I’m not hungry sweetheart, she told him, and he shrugged it off. It was getting increasingly normal of her to refuse her meals, and he assumed that she ate something or the other sometime. No one could stop eating altogether, could they?
Besides, he was tired, and the day had been horrible as usually, and what he desperately needed was one neat brandy. She wouldn’t like it though, so he refrained. Anne was losing weight these days, and he couldn’t make out why. Her skin was paler than usually, and no longer glowed with the health it used to. Her long brown hair seemed lank, and he suggested that she cut it.
The next day, the hair was shoulder length, but she was till pale a wraith of her usual self. He shrugged it off, knowing that she was working too hard, and there was nothing he could do. The weekend was coming, and they would go away from all this hustle bustle in the city an have a quiet time together, just enjoying life. She seemed delighted with the prospect.
The weekend came and went. He felt very guilty, he really did, but he knew that she was disappointed. He was irritated with her. After all, he was working for them, for their family and one day, for their kids. She understood that, didn’t she? She nodded solemnly, a tiny pout on her lips.
He bought her chocolate and roses to make it all better. There was a dinner they had to go to, and she would come, wouldn’t she? His career depended on it. Of course she would, and she dressed in an evening gown of silver and light, and dazzled all whom she spoke to that day. She ate tid-bits, and he was relieved. He hadn’t seen her eating in a long while.
The roses he found the next day, lying in her hands, and the bathroom was filled the smell of someone who had thrown up. She said, Nothing really, I just had a wee bit of stomach upset He shrugged, made her coffee and got his own breakfast, and pushed of to work.
Life went on, and Anne only got thinner. Later, he promised himself. He was so close that success, that promotion, and once he got it, they would be in the lap of comfort. They had just gotten married, high school sweethearts, and she was barely 19. He would make life perfect for her.
Anne fell sick, and she told him she had been to a doctor, and he had given her medicines and she was eating them. How could he have known it wasn’t the truth? He left by seven, and more and more, she was having breakfast in bed. Or so she told him. He came back so late at night… and found that his meal was waiting in the table, and Anne was asleep.
He was happy, Anne had missed her third monthly. She told him what that meant, and the child was early, as per his plans, but he could make it work. He would make it work. It had to work. He flung himself heart and soul into his work, and his hours got longer. People called him a success and wondered at the secret that made him push so hard. But he was content, there was Anna at home, a baby on the way, and the world was his oyster.
One fine day, he found a notebook of Anne’s that filled him with dread. It was filled with the same phrase over and over, from beginning to end. He went home to find her dead, her pen stopping, as she wrote yet another time – “This is my purgatory”