Bundled in Blue: A Short Story

Thursday, June 05, 2014


Bundled in Blue
This little white lie is going to be hard to hide…

Pregnant.

It took the intrusive sound of her iPhone ping against the cold, tile of the bathroom floor to snap Kelly out of the shock. She’d been staring at the little, pink plus sign for almost an hour, alone on her bathroom floor, knees pulled into chest, back resting against the door, iPhone and a cup of her pee beside her. Slowly, she set the Stick of Revelation on the counter above her head and picked up her phone to read the message she received.

One word: 

Well?

She sighed, closed her eyes, and rested her head against the door. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Every doctor she had seen over the years had told her it would be nearly impossible for her to conceive. She had long given up the hope of ever having a family, especially with Dominick. They had broken up about a month ago when she decided she no longer had the tolerance to call a drug addict her boyfriend. It was only marijuana, but still. His inability to accomplish anything besides smoking a joint, partying, and playing video games (all afforded on her hard earned money) was exhaustingly inexcusable. She would have been content to never speak to him again, but fate apparently had other plans. 
Pink, plus sign out of sight, she was now focusing her obsession on the single word glowing on the screen in front of her. She knew she needed to respond, but she couldn’t decide how. Somehow “Surprise! You’re going to be a dad!” just didn’t seem like the appropriate response. When she had called him with the suspicion of her now-confirmed state, she had been so sure she was just being paranoid, so sure that the doctors were right: conception would be an absolute miracle. And she hadn’t been too familiar with those in her life.

But now?

Now she was facing one, and she had no idea how to respond. She could imagine Dominick’s response when she told him, and it wasn’t pretty. She just knew he would jump at the chance to throw it all in her face, all the times she swore she couldn’t get pregnant, all the times she waved away his insistence that they use protection. She didn’t have anything against them, really. She just felt they made sex kind of eh and it’s not like they had been having sex all that much anyway. He partied so much that he had a hard enough time, well, staying hard. There’s only so much alcohol and illicit drugs a body can take. God, what had she been thinking?

She imagined the alternate response, and didn’t think it was much better. Even if (and it was a gigantic if), Dominick was a gentleman about this and tried to patch up their broken relationship for the sake of their child, she highly doubted he would be able to clean himself up, or even if he did, she severely doubted he would be able to stay clean. How many nights would she be stuck at home tending to their child while he partied away all hope of sobriety? How could she manage to raise a child when the child’s father was still behaving like a child himself? There was no way this could end well. For anyone.

She decided to lie.

False alarm.

Her heart raced as she waited for him to respond. She imagined he could see through her lie, that any second she would hear him pounding on the door, demanding the truth. But that wasn’t Dominick’s style.

Thank God. He responded. Then, a beat later. So what now?

I’m going to pretend we never had this conversation. I suggest you do the same. Thanks for the help. Bye, Dominick.

That’s it? Wtf. Fuck you, bitch

She didn’t respond. She tossed her phone onto the ground and began to cry.

***

Eventually, she found the courage to pick herself off the bathroom floor and schedule an appointment with her doctor. Even though she had decided not to answer Dominick’s question truthfully, she knew she wouldn’t be able to lie to herself. The first step to figuring out what to do next was hearing what her options were.

She arrived for her doctors appointment bloated, anxious, and more nauseous than she ever thought possible. Her doctor took one look at her and said, with an almost devilish smirk “You’re definitely pregnant.” but still did the required test to make sure.

“Well,” her doctor began, after confirming the positive results, “you’re about six weeks along.”

“Six weeks? I’ve been pregnant for six weeks?”

“Well, yes. And no. Technically, there’s no way to tell how long you’ve been pregnant. We have to base it on how long it’s been since your last menstrual cycle.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Do you want to discuss your options?”

“Um, yes.”

“Well, I’m sure you know you can always decide to keep the baby, but if that’s not something you think is best for you right now, we can always discuss adoption, or abortion.”

