I quit my job. I felt so free when I handed in my two weeks’ notice and when those weeks were up, Doug and I went out to celebrate. Not out to a restaurant or anything (he didn’t want me to have to worry about crowds) so instead we got some pizza and relaxed at the beach, that place where we first met.
I still spent most my time at home. I went for walks in the morning after Doug left for work, then would either do cleaning or mess around on the computer. I got involved in a chess site, matching my wits against other players. More often than not I lost, but I was getting better.
Since everyone I knew also worked, I didn’t get to see anyone anymore than I did before, except sometimes Zari since his work schedule wasn’t normal. Sometimes I’d go to the theater and had permission to sit and watch the rehearsals. It was thrilling, hardly anyone else in the seats, watching the productions with the actors in both modern clothes and costumes, and even mixes of the two.
I helped Hal pick out a house and also helped him get moved in, along with Zari, Julie, and Claude. Vi tried but Claude insisted she not exert herself even though she was still in her first trimester. He was very sweet and gentle with her, putting up with her sudden mood swings in a way that kinda reminded me of me putting up with Doug’s mood swings.
And those were getting even worse. He tried not to get jealous when I spent time with other people and I knew he didn’t really mean it, to be jealous. I understood his side of things. I knew why he didn’t like me spending a lot of time with Hal, and with my brother and sister (because, as he pointed out, we had a lifetime together and he felt left out).
But jealous or not, his mood swings were getting to be annoying. Being snapped at for helping my brother choose a tuxedo for his upcoming wedding was just a bit harsh. Of course, he always apologized after and asked me to forgive him–and I did forgive him. I knew he loved me.
We went down to the hospital in June, and got the forms to fill out for the medical procedure. It was pretty exciting, knowing that this would one day mean a child. My child. Our child. Even though a wedding would be nice…
Sometimes I thought about proposing to him but then I never went anywhere with that idea. I chickened out way too easily. I tried to drop a hint here and there but Doug seemed oblivious to them, especially after we turned in the forms. Different forms… since mine was the ‘mother’ form.
It made sense for me to be the pregnant one, since I was the one at home all day. That way he wouldn’t have to take any leave–helpful, since we were hoping to be able to get pregnant in the autumn which was when he’d start his new level at work. More hours, more money.
Zari’s wedding was great. He begged me to be his best man but I begged right back not to be. All those eyes on me, all those photographers… no, I couldn’t do it. So Claude was his best man, and Vi was Julie’s matron of honor.
They all looked terrific, and Julie looked beautiful. Her gown had been a gift from her mother, who couldn’t make it. But Doug did make it, so I was able to hold his hand as my brother was married. I almost felt like I had lost them both, even though that was untrue.
Like Vi’s wedding, Zari wanted a picture just the three of us. He slung an arm over each of our shoulders and right before the flash went off, told us that Julie was pregnant. Of course, both our mouths were wide open for the picture while Zari had a mischievous grin on his face. A picture he decided was the ‘best’ ever.
“Is it true?” Vi asked Julie once we were able to have a bit of privacy.
Julie reddened, shooting a look at Zari. “Thanks for keeping the secret. Yes, it’s true. I’m due at the beginning of March.”
The girls squealed, hugging each other tightly while Claude punched Zari’s arm in congratulations. I watched, feeling rather detached from this scene. Where do I stand? I wondered. With the guys? With the pregnant girls, since I’d most likely be in the same situation as them in a couple months?
“Where ya going?” Zari grabbed my jacket as I tried sneaking off. He put his arm around my neck, giving me a noogie.
“Owowow stop!” I cried out and he let go, laughing. I fixed my hair then hugged Julie, congratulating her. She hugged back, her face glowing–matching the glow on Vi’s face.
“We’ll have a double baby shower,” Vi giggled and Julie clapped happily.
(Okay, so I still cried quite a bit during the ceremony… but at least my phone didn’t go off like Doug’s did. I was not happy about that.)
I rather hoped the wedding would inspire Doug but he didn’t say anything as the days turned to weeks. No mention of the wedding. No mention of even the kid as we waited to hear back from the hospital. In fact, he acted a bit distant from me.
The thought crept into my head. I tried to keep it away but it would sneak in as I tried to sleep, or right after he left for work. I hated it, I didn’t want to think it. But it was there. Torturing me.
Is he cheating…?
No! I couldn’t think that. It was horrible of me to think that. I trusted him. He wouldn’t do that, ever again. He loved me. Still, it worried me that maybe I had done something since it seemed like he was hardly ever at home.
Then, suddenly, he was all over me again. It really was just one day he was distant then the next day when he got home from work, he chatted about going out for dinner and maybe a movie, and how he thought perhaps we could have a day at the spa, and maybe go to the beach. That night he made up the other nights of coldness, and I felt at ease again.
We heard back from the hospital. We were approved. We went in to give samples so they could double-check that we weren’t related, and they could get to work on changing it so when we were ready, they could do… that stuff… and then… with my… I’d need to get a womb. Oh gosh, that was kinda freaky to think.
