Login   Sign Up 


Three Sisters Bleeding Chapter 3

by Gavaghan 

Posted: 07 February 2009
Word Count: 3246
Summary: And now it's Heloise's turn ... and to remind you, as it'll be a while since you read the last chapter, yes you have heard the name Ciaran before - Saskia's lover, and father, though he doesn't yet know it, to Saskia's unborn child. Sorry that it's a little long, I really can't see where to break this chapter

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Heloise had groaned when she’d received Annis’s text – ‘Damn, I’m sorry but I really can’t – I’ve got the kids tonight, and I’ve tried but can’t get a babysitter. Damn, damn, damn. Phone me though? Xxx’

She’d been alone in her office at the University so her groan hadn’t drawn quizzical looks or, even worse, the well-meant enquiries of sympathetic acquaintances.

With a sigh, she'd pulled towards her the copy of the Aberdeen Bestiary – like all bestiaries, written by medieval monks in often bone-freezing cold, seated on unforgiving wooden seats using quills - describing all the animals in the world, some real and some believed then to be real. The elephant, unicorn, gryphon, crocodile, wolf, satyr, lamb – the list went far beyond what a modern mind would accept; but to the mind that believed a demon could step at any moment from behind a tree to seduce them with Satan’s promises, or in which an angel could descend in a ring of heavenly light to relay God’s wishes, they were entirely conceivable. Each described animal carried an illustration exquisitely coloured in rich blues, greens, reds, laced with gold. Beside each illustration was a physical description of the animal – but more importantly, the moral God had placed the animal on earth to teach man.

Her work was to cross-reference all known bestiaries from across the world, and draw from them a better understanding of how the medieval mind had understood God to work in the world – and relate that to the characteristics we still attribute to animals. Her theory was that as animals acted through instinct rather than intention, we still saw them as purer than ourselves and so closer to God – or whatever our individual, fractured beliefs told us had put us here. It was work she loved and it was rare she could not lose herself in the beauty before her – but tonight, it was useless.

She was relieved when the time came to abandon the pretence of work and walk the ten minutes from her office to Revolution. It was one of the few bars in which she felt at ease, despite the self-consciously cool bar list and staff, loving its Tudor-like dark wood floors and panelling. She entered, glad to find only one table occupied, and made her way to the bar, her boot-heeled stride clicking across the floorboards.

A bright-eyed bar man, wiry and an inch or so shorter than her, approached. ‘What can I get you?’

‘Black coffee, please.’

‘Coming right up.’ He nodded, reached for a cup and turned to the chrome and black machine behind him. As he busied himself she scanned the price list, delved into her purse and laid the correct change on the counter.

He turned and placed the coffee before her. Seeing the change on the counter, he grinned and said, ‘Efficient.’

Unsmiling, she reached for the coffee and said, ‘Saves time.’

His grin evaporated. ‘Stop and smell the roses, love.’


‘Don’t worry about it. Wouldn’t wanna waste anymore of your time.’ He turned his back and busied himself with restacking coffee cups.

Wounded, she stared at his back. Why did strangers sometimes react to her like this? She was always polite.

She stared at his back, hoping he’d turn around and she could fix whatever she’d broken with a smile. He didn’t.

Oh, let it go, she thought. Tonight she had bigger things on her mind.

She carried the coffee to a table at the far corner of the room and seated herself. Twenty long minutes later, Saskia finally appeared in the doorway. Despite her lateness, she seemed unflustered.

Heloise watched as she made her way to the bar, exchanged a few easy, flirtatious words with the barman who served her a mineral water, and then approached. She admired, without envy, the perfectly chosen and effortlessly worn black pantsuit, the long-legged, ‘follow me’, stride. It she were an animal, Heloise thought, she’d be a panther, even down to the slight, slow movements of her head to the side as she walked, surveying the shadows for movement, for watching eyes.

She wondered if she felt inadequate next to Saskia’s scene-stealing beauty and decided no, she didn’t. Her own quieter looks – hair so dark it seemed ebony except in sunlight, olive skin against which her grey-eyes were a striking surprise - had been enough to win the love of Ciaran; Ciaran, who breezed through life accumulating adoration with his beauty and easy laughter. She needed no one else, nothing else, but him.

