I sighed when the cab pulled over in front of the hostel. I paid the driver and got out. I heard a familiar voice on the balcony and looked up. Yeah, it was her.
“Emily?” Her face disappeared from view and a minute later, she came running toward me. She hugged me and I suddenly felt better. She glanced at my suitcase and back at me.
“That bad?” I nodded. She took the bag from me and held my hand. We walked into the room together. I sat down on the bed and sighed. Karen handed me a glass of water. I thanked her and took it. I didn’t even realize that my throat was that dry till the water ran through it. I put the glass down. Karen sat beside me and rubbed my back.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“What is there to say? He is disgusted by the sight of me. Can you believe he expected me to do away with the baby?”
“Apparently he suspected that I was indeed pregnant so that’s why he left town for business so I could and I quote ‘do whatever it took to save our marriage.’”
“Seriously? He wouldn’t have had a problem with that?”
“Seemingly so. He now thinks I’m some loose woman.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I said I don’t know how I got pregnant; perhaps it was at some party I attended some time back where I drank too much and lost control.” Karen gaped at me.
“Why would you say that?”
“What else should I have said? That the guy he is so fond of and is investing so much into is responsible for my pregnancy? I don’t want to risk Adam’s career and even his life for my mistake.”
“You care about Adam that much?”
“I do, Karen but that’s not the point. Telling Fitz the truth will crush him. He will feel like we two made a fool out of him and he’d never forgive us. But with this story, he’d only blame me for my recklessness and who knows, he might forgive me after some time and take me back.”
“That’s your plan? To play the victim and hope he’ll take you back with Adam’s baby?”
“No, it’s my baby and mine alone. Making it look like that would make Fitz consider taking him as his own. I know it’s a long shot but I do have a good feeling that my marriage to Fitz is not yet over.”
“You love Fitz that much to go back to him? I thought this would be your chance to walk out.”
“Yeah if this baby thing hadn’t sprung up. But I can’t take care of it on my own. I need someone to help me out.”
“Why not Adam?”
“Adam is young with his whole career ahead of him. Allowing him to make contact with me and the baby endangers that. It would be better if he stayed away.”
“That would be denying him his right to be with his child.”
“That’s an acceptable sacrifice he would have to make to ensure his child gets the best of life being the ward of Fitz Daniels.”
“You have it all planned out, haven’t you?”
“Well, the drive here in a cab was long and quiet enough to let me think so yeah.”
“So what now?” Karen asked.
“Now, we have exams to write. Let’s get them over and done with and I’ll see what I can do.” My phone rang.
“It’s my mother. Wonder why she’s calling,” I said, picking it up.
“Duh, she’s your mum. She can call just because she feels like it.”
“Hello, mummy. I’m fine, thank you. Your son-in-law is fine too.” I glanced at Karen.
“I know it’s been a while since we visited but I’ve told you how busy he is, mum. You have no idea how many arguments we’ve had over this issue. I know, I keep reminding him but things keep coming up. I’m not lying to you, mother. No, you don’t have to call him yourself. I’ll talk to him again. Send my regards to dad. Okay, mum; take care. Bye,” I said and ended the call. I sighed in exhaustion.
“Is she asking what I think she is asking?” Karen asked. I nodded.
“The timing couldn’t be any worse. What if she calls Fitz? Do you think Fitz would tell her everything?”
“Maybe, maybe not. I can’t have my parents on my case right now. If my plan is to work, I’d need them to stay away for as long as possible.”
“Wow…you seem very optimistic about this plan of yours considering your dire situation. I’m impressed.”
“Don’t be; it’s all I have left. I honestly didn’t think Fitz and I would go the whole nine yards but I didn’t plan on us splitting this way.” My phone rang again.
“Adam. My day couldn’t get any worse, could it?” She picked it.
“Hi…where are you?”
“At the hostel.”
“Great.” The line went dead. I stared at the phone.
“My guess is he’s around the vicinity.” I dropped the phone on the bed and buried my face in my palms. The room fell silent. We heard a rapid knock. Karen got up and walked to the door.
“Hi,” Adam greeted and walked inside. He approached me, squatted in front of me and held my hand.
“How are you doing?”
“Well, I’ve moved out of my matrimonial home. How much worse could it get?”
“He threw you out?”
“Oh no, he is too gentleman for that. He waited for me to suggest it.”
“So what did you tell him?” I looked at him.
“Don’t worry; your career is safe. You don’t have to worry about it.”
“I don’t care about my career. All that matters is how you and our baby are doing.”
“Aww…you’re such a romantic, aren’t you?” I asked cynically.
“Drop it, Em,” Karen scolded as she settled herself beside me. Adam pulled a chair and sat down, still holding on to my hand.
“So who did you say the father was?” Adam asked.
“Someone called I-Don’t-Know. I told him I went wild at a party and I don’t remember the details.”
“That sounds dirty.”
“Yep but safe; I can’t risk giving him a heart attack with the truth.”
“So how long do you intend to stick to this storyline?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, sooner or later the truth will have to come out.”
“I disagree,” I said. Adam glanced at Karen with a puzzled look.
“Emily has this crazy idea that Fitz will take her back if she keeps up the victim’s act and accept the baby as his as well.” Adam turned a bewildered look at Emily.
“And what about me? I lose my right to my child forever?”
“Be reasonable here, Adam. Why risk such a potentially bright future and career over this baby when there is a good chance he would be well taken care of as Fitz’s?”
“I’m not going to give up my baby, Em.”
“You might as well do so right now, Adam because I’m sticking to this plan for real.”
“I’d rather tell Mr. Daniels the truth and suffer the consequences.”
I looked at him with a stunned look and broke into laughter.
“What’s funny?” Adam asked.
“You are! Thinking you can handle this. This is serious, Adam. You are almost a celebrity and any information be it personal or business is up for grabs. Picture this: Up and coming artiste impregnates sponsor’s wife. Can you handle that? Your career will take a nosedive for life because Fitz would make it his personal mission to sink you for life for humiliating him.”
“We will face whatever he throws at us,” Adam insisted.
“If you want a smart way to deal with this, I suggest you take the next available flight to Washington DC and go see Olivia Pope because if this story breaks, we are sure to have a huge scandal on our hands.”
“Good one, Emily but I’m serious.”
“So am I! I am trying to save you from risking you whole life because of my mistake!”
“And I appreciate it but I don’t want to move on as if you never existed. I love you, Emily and I want to prove that to you.”
“You don’t have to do that by doing something stupid, Adam. You can relax knowing that your child would be well raised by Fitz Daniels.”
“I also think Emily is getting over her head with her conviction that Fitz would come back for her but I have to agree with her on this. You have to let this go, Adam; for everyone’s sake, “Karen chipped in.
What they were saying made sense. Emily was giving him a way out. Any other guy would jump at the offer. A part of him wanted to. But to give up Emily and his first child for his career which has no future guarantee would be unwise. He would not give up on Emily without a fight. Not just yet.