“How about October?” Doug asked when we were asked for the date. “Our anniversary of meeting,” he added with a laugh.
“Sounds good to me,” I said, feeling excited though nervous. An appointment was set up for the end of September for the procedure I’d have to go through.
“Where are you going?”
I stopped at the door, turning to look at Doug coming up from the basement. “Out,” I said. “Hal’s adopted a kitten and I wanted to meet her.”
Doug gave me a strange look. “Hal…?” he asked. “But I was hoping we could spend some time together. If we’re going to have a baby then we won’t have much time to be together. I was hoping…”
“I haven’t seen him in a while,” I said, sounding a bit like a kid myself.
“You should go then,” he replied rather sadly. “Have fun!”
My hand dropped from the doorknob, and I stayed in with Doug. Something that was once again becoming habit.
Hal stopped by the next day, with pictures of his kitten. After he talked about her for a while he moved onto a subject I knew he’d get to: why I didn’t come by his house the day before when I said I would.
“I’ll try and come by tomorrow,” I said, trying to avoid the conversation. I didn’t want him looking at me with, as Zari liked to put it, ‘that judgmental look’. I want him to understand, but I couldn’t explain it to him. Because if I explained things then… it might get out that I once liked him. And I didn’t want that. But I doubt he’d understand if just said I wanted to stay in with Doug, I thought as Hal just looked at me with ‘that judgmental look’. “What?”
Hal shrugged. “Nothing. Hey, my boss is looking for a second secretary,” he said out of no where. “He has a secretary but she’s not the brightest bulb in the box. But she’s…” He stopped and grinned. “Let’s just say, he wants to keep her on. So he’s looking for an assistant to her to do the ‘hard’ work like… writing. Want me to mention your name? She’d be the one answering phones and being in the public eye, you would just have to deal with two people–her and the boss.”
I raised my eyebrows. The thought of a new job… but no, it would be too much stress and Doug was right. I needed to keep stress out of my life. He was worried about me getting high blood pressure and in fact we had checked to make sure I didn’t already–since I’d be pregnant one day. My blood pressure was a bit high but not to the point where I needed medicine. Taking the stress of a job out of my life had helped bring it back down. And I wanted to be as healthy as I could.
“Thanks,” I mumbled, opening the fridge and seeing what we had. “But it’s all right, I have plenty to do here and Doug’s job is bringing in plenty of money.”
“This would be his job at City Hall?” he asked and I nodded. “I saw him the other day. Not at City Hall…” he trailed off and I waited for him to say whatever it was he wanted to say. “I saw him skulking down the alley near that abandoned warehouse at the edge of town.”
“Abandoned…?” I frowned, not needing Hal to tell me the significance of that. The abandoned warehouse was rumored to be the headquarters of the local gang. Police had raided it several time and never found anyone, but the rumors persisted. “I’m sure he had–” I tried to say but Hal cut me off.
“Good reasons?” he asked and I nodded rather guiltily. “I’m sure he’ll tell you a good reason.”
“Wh–what do you mean by that?” I demanded. “Hal, I love Doug and–“
“Why?!” Hal suddenly yelled causing me to reel back. “Why do you love him?! He keeps you locked up in here like his little pet!”
I gasped out loud. How… how could Hal say such a thing? I felt shattered, betrayed. The tears rose to my eyes. “GET OUT!” I screamed. “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
“Sebastian, I’m sorry, I just–“
“JUST GO!” I yelled, flinging myself to the door and opening it. I wanted to just cry. Hal’s my friend, and he just–how could he say–he’s being so unfair he doesn’t understand nobody understands how much Doug loves me and he wants me at home with him because he loves me.
Hal went to the door. “I’m sorry,” he said again, though he didn’t sound it. I slammed the door as he left and then went into the bedroom, falling onto the bed to cry. My best friend… I felt as betrayed as I did when Doug told me he had cheated on me.
The worst part came that night. Doug saw how upset I was and I just told him that Hal and I had a fight. He didn’t seem to care, and that upset me even more so I blurted out that I knew he had been in that alley near the abandoned warehouse.
Doug narrowed his eyes. “So what if I was there?”
“The warehouse–the gang–” I babbled.
“I see…” Doug brushed his hair back with a heavy sigh. “So you automatically think… what? Please, tell me.” I opened my mouth but he stepped forward and I could tell how angry I had made him. “No, I know what you were thinking. You were thinking I had something to do with the gang? I thought you trusted me! I was taking a shortcut, doing an errand for someone at City Hall. I didn’t go anywhere near that warehouse. Just because someone walks down this street, does it mean they’re visiting us? Huh?!”
“N-no, Doug, I’m–“
“No! Exactly! And you thought–I can’t believe you thought that! I thought you trusted me but… you lied to me about that?”
“Obviously you did, Sebastian! You lied to me about trusting me!”
And then Doug did something I never in a million years would have expected.
Special thanks to Spiderg1rl. She knows why. 🙂