"Conflict a family affair" is a heart warming controversial trilogy by Bernard Preston; this is chapter 25.
This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 11th August, 2019.
I won't pretend the subject matter will be easy for you; it wasn't for me. But I do promise you'll enjoy the book and read the three books to the end; so beware if you make a start.
Book 1 is free, but it is an early unedited edition. If you are enjoying the yarn then I recommend you buy it; ebooks are dirt cheap though I confess a greed factor is setting in at Amazon; they alter the prices at will, and it's always upwards.
Books 2 and 3 are also inexpensive; you will have to buy them once you're hooked.
It all arrived in a dream after a shocking revelation; it's not easy to evade a book demanding to be written after the whole plot is laid before your eyes.
Santie and Janet will disturb you; their children you will love. And Peter you'll feel desperately sorry for; the girls manipulate him into becoming an unwilling donor; sperm, not blood.
A family affair is a trilogy by Bernard Preston.
Chapter One: Jan Jansen
Chapter Twenty-Five: Conflict
Oddly enough it was Santie, not Janet, who first realised that Janet was pregnant. She still vividly remembered the unwelcome signs, but Janet was quite sure that she was suffering from food poisoning. The pasty that she had eaten after a race through the Blyderiver Canyon must have been bad.
‘I knew I shouldn’t have eaten it. It just looked so good,’ she wailed, after her third visit to the toilet that morning, retching her guts out. Miss Hansen then sent her home, but Santie didn’t say anything until she arrived home late that afternoon.
‘Remember I had a pasty too,’ she said. ‘When was your last period?’
Janet put her hand to her mouth, and gasped: ‘I’m late. Surely you don’t think …?’
Santie nodded her head. ‘I’m afraid I do think. We’ll make an appointment with a gynae tomorrow.’ There was no doubt in her mind what the solution was, but she hadn’t reckoned on her friend’s astonishing stubbornness. They said little all evening, each lost in her own thoughts. Santie was still determined that somehow they were going to spike Jan Jansen’s lusty cannon, but first things first: an abortion, pure and simple. They would organize it tomorrow.
Santie phoned the office early and spoke to the office manager: ‘Marjorie, Janet is still quite sick. I’m taking her to the doctor this morning. I’ll try and be in by lunch.’ It was not untrue; Janet had been nauseous ever since they had woken up. Santie then made an appointment with a gynaecologist and insisted on going along with Janet.
The dapper little man came out into the reception area and greeted Janet, shaking her hand. He looked uncertainly at Santie. They were obviously together.
‘May I come in with Janet, please doctor?’
He looked at Janet who meekly nodded. She was in no mood to argue. He sat them down in two comfortable chairs, one usually taken up by a boyfriend or husband, Santie realised, amused. No matter, she was going to stick by Janet through this dreadful time. The awfulness of it all was not to be forgotten. ‘So, what can I do for you, Miss .. er..Twycross?’ he asked, looking down out her file, searching for her name.
Santie quickly answered: ‘Janet was raped five weeks ago, doctor, and she thinks she might be pregnant. We’ve come to organize an abortion.’
‘Um, do you mind if Miss Twycross speaks for herself?’ Switching his gaze to Janet he raised an eyebrow. ‘Miss Twycross …?’ He left the half sentence hanging.
Bernard Preston writes his fascinating into the odd things that happen in life; which happens in the lives of all of us, if we take the time to notice them.
Odd, peculiar and often very painful.
Janet spoke hesitantly for the first time. Her returning ebullience and self confidence had melted in the face of this totally unexpected turn of events. The rape had occurred two days before her period and she had simply been quite sure that it was a rape only she would have to deal with. Only a rape. As if that hadn’t been enough, she said repeatedly.
But a rape and an unwanted, and unexpected pregnancy was quite another matter and she found herself behaving like a whimpering, whining schoolgirl again, rather than the confident young woman who, within only a few months, would be admitted to the bar.