So it was a Saturday and the lights were on which was good news because it meant I could do the cooking marathon I had in my mind for some time now. Thanks to dumsor, one had to up her organizational and time or should I call it electricity management skills? Because procrastination has no place in this era. Whatever needs to be has to be done in the fastest time possible because even within the ‘Sor’ period, there could be intermittent “dum-dum” which almost every Ghana is used to by now.
And in case I’ve lost you, Dumsor is the latest Ghanaian term to go international. Doubt me? Why not take a minute and check Wikipedia and find out for yourself? Yep!
So back to my story. Thankfully, the lights behaved well…no unpleasant surprises (though expected). Little did I know ECG had a little trick up its sleeve. I finished my chores around 4p.m. Whew! I didn’t know I could multitask in a few hours until now. I guess the saying that in every opposition is an opportunity stands here-at least I learnt how to do much in a limited time. The last but one thing I had to do was to visit the salon. My hair needed some special treatment after being scorched by the merciless sun all week.
I rushed there, putting other stuff on hold so I wouldn’t be found wanting when the clock struck 6p.m. and the lights went off. And the punctuality of the Dum time is impressive! If all state institutions could be prompt about their duties, Ghana would be totally transformed in six months! But ironically, what deserves the most attention is relegated to the background and what need not be is executed to the letter (or I should say to the second, since when it comes to Dumsor, every second counts?)
I arrived at the salon to find the hairdresser cleaning up the place. She asked me to wait while she finished up. I looked at my phone to check the time almost every minute to make sure I was still in the safe zone. It seemed so but one can never tell with ECG.
She washed my hair amidst chatting with a friend which slowed her down a bit. I was getting agitated. Had she forgotten what era we were in and there was no time to be dilly-dallying about? I managed to keep my cool, waiting for her to finish. Then she received a phone call just when she started putting on the rollers. Why were my guts telling me I wouldn’t leave the salon happy?
Like an eternity later, she was done and I got up to go sit under the drier. Just when she turned the knob, ECG came a-visiting! I couldn’t believe it. I looked at the hairdresser, not sure whether to blame her for my predicament or find something else to displace my displeasure on.
“Oh, so what are we going to do?” she asked. Was she serious? I checked my phone and it was a few minutes after five. What did it mean? Was it just one of their silly jokes which would end in the next minute or two or did the plague of darkness just arrive early today?
I tapped my feet in frustration. Should I wait a little while or just walk home with my head looking twice as big than usual? I decided to wait. Five minutes turned to ten and then to fifteen. I got up. I wasn’t ready to spend the little day time left waiting in the uncomfortably warm salon whiles there were other things I had to attend to before darkness fell.
I quickly walked home since time and tide wait for no man. I think the Dumsor era has made a lot of sayings make sense to me now. As if someone was trying to play a trick on me, immediately I stepped my foot into the house, I heard the familiar “Yay!” shout which signified jubilation for the lights being back on. When people were celebrating new inventions and people travelling into space and all, we on the other side were rejoicing because the lights were back on? No wonder, the continent kept trailing behind the others.
I looked at the clock. It was 5:35pm. 25 minutes till the real deal. Do I rush back or just forget about it? I could find a way around my hair for church service the next day. I chewed on my lip for a moment. It would be better if I rushed back.
I scolded myself for not exercising a little more patience before coming back home. The time spent on walking to and fro the salon could have dried up my hair a bit. I quickened my steps. I sighed in relief when the salon came in view. The sigh of relief turned into a look of disbelief when I heard “Oh!” from all over. I froze in my tracks.
This wasn’t happening. It was as if I had signed up for some twisted version of musical chairs; only in this case it was ECG being the D.J. I looked back where I came and then at the salon. Here was the promised land but it seemed I would never get there. I could feel my lips growing longer with frustration, possibly longer than the famous Pinocchio’s.
“Ah!” was all I could say. I turned back and I took painfully slows steps towards home, hoping and praying that the lights would come back on before I got too far. Suddenly, I heard some kids shouting “Yay!” again and for that moment, it was like music in my ears. I practically ran to the salon. The hairdresser smiled when she saw me. I quickly sat down and she turned on the knob. I looked at the phone. 5:43p.m. Not enough but better than not at all.
A woman in need for a hair wash entered. Was it wise for her to even try it? Few minutes to six. Ah well, it was her cup of tea, not mine. The hairdresser, not willing to turn away a customer despite the high chance of dumsor interrupting her, began washing her hair.
I checked my phone again. 6:05p.m. Okay, maybe my neighbourhood had found favour in someone’s eyes at ECG. She finished with the washing and started putting on the rollers. She seemed pretty quick this time. What dumsor can do!
I came out and she sat in my place. The hairdresser took out the rollers and combed it out. Eh, I hadn’t ironed for church! If only I got home just in time to….
“Oh!” Darkness was upon us again and it was obvious it was going to stay till dawn. The woman under the drier started grumbling. I tried hard to stifle my laugh. I paid the hairdresser, thanked her and walked out.
I could still hear the woman’s irritated grumbles as I walked on.The ‘dum’ session was on and you can bet it was here to stay!
*ECG: Electricity Company of Ghana Limited-for the non-Ghanaians reading this piece.
Josephine Amoako (c) 2015.
Adam, helping himself to some peanuts, sat up when there was an announcement on TV about an accident on the highway. He narrowed his eyes.
“It looks like Emily’s….Oh no.” He picked his phone and called Emily’s number. It went straight to her voicemail. He tried Karen’s number next.
“Adam…sorry, this is not really a good time. Can I call you back?”
“Where is Emily?”
“Adam, she had an accident.”
“So it’s her car I’m seeing on TV.”
“It’s on TV? Then it must have been horrible. I’m on my way to the hospital.”
“Which one? I’m coming there.”
“No, no, no; don’t, Adam. It’s a bad idea. Fitz is on his way there. It would be awkward for him to find you there.”
“Okay but could you update me on her condition when you get there?”
“Will do that. Thanks for your concern. Got to go. Bye.” The line went dead.
He stopped her from killing their baby and she almost got killed herself? Strange, Adam wondered to himself.
Two days later, I was discharged. I wished I could stay at the hospital a bit longer because I was dreading what would happen the instant Fitz and I would arrive home. Karen sensed the tension too so she suggested coming home with us to help me settle down properly but Fitz quickly shut the idea down. Then I knew I was in deep trouble. Karen and I shared a helpless look. She held my hand.
“You’re going to be well soon, Em.”
“Yeah, I hope so.” I understood her coded message too well. She meant things would not be as bad I feared when I got home. And I hoped he wouldn’t throw me out as brutally as portrayed in typical Nollywood movies.
So Karen joined us in the car and Fitz dropped her off at campus. We waved at each other as Fitz drove away and we both sighed at the same time. Her smile was the last I saw before the car sped away. I turned to look at him and Fitz wore this straight hard look which terrified me. He barely spoke to me since the doctor confirmed the bombshell and his silence was killing me. Was he the yelling, throwing or hitting type? I was going to find out and I was so not looking forward to it. I reached out and touched his arm.
