Signs of Serendipity
I knew what the results were as soon as I closed the door.
But still, all I could do was stare into the darkness and hope.
I couldn’t see a way out of this mess.
I wasn’t ready for this. Not ready for the consequences of our actions. Not ready to deal with the loss. Not ready for the pain behind my impending decisions.
He’s not ready to become a dad. He’ll never be ready to become a dad.
I hadn’t even realized I said those words out loud until I heard his voice answering my secret pleas.
“So that’s why you lied saying you couldn’t come by later?”
I turned to see Josh standing by my desk before walking over in fluid, certain strides. “Huh? H-how long have you been standing there?”
“I did a pregnancy test.”
Josh looked at my hands. “I can see that. What did it say?”
With shaking hands, I held up the test to see the two pink lines, bright and present on the small display area. “I don’t want to have a baby.”
“Somehow, I doubt that’s what it says.”
Josh took the test to see the two pink lines, bright and present on the small display area, as I stared at an unfamiliar expression on his face. “Why not?”
I removed the test from his hands to gain a firm hold on him. “Josh, we already discussed this. From before we even started. Don’t you remember? This is a deal breaker for you. You said you never wanted kids.”
Josh refitted his hands over mine. “I know what I said. I was there when I said it.” His eyes then drifted toward my stomach, “But that was before I could imagine you with my child inside.” A smile he refrained from indulging in teased at his lips as he whispered. “Now I don’t have to imagine. It’s there.”
My brows drew together. “Um…What? But we made a plan. We should have stuck to the plan. I-I–”
“Ah, our grand plan. To wait till we’re fifty years old, get married and adopt two dogs and a cat. Exciting. That plan was made when we were either high or should have been.”
“I know, but–”
“So what do you want to do, Char?”
My knees buckled under the weight of the question as I dropped on the bed. Instead of looking my safe zone in the eyes, my eyes went to the ceiling. “I don’t want to lose this baby, but I’m not sure if I’m willing to lose you either. Now I have to make that choice.” With one hand draped over my face, I complete my thought. “Make a choice where I’ll lose something anyway.”
Josh moved my hand and shifted my head to look him in the eyes as he slid closer. “And what choice is that, Charlotte? The one you think is best for me or the one that is best for all three of us?”
“This isn’t just about you, Josh. It’s about what’s best for all of us. Yes, you are a big part, but someone else may have already stolen your top spot.”
Josh pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a sobersided laugh. “I never wanted kids. You never wanted to be married. What a sorry pair we make. Char, we’re almost 30, been dating for years now. Frankly, what did we expect? That neither of us would have a change of heart? Let’s be realistic here, Love, it was bound to happen, sooner or later.”
Tremors shook my voice. “B– but, but we made a plan.”
Josh sighed and shifted us both to lie on our backs on my bed. Neither voice said the words that I wanted to say. Maybe like me Josh was too afraid of the outcome. I peeked over at Josh to see his eyes focused on the ceiling as well. Perhaps wondering when I’d get around to cleaning off the spaghetti sauce stains from the microwave disaster last Monday.
The spaghetti stain raised another problem. If I’m to have this kid, a studio apartment would be unsuitable for the baby. That only tacked itself onto me being jobless in a few months, possibly being a single mom with no family support. Or even a family member I could call for help.
Instead of allowing my thoughts to further depress me, I began to wonder what our baby will look like. My eyes or Josh’s? Doesn’t matter I guess. I’d take Josh’s hazel ones to remind myself of how their father once looked. But my snarkiness or Josh’s temper? Oi, I’m in trouble.
After a few minutes of mutual self-imposed mutism, Josh got up to stand on the floor. He took my hand and pulled me up to sit up in the bed. “I’ve wanted to do this for a while now and while it may not be the right time and now is the worst moment, I’m going to do it anyway.”
A gasp slipped my lips as I watched Josh fall on one knee and pull a box from his pocket. With unbelief gnawing at my heart, I stared at Josh wanting to accept but fearing it was only was an illusion, a mirage playing in my head.
So I sat still, frozen and waited for the volcano to erupt. But when the rain started to drizzle outside like flittering humming birds, my body relaxed even in this fantasy.
