The pregnancy test had been burning a hole in Mayra’s handbag since day one despite the best efforts of the fall of Heaven and the spirits of the dead returning to earth. She found herself wishing she had told Gavin as soon as she had gotten the results so that this part, the hard part, the having the discussion part would have been in the past. How easier it would have been to simply slide this card into the deck of the events of the last week to minimize the impact of her boyfriend’s possible response. She meant to practice breaking the news to Bethany but the sudden reappearance of her dead mother put the stick in the spokes of that plan.
Now, here she was standing in the living room doorway, pregnancy test in a white-knuckle death grip behind her back, heart pounding as she watched Gavin type away on his computer keyboard. That was how he spent his time recently, in online forums chatting and debating theories and wading through propaganda with complete strangers about the almost hourly updates that contained more opinions from unqualified experts than facts. The only person he had not had these conversations with was her. Their relationship was changing, partly because she had changed but in his own way, Gavin had changed, as well.
Nothing to it but to do it, Mayra thought and mustering her courage, she cleared her throat, “Gavin?”
“Yeah, babe?” her boyfriend said over his shoulder.
“We need to talk.”
That got Gavin’s attention away from the keyboard. He swiveled in his chair to face Mayra and said, “Uh-oh. We need to talk never ends well.”
“That’s not necessarily true.”
“Okay, prove me wrong. What do we need to talk about?”
“First, I need you not to freak out or get mad at me for not telling you sooner but with all the craziness going on there never seemed to be a right time,” Mayra pulled the pregnancy test from behind her back and held it out to him. “But, congratulations, you’re going to be a dad.”
Gavin stared at the test for a long moment and exhaled slowly.
“It’s wrong, a false positive, because you got the implant—” he said.
“It isn’t one hundred percent foolproof.”
“But we barely—”
“I know, but it doesn’t only happen based on quantity, sometimes it’s just the quality and you’ve got powerful swimmers,” Mayra said, hoping for a laugh to lighten the moment but all she received for her effort was a stone-faced glare. “Well, aren’t you going to say something?”
“How long have you been sitting on this?” Gavin asked.
“Just before the Heaven thing.”
“So, you’ve had time to process but you left-field me and expect me to have a prepared response for something like this?”
“No, I expect you to tell me how you feel, what you’re thinking, anything! Just say something.”
“You want to know what I’m thinking?”
“Of course, I do.”
“You won’t believe me.”
“At that exact moment I was thinking, I love you.”
He was right, Mayra wasn’t buying it, but decided to test the waters, asking, “Does that mean you’re happy about the news?”
“I’d want nothing more than to bring a baby into the world with you. But I was also thinking about us.”
“What about us?”
“You’ll be going back in school in a little bit and I’m trying to launch my career so what kind of life could we provide for a baby?”
“We’d make do like everyone else,” Mayra said with far more aggression than she planned.
“I don’t want to be like everyone else. I don’t want to squeak by and live paycheck to paycheck. And look at this place—”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s a dump! I don’t want our child living in a place like this. I know it sounds old-fashioned but our child should be living in a house with a swing in the backyard. We should be married, and have money in the bank and a college fund for an ivy league school.”
“We could get all those things,” Mayra said.
“When? With what? Forget your gap year, you’ll have to put school on hold indefinitely, and the little bit of money I’ll be making will be stretched so thin we might as well be on Welfare.”
“So, what are you saying?”
“Maybe, you know, we should, I don’t know, get it fixed?”
“Fixed?” Without realizing it, Mayra’s hand rested on her stomach. Was it too soon to be experiencing a strong maternal instinct?
“Wait, before you fly off the handle, I need you to hear me out,” Gavin rose from his seat, took the pregnancy test out of Mayra’s hand and placed it on the coffee table before leading her to the couch. “Think about what’s going on in the world at the moment. No more Heaven, ghosts are popping up everywhere and who knows what else is waiting around the corner. For all we know the worst may be yet to come. Normally, I’d never consider asking you to do something so drastic but everything is different now and it’s changed my view on a lot of things, one of them being I’m not certain I want to bring new life into this world if when they eventually die they’re just going to wander the earth endlessly. Watching videos of people losing their shit after encountering loved ones they’ve laid to rest is heartbreaking and I can’t do that. I don’t want our child living with our ghosts and god forbid something happened to our son or daughter I wouldn’t be strong enough to deal with the daily reminder of his or her spirit.”
Mayra had never seen Gavin’s eyes so full of fear and pain. “But what if that doesn’t happen?” she offered weakly.
“You mean if things get better? If we discover a solution? Then we try again but we plan for it this time. We start on the right path, get married, finish school, put some money aside for a college fund, build a line of credit, buy a house for our new family.”
“You want to get married?”
Gavin slid off the couch onto the carpet on one knee, dug into his pocket, produced his set of keys and systematically began removing keys from the keyring one at a time. “I’ve been mulling this over in my head since all this craziness began and the only thing I’m certain about is no matter what lies in store for us, I want to face it together with you.”
“I haven’t had the chance to pick up a ring, so this will have to do,” Gavin held up the empty keyring between his thumb and forefinger. “Mayra Critchlow, will you marry me?”
Mayra looked down at the carpet, trying to work out how to sort through all the thoughts buzzing in her head. “I-I don’t know,” she muttered.
Gavin gently place his hand beneath Mayra’s chin and brought her head up until she met his gaze. Was it her imagination or was there a light shining in his eyes, eyes now moist with tears?
“If you make an honest man of me, we can start again and get it all right this time around,” Gavin said. “I’ll be the man you need me to be. I’ll be the husband that will make you proud, I swear.”
To Be Continued…
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