More Love Than We Deserve

Friday, May 5th, 2017

The lump of sheets moved enough to wake me up. My tongue felt heavy in my dry mouth. My head pounded.

“Do you have any water?” she asked. I looked at my bedside and took inventory. Phone, wallet, keys, headphones, pens, box of tissues, lamp, card deck.

“Uhhh, not in here.” I assessed.

“Well can you go get some?”

“Sure.” I slid out of bed with much protest from my body and shuffled to the kitchen. I found a clean cup in the wreckage and filled it from the tap. I downed it quickly and refilled it. I took another quaff and refilled it a third time. I shuffled back to my bedroom. When I opened the door she was mostly dressed and was gathering her things. I awkwardly held out the water.

“Look, I don’t know if I said anything last night or…”

“Me either.” She said. She took the water and took two big gulps.

“So we definitely…”

“Yeah I think so.”

“Was it alright…or?”

“I mean I don’t really remember.”

“And you’re like… ok with that?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean uh… we’re cool?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Alright.” She had finished getting dressed, and stood among the litter of clothes and books. The moment stretched on.

“So maybe we could go grab lunch?” I asked.

“I can’t. I have to write a paper.”

“Well maybe Saturday we could grab some coffee?”

“I think I have a sorority retreat this weekend.”

“Well how about I give you my number and you can text me when you’re available.”

She looked hesitant, but took out her phone. “Sorry it’s dead.”

“No worries I’ll write my number down.” I grabbed one of the pens off the bedside and a notebook off of the dresser, I scribbled down my number and ripped off the page.

“Here.” I said handing her the paper.

“Thanks.” She shoved the paper into her purse. Silence filled the room then, “I really gotta go.”

“Yeah no problem. I’ll walk you out.” I threw on a shirt and walked her out to the living room. My roommate was on the couch shirtless with a bowl of frosted flakes.

“Sup?”

“Hey.” She said meekly. I just dipped my chin. I opened the door.

“Good luck on your paper.” I said

“Huh? Oh, thanks.” Then she walked out. I dropped on the couch next to my roommate.

“Who was that?”

“I was hoping you’d tell me.”

“Nah man I left early last night. Sorry.”

“All good.” The television was loud. My roommate was watching some animal documentary. There was a lion crouching in the tall grass behind a group of antelopes. Some soft voiced narrator was describing the hunting patterns of large cats in the Savannah.

“How’d the show go last night?”

“Fine, it was a big crowd?”

“Oh really? How many people? Ten?” The lion was rushing towards the antelope herd. The narrator described it as “both terrifying and beautiful.”

“Look I don’t need your sarcasm right now. It was big for me.”

“I’m sure she wasn’t thinking that last night.”

“Thanks man that makes me feel better.”

“I’m just saying what’s the point of being a magician if you can’t turn three inches into seven.”

“I don’t see any girls coming out of your room.”

“That’s probably because I have a girlfriend.”

The lion had pounced on and killed an antelope. The narrator reminded the viewers that while male lions were considered to be king, the lionesses were the hunters of the group and typically were the ones to bring food.

We watched the carnage for a bit, then I asked, “Do you remember when I came home then?”

“No I was at my aforementioned girlfriend’s last night, I came home early this morning because she has class.”

“Oh. Well I don’t really remember much from last night.”

“Dude you clearly got laid, so what does it matter?”

“I don’t know I just have this weird feeling.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well like, I don’t know. The more I think about it… I don’t know this is stupid. I just I feel like I kinda got raped, you know?”

“What are you taking about?” The antelope had been almost completely destroyed by the lion pack by now. A group of hyenas were gathering around the carcass. The narrator was describing the scavenger nature of hyenas as a sound bite of their laughter played.

“Well, and this may seem stupid, but I think I remember saying no at some point. And again, I’m not really too sure, I was pretty hammered.”

“Well were you hard?”

“I mean I guess. It’d be pretty hard to have sex otherwise.”

“Then how could that be rape? I mean I feel like if you were being raped you wouldn’t exactly be able to get it up, don’t you think?”

“Yeah I guess. I mean I probably dreamt it. It feels like a dream.”

“Yeah, besides I don’t really think guys can get raped, just get lucky.”

“Yeah.” The hyenas had finished picking off what little meat the lions had left. What remained was just fur, skin, and bone. The narrator was describing how over the course of the next thirty six hours the bugs would eat away at what was left, until just the bones remained to dry up and turn to dust in the sun.

**

My roommate knocked on the bathroom door.

