A Christmas Gift

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A Christmas Gift

Harry turned restlessly, sleep was proving illusive. Not wanting to wake Geraldine he slid soundless from the bed, pausing to look down on his sleeping wife. A smile filtered across his face; they had been married for almost three years and he loved her more with each passing day. He sighed, which made the stains on her cheeks, evidence of the silent tears she had shed before sleep had claimed her, all the more difficult to bear. A frown crinkled his brow, he felt so powerless and unable to ease her pain.

Taking a minute to slip into a pair of jogging bottoms and pull a shirt on, he moved quietly out of the room, not bothering with the buttons on his shirt. For a big man he moved surprisingly elegantly, his footsteps light, barely making a sound as he went downstairs.

The vicarage was chilly at this early hour and he headed into the kitchen to make some tea to ward off the cold. While the kettle boiled he reflected on the day and what had caused Geraldine's tears. He was certain it had been the christening earlier in the day; it had been a big affair during the afternoon, not part of the morning service. Every christening, and there had been more than a few, was like a nail being driven into her heart.

He poured the tea and walked through to the lounge. Harry loved this room with its large comfy sofa covered with colourful throws and cushions. They had spent many cosy evenings curled up watching the television, listening to music or reading. Sometimes talking and sometimes just sitting in companionable silence.

He glanced at the fireplace, a beautiful feature and focal point for the room. It was especially welcoming with a fire blazing in the hearth. They had lit the fire for the first time tonight, it had seemed appropriate somehow with it being Halloween. The logs had burned down to red embers that occasionally seemed to wink, lazily flaring to life for a brief second and then dying down once more. He grabbed a cushion and sank to the floor alongside it; close enough to feel the last of its warmth. Sipping his tea slowly, a cloak of sadness enveloped him. Was it so wrong to want something so badly? They were no different to thousands of couples who had reached the point in their lives where they wanted a family. In truth they had reached the point a year after they had married.

It was so much harder for Geraldine than it was for him. He could lock himself away with some dry old accounts. Children were not a part of his working life; not like they were for Geraldine. She couldn't get away from children; besides the christenings there was the service at the village school once a week, the choir and Sunday school. She hid it well, but he knew how much it hurt her.

Harry felt as if a heavy weight had settled on his chest. He stared intently at the embers of the fire, lost in his thoughts. He was growing so tired of the endless Dr's appointments, the prodding, poking and dissecting of their sex lives. A shy man he had found the questions about sex difficult to answer and when they had asked him to provide a sample of semen for a sperm count he'd wanted the ground to open up and swallow him. Geraldine had sympathised and offered to nip out and buy him playboy if he was struggling to perform. But as bad as it had been for him it had been a hundred times worse for her. She had been scanned, scoped and dye tested numerous times. The latest gynaecologist hadn't minced his words about Geraldine's weight. Telling her that unless she lost five stone her chances of conceiving were virtually zero and that he would not help them unless she did diet. She'd been a trooper and although still a curvy size 16 she had lost a lot of weight. It hadn't made any difference though, she still hadn't conceived. Two courses of IVF had come and gone. The sense of failure more acute with each disappointment they suffered.

The joy of being asked to be godparents to friends children had begun to lose its lustre serving only to remind them what they had not achieved. It seemed that every other couple they knew had only to be in the same room with each other to get pregnant.

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