“Fitz…” He pulled his arm away as if my touch repulsed him. I swallowed hard.
“Please talk to me, Fitz.”
“Not now, Emily.” No other words were exchanged till we got home. I sat frozen in the car when he killed the engine. When Fitz opened his door, I tried doing the same but my hand suddenly felt numb. Fitz opened the door for me and helped me out of the car. I walked to the front door with heavy steps. I opened it and entered. Fitz followed and closed the door. He dropped his keys on the table next to the door and sighed. I turned to face him.
This was it. I was going to see a different side of Fitz and something told me I wasn’t going to like it.
“Fitz, I know this wasn’t the news you wanted to hear…”
“Whose is it?” I could hear my heart pounding loudly in my ears. Okay, he wants to get straight to the point. I swallowed. I opened my mouth but nothing came out.
“Whose is it, Emily?!” Fitz asked again, this time his tone angry and his voice louder. He started walking towards me.
“Just give me a name.”
“Fitz, please calm down.”
“Just tell me whose it is, damn it!”
“I don’t know!” I shouted back. Fitz froze right in front of me. I stared at him. I didn’t know why I said that but I thought it would buy me a little more time…to think…or come up with a better explanation, perhaps? My time was running out and I needed to stall.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” He had lowered his voice this time but I could feel his seething anger judging from his deep breathing.
“You’ve been cheating on me with more than one man?” He asked.
“Oh no; I’d never do that. I love you too much to…” I said, attempting to touch his face. He slapped it away.
“Ouch.” It stung harshly not just from the physical hit but more from the emotional inference.
“I have never cheated on you consciously…”
“So what, you are the Virgin Mary of our generation? I wonder what you’d be giving birth to; maybe it would be the antichrist this time,” Fitz scoffed.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Fitz.”
“Then explain to me how you’re pregnant right now because obviously I can’t take the credit for it.”
“As I said, I didn’t do this consciously. Some time back, I attended a party on campus and I admit I drank a little too much. So maybe, things went out of hand and someone took advantage of me.”
“So you’re telling me, that my wife lost control at a campus party and became the party whore?” Tears filled my eyes. I tried not to blink.
“Take that back, Fitz.”
“What for? I’m calling it what it is and you’re offended? For crying out loud, why couldn’t you exercise a little discretion; even if not for yourself now that it is clear that you’ve no respect for yourself, but for me, your husband? Whiles you sipped drink after drink, didn’t you stop to think of how that would affect my reputation? What if someone recognized you and took photos and splashed them all over the papers and on social media?”
“As I said, it was a campus party…there was no way…”
“That is not the point here, Emily! You’re a married woman, my wife! I know we reached some rough patches sometime back but for you to lose control to the advantage of any guy at that party?”
“I am sorry, Fitz,” was all I could say.
“So you have no idea whose it is?” I shook my head, losing the battle with the tears. I wiped them with my shaking hand.
“Wow…Mr. Daniel’s wife gets drunk and possibly gangbanged by party guests since she is pregnant with no idea how. Perfect headline, isn’t it?”
“Enough? I’ve not even started. Where was Karen anyway? She must have seen you with some of the guys.”
“She wasn’t at the party.”
“Of course she wasn’t. You two are like night and day, huh?” This verbal assault was getting too much for me.
Fitz turned and started walking away. He chuckled and stopped.
“I figured you were lying about the test kit giving you a false positive that is why I agreed to go out of town so that at least you’d do whatever it took to save our marriage…if it meant something to you. But obviously it doesn’t.” He turned to face me again.
“What do you mean, do whatever it took?”
“You know what I mean.”
“Abortion?” I asked, shocked that even he would have been okay if I had done it.
“You cheated on me with whoever-the-hell-it-was and got pregnant and you’re acting indignant about the idea of doing away with it as if it’s so gross?”
“I was hoping that you’d have mercy on me as a victim of unfortunate circumstances and spare the baby your rage and hate?” He laughed.
“You must really take me for a fool, don’t you Emily? Because I don’t impose anything on you, you think you have me wrapped around your finger, don’t you?”
I decided not to reply.
“I understood you were at a clinic before the accident. Why didn’t you just do away with it there after receiving the confirmation slip?”
“As I said…”
“Oh spare me that. Something tells me you know who the father is and you’re putting up this act to save him.”
“And why would I do that?”
“The same reason you thought it wise to attend some rowdy party and get wasted and used.”
“Okay; obviously you feel hurt and betrayed by my actions and I understand. And I sense you feel repulsed by merely looking at me so I think it would be better if we both had some space.”
“And who would be the one moving out?”
“Me, obviously.” When Fitz didn’t respond, she added, “I’ll go and get my things.”
Fitz sat down and switched on the TV. I went up the stairs and entered the bedroom. I heard my phone beep. I took it out of my handbag. Four missed calls from Karen. She really must be worried. I sighed and took an empty suitcase. I began to throw some clothes and a few essentials in it.
I came downstairs with my bag and Fitz sat just where I left him. He gazed at the TV set without blinking. My guess was his mind was far from what his eyes were seeing on the screen.
“I’m leaving.” He looked at me and the rage was gone. I sighed in relief. He stood up and walked to me. Okay, was he going to stop me? Would I even stay if he asked me to?
He held my face in his hands and placed a passionate kiss on my forehead. He pulled away and looked into my eyes intently.
“I wish you all the best, Emily.” I wanted to say something but my voice betrayed me. I nodded and stepped back.
“Goodbye.” I walked away, dragging the bag behind me. I opened the door and pulled the bag outside. As I closed the door, I stole a glance at him. He was watching me coolly with his hands pocketed in his trousers. I closed the door and fresh tears made their way onto my cheeks. I walked to the gate and turned to look at the mansion I was leaving behind.
I couldn’t blame anyone but myself.
Many thoughts raced through Adam’s mind. Why was he going to meet Emily? What was he going to tell her; to keep the baby or get rid of it? The latter would be the convenient choice considering how Fitz would take it if he was to hear about this. But he didn’t want Emily to get hurt. He loved her too much to let that happen.
Oh finally, it’s my turn, I thought in relief as I got up to greet the doctor.
“Good day, doctor.”
“Good day…” He handed a folder to a nurse who then walked away.
“Emily!” I turned my head sharply towards the sound of the voice. I felt my blood running cold. What was he doing here? How did he…? I was going to kill Karen!
“Adam…what are you doing here?” I asked, feigning a cool composure.
“I could ask you the same thing.” I glanced at the doctor, who was looking at both of us oddly.
“I’m kind of busy at the moment, Adam. Whatever you’re here for, can it wait?”
“If it’s about your crazy idea of getting rid of my baby, then no.” I closed my eyes in embarrassment.
“Okay…can we please take this inside?” the doctor suggested. We all entered his office and the doctor closed the door.
“Have a seat, please.” We sat.
“So how may I help you?” the doctor asked.
“Well, I…I…I wish to have my pregnancy terminated.”
“Because it’s not my husband’s.”
“You don’t have to do this, Emily. We can figure something out.”