“Dude, let’s go.”

“Hang on I’m shitting.”

“Well push harder, we’re going to be late.”

“The previews take fifteen minutes anyway, we’ll be fine.”

“Alright, just don’t dillydally.”

“Dillydally? What are you, my mother?” Then my phone rang. It was an unassigned number I didn’t recognize.

“Hello?”

“Hey.” Holy shit, she’d called.

“Uh.. hey what’s up?”

“Can we talk?”

“Tonight?”

“Yeah.”

“Uh… yeah, when?”

“Fifteen minutes at Kimberly’s.”

“I’ll be there.”

“Ok.” Then she hung up. I flushed and washed my hands.

**

Kimberly’s was busy. The line stretched out ten people deep and people were coming and going out. Every table was occupied. Most of them with books and laptops strewn out and only a sole occupant wearing headphones and a stern face. There was a couple near the door, both drinking coffee, playing chess. The man made a move and the woman laughed, the woman moved a piece and picked up a rook, the man looked confused, and studied the board, then sat back in his chair and shook her hand.

“Hey.” Her voice was distinctive and had become familiar, despite not talking to her much.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Are you getting anything?”

“No, I don’t really drink coffee.”

“Alright, well I’m going to grab something. Want to get us a table?”

I looked around at the packed room. “Uh I’ll try.”
“I don’t mind sitting outside. It’s not that cold.”

“Alright.” She walked off and stood in line. I took one last look around the coffee shop, hoping to find a table that had been vacated, but was unsuccessful. I walked outside and took up residence at one of the picnic tables. She appeared in the door way after about fifteen minutes and I waved to her.

She sat down across from me. “You look nervous.”

“Just a little cold, should have grabbed a heavier jacket.”

“Yeah.”

“So what’s up? You wanted to talk.”

“I have something to show you.” She reached in her bag and pulled out a plastic bag. There were two pink plastic sticks inside the bag. She handed them across the table and put them in front of me. I turned over the bag and looked at the four blue lines.

“Oh.” I said as the world blurred at the edges.

“Yeah.”

“Are you… uh… will you be uhm. You’re keeping it?”

“Not sure yet. I just found out today.”

“Well. I’m not really one to tell you what you should do with your body, but I’m assuming there’s no way that it couldn’t be mine. Is there?”

“No, it’s for sure yours.”

“Alright. Well. What do you want me to do?”

“I’m not sure yet. It depends on how you feel about this.”

“Well it’d certainly be easier if we didn’t keep it, I think.”

“Well I was thinking maybe we could, well I don’t know…maybe this is stupid, but maybe we could try to work it out and I don’t know, keep it. As a couple.”

“As a couple?”

“Yeah I think we could try to work out a relationship.”

I didn’t know how to respond. The idea wasn’t a bad one, if I was going to have a kid I’d want it to be with someone that I cared about, rather than our only interactions being tense birthday parties and child support checks.

“Did you just ask me on a date?”

She cracked a smile “Well what do you think this is?”

It was my turn to smile.

**

I walked in to my apartment and shut the door and dropped into the closest chair I could find.

“Hey, how was your night class?” she asked.

“Rough. What have you been up to?”

“Oh nothing, just hanging out, doing a little bit of homework.”

“Yeah?”

“Well, yeah in the literal sense. Come see.” I stood up and let her guide me to the kitchen. “I made you dinner,” she said as we stepped into the small room, and so she had. The table was set with two plates of spaghetti and two glasses of wine, with a candle and bread basket in the middle.

“You can’t drink wine.”

“Yeah, well, I figured you’d want more than one glass.”

“You know me so well.” I said and kissed her forehead. I looked around the room. “And you cleaned the kitchen? I’m stunned.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Yes, thank you. How can I ever repay you?”

“Well, you can help me raise a baby.”

“Didn’t think I had a choice beforehand, but now I definitely feel obligated.” We sat down and ate. After we’d finished she refused to let me clean up despite my protestations. Afterward, we sat down on the couch and browsed Netflix for something we’d both enjoy. The silence was comfortable.

“Hey,” she said after we’d looked through most every category. “I just wanted to say thank you.”

“For what? You were the one that cooked dinner.”

“I mean, for everything. You’ve been really great to me and I can tell you’ll be a great father.”

“Wow, I don’t know what to say. Thank you too. It really has been great being with you. I think we can really go the distance. I mean, I like you a lot.”

“Yeah? Just like?”

I paused. “Do you think you’re falling in love with me?”

