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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young couple finds that married life isn't all it was made out to be...

Submitted: May 25, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 25, 2015



I’ve never felt so nervous in my life. Well, this may not be true. Perhaps I was more nervous when I had to ask for her hand in marriage. Or maybe when I realized that her saying yes meant that my life would revolve around her from there on out. Even then, I had anticipated the answer and felt rather confident. I think I preferred when she was the one on the other end of these situations. I knew that she could never hurt me; that she could never even think of letting me down; I knew she would say yes.

Now that she sat next to me, holding my hand, things seemed a bit different. I wanted to give her all she wanted. I wanted her to smile as she once did, to look at me as if only I knew the answers to the universe, as if nothing else mattered so long as I was there. She hadn’t looked at me that way in far too long. Things had become very repetitive. Waking up, making lunch, giving her a kiss goodbye, heading to work, working, cracking a few bad office jokes, driving home, eating supper, going to sleep, and starting all over again.

Only a few months ago, I had begun wondering if this was all there was in life. I thought once you met the girl and settled down, things were supposed to start being grandiose and great. Life was supposed to begin after we said those vows. But things aren’t like that. All I seemed to have to look forward to was barbecuing on weekends and enjoying a bit of small talk with neighbors I didn’t even like.

This is why when the idea of having a kid came up, we jumped at the occasion. It seemed that this was an inevitable course within any person’s life. Humans are designed to have kids. Why else would God give us genitalia we can’t help but smash together once and a while? Unless of course it was all some sort of practical joke. Maybe God thought it would be so much funnier to see unhappy people also be super tired. Who knows.

In the past few months, all I could ever think about was what it was going to be like when I was a father. Somehow, the idea of having a little person which was half you and half the person you allegedly loved doesn’t seem that bad.

It was long and hard road, that’s for sure. We had tried and tried and tried for months. I enjoyed all the practice and all, but eventually it just didn’t make sense. When the doctors told us that our chances of conceiving were virtually inexistent, I think a part of myself died. This was supposed to be our way out. This was supposed to be the light we grasped in such never ending dark times.

The day we got the news, we came home to our little house and didn’t speak. She went to the kitchen and I went to my office, as if nothing were. Eventually, I walked out of my office to find her still cleaning deep into the night. As I approached the sink, I realized that she had been cleaning the same plate for over five hours. I walked behind her, put my arms around her, took the plate from her hands and put it on the sink. She began to cry softly until eventually she couldn’t hold back the tears.

“I know”, I said.

“This was supposed to be our way out”, she answered.” Things were supposed to be different. We were supposed to be happy.”

The words at hit me like a pile of bricks. “We were supposed to be happy.” I had often thought about these words and what they meant. Honestly, at the time, I thought I was happy. I hadn’t realized the great wave of nihilism which I had succumbed to. I mean, everyone else seemed to be doing what we were. For all intents and purposes, we were normal. If we were so unhappy, was everyone else so unhappy?

The idea that everyone was simply doing everything they did for show became apparent. Maybe this is the way life was meant to be lived. Maybe humans aren’t supposed to be happy. Maybe we’re simply made to grow into a form of indifference vis-à-vis the world.

That evening, I took her in my arms and laid her in bed where she would fall asleep in a fetal position. I stayed up that night, simply looking at her. I looked at the wrinkles that made her who she was, at the breasts that once made my heart race in my chest, at the lips that I once would have done anything to kiss. She hadn’t changed much. As I looked at her then, I saw the young girl I loved. And, that may be the reason I decided to stay with her for so long. Or, perhaps it was the ease and simplicity of loving someone who was already present in my life. I don’t know.

We had stayed in bed that entire weekend. Not touching each other nor keeping each other company as we grieved, but rather we both stayed at opposite sides of the bed, glaring into what was and what would never be. I remember thinking about my father. I had never really identified with him. He seemed to be this man my siblings associated with, but with whom I never felt any kind of bond. As bad as it sounds, I perceived him as a kind of understudy to my mother who often when above and beyond for me. When my mother was absent, responsibility shifted to my father who could never do as good a job as her. Perhaps he wasn’t to blame for this, but his never ending favoring of my brother eventually led me to see his incompetency at raising children through an eye of hatred. I recall being afraid of one day becoming as he was. Lazy, out of work, and always dispersing blame.

When I woke on that Monday, I leaned my hand over to feel her next to me, only she wasn’t there. I placed my feet on the ground, brought my torso perpendicular to the bend, and began listening for her within the apartment. I heard utensils clinging together within the kitchen and the sound of music from the radio. I stood up, put on my gown, and walked into the kitchen. Somehow, she mustered together a smile as she looked at me, almost reminiscent of the smiles she used to give me.

“I made pancakes”, she said.

“Of course you did”, I whispered to myself.