If only he needed no one else, nothing else, but her.

Saskia placed her mineral water on the table between them, kissed her on the cheek and seated herself, saying, ‘Hi hun, so sorry I’m late, something came up.’

‘Oh not to worry, thanks for coming.’

Saskia waved away the gratitude. ‘Of course I came. You’re my sister.’

Heloise smiled. ‘Family first, huh?’

‘Always. But Helly, what is it? Your text sounded urgent, I’ve been worried.’

Heloise looked into Saskia’s eyes but her lips closed. She could speak the words, but how could they convey the snake of terror that coiled itself around her spine, icy and constricting, at their implications?

She had to disengage from Saskia, distance herself, to be able to speak at all. She turned to the window and watched the feet of the passersby who strode through the softening sunlight as she said, ‘The IVF failed again. It was our last shot. We’ve no more money, and the doctor said if we hadn’t conceived after four attempts …’

‘Hold on, how do you know that already? I thought the results weren’t due until Thursday?’

‘They were due today. I got them this afternoon. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to mislead you, or anyone else, but I couldn’t bear the weight of everyone else’s hopes for me. And I wanted time to prepare myself if it was bad news.’

Saskia laid a hand on Heloise’s arm, who felt the warmth of her sister’s skin as if it were from another world, a world where people loved and laughed in brightly lit rooms and no one failed.

‘I’m sorry, Helly. So sorry. I know it’s not what you wanted, but can’t you adopt?’

‘Ciaran won’t. He wants his own baby, his own blood, to see himself carried forward. It’s a huge thing with him. Maybe it’s a Catholic thing, I don’t know, he’s one of six and he believes so much in family, in the ties that bind. The blood ties that bind. He doesn’t want to carry just anyone’s baby in his arms.’

‘Men think they think that, but if you adopted, he’d come round, love the child as much as his own. More, possibly.’

Heloise turned urgent eyes on Saskia. ‘No. That’s not Ciaran. I know him better than anybody – he couldn’t contemplate adoption, but nor could he contemplate a life without children.’ Her voice dropped to a near whisper. ‘Sas, he wants a baby more than me. If I can’t give him a baby, I think he’ll leave me for someone who can.’

‘Bollocks! Of course he wouldn’t. Ciaran loves you.’ Saskia paused. ‘With or without a baby.’

Something in her voice made Heloise pause, wonder again if there wasn’t a tension about Saskia tonight. ‘Are you okay?’

‘Of course I am. Just work stuff. Sometimes I’d give anything just to give it all up. Just be loved. Like you.’

‘But you are loved. We all love you, and Gregor adores you. He’d marry you tomorrow if you’d let him.’

‘Perhaps,’ Saskia said. ‘He admires me, desires me, but he doesn’t need me. Is that love? I want a man who … anyway, we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you. You’re what’s important tonight.’

‘No, I’m not the only important thing here. Tell me. If there’s something wrong, talk to me.’


Heloise started at Saskia’s vehemence.

‘Oh God, Helly, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap. It’s just … it’s lovely of you to think of me, but really, there’s nothing wrong with me. Let’s talk about you. What are you going to do? That’s the important thing.’

‘There’s nothing I can do but tell Ciaran. And pray. Pray to everything that might be above that his obsession with having a baby will ease off and that I – just me - can make him happy enough to stay.’

‘You can, honey, you can.’

Heloise smiled, a weak smile. ‘I hope you’re right.’

‘He loves you. I know he does.’

Heloise made to protest further, but Saskia held up a hand. ‘Helly, you’re being paranoid. Really, you need to pull yourself together a bit. You can’t let Ciaran see you like this. The bigger deal you make of it, the bigger deal it’ll seem to him.’

‘Oh, you’re right. Just listen to me. Yes, you’re right. I’m letting my fears get the better of me, and they’re making me unfair to Ciaran. He’s way better than I’m giving him credit for. He’d never leave me because I couldn’t give him a baby. And you’re right – my emotionalism will only make him more emotional.’

