Baby, there used to be this boy. Well, he wasn't really a boy. He was a man.
A beautiful man. So, so handsome. Dashingly so. He was the one with the dimpled smile, the bright eyes and the dark stranger's hair. He was so handsome it hurt. It made me smile dreamily and get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about him.
More than that, he inspired me. Always. He inspired me to be inspired. To taste the flavours of life, open my eyes to the colours of the sky, the sweet scent of familiarity, the things surrounding me, surrounding US.
The crazy, rushed scenes of everyday life, the glistening drops of dew hanging from a blade of grass in the early mornings, laughter, colour, the smell of coffee and croissants, the sounds of leaves rustling, animals barking, delicate daisies sitting on the banks of a river, bright green meadows, anything and everything. It was like I was tuned into a brighter, sweeter frequency.
It was beautiful. All of it. Just like him. We had the most poetic existence, him and I. Poetic. And now it's all gone. My entire life has been ripped , slashed, torn away from me and all I can see is grey. The entire world is painted in a painful shade of grey. The dull grey of the pavements, the grey sky, the grey shoes shuffling along the grey cobblestones.
And I get that sinking feeling. When you know you've lost everything. A random collection of perfect moments that made up the most beautiful love story. And that one stupid fight? That stupid mistake? I wish I could go back. Before the pain and the anger. Before the tears and the engulfing feeling of sadness. I wish I could go back. None of it needed to happen. None of it. We were so happy back then. I should have stopped myself. Never let it happen. I should have told him I loved him and never-
A tear betrayed me, and the emotions that were stirring inside me threatened to over-reign the face I was putting up. The face I needed to put up.
“Vive? Are you ok?” I wiped the tear from my eye and smiled a watery smile. At Dave. Dave wouldn't understand. He never did.
“Yeah, I'm fine, it's just the wind, it got in my eyes..” We both knew it wasn't the wind. The soft, gentle wind of a light and airy Spring day. No, of course it wasn't. But that's how it is. People pretend. People lie. But it all comes back to you in the end. It all comes back to bite you in the ass. It came back to me..
“Vi, baby, what's wrong?” Brett moved towards me, his hands cupping my face, taking in my panic, staring at me in bewilderment, his bright eyes moving over my tear tracked cheeks, my lips that were swollen from excessive nervous chewing.
“I, I'm so s-so sorry.” I whispered, my lips, my chin, trembling so hard I could hardly get the words out. I couldn't do this. But I had to. I had to.
“What?” His voice was distant, far away, as if he could sense what was about to happen. Because, of course, he knew what I was talking about.
“It was me. He- we.. I should've stopped him- It was late, and I was.. I'm.. ” I was shaking everywhere. A snotty mess. My throat had clouded and I couldn't breathe. I didn't want this to happen. I had never wanted ANY of this. I just wanted him. Brett. That's all. Just him. It was more than enough.
The way he was looking at me. The shock, betrayal, pain. The hatred. That glint of hatred in his eyes was driving me insane. I couldn't deal with that. Knowing he was going to hate me for as long as I lived. Knowing I'd managed to get to him, past the easy smile, the forgiving nature, past his complete understanding of everything that made me who I was. His hands were slipping off my face and I clutched at them, afraid.
“Please, Brett. Please, let me.. don't g- I need...you-” There was no excuse this time. He pushed me away from him, his hands detaching themselves from my face, disgust dominating his handsome features. Pang pang pang. I could feel the humid air stabbing at my lungs as I attempted to breathe. But it was more than that. It was my heart. My vision was swimming, my head was turning, and I wanted Brett to tell me he'd forgive me, take me in his arms, tell me that everything would be ok. But of course that wasn't going to happen. Stupid girl. How could I even think that-
“I can't believe this.” His voice was controlled, without emotion. But his face had betrayed him. Ofcourse I'd hurt him. I'd hurt him so badly, ripped him to pieces, and now that that was done he didn't want anything to do with me. It was only natural. So why did I feel this way? I NEEDED him. He couldn't just-
“Brett! Don't go- Please I-” I scrambled towards him and he took a step back, shaking his head slowly.