“Like what, eloping so we can live happily-ever-after viewing the sunset on some beach? Be realistic, Adam.”
“Okay…so I take it that, he is the one responsible for your situation,” the doctor said.
“Yes,” I said quietly, my voice drowned in shame.
“What do you propose, young man?” the doctor asked Adam.
He held Emily’s hand which was trembling. He squeezed it gently.
“I know this seems like the most convenient way out but it is not right. You could ruin any chance of having another baby in the future.”
“Well…if a qualified doctor performs it….” the doctor interjected. Adam stopped him with a raise of his hand.
“And think of the psychological trauma you’d be subjecting yourself to for the rest of your lives,” Adam continued.
“If you consult a therapist…”
“Would you stay out of this?” Adam shouted.
“Adam, if I don’t do this, you’ll lose your contract and I, my marriage.”
“If that’s the price we have to pay, then we will.” I looked at Adam with teary eyes.
“I don’t want to lose everything, Adam.”
“You won’t. You have me. I’d admit this wasn’t how I envisioned I’d start my own family but life happens. I love you, Emily and if I have to put everything aside, even my career to be with you, I’ll do that.”
“You don’t have to say that, Adam. This is my fault. I should have taken precaution.”
“Okay, okay…so is someone going to talk to me now because I have other patients to attend to,” the doctor said.
“Thanks for your time doctor but I think we are done here,” Adam said, getting up. He offered a hand to me. I glanced at him and then the doctor. I finally took his hand and got up.
“Thank you, doctor.”
“If you change your mind, come and see me.” Adam scowled at him. I nodded and followed Adam out of the office.
“Should I take you home?” Adam asked.
“No; I think I’ll head back to campus. Thanks for coming through for me, Adam. Your presence was really comforting.”
“Anytime, Em.” He hugged me. I pulled back quickly so as not to be overwhelmed with fresh tears. Adam’s phone beeped. He took it.
“Oh no, I’m needed back at the studio. Okay, I’ll drive you to campus…”
“Don’t bother. I came with a car so you go ahead.” He stared at me.
“I won’t go back inside, Adam.”
“I promise.” He kissed my cheek.
“I’ll call you and then we sit down and talk, okay?”
“Okay.” He waited for me to sit in my car before driving off. I waved at him with a forced smile. I sighed and gazed at the hospital.
If you change your mind, come and see me, the doctor’s words rang in my head. I tapped the steering wheel with my fingers.
“Not today,” I said to myself and started the engine.
I barged into the room and slammed the door shut with a loud thud. I threw my bag on the bed in rage.
“Oh you went out of your way this time, Karen!” I said angrily.
“I did what I had to do to stop you, Em. I didn’t want you to do anything stupid.”
“By sending Adam after me?”
“I take it that he got to you in time. Who else should I have sent? He’s the father of the baby, isn’t he?”
“You betrayed me at my most vulnerable point in my life after abandoning me.”
“I didn’t abandon you, Emily. I never have.”
“Fitz is waiting for me to call him to either confirm or disprove that I’m pregnant and I don’t know what I’m going to tell him.”
“Tell him the truth, Emily.”
“And risk ruining Adam’s future too? I don’t want to do that.”
“Abortion is murder, Emily.”
“Sometimes life isn’t that black and white, Karen.”
“And this is the grey area?”
“If you were raped by a gang of robbers, no, let’s say terrorists and you conceived; would you keep it?”
“That’s a totally different….”
“Yes, a shade of grey in a supposed absolute black and white world.” The door opened and we both turned our heads. James entered.
“Hey Emily, how are you doing?”
“I’m getting by. You?”
“I’m good. And the exam preparations?”
“Great; Karen has been keeping me on my toes so it’s going well.”
“Nice.” James glanced at Karen who wore a blank look and then back at me who feigned a smile.
“Am I interrupting something?” he asked.
“Not really. I’m actually leaving,” I said.
“Please excuse us, James. I’ll come and see you later, “Karen said. I took my bag from the bed.
“Don’t bother, James,” I said with a cold stare at Karen and walked out.
“Emily, wait!” The door slammed shut.
“What is going on?” James asked.
“Girl stuff.” Karen walked to the door and opened it. She got out.
“Emily, please wait.” When she got downstairs, I was already in the car with the key in the ignition. I could read her lips but I started the car anyway. When Karen started towards the car, I drove away. Glancing at the side mirror, she was making a call. My phone rang. I looked at it. I took it and tapped on ‘ignore.’ I threw the phone on the seat beside me and stepped on the accelerator.
As I was enjoying the harsh breeze on the highway, my phone rang. I bit my lower lip when I recognized the ringtone. The traffic light ahead turned amber. I stepped harder on the accelerator. It turned red before I could get past the light. I stepped on the brakes and suddenly, I was hit from behind.
The car spun out of control and I screamed.
I opened my eyes to find myself on a hospital bed. I groaned when the body pains began to kick in.
“Emily…are you okay?” I turned my head and looked into Karen’s worried eyes.
“I was hit from behind.” Karen sighed in relief.
“I thought you did this…” I looked at her with bewildered eyes.
“You thought I tried to kill myself?”
“Not kill yourself but you know…kill the baby. Accidents happen, right?” I touched my tummy. I had even forgotten I was pregnant.
“Is it…?” The door opened and the doctor entered followed by Fitz.
“Fitz,” I said breathlessly. He walked to the bed and took my hand.
“How are you feeling?”
“Not too good but better now that I’ve seen you.”
“Try moving your toes, madam.” Panic struck me and moved them.
“Are they moving?”
“Yes they are. Thankfully, you didn’t suffer any serious injuries. You’ll be out of here very soon.” I said a silent prayer of thanks.
“Everything is intact.” All of us stared at the doctor.
“What do you mean?” Fitz asked.
“Your pregnancy…it is still safe.” Fitz glanced at me.
“Congratulations,” the doctor said with a smile. Fitz turned his gaze to me.
We are all but clay;
Molded and breathed into to become living beings;
Some with more prominent features than others;
But none a higher being than the other;
The realities of life hit the rich and poor alike;
One’ s skin leaves scars of its harshness;
Another’s is shielded from using various repellents;
Each one running his own race;
Inventions of this world sometimes make us forget;
What we are beneath it all;
We can use the best makeup kits ever formulated;
But we are just adding dust upon dust;
The heart beating, blood pumping;
Brain functioning, body moving;
Seems so mechanical we think we are of our own;
As if we decide when to live and when to die;
But after the last breath exits the body;
Both the rich and poor rot alike;
Regardless of skin products used and lifestyles led;
They are both confined in a box.
Six feet down is where bodies find themselves;
Back to where we were picked up;
Whether embalmed or housed;
Without breath, we are but lifeless clay.
After all we have acquired: wealth, knowledge and everything else in-between;
Our remains can only fill an urn;
Perishable our bodies are; but souls are eternal;
The question is: after all is said and done, where will your soul spend eternity?
I chewed nervously my fingernails as I scrolled down my phone screen. Karen came out of the bathroom and stood behind me.