I had always thought that she liked this routine. That she felt a kind of comfort in seeing me leave in the morning to only come back when night had already fallen. Once in a while, I would think about what she was up to while I was hunched over a computer all day. The more obvious answers such as running errands, going to the gym, and cleaning the house were often what I told myself she was doing in order to appease my curious mind.

As I went to work on that Monday, I had stopped my daily routine to give her call, something I almost never did. The phone rang almost to its ends, at which point I removed the phone from the side of my head and attempted to end the call. As I came to almost press the off button, a voice appeared from the apparatus.

“Hello,” it said in an almost worried tone.

“Hi, Jenny, it’s Jim.” It is a weird thing to have to announce yourself to your wife. You would figure that after all these years, the sound of your voice would become a rather common thing and announcing yourself would seem useless.

“Oh, Jim…Is something wrong?” Her answer hanged in the air for a while. It dawned on me that I would only ever call my wife with bad news or when I needed to tell her that I’d be working late. Even then, after so many years, I eventually stopped calling at all when I was working late nights.

“No, no, not at all….I just wanted to know if you were all right.” My tone wasn’t very convincing. I don’t really know why I decided to call her. Perhaps the news we had been given served as a sort of wake up call to the great hole we had dug ourselves. “Are you….are you making something for supper?”. Once again, I have no idea why I asked this question seeing as she had prepared supper every weekday for the past seven years.

“Jim, what’s wrong?” She answered.

“What do you mean? Can’t I just call my wife to ask what we’re having for supper?”

“Yes, yes you can, but you don’t. Listen, I know the news we got hurt, but we have to learn to live with it. We don’t have to be one of those couples whose lives are defined by their children. “

“Ya,  I guess you’re right.”

“Ok, well I have to go now honey. Talk later, ok?”


She hanged up, but I kept the phone pressed to my ear until the dial tone became unbearable. I turned around in my chair, and walked to the window. I began looking at the highway which passed in front of the offices. Every day I would take it to work, and every day I would take it home. It had been built decades ago and was never under renovation. Like me, it was stuck. Stuck to being what it was useful for.

I looked at the time and realized that I had another three hours before I could leave this office without being frowned upon. A lot of things can happened in three hours. A person can make a fortune within three hours; they can road trip to a place they’ve never been; they can revaluate their lives. What was I going to do with these three hours?

I grabbed my coat, walked past the seemingly never ending lines of cubicles, and took the elevator to my car. I started the engine, drove on the stuck highway, and parked in front of my house. As I looked at what the past nine years of mortgage payments had gotten me, I thought of the memories I shared with the place. I thought of how full it was, but also how empty it was.

I walked passed my threshold and walked into the kitchen to my wife’s surprise. She was there, cutting into a potato as a delicious aroma spread across the room which originated from the stove top.

“What are you doing here?” She said. At that moment, I saw her face do something I had so dearly missed. She smiled. Her smile was something like a half curl that rose to give way to the most beautiful half crescent I had ever seen.

I didn’t answer. I simply went to her, grabbed her within my arms, and kissed her as I used to.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

I gave her no time before I scooped her up into my arms and walked towards our bedroom.

About nine months later, and I found myself here, in the maternity ward of a hospital, nervous as all hell. As she sat there, dripping in sweat, probably as nervous as I was, things finally felt right. As the doctor encouraged her to push, I felt her every thrust through her fingers that clutched mine and, for an instant, I finally felt that we became as we once were, one.

Being handed your first child is an experience that can probably compare to no other. They give him to you, this tiny little human, and suddenly you realize how nothing else mattered, how your life was always gearing towards this moment. And as he cries, you feel a kind happiness as you caused that cry.

While I was holding my son for the first time, I looked her in the eyes and saw the sweat of her forehead mix into a single tear leaking from her eye. And, as the drop geared downwards, it was suddenly lifted back up when it reached the upper lip of her mouth which,curled into a smile to match mine.

As we drove back home, I focused so dearly on the road and drove with so much care. Every once in a while, I would look up into my rear-view mirror to see him sleeping in the back seat. We didn’t speak a word to each other the entire way. Perhaps we were afraid of waking him up, or perhaps no words could express what we were feeling at the moment. As I pulled into our drive way, I stopped the engine and looked at her. We stayed there for over an hour, not moving nor talking, simply taking the moment in. Eventually, we opened our respective doors and brought our new born into his first home.

While she held him in her hands, I opened the door and we walked up the stairs and into the prepared nursery. She walked on the tip of her toes so as to not make any noise, almost as if she was preparing to scare someone. She laid him down in his crib, and I stood next to her. I raised my eyes to look at her and saw her almost endless smile ever so slightly bend downwards. Her face, almost instantaneously and without warning, went from a form of glee to melancholy.

“He isn’t yours,” she said softly, almost as if she was whispering it to herself.

“I know,” I answered.



© Copyright 2020 mdahlaenke. All rights reserved.

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