‘That’s more like it. Don’t treat it as a tragedy – it’s not, and don’t let him see it as one either. Loads of couples don’t have children, and they’re happy – happier perhaps. Remember Mum and Dad?’

‘Only too well.’

‘Exactly. Well, get that across to Ciaran. Go home, open a bottle of wine, make him a lovely meal and tell him. Say yes, it’s sad, but it wasn’t meant to be. Let’s look to the future, all the things you can do you wouldn’t have been able to do with children.‘

‘You’re absolutely right, Sas. God, I’m glad I saw you before I did him. Thanks so, so much.’

‘You don’t have to thank me. Sisters, remember?’

Heloise smiled. ‘Always. And now, enough of me. You tell me about your day. About the work stuff.’

She listened with mounting alarm as Saskia outlined the conversation with Serov. She was ashamed that she’d wallowed in her own fears while Saskia faced real problems in the real world. She listened intently, pushing IVF and Ciaran to the back of her mind, turning it instead to analysing with Saskia every possibility, until Saskia finally said she had to go – a long evening with only Xtron paperwork for company lay ahead.

When Heloise hugged her goodbye it was with genuine gratitude and concern, feelings that hung pregnant inside her as she crossed town towards the bus station. When she passed the artfully enticing display of wine bottles in Oddbins, she stopped, remembering Saskia’s words. A bottle of his favourite red would not only soften the mood, but they’d be able to drown their sorrows together and then begin to cheer themselves by planning the many opportunities a childfree future would offer. And who knew, perhaps for the first time since they’d begun IVF, Ciaran would want to make love – something he’d lost the desire to do when he realised it would not impregnate her; perhaps now there would be no baby either way, making love would again express a simple desire to be close, to give her pleasure and find pleasure in her body.

She pushed open the red-framed door and scanned the crammed, gleaming racks. She chose a bottle of his favourite Chilean red, then another for good measure, and took them to the till. Behind it were beckoning packs of cigarettes, seductively enclosing the tubes of nicotine, which she could draw deep into her body, relaxing it with a wash of pleasure. She let out a grim laugh. After all, she thought, she was never going to get pregnant anyway, so why not?

Because Ciaran hated smoking, and despite his nagging it had been hard enough to give up the first time.

She placed the bottles on the counter so decidedly the woman behind it started, apparently assuming her to be a difficult customer. She smiled an apology, paid for the wine and took it swiftly to the bus station.

She joined the back of the queue for the 393, tapping her foot, eager now to get home and know everything would be okay. When the bus arrived, she showed the disinterested driver her bus pass, noting that she failed utterly to register on his early-twenties-only sexual radar. There was nothing here to entice him, no cleavage on display, no lipsticked pout. She was content to let it be so.

She took the last available seat upstairs, relieved as the bus pulled into the rush hour flood. She watched the buildings slide by with infuriating slowness, cursed every red light. When the bus had taken her through the eclectic mix of shops that was the centre of Withington – delicatessens, bric a brac shops posing as antique shops, wholefood shops – she descended the stairs and alighted gratefully on the pavement. She hurried away from the bustle along a street that widened into a birch-lined avenue, took a right into a street of expensively-preserved terraces and let herself into number 28.

Ciaran had a meeting and wouldn’t be home for half an hour or so. She had time to fill the house with the welcoming scents of his favourite meal.

She hung up her coat and went straight to the kitchen. She wasn’t in the least hungry, but drew from the cupboards arborial rice, dried porcini mushrooms, pancetta, cream and set a mushroom risotto cooking. She laid the dining room table and placed a candle in the centre, matches and the first bottle of wine next to it, ready.

She stood back and surveyed it, folded her arms, and looked around, at the polished floor, the barley coloured walls, the abstract prints. This was the home they’d built together – and it would still be a home, even without children to throw noise, toys and love around it.

The front door opened. She tensed, then made herself breathe deep and relax. She turned to the doorway with what she hoped was a warm smile.

He appeared. Never more than at that moment had he seemed beautiful to her. His rower’s shoulders, his broad chest, his strong legs seemed to fill the doorway. His black curls glistened and invited her hand to tangle itself in them, his dark eyes drew her into their mysteries, his full red lips suggested both the smile always ready to dawn and the passion she knew lay dormant inside him.