“What are you searching for?” she asked me. A second later, she snatched the phone from me and gaped at me in shock.
“I can’t believe you still have this silly idea after all that I have said.”
“This is the only way out for me, Karen.”
“No, it’s not! It’s just the easy way.”
“Well, easy isn’t always bad, is it?”
“In this case, it is. I know it feels like all the chips are tumbling down but if only you’d take a minute and breathe, we can think of something,” Karen sat, facing me.
“I have done all that, Karen. If we go to the hospital and it is indeed confirmed, it proves I cheated on Fitz and he will leave me. And though I admit I love him less than I should, it would hurt me if things end badly between us.”
“Fitz has a big heart, Emily. We just have to tell him the truth. Who knows, he might even accept the child as his own.”
“Oh I sincerely doubt that. No man, especially capable of producing children would accept a bastard kid from his cheating wife.”
“You don’t know that,” Karen insisted.
“Maybe I don’t want to find out, Karen. We must call a spade a spade and save ourselves the trouble of finding appropriate euphemisms.”
“If you go ahead with this, you could be killing your only child.”
“You don’t know that,” I said, arching a brow.
“And I don’t want to find out, Em! This could lead to complications…”
“I’m not going to a quack doctor, Karen.”
“You’re desperate; you don’t care if he is qualified or not; all you want is the foetus out. You could live to regret this forever.”
“But I don’t want to keep this baby, Karen. Why can’t you see things from my point of view?”
“If you don’t want to, you can give it up for adoption. Some couples would pay handsomely for a baby. You don’t have to stain your hands with the blood of your first issue.”
“It sounds great but have you thought of how my life would be carrying someone else’s baby for nine months? My life would be ruined!”
“Unfortunately, the ship has sailed for that one but that doesn’t mean you should ruin your future too and besides, it’s not just someone’s baby. It’s Adam’s. I think it’ about time we called it that; makes it feel less impersonal.”
“It could very well be Tony’s but it doesn’t change my present situation.”
“You think there’s no other way out because all you think of doing is getting rid of this poor baby. There are options but they involve risking everything you have with Fitz.”
“I don’t want to do that.”
“You have to, Em. Getting rid of the baby won’t solve anything; it will come back to haunt you.”
“I’ll deal with it when it comes to that.”
“You’re so adamant, Emily!” Karen said with a sigh of despair. The silence that followed was deafening. I was scared, frustrated and sleep-starved. I could see my world tumbling down and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
Karen’s phone rang. She took it.
“Hi Jay… Okay, I’ll come right over.” She ended the call.
“I’ll be right back, Em. We’ll think of something, okay?” It took a great effort to nod my head which felt every heavy on my neck. She gave a smile and walked out. I took the car key from the table with my hand bag and left the room.
I have to do this…with or without her. I wish she was by my side but if she is not, I have to find the strength to do it alone, I told myself as I grabbed the steering wheel hard.
“Emily, I got you your favorite…” Karen said, entering the room. She looked round the room.
“Emily? No, no, no…” She dialed her number. She didn’t pick up.
“This girl is going to kill me before my time.” She tried again but still no answer.
“If you go behind my back, I’ll go behind yours,” Karen said and dialed Adam’s number.
“Karen? Hi. What’s up?” Adam’s cheerful voice rang out.
“Where are you, Adam? We need to talk.”
“I’m at the studio. What is it?”
“I can’t tell you on the line. Give me directions, I’m coming to you right now,” Karen said as she picked up her purse and walked out.
“How do you mean Emily is expecting my baby?” Adam asked Karen.
“Are you telling me you don’t have an idea how that is possible?” Karen asked, clearly irritated by the question. Adam blinked.
“I mean I thought she would be on the pill or something.”
“She is a married woman, Adam….”
“In all fairness, I didn’t know that at the time.” Karen conceded with a nod of the head.
“But how do you know it’s my baby and not her husband’s?”
“Because unknown to her till now, Fitz has had a vasectomy so there’s no way he’s responsible.” Adam’s eyes widened when it all dawned on him.
“You mean, Mr. Daniels knows?”
“What do you mean, he knows his wife is pregnant or he knows you got her pregnant?”
“The latter,” he responded impatiently.
“At the moment, no. We managed to buy a little time but sooner or later, he will.”
“Oh no…So where is Emily?”
“Per her adamant decision, I’m sure she’s headed to a clinic as we speak if she hasn’t arrived already.”
“For confirmation and termination.”
“What? Emily is going to terminate my baby without my consent?” He stood up.
“Well, she has more to lose than you do. Besides, she doesn’t think you’re up to the task.”
“She might be right but she can’t rush to such a decision on her own.”
“She is carrying another man’s baby. She wants to save her marriage.”
“So you think she’s right to do this?”
“No, I don’t but I’m telling you her reason for taking this option. I’m here to tell you so that if you don’t want her to make this choice, you stop her before it’s too late.”
Adam slumped himself down on the chair.
“If I do that, Mr. Daniels will find out about us and…I lose everything.”
“And so will Emily.” Adam buried his face in his palms.
“So what do I do, Karen?”
“Do what you know is right. I’ve tried talking her out of it but she going AWOL tells me she isn’t budging. Maybe you can.” There was silence for a while with Karen watching Adam closely. Adam just sat there, obviously thinking hard. He took his phone and called Emily’s number.
“She’s not picking up. How do we find her?” Adam asked.
“Let me check. Pray she has her GPS on.” Karen took her phone.
“Ha! I got her. She’s at St. Mary’s…”
“I know the place,” and with that, Adam ran off.
“You’re welcome,” Karen said to herself.
I sat in the waiting hall of the clinic tapping feet impatiently. I stared at the results one more time. Positive. I’ve never hated the word like I did at the moment. If I could turn back the hands of time…would I do anything different? I loved my intimate moment with Adam so perhaps I’d have used protection. Silly me. My phone vibrated. It was Adam calling.
Why would he be calling at such an importune time? I looked down onto my tummy. Please don’t tell me you’re calling out to your father out there to come rescue you because I won’t let him, I scolded inwardly.
Why was the doctor taking this long?!
That night was the longest in my life. My mind kept cooking up the worst possible scenarios of how my soon-to-be future would look like and trust me, they were not pretty. And when I managed to shut my brain down, my sleep was tormented with scary nightmares. So I spent the whole night alternating between fighting my mind from scaring me with frightful images and having worse dreams. I woke up feeling more exhausted and frustrated than the day before. My body was cold with sweat. I sat up on the bed and buried my tired face in my palms.
“Good morning,” Karen’s cheerful voice rang out in my ears. I don’t know why but knowing that she obviously had a good night rest and was cheerful because of that irritated me. I simply got up and replied her with a loud slam of the bathroom door.
“Whoa, someone woke up in a foul mood,” I heard her say. I opened the tap and splashed water on my face. I dared to look at myself in the mirror and the dark circles under my eyes couldn’t be evident enough. No amount of makeup was going to disguise my struggle with sleep last night.
“Your phone is ringing, Em! It’s Fitz!” I groaned.
