They ate their dinner in silence. Food does a funny thing when you haven't the will to taste it: it grows, seems heavier, denser, so that a bite or two leaves your stomach crushed under its weight. Michael ate because he wanted Abby to eat, and she ate so that Michael wouldn't worry. After dinner he scraped the remainder of their food into the garbage and washed the plates. Abby went straight to bed.
The house was much too large. Michael had made the down payment with his promotion bonus, just after Abby told him she was pregnant with Andrew. There were four bedrooms, custom designed for the large family Abby had always wanted. When she announced her second pregnancy, they joked that they were hurrying to fill the house. Now Abby felt as if they were moving backwards. The house grew emptier by the day. The corner of the kitchen, once home to Andrew's highchair was now abandoned. Two whole shelves of the medicine cabinet, where she kept kid friendly cough syrups and band-aids with little bears on them now sat vacant. It was as if time were reversing, except that Abby was daily reminding herself that time could not be reversed, no matter how much of your heart wished it.
There were two ways into the master bedroom. One lead down a carpeted hallway with little pictures of english cottages hanging over floral wallpaper. This path entered the bedroom through a large white door, across from which was the door of the nursery. Abby took the second path, moving instead into the bathroom at the top of the stairs and using the narrow door that linked it to her bedroom. When she reached the bed she crawled beneath the covers with her clothing still on, suddenly weary.
Michael waited downstairs another twenty minutes before coming up. He took the direct route, pausing outside the nursery long enough to recall a time when Andrew's gentle breaths could be heard through the crack in the door. By the time he entered the master bedroom he was relieved to find Abby already asleep. He changed into his pijamas and slid into the bed beside her, but he couldn't bring himself to close his eyes. Once, as a boy, he had a pet dog who was run over by a passing car. The night after the dog died, he had dreamed that the dog was alive and well, and upon waking from the dream had found his heart twice as shattered as before. If he dreamed of Andrew, breathing softly in his crib, Michael feared he would never want to wake up.
Beside him, Abby dreamed of Andrew, alive and breathing softly in his crib.