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Matt’s head peeped from behind our ensuite’s door.

‘You up for it again? Third try and fingers crossed?’

Legs crossed, more like. My insides and outsides resented and repelled further intrusions, but compliance was the mask I chose to wear.

A little later, forced into gynaecological examination pose, I sighed as my overly-enthusiastic other half tangoed towards the bathroom, and my fingers discovered a pool of bodily fluid settling directly under my left buttock.

While the boiler chugged enabling Matt’s ablutions, I grabbed sheets of ultra-absorbent kitchen roll from my bedside drawer, and one of my secret weapons dropped from inside its hollow cardboard tube. Panicked, I pushed it under the bed. There was no way that Matt could ever discover that pre-conception homicidal tube with its controversial printed label: ‘Spermicidal Jelly’. Nor could he ever know of my contraceptive pills, stashed in an ancient eyeshadow palette.

Matt belted out ‘Maybe this time,’ in a forced falsetto as he left the bathroom then gyrated energetically in front of my face.

‘Maybe this time I’ll win,’ my wannabe Broadway divo continued, grabbing my knees and wobbling my legs in and out, affectionately. ‘Maybe this time,’ he crooned, picking up his shirt.

I stared at him through my customary mask. ‘You’re so musical theatre.’

‘I Am What I Am,’ he began, using my stoppered perfume bottle as a microphone, but it slipped from his hand, and he watched, unconcerned, as its pricey contents seep into the carpet. Suddenly all my fondness dissipated.

‘We’re having too much sex, Matt…’

‘There’s no such thing as too much sex!’ Matt snorted. ‘My body’s always Defying Gravity!’

As I reddened, Matt began to dance into his trousers, and I shook my head in irritation. He responded only with his stern, post-coital expression.

‘Twenty more minutes. Keep still. You know the rules. That’s why I love you.’

I muttered a noncommittal ‘loveyatoo’.

Matt, soon fully dressed and loved up, stood by the bedroom door, every inch the lord of all he surveyed. ‘Tea and toast?’

‘Yep, please.’

A chipped mug appeared in my hand while I was still reluctantly laid up.

‘How you feeling?’ Matt asked, playing with my toenails.

‘I’ll get over it. The agony doesn’t last long, providing I don’t want to sit down, stand up, or walk.’

Matt shrugged, patted my thigh, then stumbled downstairs shrieking ‘Toast!’ at the sudden ringing of the smoke alarm.

Matt busied himself in the kitchen: screaming at the noise, opening windows, and fanning the alarm, and I allowed my mask to slip. Scowling at his ineptitude, I punched his pillow with genuine passion.

Okay, so my proud and crowing cockerel had done his deed (and then had done it twice more), but he was as much father material as I was mother material.

We wore the masks of hopeful-parents-to-be.

They were scripts we lived and games we played…

But our fairy tale would never have a happy ending.


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