Dear Diary, at the moment I’m wrestling with some things that had never concerned me before. If you remember, my girlfriend told me she wants a baby… with me. I had not ever given children a thought so this took me by surprise. It’s not that I don’t want children someday I just had never considered it. There are some things you figure will be in the far-out future.
Every woman in my life is older than me, including the one I’m seeing right now. I suppose that’s why she’s got kids on the brain. She probably figures her time for having children at all is close to an end. When we started seeing each other, everything sort of fell into place but this… this I never saw coming.
I didn’t give her an answer and she said she understood that I needed time. Meanwhile, I needed to get my mind off of life. Our ballet company’s season was almost over for the year, so I would have several weeks off before the next season started. I would, of course, continue my private rehearsals and pilates. I’d added more strength training to my regimen as well as jogging. I was determined to be a lead from now on.
Finally, I decided instead of going crazy about this baby thing, I could see a movie even if I went by myself. Chris was still working the night shift and Rosetta was rarely home, so it was just me.
I was just reaching for the theater door handle when I heard someone call my name from behind. As soon as I heard the voice, my whole body tensed and my pulse quickened.
“Hi, Holden,” Fletcher said.
If he felt awkward about seeing me, he didn’t show it. As for me, I felt the color leaving my face all at once right along with my confidence.
“Yeah… hi,” I mumbled.
“Are you here to see a show?”
No, Fletcher, I’m here, hoping I’ll run into you, I snidely thought.
“I saw Star of the Gods the other night. You were great.”
Fletcher didn’t look any different to me. He was as handsome as ever with his porcelain skin and expressive gray eyes. He was even wearing the color I loved most on him. Suddenly, it was hard to swallow around the lump in my throat.
“You came to the show?”
Nodding enthusiastically, he smiled a little. “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. I’ve always been so proud of your art.”
How could he talk to me like this? Like everything was fine between us. Like he hadn’t broken my heart which now was banging against my chest as if it wanted to escape. I could barely form words at this point.
“Y-you look good,” I finally managed to say.
“Thanks,” he said.
“I – I have to go.”
Glancing toward the theater door, he said, “Oh do you have someone waiting inside?”
“No,” I said too quickly, mentally kicking myself for admitting I was alone.
“Holden,” Fletcher began, his eyes darkening. “I have wanted to tell you for a long time that I’m sorry about how things ended with us.”
I could barely comprehend what he meant and frankly, his saying that only ruffled my feathers all the more. “Really.” It wasn’t a question.
He held his breath for a moment before responding. “Yes, really. What I did was rash and hurtful and I’m sorry.”
What did that even mean? Did he regret leaving me? I know I did.
“The film’s going to start.”
“Forget the film,” he snapped. “I’m trying to apologize for how I acted. I should have trusted you.”
“Yeah, you really should have. But you didn’t.”
“You really didn’t make it very easy, though, you have to admit.”
“I don’t have to admit anything,” I said, my voice shaking.
He bit his lower lip for a moment before saying anything else. “Are you seeing anyone?”
Normally, I would have mentioned something along the lines about how this wasn’t any of his business, but I wanted to hurt him. I wanted him to feel even a fraction of the pain that had entered my soul the day he walked away without me.
“Yeah, actually I am. She’s everything I’ve ever wanted.”
“Yeah, we’re even talking about having a baby.”
He seemed genuinely surprised by this bit of information. “You must really love her then.”
“Yeah, everything’s great.”
As I walked away, I should have felt satisfied that perhaps I’d caused him some hurt. But seeing his downcast face when I told him about “the baby” only made me feel worse. Why had I thrown that at him? What inside of me wanted to hurt him?
I kept walking, too ashamed of myself to turn around. All I wanted at that point was to be swallowed up by the ground, never to be seen again.
If I was anyone else, I would have sunk into the depths of despair. But like I’ve said before, I’m not the suffering kind. Seeing Fletcher shook me up hard. Seeing him forced me to look at myself differently and face things about myself I’d pushed away for my own sanity.
I still loved him. Desperately. Yet, look how I’d treated him.
“Did you make up your mind already?” my girl said as I stared out the window of her bedroom. “I didn’t think I’d see you until tonight.”
“I felt like seeing you now,” I said.
Every time I looked at her, I was moved by her beauty. She was gorgeous inside and out.
“Well, I won’t complain about that.”
Her laugh reminded me of champagne glasses tinkling against each other. It was natural, like everything else about her.
Standing on my right side, she slipped her arm around my waist and, on her tiptoes, kissed me.
“Do you love me?” I asked her, my voice soft.
She laughed again and kissed my cheek. “You’re so precious. You know what this is… FWB and hopefully, a child.” When I frowned, she squeezed my hand. “Okay, this is more than FWB, I’ll admit it. I do adore you and I want you to be the father of my child.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“What does what mean?”
