(Part Six) Love Can Be Fleeting
For the first few months of the pregnancy Jacob was really supportive. He walked me to class every morning, making sure I wasn’t jostled by the swarm of students on the crowded sidewalks. If a bike came to close to me he’d maneuver me out of its path; at the same time leveling a stare at the biker. He would hold my hand and make candy bar and smoothie runs whenever I had a craving. And he started carrying my backpack because of all the books I was lugging around.
“Not good for the baby,” he would say and I would beam with foolish, girlish pride.
Despite the reason for all the attention, lack of a protruding belly and very little nausea allowed me to exist in absolute denial. I conveniently forgot I was pregnant and basked in the honeymoon phase of it all. Here was a strong, handsome man taking care of me; protecting me even. What more could a girl of my age want!? It was pure bliss and I never questioned it.
Not even when the daily morning check-ins turned into every other day. Not when he poured me a glass of wine and it took me reminding him not once but twice that I could no longer drink. Not even when it took me showing up on his doorstep to even get five minutes of his time. When he started missing doctor appointments I chalked it up to him being busy with school. I failed to notice that as my belly started to grow and show his visits with me became less frequent. I made excuses for him. I couldn’t – no, didn’t want to recognize the truth of it all.
“Damn him!” I shout, tossing my phone hard to the side of my bed. It ricochets off of the wall, coming to rest just a few inches away from my trembling hand. A small kick lets me know I am being too loud again. “It’s ok, sorry for waking you. Just go back to sleep,” I shush, rubbing my swollen belly. “I’m sorry little one.” The kicking starts to subside and I lean back, taking a second to collect my thoughts and calm myself down.
“What’s wrong Tammy?” asks Claire.
Squished in between my small desk and chair her knees are forced up to her chest, lightly balancing a textbook on top of them. She sips a hot cup of coffee while unknowingly twirling her hair with her other hand. Her forehead creases with worry while she watches me try to calm down. And it hits me. Hard. What the fuck am I doing with my life? Claire is what I want to be. Not this fat, soon-to-be teenage mother. Her whole life is ahead of her and the only thing she needs to worry about right now are our upcoming finals. I hate her for her thin body. I envy he for that cup of coffee. A few tears escape and I brush them away, swearing under my breath this time. “Damn you Jacob.”
“What did that lunkhead do now?” she sighs, closing her book and climbing up onto the bed alongside of me.
“He won’t answer his phone or return any of my calls. I’m already six months in and I really need to move out of the dorms and into an apartment.” Another kick lands on the inside of my right side. “I can’t raise a baby in here. I just can’t.”
Images of me pushing a stroller along the dorm halls, constantly being watched, pointed and laughed at send a shiver down my spine. I cringe when I think of all the late night beer pong games and poser smoking groups that encase the hallways in thick smoke and sticky residue. This isn’t a place for a baby.
“Claire, what am I going to do? Why won’t he return my calls?!” I continue to rub my belly as my body starts to shake with racking sobs. The little one inside of me nudges me gently this time. For some reason the act gives me a small measure of comfort.
“You need to forget him Tammy. He’s punked out.”
“But he can’t!”
“Oh, but he did. He’s not interested in being this baby’s daddy. As soon as you started to show he quit on the whole thing.”
“I just can’t believe this. I don’t want to do this alone.” My sobbing continues. Claire shoves a few tissues in my hand before throwing her arms around me.
“Listen, you’re going to be ok. You’ve got your parents. Me. Even Jess.”
My sobs mix with laughter. Ever since I told my parents that I’m pregnant they’ve barely spoken to me. But I know they care. Without saying anything they started making monthly deposits into my bank account. Even started to pay my phone bill like they did in college. Oh God! I hope they don’t notice all my calls to Jacob’s number. What the fuck are they going to think!?
“Yeah, I guess I do have them,” I laugh again. “It’s not like they can just get rid of me or forget about me. I am still their daughter. Right?”
“Right. Listen, it’s going to take them some time to get used to this whole situation.”
“I guess so.”
“Hey girlfriends,” yells Jess, coming through the door in a haze of perfume, sunscreen, and blonde hair. Plopping down on her bed she pulls out a lipstick, applying more pink shade to her already perfectly pink lips.
“Hi Jess. You remember Claire?”
“Oh yeah, how’s it going? You’re the study buddy aren’t you?” Not waiting for a response, she immediately returns to primping and admiring herself in the mirror hanging from her bed frame.
“Yeah, that’s me,” says Claire. I can feel her scowling at Jess. Jess is oblivious to it. All she seems to care about these days is her hair, make-up, and whatever boy is calling her that day on her phone. We watch in silence as she strips down and throws on a bright purple dress and platform wedges.
Rummaging in the closet she pulls out my pink cardigan. I haven’t been able to fit in it since the fourth month. Grabbing her purse and throwing in a cheap silver necklace she heads back.
“You don’t mind, do you babe?” she asks, pausing at the door. “It’s not like you’re going to be using it anytime soon.”
I hate her. “No, I don’t mind…babe.”
Thanks!” she yells, flashing us both one of her winning smiles. “Don’t wait up ladies.” And with that she is gone.
“I hate her.”
“No you don’t.”
“No, Claire, I really do. I hate her! I hate her stupid hair and her perfectly tanned skin. I hate the fact that she gets to go out to college parties and drink and flirt with boys. I hate that she doesn’t have to worry about her clothes not fitting because her stomach isn’t growing to the size of a fucking SUV!”
“Ok, ok calm down,” shushes Claire. She hands me another tissue and starts to rub my shoulders. “You’ve got to calm down. Getting upset isn’t going to help and it’s just going to upset the baby.”
For the next few minutes all you can hear are the sounds of my sobs. Each time I try to calm down I choke on my gasps of air and then start crying all over again as I think about Jacob and Jess…and the little one nudging me inside.
“Everyone has abandoned me,” I cry.
“No Tammy,” says Claire, taking my hand. “Not everyone.”