The Secret Party

Entry by: writerQRFHBGVPZX

18th March 2016
The Secret Party
Teresa and Bill were in the garden playing with their son, Henry. Teresa and Bill were of slim build and so far Henry was a stout little fellow. Born with blue eyes like most babies, now they had settled at the same shade of green as Bill’s. He stared intently at the yellow and red plastic bricks he was clicking together. Satisfied, he threw them across the lawn, laughing as he splayed his legs out, running to fetch them.
Bill’s brother, Tom, had introduced them at a party at the London office. Tom said Bill had just come out of his first marriage and needed cheering up. Teresa took Bill up on his offer to show her around the capital. He did not talk much about his marriage other than to say it had ended because of that old cliché - they were on different paths and had grown apart.
He was serious about his relationship with her from the start. He worked from home as a writer. She was impressed he was willing to plan their meetings around her schedule.
This was refreshingly different from Tom. Teresa had only been in the office a week before the party but it was long enough to hear on the grapevine that he was married and single-handedly responsible for the frequent turnover of young women who left the company after their love affairs with him turned sour.
Teresa was 37 then. She had joined the American computing company straight after university in the 60s. She knew a
British firm would never have promoted a woman to the level she had achieved and she appreciated her good fortune. She loved her job, travelling around Europe. She was open to the idea of marriage and a family but until the last posting to London, she never stayed in one place long enough for it to happen.
Bill liked being married. He proposed quickly and their wedding was the following year. A baby took longer to arrive. After 6 months of trying, Teresa started making sure she was eating healthily and did not drink alcohol, trying to improve her chances.
Standing in the bar with Tom at the annual weekend company conference, before the last night party, she decided to have a glass of wine. Her first drink for a while made her feel lightheaded and loosened her tongue. At home she told Bill that - as she was older and her fertility was lower - she did not really mind whether she had children. Having a fascinating job and being able to travel at the drop of a hat were good compensations.
The truth was different. She was wretched, thought herself too old to conceive and with the booze was so self-piteous that she would have wept in the hotel bar if Tom had not ushered her away to his room before their colleagues noticed her distress.
They drank some more, he put his arm around her to comfort her and offered a tissue to dry her tears. She gazed into his eyes - green like Bill’s - and lunged forward to kiss him. She did not care anymore because after all she was barren, what difference did it make. On the few occasions Teresa allowed herself to recall what happened, she chose to forget Tom leaned away and paused for all of a minute. She remembered his expression turned to a smile and he said, “Seems like we are having our own secret party.“
He leaned in to return the kiss and, true to his reputation, they ended up in bed together.
They were both appalled in the morning. After trading insults about being gagging for it and poking anything with a pulse, they calmed down and apologised to each other. They agreed it was better to say nothing to Bill. They loved him and did not want to hurt him. The truth would cause devastation to their whole family. It did not bear thinking about. They promised each other never to refer to it or to attempt the same thing again. They stuck to the promise. Even at work, they never stayed in the same room together alone.
Teresa found out she was pregnant a month later. Bill was over the moon when she told him. She did not want to think about how it had happened. It was a gift from the gods either way.
Henry handed another plastic brick to Teresa. “Give it to Daddy” she said.
Bill took the brick and wondered how he could be so lucky. In his first marriage, when children did not come, they both had fertility checks. His wife’s results were normal but his teenage bout of mumps had left its mark and he was sterile. He half agreed with her belief that a childless marriage was not a marriage and agreed to divorce her.
They kept the reason to themselves, no one in his family knew. He and Tom were as competitive as when they were teenagers. He was the last person Bill could confide in. It would be another reason for Tom to gloat, always confident that he would get the girl and, in contrast to Bill's sterility, the father of two children already.
Bill meant to tell Teresa before they married but things happened so quickly that in the end he did not dare in case she called the wedding off. She always said she was not bothered either way about kids, so it was not really that bad. Now this made it alright.
He was delighted to hear Teresa was expecting their baby and at the same time freed from the dread that sooner or later she would suggest fertility testing and maybe it would end this marriage too.
But it had crossed his mind that she got pregnant after the only weekend they had spent apart since their marriage. Tom had been there. No one in a skirt was safe from him. Bill did not know how Tom’s wife put up with it. He guessed she ignored his shenanigans to keep her family intact.
He knew he must squash his doubts in order to keep the wonderful things he had been given; a wife and a child.
He stood up and lifted Henry onto his shoulders. Henry shouted and swung his heels on Bill’s chest with delight as they ran around the garden.