“No, Vi. You can't ask for anything. Not after what you've done. I'm sorry but.. You can't. I don't need- How could you do this Vi? HOW? It's like I don't KNOW you anymore! The VI I know?” He searched my face with his eyes, his sad eyes that were full of regretful emotion.
“She's gone.” He whispered, taking one last glance at me and leaving, leaving me, leaving my life, taking everything I knew and loved along with him, slamming the door as he went.
***END OF FLASHBACK****
We'd arrived at the house, and I was walking along the corridor, making my way to the sitting room. I fely claustrophobic already, strangely enough.
“ Vive, Vive are you listening? I was saying, we should probably find out about the sex of the baby. It's WAY more practical, and we don't really need..” Dave rambled on and on, like he always did, unable to comprehend that I didn't care, wouldn't ever care.
Was there something wrong with me? Shouldn't I care? I'd got what I deserved, more than I deserved, and all I could think about was Brett. He was always there, in my head, in my heart.
He always will be. It wasn't as if I could change the fact that it was- he- he was..
I shook my head, driving the thoughts away. If I thought like that I'd never get any peace. The thoughts continued, regardless.
If it had been Brett, he'd have wanted to wait and see. He'd have said that, having a baby is so magical, so precious, so divine, why spoil it? He'd have come up with some playful, earth shattering argument against my impatience. Impatience that was worlds away from what I was feeling right now. I was feeling sick. And not just because of the bean shaped being that was growing inside me.
That bean shaped being that was huddled in my stomach? It wasn't Dave's. I'd thought it was. I'd thought I was pregnant with Dave's baby. From that one night stand we'd had, one month before Brett and I had split. Five months ago.
I was barely showing, but then I was so, so terrified. I had to tell him, I HAD to tell Brett that I was pregnant, and that there was a possibilty that the baby wasn't his. So that's what I went and did. And of COURSE he reacted EXACTLY the way I'd been hoping he wouldn't. I haven't seen him since. And Dave? He's helping out. Being the good guy. Thinks the baby's his.
Sometimes, I wish it was his. But deep down, deep down I have this feeling. A feeling that was confirmed by the paternity test I took, something that cost me more than it was worth. Dave wasn't the father. So who was?Brett. I'd never, EVER cheated on Brett. Except for that one time. Yes that one time. That one time I can't for my life remember, due to alcohol induced amnesia. Dave, the one night stand, it was drunken, and so, SO wrong. A mistake that had never occurred before, one that I was never to repeat. Of course, I didn't get a chance to prove myself, Brett was out of the door when he found out a month later.
I tried contacting him, of course I did. I said I had something to tell him, something important. No reply, of course. And since the father of my child was nowhere to be seen, and I couldn't stand the thought of breaking Dave's heart, the pretence continued. Did it make me feel low, deceptive, caught up in the lie? A dirty, horrible person? Yes. Ofcourse it did.
I think Dave felt guilty. About “knocking me up”? Definitely. But more so about having destroyed the one thing that had made me so happy that it sucked out any ounce of happiness i'd ever felt and turned it dull in comparison. I would often sit in my room, the one thing that hadn't changed since Brett left, staring at the photos of a past that was too far away, so far away that it was as if I was only a shadow of what I was then. An imitation, a wax figure, pretending to be everything that used to define me. And everything that we'd said we'd be, me and Brett, the broken promises and hopes? It's all gone. He left so easily, as if it meant nothing to him. As if I meant nothing to him.
Lying there, looking up at those photos, those beautiful, magical photos, that evoked such a feeling of nostalgia that I felt like I would break, it was terrifying, yet exciting. The fear of becoming engulfed in a memory, obsessed with the past, part of something unreal, and yet there was that tiny part of me that was happy just to accept that i'd ever been part of anything so beautiful and true. They reminded me of everything I needed to know.
I couldn't stand it though. I couldn't lie there for more than 5 minutes without thinking too much, thinking dangerous thoughts. What if? If only that night had never happened, we could've still been together, had a baby together. It was HIS baby, after all.
