The Inklings: Chapter 20

Jinabu didn’t ask Ark where he was going and Ark didn’t ask Jinabu where she wanted to go. They were just both happy to be sitting next to each other. Jinabu felt safe and was glad to not have to think about where she was going or what she was going to do. Ark was grinning because he’d found someone stranger than him. They sat in silence until they got out of the city because Jinabu didn’t feel like talking and Ark needed to concentrate on the city traffic.

It was going to be a long drive, especially in the slow old truck. That was the first thing that Ark told Jinabu when the traffic had thinned enough for him to be able to talk. Jinabu said she didn’t mind, but that she would need lots of toilet breaks. What she didn’t tell Ark was that she already needed a toilet break and that she was getting a headache because she was so hungry, or that she didn’t have any money to buy food. When Ark noticed Jinabu’s change in mood he began to feel less happy. He thought she must have been bored with him already.

So they both sat in silence, staring ahead with grey faces, until Jinabu’s stomach began to growl. It was so loud and persistent that Ark couldn’t help himself, and he had to laugh.

“You wouldn’t be hungry, would you?” he managed to ask between chuckles. Jinabu didn’t answer, she just looked daggers at Ark. She always became grumpy when she was hungry. Ark parked outside the first place that looked like it might sell food and have a toilet and Jinabu sighed with relief. While Jinabu went to the toilet, Ark bought some food. Jinabu then went back to the truck to wait for Ark because she was feeling too weak to explain that she didn’t have any money to contribute to the food.

Ark had a few minutes of panic in the shop because he wanted to buy exactly what Jinabu needed, but didn’t know what that was. He couldn’t buy lots of things either, because he didn’t have a lot of money and they still had a long way to go. For some reason he thought that pregnant women liked icecream and so he bought a small container of that. Then he saw some fruit juice with added folate, which he’d heard that pregnant women needed. Finally he bought a fruitcake, because he liked them.

Jinabu’s eyes lit up when she saw what Ark had bought and her headache disappeared after a bit of orange juice. The next bit of the trip was much more fun. Jinabu did all the talking and she fed Ark fruitcake and ice cream as he drove. Ark ate more than he had room for because he didn’t want to upset Jinabu by telling her to stop feeding him.

As the day progressed, Jinabu and Ark got closer to Arks place, but it was a long way in a slow truck and in the afternoon they still had three hours of driving left. Jinabu had begun to feel really uncomfortable. Ark had been generous with toilet and food stops, but something else was bothering Jinabu now. At first she thought it was the truck seat that was giving her a sore back, but she began to recognize a pattern in the pain. Jinabu felt angry with herself. She’d been told so many times by friends and relatives that the baby would probably be overdue that she’d never considered that two weeks early was also possible. Jinabu began to think about the birth centre she’d booked back in Sydney, with the candles and relaxing music. The truck wasn’t much like that. Jinabu considered telling Ark what was happening, but decided to wait until they were approaching a town, as she didn’t want to make him panic and there wasn’t anything he could really do to help (they had no phone, the truck couldn’t go any faster and there was scarcely any traffic on this stretch of road). Anyway, thought Jinabu, there’s probably hours and hours of this to go.

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