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"Our lives are a book that has already been written. The brilliance of the plan is that we are only given a chapter at a time..." ~A. Drayton Boylston

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chapter 21 Excerpt, In a Perfect World

That evening, the phone rang.

"Hey beautiful", he said.

"Hi", I said.

"I'm getting out of work in an hour and was wondering... could you stop by for a few minutes?"


"Ok. See you when you get here."

I hung up and got dressed. I knew I would have to tell him what I had done, and hoped he would understand. But I also didn't have to tell him tonight... he sounded like he was in a good mood and maybe I needed to have a nice night out with him.

I got to the store and was met by the same elderly man who greeted me before. Instead of rattling off the usual shpeal he said, "You know where he is", and smiled warmly.

He was standing by the office door with a bunch of young female employees. With a harem like that, I could never compete. They were all gorgeous, thin, and much younger than me. I didn't want to interrupt the hugs and jests they were exchanging. I reluctantly walked over to where they were standing.

He spotted me walking toward him, and his eyes brightened. "There she is!" he yelled.

In an instant I was surrounded by five or six women. And lots and lots of commotion.

"Oh my God!" one squealed.

"He does NOT shut up about you!" another one said.

"He is so excited about the baby!" yet another one said.

I suddenly felt dizzy, and then nauscious as I glanced over to see the beautiful smile on his face.

"I hope this isn't too embarrassing" he said to me. "They made me call you and have you come down here. I have to do what I'm told or I get my ass kicked."

One of the girls... the one who had been flirting with him last week... handed me a hand-stamped Winnie the Pooh card. And inside was a $100 gift card to Babies `r Us. I looked over at him and his smile seemed to be getting progressively more angelic. And I progressively felt more ill.

"I know it’s not much and you'll need a lot of stuff, but we couldn't wait to get this for you", she said. "I'm Becky by the way!"

"Oh she looks like she's gonna cry..." another girl said. I tried to open my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. My lips were quivering and my hands were shaking.

"I just want you to know" (she relentlessly continued in a bubbly fashion), that I will babysit ANYTIME. I have a little guy at home, he's one, and I love taking care of kids."

"She will NOT stop telling me about everything I have to look forward to" he said, pretending to be annoyed. He pointed a finger at her face. "If you keep it up, I'm telling your manager about all the work you're not doing!"

"You won't and you know it!" she said, hugging him.

"She got me this really embarrassing book" he said, picking it up off the desk in the office and holding it up. It was called The New Dad's Survival Guide. I noticed a book mark was already sticking out of it.

Becky put her arm around my shoulders. "You can do all the shopping while HE does all the reading."

The fussing continued, and I had to fight back tears. Just hang on a few more minutes, I told myself. Just hang on.

"It was so nice meeting you" Becky said smiling.

"Thanks, you too", I said, trying hard to do the same.  She hugged me tight while bouncing up and down which caused me to do the same.

The small crowd dispersed after spotting the stern gaze of their manager.  I sat in a comfortable reading chair waiting for the store to close so we could leave together.  He glanced at me periodically to wink or grin. I felt like I was about ready to explode.

After the mall announcement, lights were starting to be shut off, and he grabbed his backpack. "I am outta here!" he announced. He grabbed my hand and tugged me out of the chair. The fussy ladies in the immediate area all grabbed their belongings and followed him out of the store, as if he had an entourage. He said "Goodnight" to everyone he passed. "See ya buddy!" and similar phrases were uttered as all of us headed out the door.

The cool breeze outside provided some much needed air, and I was grateful as it smacked me across the face.

We got to his car and he opened the passenger side door for me. He watched the ladies get in their cars, honk their horns, wave and yell "bye!" out the window.

He waved. "Dear Lord, they're all nuts."

He glanced over at me. "I hope you're not mad that I told them."

"I thought everyone knew it was bad luck to say anything before the second trimester", I said.

"Hey, give me a break lady" he said smiling. "I've never made one of these things before... its exciting. When the novelty wears off I'll shut up. Ok?"

I couldn't hold it back any longer. The tears I held back for almost a half an hour started pouring from my eyes.

He looked confused and worried. "Tell me what's wrong" he said, squeezing my left hand.  He always knew, even when I tried so hard to hide it and spare him.

I could barely get it out and I choked on every word. "You're not going to be a Dad."

His grip on my hand loosened.

"I saw you with Becky, and I thought you weren't ready. So I had an abortion."

The expression was just like the one I saw when I told him I was pregnant... with one major difference. There was no smile. Just shock. He covered his mouth with a trembling hand. A few seconds later came the tears.

"After Vicki, and then coming here and I thought I saw you flirting with Becky, and then I left. And I cancelled my appointment. And I was scared...."

I was crying and rambling. The words didn't quite fit together, but that's what I was trying to say. I could only assume he understood, because he didn't ask me to clarify.

He took off his glasses and wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. "You didn't ask me... you didn't tell me... you didn't say anything. You just assumed."

"Now you hate me" I said, sobbing. A flood of tears was streaming down my face.

He moved my chin up with his index finger, so that I looked him straight in the eyes. My heart sank.

"Never", he said loudly and firmly.

He shook his head with tears in his eyes, and said the words I can still hear echoing in my head.

"But you were wrong. You were so very wrong."
©Carrie-Ellen as Kat Matheson, 2009-2011, Picker Penguin Press

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