“Vive?” I looked up. Dave was staring at me expectantly. And I stared right back, unable to recall what had been happening.
“Vive, aren't we going to find out about the baby? Don't you want to tell your parents?” My parents? They couldn't care less. They'd really loved Brett. As if he was their own son. The idea of me having a baby with Dave repulsed them, I knew it did. They'd been so disgusted when they found out what I’d done. And it was so, SO hard not telling them that the baby was Brett's. I had to keep it to myself. Or Dave WOULD find out. And if he found out..
“Vive, I really need to know now what you've decided, we should book an appointment..”
And it was things like these that made me mad. I needed to get up. Get out. Out of the house. Out of it all. What would I tell Dave? Shopping. Yes, shopping was perfectly respectable. It's what pregnant women do after all... Not just take walks, and sit around doing nothing.
Brett would have insisted he come with me. Help out. I couldn't cope with this. I had to leave. Now.
I walked into the corridor, wrenched open the door, and turned briefly towards Dave.
“I need to go get some stuff for the baby. See you later.”
I was walking down the grocery section. Folic acid. So typical of a person in my state. I was buying folic acid so that the little being that was growing inside me would keep on growing. I sometimes have these strange moments, wondering whether it'll be a little girl, what i'll call her, what colour her eyes will be, or if it'll be a boy, if he's going to be like his daddy when he grows older. Feeling the growing love and fondness for the thing inside me. And then I remember the sad truth. The little girl, the little boy, the little person inside me has no daddy. He doesn't want to know his baby. He doesn't even know there is a baby. And whose fault is that? All on me, baby.
I was busy thinking about this, about my baby, the kind of world she or he was going to be brought up in, when I bumped straight into someone, belly first. It wasn't as if I was bursting. But the pregnancy was somewhat noticeable, especially given the smart little maternity dress I was wearing. Strangely enough, I didn't usually bump into people belly first, it wasn't something I made a habit of. Even so, the person involved in this collision was, it seems, way more flustered than I was.
“Ohmygod I'm SO sorry, really I am, i'm sorry, are you hurt? Are you Ok? I didn't- I didn't see you there..” A hand on my arm, steadying me.
I froze. Ofcourse, speech is full well going to leave you, boomerang across to the other side of the world rather than assist you when your moment of shame arrives. Oh and what are the chances. I was FIVE months! Big enough for me to look into a mirror and see my face attached to an unrecognisable body, staring right back at me. Whatever i'd been planning to say, whatever i'd wanted to look like, to be like, whatever dignity I would have liked to have had when I bumped into the love of my life, well the chances of that had blown straight out of the window.
And so I looked up at Brett, who instantly dropped my arm, as well as a few of my groceries he'd bent down to pick up for me. Romantic or what? Our first encounter since the split up that split me up. And he still thinks the baby's Dave's. OUR baby. Well, who's fault is that? Nice one Vi.
I studied his expression, his eyes, long lashes, cheekbones, the mop of hair that he so often just threw back casually, so casually it looked really, really good. To the despair of any man situated within a 10 metre radius. I wish, I WISH the baby looks like him. Exactly like him. Clichés omitted.
“Hey, Brett.” I smiled tentatively. I wanted to hold him, scream at him, ask him where he'd been and why for months after we broke up I hadn't found him in any of the places we usually hung out. He breathed in audibly, and then smiled. Smiled his people smile, the one I knew only too well, well enough to know that he was treating me as an acquaintance. I couldn't feel him there any more.
“Hey Vivienne, how's things going? You've gotten pretty big!” he laughed lightly. I should've expected this. Brett was a people's person, he would talk to anyone and everyone, and if surprise ever got the better of him, if he was ever at a loss of what to say, it was only natural he acted blasé and, well, natural. My smile dropped, nevertheless. I needed him to be the Brett I knew. The one I could talk to. If he couldn't be that person, then I'd prefer not to talk to him at all.
As much as this hurt.
“Brett, I should be going now, i'm running late and-”
“Wait, Vi!” he grabbed my arm and I froze, unable to walk away, not when his arm was sending electric shocks through my body. My heart was fluterring. No, my TUMMY was fluttering. Oh god, of all times.