He stepped towards her and laid a kiss on her cheek. ‘Sorry I’m late, angel. Got caught up in a meeting I thought would never end.’

‘Not to worry.’

‘Mmmm, is that risotto I can smell?’ He turned and walked into the kitchen. She followed.

‘It is! You really are an angel.’ He laid another kiss on her cheek. ‘Christ, I need this.’

‘Hard day?’ she asked.

‘Oh yeah.’ He took a wooden spoon and stirred the risotto. ‘This looks great. Anyway, how was your day?’

‘It was …’ God, what had she been thinking? That with the knowledge she carried, she could calmly eat with him while keeping it from him? That he wouldn’t mind if she sprung it on him in a couple of hours once he had risotto and Chilean red inside him? He’d be furious, and rightly so.



She extended a hand. ‘Come through to the lounge with me?’

‘What is it?’

‘Come with me?’

He took her hand and followed her into the lounge. She felt he must be able to hear the pounding of her heart, beating out fear after fear after fear. She sat on the edge of the deep leather sofa and eased him down to face her.


‘Helly, what is it?’ His voice was no longer gentle.

‘I went to the clinic today.’

‘Today? But we weren’t due there until Thursday.’

‘I’m sorry. The results came in today. I wanted to hear them alone.’

‘You did what? How could you? I had a right to be there. You and your bloody secretiveness. You take it too far, you know, you really do.’

‘I’m sorry, I just needed time to prepare myself for whatever was coming.’ She was going to add because I was so terrified of telling you, of breaking your heart, of you leaving me, but remembered Saskia’s words.

'Okay.’ He breathed deep. ‘Okay. That’s not important. What did they say?’

‘It’s not such bad news.’

‘You mean … oh fuck! You mean you’re pregnant?’ He leapt to his feet, punched the air, swung back to face her, grabbed her hands, dragged her to her feet. ‘God, I love you, Hel.’

‘No … no, you’ve misunderstood. I didn’t mean it that way.’

‘What? What do you mean?’

‘I mean I’m not pregnant, but that’s not such bad news. It’s not the end of the world.’

He dropped her hands. ‘It is.’


‘It is the end of the world.’

The ground fell away, the house disintegrated around her, sunlight fled the sky. She was a little girl alone in a field amidst a raging storm.

She stared at him staring at her, wondering not for the first time, if her body had known she wanted to keep Ciaran to herself and so had rejected the IVF, trying to help her and not realising it was destroying her.

‘But we love one another,’ she said, struggling to keep her voice even. ‘We can have still have a wonderful life together. Loads of couples don’t have children and they’re happy – happier, maybe. Think of all the places we can go we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.’



‘How can you say that? How the fuck can you say that? I feel like I hardly know you, like it's someone else talking. Jesus, I thought you understood, I thought you felt the same.’

‘I do understand …’

‘If you understood, you could never have given me the news like that. As if ... as if the fucking CD I wanted wasn’t in stock at the moment.’

‘It wasn’t like that.’

'I’m going out.’

‘What? Oh please don’t, please …’

He strode to the door. She followed clutching at him. ‘Really, it wasn’t like that. I desperately wanted a baby, to give you the baby you wanted, so badly, Ciaran I’ve been so scared, so scared. I just didn’t want to make it any worse than it already was.’

‘It couldn’t be any worse. Not only can you not give me a baby, but you're someone I don't even know.’

He brushed her away, retrieved his mobile from the hall table and strode to the door.

‘Ciaran, Ciaran, please …’

The door slammed behind him. She was at the door in two strides, wrenched it open, hurtled onto the driveway. The car engine was already alive. She raced to it, reached for the passenger door handle, just in time to see the locks go down. She banged on the window. 'Ciaran! Ciaran! It wasn't like that! Stop! Please talk to me.'

Without looking at her, he released the handbrake, looked over his shoulder and reversed into the road and sped away.

The sensation that he was driving away from her, from their life together, somewhere she would not be allowed to follow him, was unbearable. She couldn’t stand it alone.

She needed her sisters.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

Forbes at 17:11 on 07 February 2009  Report this post
Tightly written and dramatic.