They did, but in the end, Kelly went with the first option. She couldn’t imagine going through childbirth just to give her child to a family of strangers. Nor did she think she could kill the little miracle growing inside her. Though she wasn’t sure if it was the best option for her (she was, after all, a single freelance food blogger in her mid-twenties), keeping her child was the only option Kelly could bring herself to choose.


***

Of course, there were plenty of times when she thought about calling Dominick to tell him the truth, especially during the worst moments of morning sickness (which was not, unfortunately, only present in the morning). But she always came to her senses before she could manage the strength to reach for her phone.

She weathered the first three months alone and in agony, her doctor and the on-call nurses her only confidants. Her family had always disapproved of her lifestyle choices, and this was one she knew she would never be able to live down. While it was one thing to have to hear what a waste of potential it was for a bright, young girl like her to spend her life writing restaurant reviews for whatever magazine or newspaper bothered to call her, she knew it would be far more devastating to hear that her entire life would end as soon as her child took his (or her) first breath. And though she had friends, she wasn’t particularly close to any of them. Or at least not close enough to count on them to still stick around when she could no longer meet them for drinks at the bar.

The second trimester came with a wave of energy and an end to the endless agony of nausea. She knew now which foods she could eat that her body (and baby) would appreciate. At twenty-four weeks, she had the ultrasound that told her she was having a son, and it was then that she finally broke and called her mother to have someone to celebrate the news with. As could be expected, though, her mother was hardly in the celebrating mood.

“You’re having a what!” She screeched into the phone. “Since when?”

The conversation didn’t go well, and Kelly spent the next few days in tears, as much as from the overabundance of hormones as from the disappointment. Thankfully, her mother was able to process and accept the news and showed up with a hand-me-down crib and a brand-new, blue-tinted cashmere blanket a week later.

“I’m so sorry, honey. I was just shocked, is all. If this is what you want to do, I’ll do my best to support your decision. You should just know how much this baby is going to change your life, though…” Her mother warned before launching into another unsolicited lecture on the cost of raising a child.

She didn’t mind. By this point, Kelly was just happy to have someone to talk to, especially someone who knew enough about raising children to help with the baby-supply shopping. Lying to Dominick had left her paranoid. She couldn’t leave the house without fearing he or someone he knew would see her and expose her lie. Yes, he would make a terrible father, and she knew he wasn’t anywhere close to hoping to be one, but she was having his son, and weren’t men practically hardwired to be possessive of their male offspring? She hoped she would never have to find out, but she wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be able to hide.

***

Her water broke during the baby shower her mother was throwing for her. Kelly didn’t have any friends she could invite, so it was mostly family and the friends of her mother who loved babies enough to spend money on them, whether they knew the mother or not. She was in the middle of fake-smiling through a conversation about the joys of motherhood when she felt a whoosh between her legs and that was it. It was time.

“Should we call an ambulance?” Someone asked.

“No, no, I’ll take her myself. She’ll be fine!” Her mother insisted, grabbing her keys and ushering Kelly to the car.

Nine exhausting painful hours later, Kelly was holding her baby boy in her arms. You’re worth it. She thought as she gazed at his sleeping eyes, inhaled his baby-fresh scent, felt his steady, hot breath on her breast. You’re my everything.

And then her throat constricted and she started sobbing as the weight of her situation finally crushed her. How long would she be able to keep this secret? How would she manage this all on her own? She could never bear to lose him, but she knew he wasn’t hers to keep. He was her son, and he always would be, but he was also a person of his own. He would grow and make his own choices, mistakes, and life, and one day he wouldn’t need her anymore. But she would always need him.

And what if he wanted to meet his father? What if she wasn’t enough? What would happen then? Would she lose him? She didn’t want to think about it. She couldn’t.

Her mother placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“It will be alright, darling. It will be alright.” Her mother said.

And she was right.


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