Claire didn’t get up when she heard the baby cry. Her lids lifted, revealing the dark room that had once more slipped into silence, the echo of the infant’s cry reverberating off the walls. Her head fell to the side, and her eyes settled on the empty space next to her. Eric was up. She heard the floorboards creak under his determined steps. She waited for the cry to come again.
There it was. Sharp, but strained. A long wail and then a gurgle. Offended and then desperate, demanding a response. But it wasn’t time yet so she didn’t move. She heard Eric descend the stairs and knew she had a brief respite before she would hear it again.
With a deep breath, she pulled her legs out from under the covers. They fell over the edge of the bed, and she used the momentum to pull herself into a sitting position. Her heart, which had been furiously beating since the first cry, finally began to slow. The fierce beat drumming against her rib cage was the only reminder of the reaction that cry used to evoke.
She heard the soft music from the floor below that meant Eric’s nightly routine had officially begun. She could picture him as he went from the stereo to the couch, heard him sit heavily, heard the clink of the liquor decanter bumping against his glass. After this drink, he would come back upstairs.