Double or Nothing – Jacqui Hartwood

“How long have you two been married?”

Carly slumped in her corner of the psychologist’s couch, hugging her ribcage.  “Six years.”

“We’ve been together eight.  If you include dating.”  In the opposite corner, Greg crossed his arms and legs, twisting away from Carly.  He was shutting her out already, she knew it.

Dr Morgan sat ramrod straight in her armchair, halfway between them.  “And you can’t agree on anything.”

“I don’t know if that’s true, or how you can conclude that,”  Greg turned his wrist and glanced at his watch,” after we’ve been here only three and a half minutes.  We agreed when we decided to come to marriage counselling.”

Carly hugged herself harder.  “We never touch anymore.  I’m sure Greg will agree that’s true.”

“You don’t want to,” said Greg.

“You pull away.”  Carly rubbed her arms.

Dr Morgan said, “Any children?”

Greg shook his head, lips clamped in a tight, straight line.

Carly’s mouth trembled.  “No.”  She whispered it to the floor.

“Good.” Dr Morgan wrote on her notepad.

Greg whipped his head around to face Dr Morgan.  Shock straightened Carly’s spine.  She looked up and stared at the psychologist.  “What do you mean?  We want, I mean, we wanted a family.”

“It’s never the best practice to bring children into a hostile environment.”

“Who’s hostile?” Greg held out both hands and tilted his head in a question.

read the entire story in Pulp Literature Issue No. 2, Spring 2014.