‘It’s as my friend says, doctor. The date was the 1st of December. We went to the district surgeon. She examined me and instructed me to take anti-retrovirals, which I did. It never dawned on me to take the morning after pill.’
The gynaecologist nodded. ‘And then?’
‘I missed my period two weeks ago and I started vomiting yesterday. I suppose I might be pregnant. Can we start with a test?’
‘Yes, of course. I think it would also be advisable to do a brief examination, just to make sure there are no signs of infection and so on.’
‘How about an abortion, doctor? What is involved?’ Santie butted in.
He frowned: ‘First things first.’ He had dealt with same-sex couples before, noting again that Miss Twycross had a bullying, stronger partner who sought to overwhelm her. He nodded to Janet and she moved behind a curtain, stripped and slipped on a simple gown, lying down on the couch. The examination was over in a few minutes.
‘Please leave us a urine sample and I will phone you tomorrow. I have your number?’ He checked her file, nodding. ‘Until tomorrow then.’ He shook Janet’s hand, ignoring Santie, ushering them to the door.
‘Whew, wasn’t he a dictator? Talk about the little man syndrome. Napoleon! I think we should go to someone else,’ Santie ventured as they left the building.
Janet said nothing until they were in the car. She still felt shell-shocked but at least the nausea had lessened. "Actually, I like him. There won’t be any need to consult anyone else.’"Santie said nothing. "To work? Home?"
‘To work obviously.’ Turning to her friend she said very deliberately: ‘Thank you for coming with me today, and being so supportive, Santie, but this is something I have to work out on my own.’ Santie said nothing, biting the edge of her lip and holding her tongue.
The day passed normally, with occasional bouts of nausea, but nothing that Janet couldn’t handle. Santie continued to fume. She scowled at Mr Jansen at every opportunity, and Sam very soon learnt to stay well away.
Even a few of Santie’s colleagues were on the receiving end of her biting remarks and bad temper. She began to realize that her whole relationship with Janet had undergone a profound change since the halcyon pre-rape days and the cause of it all was one Mr Jan Jansen. Gone was the innocence and the simplicity of their relationship and even their joy was now threatened. Everything was becoming complicated and she fumed and stomped about all day, treading on numerous toes.
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It was Janet’s turn to cook dinner, but there too Santie was overbearing. ‘Let me cook dinner tonight. You go and relax.’ ‘Santie, this is a pregnancy, not a terminal illness. You are the one who needs to go and relax. You’ve been like a cat on a hot tin roof all day!’
Santie grunted and said nothing.
‘I’ve already thought about a simple supper; you go and pour us both a glass of wine. Oops, I suppose, I shouldn’t considering my state,’ she giggled.
"It makes absolutely no difference seeing you are going to have an abortion," Santie stated starkly. There was no doubt what she thought about the whole business. The same as nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand people would be thinking, she repeated over and over again, but Janet was being overwhelmed with a hundred different thoughts, plans, and options. What she didn’t want was to be bullied into decisions by anybody.
"I’m making a simple salad with lettuce, tomato, some celery and some of these new taugé sprouts, with a few olives. Does that sound okay? Then we will have an asparagus and ham baguette. It’ll be ready in about fifteen minutes."
"I’ll rustle up some pesto quickly." Santie walked out into the herb garden, shrugging her shoulders, trying to relax as she picked a large handful of young basil leaves.
"Your mum taught you a lot of cooking, didn’t she? Even in those few short years," said Janet as Santie washed the basil. Santie nodded, saying nothing. Taking a heavy knife from the drawer, she drew it a few times over a steel, and started angrily chopping a few garlic cloves and half of the basil.
‘Watch your fingers! Mm, smells good,’ said Janet, trying to ease the atmosphere. Gradually Santie added more leaves until she had a whole spectrum of cut sizes. Hunting in the cupboard she found a bottle of raw pine nuts, adding a small handful, chopping steadily.