“Should I answer it?” She asked. It would be better if I did. I opened the door and as she handed the phone to me, the call ended. Just when I decided to call back, there was a knock on the door. I looked at Karen questioningly.
“It’s not James,” she replied me, making her way to the door. She opened it.
“Hi Karen. I’m sorry if I disturbed your sleep. I’d like to see my wife.”
“Sure, Mr. Daniels. Please come in,” Karen said, stepping aside for him. I stood rooted to the ground with the phone in my hand. Karen sent me a nervous glance. We hadn’t planned for this so no rehearsals were made. We needed a backup right this minute. Fitz entered the room and fixed his gaze on me. I swallowed hard.
“Hi. I was in the bathroom when you called. When I came out, the call ended. I didn’t mean to…”
“I know; from your wet face, I can tell you’re from the bathroom. You didn’t sound well when you called last night so I wanted to check up on you before leaving for the airport.”
“I was a little distraught but I’ll be fine.”
“You didn’t sleep well, did you?” He asked in a concerned tone, touching my face.
“Not too much,” I admitted.
“I know how bad this all looks so to show my support, I’d like to go with you to the hospital to take the test.” What? I turned a stunned face towards Karen who also was shocked.
“You don’t have to, Fitz. Karen will go with me. You have to go to the airport, remember?”
“I know but you and our marriage means a lot more to me than one business meeting. It can be postponed but this can’t.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you, darling but you don’t have to do that. I’ve got it covered.”
“I may not have to but I want to, Emily. I too couldn’t sleep well last night and the earlier we put this behind us, the better. Come on, freshen up; I’ll wait for you.” I turned a panicked gaze towards Karen, quietly pleading with her to bail me out of this. Fitz sat down.
“Mr. Daniels, I know this is none of my business but I’d advise you go ahead with your business trip. This whole situation is a bit messed up and I’m sure Em will be more comfortable with me by her side.”
“But I’m her husband.”
“I’m not disputing that. You should have seen her when she got here yesterday. She was all distraught and anxious. I had to calm her down to even eat a little something. I don’t want to be a third wheel here but I’m pleading with you to let me do this.” Fitz sighed and looked at me.
“Fine.” He glanced at his watch. “I guess I can still make it to my meeting. But promise to let me know when the results are ready.”
“Of course,” I said, my voice sounding faint and shaky. Fitz got up and hugged me.
“I love you, Emily.”
“I love you, Fitz. Have a safe trip and take care. Let me know when you arrive, okay?”
“I will, honey.” Fitz hugged Karen.
“Thanks for being such a good friend to my wife, Karen. I wished I had a friend who looked out for me like you do for Emily.”
Emily shrugged with a smile. “I guess every Emily need a Karen.”
“No doubt. Goodbye, dear.” I waved at him and he left the room. I gave a deep sigh of relief as I threw myself on the bed.
“Whew! That was close,” Karen said, sitting beside me.
“What do I do if I’m indeed positive, Karen?”
“I can’t believe you have such a great husband like Fitz and you still managed to cheat on him.”
“It wasn’t intentional, Karen. It happened once; it’s not like we were having an affair.”
“But that doesn’t count now, does it? Your one nightstand has brought forth a situation with no way out.”
“There is a way out of this, Karen…”
“Which is not an option, Em. Trust me, you don’t want to go down that road.”
“Well, the road I’m on right now is spiraling fast towards hell. What difference would another bad route make?”
“Enough, Emily! We are not terminating this baby!” Karen shouted, sounding very agitated.
“And for the nth time, there’s no ‘we’ in this issue. I’m the one pregnant, not you!”
Karen got up and entered the bathroom. Tears filled my eyes.
I didn’t want to go down that road either but what other choice did I have?
A discussion on radio about people taking all their problems to God instead to the ‘appropriate’ centres caught my attention. Apparently, most people take all the issues to God regardless of the nature of their situations. According to the host, people should be discerning enough to know what to take to God and what to consult with the man-made systems.
Ever wondered why some people have chosen to live as atheists? Because they believe they don’t need God to steer the affairs of their lives. Why, because there is a man-made system which sees to every human need: a hospital for health issues, the court for appeal for justice, the school for knowledge, the bank for safekeeping. The world seems to have a system for everything. And since man wants to only accept what he can see and prove as real and valid, why bother believing in a God you can’t even see to help you with human problems with human solutions available?
Someone would ask, why run to church about fertility issues when there are specialized centres for that? Why attend all-night church services in order to pass an exam or get a promotion at work when you could spend the time studying or working diligently to achieve the desired results?
A school of thought believes people should be discerning enough to know what issues to take to church and what to deal with on our own. But my counter argument would be what issues look like God-recommended and which others look like mundane stuff? As I heard someone ask, why go to a church for healing when you can see a qualified doctor for a cure?
I think it all boils down to one’s priorities and how one sees God in his life. If you’re the type who puts God first in all things no matter how trivial it may sound, then prayer would be your first action in every circumstance. But if you’re kind who is of the notion that, do your human best in every situation and when all options have been exhausted and there is still no breakthrough, turn it to God in prayer, then you would act accordingly.
I don’t think there’s anything is too insignificant; neither too big to talk to God about. But God also gave us hands to work with and mind to think with. As a pastor put it, without us God won’t and without God, we can’t. Whatever God has made available is for us to enjoy and without God’s help, we can’t achieve anything. Hence science is just discovering this amazing creation of God we call the universe and technology is tapping into the God-given brain to apply what God has given us as nature to make life easier.
I find nothing wrong praying to God to help me with my exams because after all, He’s the giver of grace; but believing that He will not excuse me from studying. But the fact that there is a doctor trained to treat diseases doesn’t mean he should be the first person I see when I feel unwell. I am God’s creation; He made me and only He can cure me without side complications. So I can decide to pray and ask for healing; at other times, I’d combine the prayer of faith with medication.
Maybe I should just end with this: knowing God isn’t about rigorously following some laid down rules and regulations. It is a relationship and thus, how well you know him will determine you relate to him with life’s issues.
Food for thought: take your life as an equation. Is God a constant or a variable?
My personal recommendation is this: no matter your heart desire, make God your first consultant not your last resort.
Fitz stood to face me and for the first time, I felt like a grasshopper in front of him. He was hovering over me like a giant. My body wanted to cower in guilt but my instincts told me otherwise. I gave a fake sigh of relief and a nervous chuckle.
“Then it must have been a mistake. This is all Karen’s fault. She said I looked unwell and she had this test kit that has been there since forever and insisted that I use it. You know sometimes these test kits give false alarms; I’m sure that’s what happened,” I rattled on. I searched his eyes to see if he believed my automated lie.
“So it wasn’t confirmed from a lab?”
“No, it wasn’t. Silly me, huh?” He touched my face.
“You do look unwell, though.”
“It’s the stress from the exam preparation. I’ll clear this up.” I was scared that he would hear the nervous and loud pounding of my heart.
“You wouldn’t cheat on me, would you Em?” he asked quietly. His words stabbed my heart sharply. I covered his hands on my cheeks with mine.
“I’ll never cheat on you, Fitz. I love and respect you too much to do that. You have to believe me,” I said as I looked deeply into his eyes. How I wish the doubt would vanish from his eyes!
“Okay; because if you ever do, I don’t know how I’m going to take it.”
“Don’t even think about it, Fitz; that won’t happen.” I leaned forward and kissed him. I didn’t feel his heart on his lips. He was getting distant. I deepened the kiss but before it could go any further, he pulled away.
“I’m sorry Em, but this news has kind of spoilt my mood. So I’d appreciate it if you could verify it as soon as possible.”
“Sure, of course.” He handed his plate of fries to me and walked away. I knew I was totally screwed. I was going to kill Karen. Her ridiculous dare was about to cost me my marriage, I fumed as I started towards the kitchen. I froze when a thought struck me.
Was it possible that I was indeed positive but not Fitz’s? Could it be Adam’s? Oh no, it can’t be; it was just once. What were the odds? Oh God, I know I’m not your favourite person right now but could you make this a false alarm, please? I promise I’ll make it to church every Sunday if you’d do me this favour? I prayed as I put the plate on the table. Something deep within me told me this was just wishful thinking. I had done something wrong and it had caught up with me.
I entered the bedroom. Fitz was lying on the bed awake. It was very obvious my news had really disturbed him. I had to clear this out of the way before it caused us any damage. I walked to him and kissed his forehead.
“I’ll clear this immediately. I’m sorry for messing up your day. Get some sleep, okay?” He nodded and I walked out. I felt like my personal apocalypse had befallen me and something told me this was only the beginning. I shuddered at the thought before starting the engine.
I didn’t know how I did it but after a seemingly eternity-long drive, I arrived on campus. I ran up the stairs and barged into the room. Karen and James were watching something on her laptop. I must have looked like the epitome of bad news because her countenance changed from wondering who-the-intruder-was to what-the-hell-happened-to-you? She got up.
“Are you okay?” She asked in a tone of concern as she walked towards me. All I could do was shake my head. Karen turned to look at her boyfriend who obviously knew what was coming.
“You said she was gone for the day,” James said.
“As you can see, she’s back,” Karen said with a tight smile.
“Well I hope when we get married, she wouldn’t end up being a permanent guest,” James said, getting up.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Karen said, touching my arm.
“You look awful, Emily. Is everything okay?” James asked.
“I’ll tell you everything later,” Karen said. I cast a sharp glance at her. She shook her head.
“All right; take care, girls.” He kissed Karen’s cheek and held my arm for a moment. I managed a smile in response and he walked out. We both waited a second after the door had closed before breathing out. I threw my bag on the bed.
“What is it, Em?”
“Spoiler alert, Fitz is going to leave me!”
“What are you talking about? He said he doesn’t want to have children?”
“I wish! He says he’s not responsible.”
“What kind of an April’s Fool joke is that? If he isn’t, who else is?”
I sat on the bed with a thud. She sat beside me.
“What is going on, Emily?”
“Apparently, my husband has had his tubes tied up for some time now even before we got married.”
“Fitz has had a vasectomy and you didn’t know about it?”
“But this doesn’t make sense. If he isn’t responsible, then who is?” When I didn’t respond, she stood up and faced me.
“Look at me, Em. Did you cheat on Fitz?” I buried my face in my palms. I can’t believe that my weeks of successfully keeping this secret from her had come to nought. She tore my hands away from my face, scratching my face with her nails in the process.
“Was it Adam? Did you sleep with Adam?”
I looked at her for a second with tears in my eyes and bowed my head in shame.
“Come on, Emily; you couldn’t be that careless and downright stupid! What is wrong with you?” I began sobbing.
“Oh I’m sorry but I’m not going to feel sorry for you, Emily. You have gone way too far! You just can’t keep to a pact, can you? Growing up, we both decided to wait till marriage before having sex but you had to break it with the clown of a guy who calls himself Tony. We also promised to be faithful to our partners and here you are!”
“I know I’m a horrible person but my life hangs in the balance right now, Karen. Fitz suspects I cheated on him and we both know men don’t take infidelity issues lightly.”
“Suspects? Why, what lie did you come with for him to just suspect?”
“Well, thankfully, this was some test kit not a valid result from a lab so I said it might have been a mistake.”
“And he bought that?”
“Not really; he asked me to verify it immediately.”
“If you knew you had slept with Adam, why were you so sure it was Fitz’s?”
“Because it happened once and it wasn’t even planned so I didn’t think it would count. And besides, I also slept with Fitz later that day so of course, I…”
“You slept with both of them on one day? Whoa, my girl’s got some stamina!”
“Please don’t mock me, Karen. I’m in real trouble here.”
“Of course you are. What are we…?”
“I can’t go back home with this baby in my tummy.” She looked sharply at me.
“This is the smartest option here, Karen. It’s still very young. Flushing it out…”
“Just stop it, Em! So what, you’ve made it your personal mission to break all of the commandments in your lifetime?”
“First fornication, next adultery and now possible murder?”
“You make me sound like the devil’s incarnate, Karen. Drop the judgmental tone and let’s be practical here. I need a way out of this.”
“You are not going to touch this baby.”
“Hello, it’s my womb bulging with every breathing second, not yours,” I retorted.
“You always said we were in this together and I say no.”
“Well, as at now, my vote outweighs yours since there’s a little one in me and it gets a vote too. And I’m pretty sure it wants out too. I’ll be a terrible mother and you know it, Karen.”
“We’ll cross the bridge…”
“No…This is not a bridge we’re going to cross. It is a case we are going to close now.”
“No, Emily; we are not going to do that.”
“Then what do I do? Because I can’t go back home with this in me. The only acceptable explanation is that the test kit gave me a false alarm but it has been clarified. Anything short of that would not end well for me and Fitz.”
“Have you informed Adam about this?”
“Informed? What has he got to do with this?”
“Hello, it’s his baby you’re thinking of terminating!”
“I doubt he’s prepared emotionally and every other way to be a father. In actual fact, it’s not even a baby yet; it’s just a foetus. It doesn’t even know it exists. We would be doing him a big favour by sparing him the hard life he’d face with me as an unprepared and possibly single mother. I can’t believe my one indiscretion is going to ruin my life forever.”
“We’ll think of a way out but termination is out of it.”
“Then I can’t go back home. I can’t look into his eyes and lie to him again. It’s too heavy a burden for me to carry.”
“Fine; call him and tell him something came up.”
“Yeah, that’s perfect. He’s supposed to be travelling tomorrow. By the time he gets back, this baby thing would be history.” Karen glared at me and bit my lower lip.
“Call him, Em.” I took my phone but my hands started shaking.
“You’re such a mess; I’ll call him myself,” Karen said and called Fitz on her phone. She put it on loudspeaker.
He answered on the second ring.
“Karen? Is everything all right?” Karen exhaled deeply.
“Hi, Mr. Daniels. Yes, everything is fine. I’m only calling to tell you Em cannot come back home tonight. Something came up.” Fitz sat up.
“What’s wrong? Are you two at the hospital?”
“No…There was this assignment we both forgot to work on before the exam started. We’re to send them in on Monday and it’s quite loaded.”
“So why didn’t she call me herself?” Karen glanced at me.
“Because she’s going to pick up her copy of the assignment and she left her phone in the room. Her emotions are all over the place especially with the pregnancy scare and all…”
“Are you saying it was a false alarm?” Fitz asked hopefully.
“We haven’t been to the hospital yet. We’ll do that tomorrow. I wanted us to start work on the assignment immediately. I’m sorry for prying your wife away from you when you’d be travelling tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry; tell her to call me later tonight.”
“I’ll definitely do that. Thanks Fitz. Take care and have a safe flight tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Karen. Bye.” The line went dead. I sighed in relief.
“Is that the best thing you could come up with?” I asked.
“I just lied for you! You’re unbearable! What are you going to tell him?” Karen asked.
“I’ll think of something.” I threw myself on the bed.
Karen rushed to the bathroom to find me on the floor.
“What is it?” She snatched the stick from my trembling hand. Her eyes widened with shock.
“Oh no; I was hoping I was wrong about this.”
“What do I do, Karen? I’m not ready for this.” She helped me up and out of the bathroom. I collapsed onto the bed and closed my eyes.
“This can’t be. It just can’ be. Is it possible that it’s a false alarm?” I asked, hoping for a way out of this ditch.
“It could be but it’s highly unlikely,” Karen said regretfully.
“I have exams coming up. I can’t handle the whole hormonal drama and come to think of the bump! Oh no, I can’t do this!”
“You might be a few weeks old so no one would notice throughout the exam period. So you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing your baby bump.”
“No, this can’t be happening! Please be a bad dream.” I pinched myself hard till I winced in pain.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to wake up from this ugly nightmare.”
“And how’s that working out so far? So, next step: you have to tell Fitz. How do you think he’ll take it?”
“I have no idea. It never came up.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, we never talked about having children. I obviously wasn’t expecting one and he didn’t seem to mind.”
“So exactly what did you two talk about before the wedding?” Karen asked, puzzled.
“Be serious, Em.”
“I am! We never talked about the deep stuff, you know? It’s just about being together and being a part of each other’s lives but not disrupting each other’s lives in big significant way.”
“And does he have any children with his former wife or you didn’t discuss that too?”
“Honestly, I preferred not to know.”
“Preferred? What if he were to drop dead right now, God forbid it though and five people from nowhere show up claiming to be his children; what are you going to do?”
“I’ll leave that to his will to sort that out.”
“Talking about wills, do you know if you’ve been included in his?”
“Well, I’m sure he has done that.”
“So you have no guarantee that you’d be secured in any way if something tragic happens?”
“Why should be worrying about tragedy? That would be sapping the joy out of my life!”
“It is called taking security measures, Emily. You can’t live like this. You might have it all today but without insurance, you could lose it all.”
“Okay thanks for the advice but you and I know that can wait for tomorrow. What is important right now is what is swimming inside me right now. What do we do?”
“I don’t think it’s swimming. Sperms do the swimming right now. I think it’s…”
“Karen, you’re not going to give me a lecture on conception, are you?”
“I’m sorry. Okay but what do you mean what do we do? It’s not like there are any options. You have to tell Fitz.”
“What if he isn’t cool with it?”
“Why wouldn’t he? He’s clearly in love with you which sometimes get me wondering why but yeah he does. Which man would not like to have a baby with his wife whom he really loves?” Karen asked.
“I don’t know; I have a funny feeling about this. I know Fitz; he’s really passionate about the things he is concerned about. If he wanted kids, he’d have brought it up sooner or later but so far, not even a word.”
“Well, it could be because he didn’t want to let you feel pressured since you were in school and all. And we both know him to a crazy workaholic so perhaps he hadn’t had the time to think about it. But now that it’s here, you two have no other choice but to face it.”
I sighed and shook my head. I didn’t want to deal with this right now. Karen rubbed my arm.
“It will be fine. Fitz is a good man. He’d definitely be happy to hear this.”
“But I’m not!”
“You’ll get over it. You’re in shock, that’s all. Let me prepare us something and think things through.”
“I’ve lost my appetite.”
“Come on; from now on, you can’t be selfish with the food you eat. You have another being to think about.” I groaned in agitation as I held my tummy. If only I could reach inside me and rip it out…if only life was that easy.
I sighed when I killed the engine. I knew this news was every husband’s delight but why did I feel so uneasy about it? Maybe it was the uncertainty of Fitz’s reaction to it. I should get it over and done with. I entered the house to find Fitz helping himself to some fries.
“Hey…how was your day?” he asked as I walked towards him.
“Preparing for exams is not fun at all,” I replied as I took a fry and bit into it.
“How was yours?”
“Not as hectic as usual. I’m flying out of town tomorrow. It was impromptu but very urgent.”
“I understand.” Things couldn’t be more perfect. I’d just drop the bomb and see him off! He sat down and I sat on the arm of the sofa, putting my arm around him.
“Um…I know we never talked about this and this would definitely require a huge readjustment on our part as individuals and a couple. I want you to know I didn’t plan for this….I mean not now; considering I’m still in school…”
“What is it, Em?” Fitz asked, concern etching hard on his forehead. I smiled coolly.
“I should have been more careful…”
“Emily, what happened?”
“I’m pregnant,” I blurted out. He blinked hard at me. His silence was deafening.
“Yeah, we’re going to have a baby,” I said with a nervous chuckle.
“I wasn’t very judicious about taking the pill.” He was quiet which felt odd. Why wasn’t he saying anything? He should be excited and carrying me with joy about going to be a father. Isn’t that what we see in movies? He bowed his head. Now, my anxiety level was its peak.
“Fitz?” When he looked up at me, my heart sunk.
“Are you cheating on me?” he asked quietly. I got up, stunned.
“What, why would you ask me that?”
“Because I don’t see how you could get pregnant.” Wait, were my ears playing tricks on me?
“What do you mean? We’ve been married for almost a year and we’ve had a regular sex schedule since then.”
“I know but it’s impossible.”
“Why should it be….?” Oh no…Was he impotent? If it wasn’t him, then who could it….Oh no! He looked at me.
“I had a vasectomy two months after my divorce. I was going through a rough time and I was with quite a number of women so I had the procedure to protect myself from having to father any unwanted babies. And I didn’t want to risk it with you because you were in school. So I wanted to wait till you were ready before I had the procedure reversed. And if my memory serves me right, I haven’t had the reversal procedure yet. So, how is it possible that you’re pregnant?”
I felt as if my body was on fire. I was sweating everywhere. What the hell had I done? I began to feel dizzy. Fitz looked at me, obviously awaiting an answer and I had none, I mean not an acceptable one.
“So is there something you’d want to tell me, Em?” Fitz asked coolly.
Where are you, Lord? This would be the perfect time to rapture me away!