The ring glittered in the moonlight and Nicky’s hands flew to her face as she stared down at me and the ring. Tears welled up in her eyes and she didn’t speak as the seconds ticked by, each second as if a millennium.
“Oh Jake,” she breathed out as she turned her head, not meeting my eyes. My smile froze on my face and my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. “Oh Jake,” she said again, more softly.
“N-Nicky?” I finally asked. “I know this ring isn’t as beautiful as you are, but–“
“It’s not the ring, Jake. I–oh Jacob, why did you have to go and do this?!”
“What?” I asked, my voice squeaking slightly. “Do wh-what? Did I do something wrong? Is this–did something happen?” I looked up, worried that something had happened that day that she didn’t tell me about. “Is your family okay?”
She reached out one hand. “My family is fine, Jacob, but why did you do this?” She reached her other hand out and put them around my hands, closing the box.
“I love you,” I said, unable to breathe. “I love you, Nicky.”
“I love you too, Jacob, but…”
“But… what? But what?” I started pushing myself to my feet, unable to feel my legs, unable to feel anything.
“Why?” she asked again, looking at me with worried eyes. “Everything was so perfect with us, Jacob, why did you have to go and ruin it?”
“I do love you, Jake, but–but hell, marriage? Me? You and me?”
“Yes! We’ve talked about it before, I thought–“
“You talked about it!” she snapped. “You’re the one always going on about marriage and kids and all that stuff, not me!”
“I asked your thoughts about it!” I said, trying not to yell. “I asked if you thought about marriage and kids, and you said–you said–“
“I never thought they were serious questions,” she said. “Like when I asked if you liked a football game and you said yes. I know you didn’t mean it. It’s like that.”
I blinked a few times. “No. No, Nicky, that is NOT the same thing!” I took in a deep breath to stop myself from getting really mad. “I enjoyed going to football games with you, I never lied about that. But telling me you wanted marriage and kids when you really didn’t is a completely different thing!”
“Please,” I said slowly. “Please tell me the truth.” I looked into her eyes, hoping discretely that this was just a misunderstanding, that she wasn’t feeling well that–that–That it’s not what it is, I thought rather numbly.
“You want the truth?!” she exploded, pointing one finger at me. “I don’t want to be married! I don’t want kids! This isn’t the nineteenth century, Jacob! A couple doesn’t need to be married to be together! What sort of–of pathetic girl do you think I am?!”
“A husband? 2.5 kids? White picket fence? That’s just some stupid fantasy from when our grandparents got together. I was happy with you, Jake, you’re a great boyfriend but how could think I wanted this?”
“Because for one, you LIED to me!” I shouted back. “You made it sound like you wanted a husband and kids! I assumed–“
She shook her head and sighed slightly. “You shouldn’t assume things.”
“How could you do this to me?”
“How could I do what?” she hissed out. “You’re the one that just ruined everything.” She reached out for my arm, but I yanked it away. “Maybe that’s why you want kids so bad, huh? You’re just being childish, throwing a tantrum.”
“I thought we could be happy together…” I was trying not to break down in front of her.
“We were happy,” she said huffily. “I was happy, at least, but you had to go and be selfish and want more. Our relationship was just fine.”
“Boyfriend and girlfriend until we die?” I demanded, glaring at her.
“Yes!” Nicky stomped one foot in the sand. “Why can’t you understand that?”
“Because some people want a little more than that,” I said, clenching my hands into fists. “I wanted more. You know perfectly well I’ve always wanted a family. I loved you, Nicky, and wanted so bad for you to be my wife…”
“A house-dress, slippers, cooking three meals a day, taking care of a bunch of brats?” She threw her arms in the air and rolled her eyes. “You’re such a pig! A girl wants more than that these days. I wanted a career!”
“You could have fooled me,” I replied darkly. “You’re always telling me you hate to work and I was prepared to let you do what you want! Stay at home, get a career–whichever. I wasn’t intending to be Mr. Boss-Of-The-House, Nicky! I know perfectly well what century we live in!”
“You could have fooled me!”
“Nicky–I can’t believe… I can’t believe this.”
“Believe it,” she said coldly. “We are over. Okay? Over. Obviously you’re going to be selfish about this and I can’t deal with it.”
“Over?” I echoed.
“OVER!” she cried out. “You’ve hurt me so much, Jacob Danevbie! I’ll never forgive you!”
“I hurt you.” I never really had much of a temper, all my life I had been able to keep it under control. But now I felt like exploding. “I hurt you?!” I shouted.
“You’ve lied to me and pretended to be something you’re not!” I could see the shock in her face as I yelled and she looked ready to stop me, but I continued. “I loved you, I gave you EVERYTHING and you do this to me? Then say I am the one who hurt you?! You are despicable! You lied the person you claimed to have loved!”
“You want this to be over? Then fine. We are over.”
“I thought you were better,” she snarled. “I thought you had some sense in your head but obviously you’re like most every other man out there! I can’t believe I ever loved you! Goodbye, Jacob, don’t expect to ever hear from me again.”
I lifted my chin. “Goodbye, Nicole. I really don’t want to hear from you. Ever.”