You may get more space and a sense of time interval from her initial text until he flounces off in a pet if you clip it into a couple of scenes instead of writing from A to B without a break - y'know? This way seems very... short time wise - do I make sense?

If, when she's talking to her sis, she really feels she's right about how Ciaran will react, it doesn't come thru and she seems quite easy to persuade it will be all right. Is the point here that her sister isn't as concerned for her as she's supposed to be?

I felt sorry for Heloise, but that was a helluva casual way to break the news him and I don't think she's anyway near as sorry as he is devastated. It will be interesting to find out the whys in both cases. And do we find out whose "fault" it is?

Can't wait for the next tranch!



Gavaghan at 17:23 on 07 February 2009  Report this post

Thanks for that - hmmmm. I think I need to take a long, hard look at the way I've written this chapter. Thanks for the pointers, you make absolute sense.

It's a while since you'll have read the last chapters so you may not have realised - Ciaran is Heloise's husband, but also Saskia's lover, and father to Saskia's unborn child, although he doesn't yet know it.

Will think on this

Thanks again


Forbes at 01:14 on 08 February 2009  Report this post
Right, didn't appreciate that - it does change things a tad! I shall hike off and read t'others... well I will tomorrow!


Caregan at 10:52 on 08 February 2009  Report this post
Hey there,

Well, I'm really disliking Saskia and Ciaran right now! This is a very dramatic chapter and I felt Heloise at the end, though I think Avis made a good point about the way she breaks the news to Ciaran. There is a little bit of coldness about all of the characters in this chapter that makes it harder to see who to put your sympathies behind, if that makes sense? I'm definitely leaning towards Heloise, though, and developing that final scene would help with that - I think you could definitely pad out that scene a little more as well, as it all goes by so quickly, yet it's the big moment the whole chapter is leading up to. Basically - give me more!!

Anyhow, this is very gripping - very dark and readable. Can't wait to read on.

Trina at 15:05 on 08 February 2009  Report this post

Ciaran is a prick! I wanted to hit him, no really, she can do so much better than him. And then I read in your comments that her sister is having an affair with him. I almost threw the lab top. Lots of meat for a great story.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic chapter, especially the scene with Ciaran, but I’d milk it for all it’s worth. Maybe describe what his face looks like when he hears the news, what’s her body language…etc. I think maybe she’s not thinking rationally and had her head in the sand and that’s why she breaks the news so abruptly.

I found that I kind of skimmed the first few paragraphs of this chapter and really only got into it when she entered the bar.

The coffee encounter gives a great insight into the character...
Really well done. I would have gobbled up several chapters of this if I had them.
Trina x

manicmuse at 14:43 on 10 February 2009  Report this post
Hiya G,
Well! What an absolute bastard he is eh?! And the Saskia one is no better! I was left wondering at the end of the chapter if she delivered how Heloise should tell him the news on purpose knowing it would drive him closer into her arms? If this is the case then I think I understand the way the bad news was delivered, slightly coldly and quickly, sort of trying to pretend they could get over it? If that's not the case, I think it needs something more? Am I making any sense at all?!
I too felt myself skimming the first couple of paras until the bar and felt they almost weren't needed?
A great read and more than enough to hook the reader into wanting to know how these sisters lives unfold.....Fx

Deborah at 16:54 on 13 February 2009  Report this post
Gavaghan, this was gripping, dramatic stuff - well done! I echoed Fi's comment that:
she delivered how Heloise should tell him the news on purpose knowing it would drive him closer into her arms
and hated them both (Saskia and Ciaran) how could a sister do that to her... um... sister with her brother in law? I hope there's a scene from Saskia's PoV pretty soon cos I want ANSWERS!
Excellent read.

Account Closed at 15:08 on 14 February 2009  Report this post
I really enjoyed this, I felt sorry for Heloise. I enjoyed the description of her job, and I thought it was a very inventive way of stating what kind of person she is with an unusual job like this.

I loved the dialogue, it gave just the right power dynamics, as if she was waiting for him then placating him then chsing him.

Saskia, well, she a Ciaran deserve each other!

Great, this is developing into a gripping story, can't wait for more.


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .