“Is it just me or has the paper drained me of every morsel of food that I ate this morning?” I asked Karen as we entered the room.
“The exam was as tiring as the course itself. I’m so glad it’s over and done with.”
I threw myself onto the bed and screamed into the pillow.
“Am I safe?” Karen asked cautiously. I chuckled.
“I can’t wait to finish with my last paper.”
“Same here but after that, then what?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, where do you go after you’re done? Back to your parents?”
“You know I can’t go back there.”
“Then where else?”
“Your place unless you don’t want me to.”
“Don’t be silly, Em. Of course you’re always welcome at my end. But you do realize you need a permanent place.”
“I get it. I am homeless and I’m not dealing with it.”
“So what? What would you have me do?”
“Isn’t it obvious that your plan isn’t going to pan out? We need a plan B.”
“And what would you suggest?”
“Talk to Adam.”
“And say what?”
“You know you can’t raise this child alone.”
“I’m not disputing that fact; that’s why I’ve got you, Karen.”
“Be serious, Emily. The baby needs his father.”
“You know it’s not too late to revisit my earlier decision. It does seem keeping it has more cons than pros. It’s too much to handle.”
“No, Emily. You can’t go down that road.”
“Why not? People do it all the time.”
“Not you; not us. We’ll find a way out.”
“We better or else we’d have no other choice.” I buried my face in my pillow again.
“Em, your phone is beeping.” I searched blindly for the phone with my face still on the pillow. I found it and raised my head. I gasped when I saw the caller ID and sat up.
“It’s Fitz,” I said, shock registered all over my face.
“Answer it already!” I answered it.
“Hi,” I said softly. I could hear my heart beating hard in my ears.
“Hi Emily. How are you doing?”
“I’m okay, considering. How are you too?”
“I’m okay, considering.” I stifled a chuckle. “How are your papers going?”
“So far so good. I just have one to go.”
“Great. Um, your mother called.” Oh no, she didn’t! After asking her not to! He didn’t tell her about my residential status, did he? I swallowed.
“Oh…I hope she didn’t ask for anything.”
“No. She just wanted us to come visit. She said she had told you earlier but you said I was busy.”
“Yeah I did. I’m so sorry she called to disturb you. I’ll call…”
“Don’t bother; I don’t mind us going to visit your parents.” I swallowed again.
“After all, they haven’t been informed about our…separation. It would be prudent if we did so, don’t you think?” Oh no, he really is done with me, I thought in defeat.
“Um…sure. So when, do you want to go?”
“When is your last paper?”
“Friday, God willing.”
“Oh okay, then you have enough time. Can you make it tomorrow?” Wow, that soon? He can’t wait to move on.
“Yeah, I can.”
“All right then. I’ll come pick you up tomorrow afternoon. My regards to Karen.”
“Sure; will tell her.”
“Okay; bye.” He ended the call. I threw the phone on the bed and covered my face with my hands.
“What is it? What did he say?” Karen asked, sitting beside me and rubbing my back. I couldn’t hold the tears threatening to fall. I sobbed.
“Tell me, Em; what did he say? He wants a divorce?” I didn’t reply. When I gathered the energy to put my hands down, I sighed.
“He wants us to go see my parents…to inform them of our separation.”
“Seriously? I actually had high hopes that he wanted to see you and talk things over.”
“So did I. And he wants it done tomorrow.”
“Whoa…that fast? Has he found someone else already?” Karen asked.
“I wouldn’t be surprised. There are a lot of women out there who would kill to have him.”
“People get what they don’t want; others want what they can’t get. Life couldn’t get any more twisted than that,” Karen pointed out.
“So what do I do now, Karen? Because if he goes ahead with it, I’m done. My parents will never forgive me. And I can’t be a single mother.”
“Fitz was crazy in love with you. You just have to remind him how much.”
“What are you saying, that I should seduce him?”
“No, not seduce; talk. Talk to him. If there’s anyone who can change his mind, it’s you, Emily.”
“I don’t know, Karen.”
“Try, Em. It’s your last option. You’ve everything to lose if you don’t try.” I nodded which prompted more tears to flow down my cheek. Was this my end?
It rained very heavily that night. That didn’t help much with my inability to sleep. If I hadn’t faced my worst fear yet, this was it. Being returned to my parents for not being a good enough wife for my husband was the worst degrading and humiliating experience ever. How did I end up here?
“How do I look?” I asked, my tone less cheerful than usual.
“Decent enough to meet your parents with your husband; appealing enough to catch your husband’s attention,” Karen assessed.
“Perfect then,” I sighed, staring at myself in the mirror. My phone rang. I picked it.
“I’m outside. Are you ready?”
“Almost. Would you like to come up?”
“No; I’ll wait in the car. See you.” He hung up. I sighed.
“How’s his mood like?” Karen asked.
“Cold and distant. I wonder how he would have reacted if I had actually told him the truth about my pregnancy. He’d have definitely exploded.”
“Well, sooner or later, it will. The truth always finds a way to the surface no matter how deep buried it is.”
“Yeah but I’m determined to let that happen on my own terms.”
“Good luck with that.”
I took my phone and my handbag.
“Wish me luck, Karen.”
“You don’t need luck, dear. Everything will be fine,” she said with a comforting smile.
“Okay; will call you if anything comes up.”
“Sure; would you like me to escort you to his car?”
“No. It would be better if I went alone.”
“Okay; take care then.”
“I will.” I gave her a hug and left the room.
“Open the door for her, will you?” Fitz told his driver. As I approached the car, the driver got out of the car and greeted me. I nodded in reply and waited for him to open the door for me. I thanked him and got inside. He closed it.
“Good afternoon,” I greeted.
“Good afternoon, Emily. How are you today?”
“I’m okay. You?”
“I’m fine. Slept well?”
“Not too much. Dreading this visit to my parents is not exactly a sleeping pill, is it?” Fitz didn’t reply and the driver took off. I shuddered because the car was freezing cold.
“Yeah,” I replied, rubbing my palms together. I remembered my plight the night before. I suddenly missed my matrimonial bed. Fitz would have kept me warm.
“Put off the AC,” Fitz told the driver and he did.
“Thanks.” I leaned back on the seat and it felt cold. Then out of the blue, he wrapped his arm around me and urged me to lean on him. I complied like a little girl. Ah, it felt good to be back in his arms. I listened keenly to the beating of his heart. What was going through his mind right now? I wished he would tell me.
“Fitz…I’m sorry…for hurting you the way I did.”
“It’s okay; life happens. Some people are not meant to live fulfilled married lives, I guess. And as much as I hate to admit it, it seems I’m included in that bracket.”
“Please don’t say that. Of course you deserve to live a happy married life. I messed up but that doesn’t mean it is over for you.”
“I wanted you to be my last wife. I can’t go through another divorce.”
“We don’t have to, Fitz,” I said, sitting up and looking at him.
“I don’t want to; if you’re willing, we can go see some counsellor and work out this situation. I really hope you wouldn’t give up on me, on us…not just yet.” Emotions were swelling up within me and I knew tears would soon fall.
He gazed at me quietly and touched my face. I don’t know if he was trying to read my mind by staring at me and I hoped if he could, he should know how sorry I felt. Please look deeper, I prayed.
“I don’t know, Emily; I thought I was strong but apparently, I’m not that strong. This has really affected me. Maybe it’s because it’s my second attempt at marriage looking frail right now which is making me think that perhaps I’m the problem.”
“No, Fitz; you’re not. This is entirely my fault. Don’t blame yourself for my mistakes.”
“We both admit that I was a little absent emotionally a few weeks after we got married. I concentrated more on my work than on you and our marriage. If I had paid more attention to you…”
“It still doesn’t excuse my carelessness. I married you and I was to keep my vows to you for better or worse and I failed.”
“I failed you first. There’s so much that a spouse can take but when one is pushed to the breaking point, anything can happen.” And he didn’t say another word.
What did he mean? Was it still a no? Oh man, I hated the suspense.
The car pulled over at my parents’ residence. Oh no, I wanted to anywhere but here.
“Here we are,” Fitz said with an odd smile. We got out of the car and entered the house.
“My in-law is here!” my mother announced excitedly. If only she knew why we were here, she’d start wailing.
“Good day, mother. How are you?”
“I am fine, my son. How are you too?”
“We are fine.” My mother turned her gaze to me.
“I hope you’re talking very good care of him, Emily. I know how nonchalant you can be sometimes.” I forced a smile.
“I’m doing my best, mother.” We sat down. We were offered drinks but we both refused. My dad joined us.
“Welcome, my son. It’s been a while since we saw both of you.”
“Yes, father and I apologize.”
“So how’s married life so far?” my father inquired. Fitz and I glanced at each other.
“It’s great. Has its ups and downs but we are getting better at it day in day out,” Fitz said.
Okay, where was he going with this? Was this the preamble? I bit down on my lip. He looked at me.
“I’m sure my wife has something to say.” I glanced at him in shock. I swallowed.
I noticed my parents looking at me expectantly. What was I to say?
“Mum, dad…the thing is….”
“We are expecting our first child,” Fitz announced. My mum screamed with joy.
“Congratulations, son,” my father said proudly.
I stared at him in shock as he put his arm around me and gave me a broad smile.
What was happening? Was he playing a game? If he was, I didn’t know the rules and I had no clue what he’d do next. He was holding all the cards.