was undeniably arousing. Uncomfortably he shifted on the spot.