She nodded, then “I think so, I don’t think I would say that I love you yet, but I’m certainly on that path.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right.” I said, and kissed her.

**

I stepped out of the car and closed the door. I stood there a moment waiting for her to get out. She was looking at me through the window. I smiled at her and rolled my eyes, then walked to the passenger’s side and opened her door.

“If I knew you were going to be this high maintenance I might have made a different decision.”

“You should know by now that I’m a proper lady, and I expect a proper gentleman.” She said as she took my hand and stepped out of the car. She wore a soft blue dress that ended just above the knee. The dress was loose, but you could still see her stomach bump.

We walked towards the door arm in arm. I opened the door for her. “Like a proper gentleman.” I said and bowed slightly. This got a laugh out of her, a short giggle that reached her eyes.

The maître d’ greeted us warmly. “Is this for a special occasion?”

“We’re pregnant,” I responded, “And figure we won’t really have time for stuff like this in the future.” If the maître d’ had any judgements he hid them well. We were escorted to our table and sat down. A waitress and her assistant came and took our order.

“You have a show this weekend, right?” she asked.

“Yeah, are you going to be able to come?”

“Not sure yet, I’d like to, but I feel like I have some other obligation.

“Alright, it’s not really a big deal. I mean, you’ve seen my act before. I’d still like for you to be there.

“Yeah I know.” A pause and then. “There’s something I need to talk to you about.”

“Yeah what’s up?”

“What do you remember about that night?”

“The night that we…”

“Yeah, when I got pregnant.”

“Not much, I had a show then my roommate and I went out to 18th street to get hammered, which we did. Then I guess we must have run into each other at some point and then in my infinite charm I convinced you to come home with me.” I shot her a wink. She gave me a wane smile.

“What?” I asked.

“I wanted to get pregnant.”

“What?”

“I went out to get pregnant that night. I had wanted a baby for a while. I’d even tried before.”

“Tried before?” Just then our waitress arrived with the food. The assistant waiter standing by her side with the tray balanced on his palm.

“T-bone steak?” She said. I raised my hand. “Careful, the plate is hot.” She took the plate from her assistant and placed it on the table in front of me. “I guess that means the filet mignon is for you, madam. And I assume you are sharing these potatoes and the broccoli?” She took each and placed them in the middle of the table. “Can I get you anything else?”

“No, thank you.”

“Alright, well if you need anything my assistant and I will be around to help you. Enjoy. Also, congratulations to both of you.” Once they had left I spread my napkin in my lap and picked up my fork, and idly began to cut my steak. We said nothing for a while, eating despite having lost my appetite.

“What does that mean?” I finally asked.

“I wanted a baby,” She said. “I thought I could handle raising it on my own. I don’t know.” Then she dropped her fork. It rattled on the plate. “Look I’m sorry, ok? When I saw that pregnancy test I wasn’t happy, or thrilled, or excited. Which is what I thought I would be. I was terrified, but when you agreed to try to work this out, I wasn’t as scared as I had been. I felt like we could pull through.” Her eyes were watering. “And it’s been good, being with you. Better than I could have hoped, better than I deserve.” She was full on crying now.

I was silent, trying to piece together what she was telling me. “It’s all a lie, I…”

“It’s not all a lie. I’ve really started to develop feelings for you. I really like you.”

“Yeah, but it’s all based on a lie. You told me you didn’t remember, that you were drunk that—“

“I was drunk, just—“

“That you were as incapacitated as I, and that you didn’t remember anything. You let me believe that this whole time neither of us had a choice, but you did and you do.”

“Sir, please calm down.” The entire restaurant was staring. The maître d’ was standing beside our table.

“Sorry.” I whispered. I wiped my mouth. I stood up and walked outside. A few minutes later she walked out and joined me. She seemed to have gathered herself.

“Do you remember everything from that night?” I asked her.

“Yes.”

“Did I give consent?”

“What?”

“Did I want to have sex with you?”

“I mean you seemed to, physically I mean.”

“What does that I mean? Did I say no? Even once.”

She was bawling again.

“Well? Did I?”

“Yes.”

I stared at her.

“I’m sorry.” She said.

“Me too.” And I left.

**

The waiting room was cold. The television was playing the news on silent without subtitles. The receptionist looked up at her.

“The doctor will see you now.” She was pretty far along, but not as far as the girl across the room, or at least it looked that way.

“It’ll be ok, hun,” The receptionist said. “Go on.” She took a deep breath, and left.