The salad finished, Janet rummaged in the cupboard for a grater. She grated a fresh cup of Parmesan cheese, which she added bit by bit to Santie’s mix, as she chopped, followed by a little sea salt. Santie squeezed the finely chopped ingredients into a small cake, which she then slid from the heavy wooden board to a small bowl. Janet added a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Working quietly together, there was a palpable lessening of the tension.
After cleaning away the mess, Santie brought Janet a glass of red wine as she was preparing the mixed plate of salads with the small bowl of pesto in the centre.
"Thanks, Santie, but I won’t tonight." She gave her friend a warm smile and reached out and squeezed her shoulder, but Santie was not impressed. She poured the wine angrily down the sink, and stomped off to her bedroom. It was the first really angry scene they had since they had met. Janet nibbled miserably at the salad and didn’t see Santie again that evening.
The call from Dr Tomlinson came through next morning on the office phone. ‘I’ll call you back in two minutes, Doctor.’ She picked up her mobile and walked out towards the street, giving her head a little shake as Santie made to follow.
‘Good morning, Doctor, thank you for your call. I’m sorry but I wanted to hear what you had to say in private. What’s the news?’
‘You are in fact pregnant, I’m afraid, Miss Twycross. I have set aside an appointment at noon today, so that we can discuss things, and make arrangements. Could you come alone?’ he asked pointedly.
"Yes, of course. I’ll be there at noon," she answered. "Alone," she added as an afterthought.
The rest of the morning passed in a blur. Janet had great difficulty concentrating on anything, deciding to do some unimportant filing and tidying which would give her time to think. She hadn’t spoken to Santie, but made a sign that the test was positive. Santie scowled. At half past eleven she collected her handbag and pointedly left without saying anything to Santie. Her friend became explosively angry at being so obviously excluded from the decision-making. She knew where Janet was going.
After Janet settled into the comfortable chair in the gynaecologist’s office he looked across at her with a sympathetic smile. ‘I’m afraid it’s true. You are pregnant.’ He stopped, waiting for a moment, giving Janet some space if she wanted to say anything. She didn’t. ‘I presume you will want to have an abortion. It’s a very simple process; we simply do a D and C. You will spend one night in hospital and can return to work after a few days. Now, one more important thing. Have you had any counselling? A psychologist, a minister, anyone? You need strong support at this time.’
Janet shook her head.
He continued, ‘It’s a very emotional time, partly to do with the hormones that are already beginning to flow through your body, and partly because of the awfulness of rape and, of course, not least the procedure. It is entirely normal and expected, but still I recommend you have some counselling.’ He stopped again, waiting for her to say something.
Janet was hesitant. She fumbled for words, starting several times, stopping in mid sentence, thinking and starting again. Finally she said,’ Doctor, is there a rush to have this abortion? It’s so sudden and I’ve hardly had any time to think about it. I’m really quite unsure about it all. I would like some time, a few days perhaps ….’ She left the sentence hanging.
‘Yes, of course. There is no real rush, but I recommend you have the abortion within a week. The sooner we do it the simpler it will be, and the longer you leave it, the more emotional and difficult it becomes psychologically. With rape it really is cut and dried ….’ He, too, didn’t finish the sentence.
Janet said nothing, the first small tear beginning to trickle down her cheek. He passed her a tissue box, and she blindly took one, desperately trying to control her emotions and the flood that was threatening.
‘Do you know who the father is?’ he asked kindly, as if it mattered.
Janet nodded silently. After a moment or two she went on: ‘My boss, but really that makes no difference. Yes, perhaps some counselling would be a good idea. Can you recommend anyone?’ He passed her a card from his top drawer. ‘I have used this woman extensively. She has a lot of experience and many women have given me excellent feedback.’
Janet took the card. ‘Would it be possible for me to take a few days sick leave, to think about this?’
"Yes, of course, take the rest of the week off. I’ll give you a letter if it’s necessary. Would you get back to me by next Monday?"