I felt my other hand move towards my stomach, marvelling in the sensation, what was happening whether Brett liked it or not. Deep down, I was sure that the baby knew it was his daddy, standing there, holding my arm, struggling for words.
“Vi, what-?” I was smiling now. It didn't matter that he thought the baby was Dave's, it didn't matter that he thought I was pregnant with somebody else's child, he was there. There for us, for five whole seconds. He was there.
“The baby's kicking.” I smiled serenely up at him, half expecting him to share my joy. He let go of my arm, and ran his fingers through his hair.
“Oh, right. I've been meaning to ask, how's things between you and Dave? You guys still together?” The bitterness was evident in his tone. Moment's gone. And how do I explain all of this? It's so complicated, Brett.
“We're not together, you know. He's just helping out. He..” I hesitated. It was one of those moments, one of those moments when the entire future depended on the next sentence that was going to pour out of your mouth. One of those moments that leaves you wondering what if, how, should I, will he? One of those moments where you know you need to bridge the gap between the past, present and the future.
“He isn't the dad.” I looked down, terrified, unable to meet his gaze. I was trying to bridge the gap. I may have messed up the past, but I still had the future, right?
“What?” Brett's voice was monotone, dead.
I was lying there, unable to think of anything else. The crude, harsh, horrible words that he'd been perfectly justified in saying. The horror on his face. Horror, not acceptance. Horror. I had to tell Dave, after all that. He put up a fight as well. A damn good one at that. Bloody, venemous, harsh words that wounded me more than I would have expected. And I deserved every second. So that was that.
And now it's just you and me, baby. It's my fault, and now we're both going to have to suffer. I wish i'd done things better, I wish things had turned out differently. You could have had a completely different life. But mummy messed it up for you. And i'm still hooked on that past, the ghost of something that could've been both of ours. Something that's going to haunt me for years to come.
Me and your daddy, we were happy together. We loved eachother. This morning, he acted like I was a stranger. And when I told him who he was, when I told him about this little person growing inside me, he became even colder. He told me I was lying, told me I was a disgusting lyer and I had no right to pretend or make things up just to spite him. He said I'd already messed him up once, and he'd be damned if he was going to let me do it a second time. He said he didn't know who had done this to me, but I damned well deserved it.
I was still shaken from earlier, still terrified for the future, shell shocked from what i'd done, saddened by the imminent memories that were wafting around my bedroom.
Of course I wasn't going to notice the front door open, the sound of footsteps across the lounge. I was miles away, in a world that was only misery, pain, regret.
“Vi.” He whispered, his voice breaking with pain. I looked up, and he was standing at the door. Standing there, all tall and handsome, everything I've ever wanted. I looked down at my stomach, the gentle bump that was us, together, our baby child, growing inside me. He walked shakily into my room, towards the bed where I was lying.
“Vi, I, It's not- It can't be...” he hesitated. I could see him turning things around in his head, the beautiful glowing eyes that had made me swoon so many months back were riddled with confusion.
“Brett..” I tried to hold his gaze, tried to make him understand.
“Brett, this is our baby.” I sucked in a breath immediately, startled by the confession that sounded so natural, and yet it'd taken me months, so long, so much worrying..
His hands were shaking as he touched the bump lightly with his hand. You kicked again, of course you did. And he was there, looking at me, tears rolling down his cheeks as he fell to his knees and cried, manly tears wetting his bright blue eyes like pearls from a distant land. I rose from the bed and knelt down, pressing my cheek against his shoulder. I felt his arms go around me and I was home. I felt like my entire life had been leading up to this moment, Lily, in ways you could never imagine.
And here you are, giggling in my arms, a picture of perfection. I don't regret telling him, haven't ever, not once. We're so happy, your daddy and I. So completely, blissfully happy, you can't even begin to imagine. I love you, Lily Mackzenzie Stevenson. I love you so very, very much. And so does he, so does your daddy, your wonderful, loving daddy who asked me to marry him that very same day you were brought into the world.
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