Flash Fiction: Bad Timing

By the time Cathy had settled herself into the pew beside Duncan, the ache had settled itself into her. She placed her hand on her lower belly and wondered if it would be wrong to pray for some relief, just for the service, so she could concentrate. The pain spiked through her, making her grip the lip of her seat. Duncan glanced at her then looked away, quickly. It wasn’t his fault. It made him uncomfortable. The sudden pain was gone, leaving her with the ache.

She sensed movement at the back of the church and turned to see the choir congregating behind the crucifix with Tom taking up the rear. The service began. He spoke and she responded, gazing at him. He was very young but then even her dad had been young at some point, and he’d always been such a wonderful vicar, a father to them all.

‘Will you please stand to sing hymn number 233.’

Cathy obeyed, her eyes drifting from her hymnbook to follow his progress down the aisle. The ache didn’t seem so bad, now. Perhaps God had –. She clutched the back of the pew in front, scraping her wedding ring on the wood, as the pain ran through her, a sharp, stabbing ache deep inside. Duncan shifted his feet and kept singing, staring straight ahead but she thought she saw Tom glance at her with concern. The pain left her with the ache, again. She stood up straight and started to sing the last verse.

Oh no. Cathy thought she could feel a warm, wetness. She kept singing. Oh no. Not here. Not now. Please. Could she leave? The hymn was almost over. She’d run out of time. What could she do? Please, God. Not now. Please let me be wrong. She knew she was due. She had a tampon hidden in her handbag, just in case, but she never dreamed it would come on during the service.

The hymn ended. They sat down. The wetness was unmistakable. She thought she could smell the metallic musk of it. Her cheeks were hot. What if it leaked through? What if it showed? She crossed her legs then winced with disgust and uncrossed them. She’d have to go. In the middle of the service? She’d have to.

Duncan sat erect and still beside her. Not looking at her. He knew. And he was disappointed.

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