"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
- Frank Zappa
The next week was one of the most difficult Janet had ever faced. Everyone was putting pressure on her to make the obvious decision, as quickly as possible. She found the psychologist anything but helpful. The woman simply made it clear that psychologically there was no alternative, and the decision should be made immediately. Today.
Left to ferment, Janet would get into a hopeless emotional ferment, she said. Janet knew the woman was right, but she resented the pressure that was being brought to bear on her. When Santie got home on Wednesday night, she found a darkened flat, and a note:
I need to be alone with myself for a few days. I’ve taken a few days leave and gone to a guest farm in the Eastern Free State. I will give you a call later tonight.
Midweek there was little traffic as Janet drove her little Mazda quietly through the burgeoning maize fields towards one of her favourite haunts in the Free State. She resisted the temptation to pop in to visit her sister, heading on instead south towards Lesotho, passing thousands of hectares of nodding sunflowers, heavy in seed. Distressed by a swathe of destruction that a killer storm had cut through the rich, fertile sunflower belt, unable to avoid her own thoughts of destruction, Janet found herself weeping uncontrollably. Metaphorically, it was the same knife about to cut swiftly into her womb.
Pulling into at a lay-by, Janet poured a cup of tea from her thermos and, guiltily checking no one was watching, reached over the fence and cut three giant heads, swiftly moving on. She arrived at the remote resort, tired but happy to be on her own. It was a long time since she had the pleasure of her own company, and she found herself relishing the solitude, but sad memories of her weekend with Anton added to the assault on her heart’s desires. Was he still miserable too?
Given the luxury of space and uninterrupted time, Janet came painfully to her decision whilst hiking around the mountains and sunbathing alongside the swiftly running streams. The wanton destruction of the sunflowers seemed disproportionately significant. Why she had come back? Was it because she felt safe here? Was it simply because it was a good place to make important decisions?
Abruptly she made her decision: she was going to have this baby; that was final. With a sigh of relief, decision made, she made the next decision. She was going to keep the baby, knowing that the decision was irrational and almost everybody would think her utterly stupid.
Santie would be very angry. Jan Jansen would gloat over her. And Sam, what would she think? Undoubtedly she would make some pointed remarks, not knowing it was rape. Janet felt the whole world closing in on her but, with the decision made, she felt better and the next day would make her way quietly back to Johannesburg, determined to go back to work and equally determined to have her first baby.
There was one more surprise that day for Janet. Her twin sister called on her mobile phone. ‘Hi Jan, I hear you are on holiday. Where are you?’
‘I’m not far from you, Jenny, at Golden Gate. I needed to get away for a few days and do some thinking.’
‘Thinking! That’s dangerous! Why didn’t you call me? I’m only an hour away.’ The two girls had been very close until their parents decided to heed advice to send them to separate high schools. Even after Jenny married they had kept in close contact and in the early days of articles, Janet would often pop in to the farm on her way to visit her parents. Jenny was already the proud mother of a small girl.
‘Like I said, I needed time to think. I have a difficult decision to make.’
‘And what’s that?’ they were still close enough to ask personal questions.
‘It’s not the kind of thing that I can discuss on the phone. Won’t you jump into your car and come down and pay me a visit. I’d love to have lunch together. Please.’ She added a little inflection to her voice that made it difficult for her sister to refuse.
‘I would,’ said Jenny, ‘but I have been vomiting solidly for three days. I thought I must be pregnant again, but the doctor phoned this morning to say the tests are negative. I’m really not sure what it is as I don’t have a temperature, or a runny tum or anything.
Janet took a deep breath. ‘Jen, I’m going back to Johannesburg tomorrow and I’ll come via the farm and see you. Don’t worry, you’re not pregnant. I am!’ She managed to extract a promise from her sister not to tell their parents.
She squared back her shoulders, took in a deep breath and, for the first time, wondered if ‘it’ was a girl or a boy.
To the next chapter from A Family Affair (26): Lovers I
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