Valentina sat on the bathroom floor with her back against the tub as she waited.
She checked her watch. Time’s up. Here we go, she thought. She slowly stood and picked up the pregnancy test that rested on the sink. It was positive.
“Oh, my god.” Her voice cracked back at her. She looked at her herself in the mirror, searching for a change. Her tawny skin was still tight and firm. Her brown hair was still shiny and streaked with honey, but the knowledge had made her eyes shiny with future possibilities. The shrill of her cell phone pierced the silence and she picked it up quickly, still inspecting her image. It was Peter.
“Hi.” He said in a suspicious tone. “Where are you?”
She stopped looking at herself and focused on him.
“I’m home.” Where else? she thought.
He paused again. “You sound out of breath. Did I interrupt something?
She looked at the test again.
“I’m pregnant.” she blurted out before she could stop herself. She felt shocked to hear it out loud, but there was silence on his end.
“Are you still there?”
“I’ll be home soon.” he finally said and hung up.
She stared at the test. The two pink lines showed her a new reality and the panic had her stunned. She needed him to understand that and be there for her, but something was telling her that that was wishful thinking.
When they met, he was working for a realty company and was showing her an apartment in the Village to share with a few roommates. He used his charm and good looks to get a date, where he was attentive and knowledgeable on many subjects. She remembered how he wooed her sweetly and couldn’t imagine being happier.
Their relationship began to change as his success and ego wheedled their way into their life. It pushed out the way he normally loved, acted and spoke. He became condescending and spat out compromise. He became extravagant and just on a different level than she was, going toward another direction and every day she wondered if she wanted to follow. Before she could dissect it any further, she heard his key in the door. She stood in the kitchen, among the shiny high end appliances and waited. He stopped at the doorway and looked at her.
“So, are you sure?” he asked her.
“Pretty sure, yes.”
She could see his wheels turning as he looked down on his buffed loafers.
“How far along, do you think? A couple of weeks?”
She shrugged and felt the turn in the conversation and the air around them became heavy.
“I think so.”
He scoffed. “How can you not know? Aren’t you suppose to be keeping track of these things?” He turned away exasperated into the living room. She followed him.
“I mean, I’m not sure. The best I can gues would be about three to four weeks.” He glanced at her.
“You should take into account that we haven’t had sex every night.”
She was confused at first to what he meant, but then it hit her like a stab in the stomach.
“What’s that suppose to mean?”
He gave her a hard look. “It means, I don’t like what’s going on here. My gut is telling me that something’s not right and when that happens, I’m usually right.”
He stared deep into her eyes, searching it seemed. It unnerved and angered her.
“I know what you think, Peter and it’s not true. I have not missed a pill, but you know that that’s not a 100% protection. Maybe it happened for a reason, and I was hoping that you could find yourself being happy about it.”
He looked at her with his eyes wide with surprise.
“Happy? Happy to be forced into a life I didn’t want? Happy to have a drooling little parasite at feet and in my pockets of the rest of my life? Happy to have my freedom restricted? You really thought that? Well, sorry, sister, I’m going to fuck up your little plan.” He walked over to the door and she jumped up.
“I didn’t do this on purpose, Peter. Please,”
He pulled the door opened and took out his car keys.
“I want you gone by the time I get back.” he told her coldly and walked out.
Marcus and Karen rolled away from each other, sweaty and spent. She rolled over and picked out a cigarette from her pack. He groaned loudly.
“I hate it when you smoke in bed.” he said getting up and slipping on his pants.
“What are you doing today?” she asked, watching his body move.
“The guys are helping me move into the new place today.” he told her. He was always aware of the friction between them and Karen and for once, he was glad for it. She crawled over to him seductively and caressed him lightly.
“Have you thought about what we talked about?” she asked him. He stopped and looked at her.
“Karen, I’ve said what I thought. I’m not ready for that step and I’m tired of talking about it.” She dropped her hands in disappointment.
“I’ll give you all the time you need, whatever you need.”
She told him softly near his ear. Her warm breath laced with nicotine drifted across his cheek.
I don’t want what you have to give, he thought and went to wash up.
Karen watched him go. She knew he would never know how much she loved him, but lately, he has been distant and she didn’t like it. She snubbed out her cigarette and tossed on a t shirt and went to him. She found him in the bathroom combing his hair. She leaned against the doorway and watched him comb through his light brown hair intently. He stood a good six feet in his jeans and gray Yankee t shirt, completely unaware of the effect he had on her. He didn’t know that she needed to be near him. He was simply too good at making her feel special and worthwhile. He encouraged her and listened to her and even though he never said it, she was pretty sure he loved her too. She was finding it hard not to react to the strain.
“Are we going out tonight?”
He glanced at her in the mirror.
“I have to work tomorrow then I’m going to a game.”
She went to him and wrapped her arms around his solid waist. Peeking over his shoulder, she smiled impishly at him.
“Well, how about I cook for you after the game? We can even put together a nice lunch and invite the guys.” she told her with her voice full of hope. He felt guilty for what he was about to do.
He pulled away from her gently and turned to face her. She looked small in her t shirt and bare feet. Her face still rosy from the sex. It made him aware that that was all that they would ever share. It didn’t help that she was jealous and possessive and he could no longer ignore that they had reached their end. What’s more, he didn’t want to try to save it.
She stood looking at him, hands at her sides, waiting.
“What is it?” she asked him. He eyes were alert to every word and gesture.
“This isn’t working, Karen. I’m not feeling what I should be feeling and it’s not fair to either one of us.” he explained. She stared at him with suspicion.
“Don’t say it like you’re doing me any favors, Marcus. Be a fucking man about it.” she sneered at him and walked into the living room. He followed her, glad for the excuse he needed.
“Don’t act like you didn’t know it was going to go this way, Karen, an yet, you couldn’t resist making it worse with your jealousy bullshit.”
She stood in the middle of the small room, immersed in the morning sunlight.
“You said you forgave me for that.” she cried. Her light skin flushed.
“I have forgiven you, but I’m bringing it up to make a point.
It’s one of the major problems in our relationship and you act like it never happened, never changed.”
She went to the sofa and sat down. Her face was long and sad and he went to and sat down beside her.
“I love you, Marcus. That’s why I get the way I get sometimes. Doesn’t that mean anything?” She said and touched his thigh.
Despite the circumstances, he felt a fiery arrow shoot into his groin.
“Karen, I would be able to deal with anything if my feelings for you were more than they are, but I’m sorry.” he told her, but he was feeling the fever of guilt for hurting her.
She sat there looking at him. Her eyes filled and tears spilled over in fat drops.
She felt hot and cold and she could actually feel her heart break. She wanted to beg him to stay, swear to change, but she knew she had used those words and made those promises many times before. They would be useless and besides, she didn’t think she could push the words past the brick that was lodged in her throat.
She barely felt his hand when he touched her for the last time. Her mind became of flip book of their moments together, every word stuck out sharp. She leaned forward and sobbed into her hands.
Marcus noticed he was practically rushing to get out of the building, as if he needed to put as much space between them as possible. The truth was, he felt lighter than he had in months, he felt relieved.