She whirled around and stormed off. I turned as well, grabbing a fistful of sand and throwing it at the ocean. My momentum carried me forward and I fell onto my knees. Then everything went blurry and dark. I had no clue how I got home but when my senses came back, that’s where I was.
The numbness was starting to fade and the first emotion I felt was anger.
I screamed for a good long time, kicking and throwing things until my body ached.
Realization hit me, and I started crying. I was unable to stop. Anger, hurt, sadness, misery–everything rushed over me like a tidal wave. I was sucked into the darkness and felt like there would never be a way out.
I couldn’t believe it. It felt like a nightmare, one I didn’t wake up from. Over the next few days I spent a lot of time wallowing in misery.
I tried talking to my friends, but each time they answered the phone I would just hang up. It wasn’t long before they were at my door. They brought me comforting words and, after a couple days, food.
Elouia gave me time off to get over my broken heart. I knew eventually I would start to feel better but right now it felt as though it wouldn’t. My life felt upside down. Inside out. I had been shaken up and squished down.
The days were dark, blurry, out of focus. How could life continue?
But it did. It had to. I started working again and even bought a TV. No point in saving up anymore. But everything seemed so fake. Like I was an actor forced to be in a play. I interacted with the world around me without seeing it, without feeling it.
One morning I woke up after a bad night of sleep, and decided the best way to get my mind off what had happened was to keep myself busy. I cleaned my entire house, went to the grocery store, bought a few books, and even did some clothes shopping.
After that, I started taking daily walks. I would walk through the park, down around the beach, through the business districts and back home for a long shower. On his days off, Aiden would walk with me. Twice Elouia joined me. But usually I was by myself.
I missed Nicky with all my heart, or at least with the tiny pieces that were left. She had broken my heart… but I missed her. I even wondered if I should call her up, talk to her, try to fix things. A family. I wanted a family, and she didn’t, but–maybe we could work things out… Part of me knew we wouldn’t, but a tiny, teensy, itsy, bitsy part wouldn’t stop hoping.
And then, two weeks after our break up, I saw her.
She was standing in front of the hospital and at first I was going to walk by without another glance but I couldn’t help but pause and watch her. She took a step closer to the door, then stopped, slumping slightly. She seemed agitated by something.
Don’t, I thought, torn between wanting to find out what was wrong and running off. However my decision was made for me when she turned and saw me.
“Jacob…” Our eyes locked and I felt a jolt go through my body. She took a few steps, coming over to me. “What are you doing here? Did you–” She bit her bottom lip and looked down. “Hi.”
“Hi,” I said, rubbing the back of my head. “So… um. Getting a new job?”
She jumped slightly then narrowed her eyes. “No. I’m here for a visit.”
“Is your family okay?” I asked then felt my world spinning, remembering how I had asked the same thing that miserable night.
“It’s not my family, it’s me,” she said in a low voice. “Not that it’s your business.” Then she jumped again, as if what she had said surprised her.
“I was just walking by.” I tried to keep my voice light, without accusation or depression. “Didn’t mean to bother you.” I was edging away, trying to get away, when she called my name.
“Jacob–stop. I… I thought about what you said.”
I turned back around, watching her carefully. “What, that I didn’t mean to bother you?” I asked, raising one eyebrow.
“No, stupid,” she said, folding her arms and hunching over. “About my lying. I guess I did sort of lie to you.”
“Sort of?” I coughed out. “Sort of?!”
“Okay, I did!” she said, tugging at her curls. “I lied to you, in a big way. And I’m sorry I did. I never thought you took it seriously.”
“You knew… you knew what I wanted…”
She held up her hands. “It’s in the past now. What is clear is we weren’t meant for each other. You’re too… old-fashioned.” I wanted to make a retort, but before I could say anything she plunged on. “You said hurtful things.”
“I don’t want to rehash our fight,” I said, gritting my teeth.
Her eyebrows raised high and then she lowered her gaze to the ground. “You are sometimes very insufferable. Can I at least tell you? I’m not going to lie anymore.”
“Tell me what?” I asked, stepping slightly away from her. “What on earth do you have to say to me now? More insults?”
“No!” Nicky put her head in her hands, her body shuddering slightly. Then she lowered her hands and looked up at me.
“Jacob, the reason I’m here is because I’m pregnant. By you.”
I stared at her. I stared, and stared, and stared. My emotions swirled around inside of me and slowly my body began trembling. Nicky was waiting for a response from me but I couldn’t muster anything for a full two minutes.
“A baby?” I whispered, almost falling over. I couldn’t feel my legs. Then suddenly everything burst and I pushed myself up clear to my tiptoes. “A baby?” I repeated, wanting to hug her. “Nicky–a baby? My baby? Really?”
A strange look went over her face. “I am pregnant.”
“I’m going to be a father?” I couldn’t stop myself and I grabbed her, hugging her tightly. “Nicky, this is–oh my gosh… oh my gosh! I’m going to have a baby!”
“Let go of me!” She struggled slightly but when she pushed me away, it was a bit gentle. “Jacob, you misunderstood me.”
Nicky looked upset. Pretty much on the verge of tears. “Jacob, I’m not here for a check up. I’m here because… I’m here to…” She pressed her fingers against her temple and couldn’t even look at me when she ripped me to pieces and killed me by saying, “I’m getting rid of it.”