Josh grasped my hands in his. “Char, I can’t promise you every day will be sunshine dripping in magical cookies. I can’t even promise you that I’ll love you every day of forever. What I can promise you is that I will try my very hardest to show you the love you deserve. Maybe this is all part of some grand plan, I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ll keep on trying to earn the love you so freely give to me. And in doing so babe, I can promise you that I’ll be making mistakes, which will always piss you off. But at the end of the day, I’m hoping that you’ll still stay.”
“Josh.” With meaning to his name whispered tumbled from my lips.
With only a smile in response, he continued. “What I sincerely wish is that I’ll still be able to put my arms around you each night, you holding me ‘til dawn beaks and the mornings light–”
“–That kinda rhymed.”
Josh reached up to clear the tear tracks from my face. “Not the time, Char.”
“But it did.” I cleared the snot from my face and wiped it on the back of my jeans, not wanting to break the moment.
“You really are gross, woman.”
“Sorry, I didn’t want to move and fall back into reality.”
“Oh, Charlotte. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with you from the first day. You had snot all over your face then too.” Josh took the ring from the box, hovering over my finger. “And I fell in love with you every day since. Charlotte Barker, will honour me with the rest of your days and marry me?”
There. He said them. The words, I’ve wanted to hear for four years now.
I had never told Josh how much I wanted to get married since I found I couldn’t live without him. I had never told him how much I wanted to share his name and home, without feeling robbed or guilty. Neither had I told him how much I wanted to bear his children and make a home for ourselves. A home that neither of us were fortunate enough to have growing up, but one I’m confident we could make a go at and provide for our offspring.
Because I already knew my heart, the answer was easy to find.
With my emotions blushing like a knobbly kettle, I had barely nodded and wiped my eyes when I felt a warmth wrap around my finger, creeping to my heart.
I stared into the diamond that glistened and returned a thousand smiles. “How long have you had this?”
Josh pulled an envelope from his jacket. I took the envelope and read the simple message.
‘Midnight, on the bridge. Come alone.
P.S. Wear a dress. Please.
“I bought the ring a few months ago and was really hoping I could change your mind tonight. I had it all planned, but I think this is even better than I imagined it would be.”
I laughed at his hopeful expression. “Give me one good reason why I should wear a dress.”
“When you come later, you’ll get that reason.”
“Well, yes. I didn’t go through all that for it to go to waste. Besides, I can’t get refunds at this late hour. I don’t want to either. I want you to enjoy what’s in store for you. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky later.”
“The way you flirt is shameful.”
“I know. A downright, dirty shame. Wanna punish me?”
I rolled my eyes with a blush remembering our amorous experiments. “So what should I wear? Long, short?”
“Uh… long. There’ll be a moonlight dinner with a little dancing after. I don’t want you or my little one to get cold.”
I sat staring into a still kneeling Josh’s eyes, looking at my future and the world I now knew truly belonged to me. “I love you so much.”
He wiped away the rest of the tears from my face. “I know. I love you too. Even when my hair’s all but gone and our memory gets cross wired and fades, you’ll still be responsible for me. Can you handle that?
“Hmmm. I’d have to get back on that one for you. But when my hands don’t play the strings the same way, I know you will still love me the same. The only thing I wish is that when your looks don’t work like they used to before and I can’t sweep you off of your feet, that your mouth will still remember the taste of my love, your eyes will still smile from your cheeks. Because, Love, your smile’s forever in my mind and memory.”
I skimmed my hand across his cheek. “You always had such a beautiful way with words.”
He smiled up at me, revealing that mischievous twinkle that I love. “I should. Afater all, I’m a songwriter.”
“I can’t believe the storm I was preparing to weather was just an illusion. I guess today was never going to be an ordinary day.”
“Love is a mysterious thing, isn’t it? When tied to your true destiny, it can never grow old, it’s evergreen.”
Josh got up and joined me on the bed as he started laughing.
“What? What so funny?”
“Oh, I’m just thinking. Isn’t funny and weird to you that the two things we didn’t want in this relationship are now the two things that promise to bind us together.”
“I know. We weren’t looking but tonight we found something valuable and wonderful. Pleasant surprises if you will. You, giving me what I wanted and me returning the favour.”
“So why didn’t you say something before?”
“Maybe for the same reasons you didn’t. I didn’t want to risk losing you.”
With his hand splayed across my belly, Josh said, “So you’re sure? We are doing this, right? Marriage and a baby? The two things we swore on lives to never do?”
“Yes.” With a satisfied sigh, I kissed him and said, “This right here, this is all I need.”
“I know. Because we found love right where we are.”