It was a twenty minute wait from the phone call to when Bethany arrived and in that eternity the sky darkened and it began to drizzle, water droplets beating a soft rhythm and running rivulets down the clinic’s front window. The change of weather had not deterred the protesters, who came prepared, some sporting rain ponchos and others toting umbrellas.
Bethany was in a right state when she burst into the clinic, causing alarm to the receptionist and the people seated in the waiting area, all except the spirits who patiently waited their turn for a call that would never come. Mayra was struck by a sad reality that this spot might have been the last place some of these people saw while they were still alive, either through natural causes or by violence or by complications brought about by the procedure. There were no babies, though, she was thankful for that. Come to think of it, she could not recall having seen any child spirits. A fleeting thought that was pushed to the back of her mind.
“It’s all right, she’s with me,” Mayra said, rising from her seat, catching the eye of Cynthia the receptionist and the two plain-clothed men stood near the front door whom she had not noticed before who were obviously security. To Bethany she said, “You can’t be busting in here like that. It’s not safe.”
“For who, me? Let them try their luck,” Bethany said, catching her breath. “Sorry I’m late, I had a hell of a time getting out here.”
“No, I’m the one who should be sorry for pulling you out of work. I must have sounded frantic but I didn’t know who else to call.”
“Who cares about that job? I’m more worried about you.”
“Thanks for coming,” Mayra paused and it was pregnant with uncertainty and a touch of shame. “I guess you’re wondering why I’m here.”
“No, actually, I can work that bit out. Between this and that thing you needed to discuss with Gavin before you told me, I think it’s fairly obvious. I only have two questions for you: first, Did you? No judgments, I just need to know what sort of support I’m offering here.”
Mayra shook her head.
“Okay,” there was a note of relief in Bethany’s voice. And if Mayra was being honest, she felt it too. “Second, where’s the prick?”
“I don’t know and he’s not a prick.”
“Did you try calling him?”
Mayra nodded. “Several times but it goes straight to voicemail.”
“He’s not going to answer because he pulled a Hail Mary on you.”
“A Hail Mary. It’s when a guy talks a girl out of having a baby then celebrates by breaking up with her.”
“That’s not what happened.”
“Oh yeah? Tell me if this sounds familiar: I love you very much and would like nothing better than to have kids with you. But, if we have a kid now, that’ll ruin our chances of having a huge wedding, buying a home and raising a big family together. If you do the right thing now, I promise we’ll have as many kids as you want later on.”
“This–this is a thing?”
“A thing that comes prepackaged with a script. I wish you told me about this first, this way we could’ve caught the prick red-handed and stopped him dead in his tracks,” Bethany said, gathering up Mayra’s coat and handbag. “Are you ready to go? I have a cab waiting outside.”
“But how do you know about it?” Mayra asked as Bethany hooked an arm around her elbow and tugged her toward the exit.
“Ain’t my first time at the rodeo, sweetie. Now, where are we headed? Your place? Mine? A bar?”
“Good. If we’re quick about it, maybe we can catch him before he clears out. At least you won’t be alone. Give me the sign and I’m throat punch him for you.”
Mayra let out a small, mirthless chuckle, more out of habit than anything else.
“You’re laughing but I’m serious, one quick rabbit punch to his Adam’s apple—”
They made a mad dash for the taxi because the rain was coming down hard enough now to render windshield wipers and high beams virtually ineffective. Not that Mayra noticed. She sat silently throughout the entire ride mulling over the concept of the Hail Mary while trying to give Gavin the benefit of the doubt. There was simply no way he could have done something as devious as that to her.
When they arrived at her house, Mayra half-expected to see Gavin hunched over the keyboard with his face buried in the computer monitor, apologizing and offering some lame excuse about stopping by the house to catch up on a little work and losing track of time, but he wasn’t there. Neither was the computer.
The apartment had an unnatural quietude when they entered. It turned out that Bethany had been spot on in her assessment and Mayra’s worst fears had been realized. All of Gavin’s belongings were gone. He cleared out everything he owned, including that damned computer, which they bought together. There was no way he could have packed everything up and moved out so completely during the time Mayra spent in the clinic, so it was obvious he had been planning his escape ever since she agreed to go along with his plan.
She walked through the living room and into the bedroom. The closet door was wide open and Mayra stood staring into it and now filled with only her clothes it seemed far too big. She pressed her lips into a tight line of defiance, holding back the tears welling in her eyes, as a tightness in her chest constricted her ability to take in air.
“Don’t do this to yourself, Mayra,” Bethany said, gently rubbing Mayra’s shoulders. “The prick isn’t worth it.”
Mayra nodded and turned to Bethany. “I know, I just can’t believe it, is all. I mean, how naïve could I have been not to see through this? He packed his stuff under my nose and I didn’t notice a thing.”
“You had a lot on your mind with the heaven thing, seeing your mother again and being pregnant on top of that, hell, Sherlock Holmes would have missed the clues under those circumstances,” Bethany said. “I could never understand what you saw in him and even I didn’t think he was low enough to pull a Hail Mary. There’s a level in hell for pricks who do shit like that, and if there isn’t, I’ll build one personally.”
“He wasn’t always a prick.”
“Yeah, sometimes he was a cunt, too,”
Mayra smiled despite herself. “I’m serious, Bethy, he was always there for me when things got bad, and not having him here,” she sighed. “I guess I should have known something like this was coming. He’s been disconnected since this whole mess began but I didn’t think he could be callous enough to manipulate me and simply walk away.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend him but the world’s been turned upside down and everyone’s different now. The best thing you can do is put him in your rearview mirror and try to live your life as normally as possible. If you let his cowardice and stupidity get the better of you, you’re going to end up not living at all.”
Mayra sat down on the corner of the bed, her mind whirring. The thought of what lay ahead if worst came to worst put a shudder of nerves through her. “I need to work out how I’m
going to have a baby all alone when I can’t even make the rent on this place on my own.”
“What am I, chopped liver?” Bethany sat beside Mayra on the bed.
“It’s something my grandma used to say,” Bethany explained. “My lease is up the end of this month, so if a certain someone was looking for a roomie, say, someone they could trust, I might know someone who would be happy to help out, if needed.”
Mayra smiled and laid her head on Bethany’s shoulder. “Thanks. No promises, though. Not until I get in touch with Gavin and sort this out, one way or the other.”
“You’re better than I am. After what he’s done, he’d be dead to me. Emphasis on the word dead.”
“I just need to talk to him, Bethy, to find out why he felt the need to handle things this way. He owes me,” Mayra placed her hand on her belly. “Owes us an explanation. And if it’s over, truly over, I need to know for sure so I can move on.”
“You do realize that if you take him back after all this, I’m never going to let you live it down.”
“I mean, never.”
“Super passive-aggressive shots fired every time I see you two together.”
“And if I ever catch him on his own—”
“A rabbit punch to the throat,” Mayra put her arms around her friend. “I love you, too.”
“Well, you’ve been put through the wringer today so I think you should try to get some rest,” Bethany said.
Mayra sighed but didn’t argue when Bethany had gotten her into bed and sat beside her.
“If I fall asleep, please don’t leave,” Mayra said softly, her eyes fluttering. “I don’t think I can take being alone right now.”
“Just try getting rid of me,” Bethany said, running fingers through her friend’s hair until she eventually fell asleep.
To Be Continued…
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