Chapter Nine: From Anger and Embarrassment to Depression
Christina sat across her kitchen table conversing with Hans' mother. Both women had a cup of hot tea in front of them. Mrs. Gruber hers and gently blew the hot liquid before taking a sip. She placed the cup back down on the table and surveyed her daughter-in-law sadly.
From her perspective, Christina looked worn. Her face was white as a sheet and her eyes were bloodshot as if she had been crying. She seemed tired, like she hadn't slept well in weeks. She sat at the table playing with her tea instead of consuming it.
"Chris, talk to me, please, what's going on?"
Christina let go of the cup and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. She brushed her hair out of her face and glanced up at Mrs. Gruber. "Where to begin?" she said mostly to herself.
Mrs. Gruber pressed her thin lips together into a frown. From the girl's tone it sounded pretty bad. Christina looked to be at her limit and she was ready to snap. "Just start from the beginning dear, I'm here to help you."
"Your son and I are having serious problems," she told her mother-in-law. "Since we've come home he's been avoiding me. I can't talk to him and every time I try he rebukes me. I can't help him without him going off on me. Then just the other day he fired his physical therapist and said he was done working out. In the past week he's gone from anger and embarrassment to depression and I don't know how to reach him."
Christina was actually pleading with her. She was helpless and she was fearful for her husband. Mrs. Gruber knew all this worrying was not healthy for Christina and her unborn child. She was too stressed and it had to stop, for her daughter-in-law and her son's sake.
"Christina, I don't want you to torture yourself," Mrs. Gruber said, reaching over and taking her hand. "I will handle this. You go and try to relax; this is not good for you and the baby."
"You mean babies?" Christina corrected.
Mrs. Gruber opened her mouth to say something, but Christina spoke again. "Please don't tell Hans, I just found out a few weeks ago. I know we were supposed to find out together, but I couldn't wait anymore," she revealed, sounding a bit guilty.
Mrs. Gruber's face softened and she smiled. "It's quite understandable my dear, I know my son can be stubborn when he sets his mind on something. You go compose yourself, while I clean up this mess."
Christina was reluctant to leave, but after a moment of indecision she heaved herself up from the dinner table and headed for her bedroom. Mrs. Gruber took one last sip of her now warm tea. She set the cup down and stood up. She left the kitchen and began to search for her son who had hidden himself in the house somewhere.
After a few minutes of exploring, she found her son coming in from outside. She was going to questioned him on why he had been out in the freezing cold, but she decided to leave it alone. Hans had just pushed the sliding door closed, when he turned his chair and began to roll towards the living room. He stopped in his tracks when he saw his mother standing in his path, with a not too happy look fixed on her face.
"Mother," he acknowledged and made to move past her.
She moved again, blocking his path of escape once more. Hans narrowed his eyes, but otherwise didn't protest. He might have scolded his wife, but he knew he would not rude to his mother. Dragging up a few memories from his childhood reminded him why.
"I would like to have a chat with you," Mrs. Gruber announced. She was not asking, she was telling him she was going to have a conversation.
Hans knew that tone and nodded silently. He led his mother to the living room, where she sat down on the black leather sofa and Hans remained in wheelchair a few feet away. She studied her son's cheerless expression. He still looked the same, but like his wife, he was pale and looked stressed. They both needed to relax and stop fighting if they wanted things to go back to normal.
"You wanted to speak to me, mother?" Hans asked, trying to keep his voice neutral.
"Yes, I just had a lovely discussion with your wife," Mrs. Gruber divulged. She paused when Hans groaned and rolled his eyes. She glared at him with a disapproving look, which made Hans quiet immediately.
"As I was saying," she continued, "your wife came to me and she sounded concerned for you. I've heard that over the past few weeks you've been avoiding and disrespectful to her."
"If she would just leave me alone and stop treating me like a child, I wouldn't have to tell her off," Hans defended himself.
"Christina is trying to help you, she loves you and she's trying to be there. Can't you understand that?"
"No, she pities me. I can hear it in her voice every time she asks me if I need help. I don't need anyone's pity."
"She doesn't pity, she's only worried and you're pushing her away," Mrs. Gruber explained to her son. "I understand if Christina is smothering you and I can ask her to back off, but you need to stop being rude to your wife and try to be a bit more tolerant."
"Why should I have to be tolerant?" There's nothing wrong with her," Hans answered harshly.
Mrs. Gruber was getting a bit frustrated with her son at the moment. He wasn't listening to anything she imparted to him and he was being rather guarded. "Have you forgotten that your wife is seven and half months pregnant? She's been so distraught that she's hardly taking care of herself."
"Well, if she paid attention to herself more than me, then we would not have any problems. So why don't you go and tell her I said that?"
Hams turned his wheelchair away and began rolling away. Mrs. Gruber stood up from the sofa. "Don't you walk away from me, young man," she growled at him.
Hans stopped his chair and slightly turned his head to the side so he could see his mother from the corner of his eye. "See, that's where you're wrong" he whispered. "I don't believe I'm walking away from you, mother, because if that were the case there wouldn't be a problem and we wouldn't be having this conversation."
With that Hans rolled out of sight. Mrs. Gruber wasn't done yet. She marched in the direction that Hans had just gone. A moment later she caught up with him in the middle of the long hallway. She stepped right in front of Hans and leaned down so she was right in her in his face.
"Now you listen to me," she commanded. "You will stop this selfish attitude, you will hire another physical therapist and you will begin your workouts again. "
Hans opened his mouth to yell something nasty, but his mother's hand shot forward grabbing his chin firmly, making him gaze into her eyes. "You will begin your therapy again," Mrs. Gruber repeated. "You will apologies to your wife and you will sit down and work things out between the two of you. Do you understand me, Hans? Because if your wife calls me over one more time to straighten you out, you will not like me very much afterwards."
Hans narrowed his eyes and spat. "I am not a child; you will not stand here and scold me like one."
"Then if you don't want to be treated like a child, then do not act like one."
She straighten up and walked past him toward the direction of the living room. Right before Mrs. Gruber turned the corner; she stopped and addressed her son. "Next time I see you and Christina, I expect her to tell me that everything has been resolved."
As Hans listen to his mother's retreating footsteps, he slowly loosened his grip that had been wrapped around the handle bars of his wheelchair. He ran a hand through his hair trying to regain his dignity that had been shattered a moment before. She had no right to tell him anything. It was his life and he would live it any way he saw fit and no one would tell him any differently.
That's right you do not mess with Hans' mother. You'll get snatched. Hope you enjoyed this chapter. Let me know what you think is going to happen. The next chapter is called From Bad to Worse. So based on that, let know your predictions. Things are about to pop off, so stay tune and I promise you I'll make it worth your wild.