“Well, this supposed baby. I’m not sure I’m ready to be a father. You pretty much blindsided me with this.”
“Oh, come on. I’m not asking you to be a father. I have a great job that pays well. I can take care of a baby on my own. No strings.”
“No strings,” I murmured.
“It doesn’t seem right, though. What if I want to be in this child’s life?”
“If that’s what it takes for you to have a baby with me, then that’s fine, too. I won’t deny you access to your own child.”
“I need a little more time,” I told her.
“Where have you been?” Rosetta asked as I let myself into the house and sat at the bar across from where she was making drinks.
“You have been so reticent about your personal affairs.”
“Yes, yes I have,” I said.
“Do you want a drink?”
“You already know the answer to that.”
She shrugged before hitting the button on the blender.
“I saw Fletcher today.”
She stopped pouring out the drinks into glasses to stare at me, her mouth in the shape of a little “o.”
“Really? How did that go?”
“As poorly as you can imagine,” I said with a sigh.
She didn’t even try to hide the smile on her face. “Well, he’s old news anyway. I never liked him.”
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as she stated the obvious. “That’s not a big secret.”
“Oh, please, don’t tell me you’re still upset over all that? It’s been ages since he broke up with you.”
“Rosetta,” Chris began as he came in from work. “Leave ‘im alone already. He was in love and he can’t just pretend he doesn’t feel that way.”
“Loved, past tense,” she said. “Do you want a drink?”
“Sure, I’m off duty now.”
As Chris answered her, Rosetta’s words echoed in my brain. Loved, past tense.
“I still love him,” I murmured, averting my eyes.
“After all this time?” Rosetta asked.
“I’m sorry,” Chris said to me. “I know it must have been really hard seeing him today.”
“Holden, you need to be more like me. I’m driven and independent. Nothing, not even a man, is going to get between me and what I want.”
“What if what I want is a family?” I asked, my voice still soft. I felt as if all energy had been slowly seeped out of every pore in my body.
Rosetta wrinkled her nose. “Are you serious? Well, if that is the case, you certainly don’t want a family with that imbecile.”
“Imbecile? Really?” I yelled suddenly. “You never even got to know him! Not once were you kind to him! And you know what, if I could have a family with him, I would in a heartbeat!”
She jumped a little when I raised my voice. “Apparently, you are upset and not thinking clearly at the moment. Which is another reason to loathe Fletcher.”
Chris shook his head as if he could stop her from saying anything more.
“Yeah, I’m upset, Rosie.” I stood up. It wouldn’t do any good to point out to her how heartless she was being. My other option was to excuse myself and hit the treadmill.
I was partway up the stairs when Julie knocked and entered.
“Hi, guys. I wondered if I could spend the night tonight.”
Finally! Someone in the house who wasn’t crazy.
“Sure,” I said.
Chris and Rosetta waved and told her hello, then turned back to their discussion over drinks.
“Thank you so much. I have really good news!”
I was glad someone did. “What’s going on?”
“The women’s shelter helped me find a therapist, who in turn, gave me some leads on an affordable apartment!”
“That’s great, Jules,” I grinned.
“The apartment won’t be ready until this weekend, hence the reason I asked if I could stay here.”
“Sure, as long as you want.” I couldn’t help but smile at her. She seemed more like the old Julie I knew and less like the scared, withdrawn friend of recent days.
“My therapist also helped me get a pro-bono lawyer. He’s supposed to be really good! I meet with him on Friday and I’m going to file for divorce. It’s something I need to do to get Paisley back.”
“Wow, Jules, it seems like everything is falling into place. I’m so happy for you.”
“Thank you so much for not giving up on me. You’re the best friend anyone could ever have.”
Pulling her into my arms, I held her familiar little body and kissed the top of her head. “I’m really so happy for you. Is it hard being away from Brent?”
“In a way, yes. I think he’s going to make me miserable if he can. My therapist said that guys like him will do anything to see the person they abused. He said I might be taken to court for crazy reasons just so Brent can see me. I’m scared but I’m not going to give up because I can’t live without Paisley. I need to protect her from him, I understand that now.”
I couldn’t have been more relieved than to hear her say these things. For the first time, I really felt like she was going to make it and be okay.
That night, after everyone had gone up to bed, I stayed up a little longer, staring into the fireplace. Fletcher and I used to like sitting here in the late evening, talking about all of the things that had happened during the day. Sometimes we fantasized about our future together, and other times, we didn’t need to talk at all.
As the flame bounced around and licked the walls inside the fireplace, I wrestled again with my thoughts. My life might always be a lonely one. Fletcher, who I loved even now, had dumped me. The woman I was seeing at the moment admitted I was nothing more than a booty call and possible father for her baby. Was this all I could ever expect to have?
Logically, I realized I was being overdramatic. I still had plenty of future in front of me so why was I so upset? It was just one more thing to wrestle with.
Thank you so much for reading,