It was around nine pm when the house was finally quiet. Dad probably retired to his study to occupy himself with some work while Gran was either in her room or in the living room watching sit-coms. It seemed everyone needed something to distract themselves from the mess I apparently created.
Since there was a calm in the storm, I decided to sneak out of the house and call an uber to meet up with Matthew at Hallingbury Bridge. It felt safer to travel with an uber rather than driving my car. Last thing I needed was being questioned on my whereabouts by either Dad or Gran the moment they noticed that my car was gone. I wore my dark blue Nike sneakers, a pair of black sweatpants, a grey hoodie, light denim jacket and wore a black beanie over my dark hair.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous about the meeting. I was nervous about what Matthew had to say about the pregnancy. I was nervous about how he felt about the pregnancy and judging from his distant tone over the phone, it wouldn't be surprising if he wanted no part in it. The thought of it hurts but not surprising, nonetheless.
He was already waiting for me at his car by the time I had arrived. I paid and thanked the driver before I jumped out of the uber. "You came with an uber?" Matthew asked as I approached him.
"Things aren't well at home. I'd rather not give my dad the impression that I snuck out to meet up with the guy who knocked me up."
"My Gran was the first I told about it. I told my dad earlier today before calling you."
I could tell there was more he wanted to say judging from his silence, but he seemed like he couldn't decide on whether he should or shouldn't. The way his jaw was clenched also seemed as though he was trying his best not to lash out at me. "Matthew, if you have something you want to say, just say it." I said. "I know that you probably have a lot to say and that's the whole point of us meeting here."
A brief period of silence had passed. "Why did you lie?"
My eyebrows knitted together, confused by his question.
"When I asked you what was bothering you that time at the studio – why did you lie?"
"I never lied. All I said was that I didn't feel like talking about it yet." I answered.
"Okay, I get that. But why keep this from me, huh? You had every opportunity to be honest with me and tell me but you chose not to."
"This who issue was exactly what I told you back then – it was a lot to unpack. At the time I hadn't looked at the results nor did I take the pregnancy tests to confirm it until I got home."
"So when were you going to tell? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Probably never?"
"I was going to tell you. I promised that I would."
He scoffed a dry laugh. "You wouldn't be the first to make such false promises, Beverley."
His response came as a slap to the face. I knew what he was doing and where he was going with it and I didn't like it at all. "Don't you ever project whatever insecurity you had from your experience with Lenore onto me, Matthew." I seethed, pointing a finger at him. "I never kept anything from you like she did."
"I found out about this from Maren, Beverley! You've been ignoring me for weeks!" he yelled. "What the hell am I supposed to think?!"
"You don't even know what I was going through during those weeks, Matthew!" I yelled back. "Do you have any idea how scared and anxious I was when I found out? My grandmother is disappointed in me! My own father cant even look me in the eye without thinking that I'm a whore who'd been selling her body and accidently got herself pregnant! So be glad I actually mustered the courage and will to come here and talk about it instead of locking myself in my room wallowing for days on end."
Matthew's frustrated expression dissipated and was replace with a sympathetic one mixed with guilt. "I'm sorry."
"No! Fuck you!" I retorted furiously. "You're so entitled that you always play the victim and completely ignore and disregard other people's feelings. Not everything is about you."
"You're right. I should have put your feelings into consideration." He said. "It's just that this whole mess was a lot to take in the past few weeks and I didn't know what to do about it."
"That's no excuse for being a prick, Matthew."
"I know. Let's talk. That's the whole reason why we're here right?"
I took a deep breath and willed myself to calm down, gesticulating a nod to proceed.
"Okay, to start off, I'm obviously the father given that I'm the only guy you've been intimate with and obviously we weren't cautious enough." He started.
"Right." I agreed.
"It's been four weeks since I found out, but I had been experiencing the symptoms about three weeks prior. So almost seven weeks."
"Are you keeping the baby?"
"Do you want me to?" I asked, feeling nervous to know his answer.
"Beverley, this isn't about me. It's about you." He reminded. "You're the one carrying this child, so you have the final say since it's your body."
I paused briefly, thinking on how to respond. "Well, I had been stressing about how I was going to go about being a student and a soon to be parent. The thought of getting rid of the baby didn't come to mind since I assumed that I should automatically take responsibility for it."
"But do you want to? You're not obligated to take on a responsibility you're not ready for."
"I can't give you a straight answer unfortunately." I sighed. "I still need time to process all this."
He nodded. "Okay. I'll give you time to process and think things through so you can decide on what to do."
"What about you?" I asked. "Since it's also your kid, do you want to be part and parcel of all this?"
"I do." He answered with no hesitation. "It's also my responsibility."
I felt a wave of relief wash over me, causing me to relax. At least I had the assurance that I wasn't going to go through the pregnancy on my own. But I wasn't out of the woods yet. There was still one more issue.
"So when I do decide to keep the baby, should I drop out of school?" I asked.
Matthew gawked at me as if I had asked him the most outrageous question he had ever heard. "No!" he protested. "Heavens no, Beverley."
"What's the point?" I shrugged. "Since I'm going to be parent, I might as well settle for being a full time Art teacher at the nursery school I work at."
"Okay, but you can still finish off your degree even if you're pregnant." He pointed out. "I don't want you giving up on what you want to pursue and regret it along the way. I'm lucky I finished and got my degree way before all this, so I have nothing to lose. But you'll lose so much if you just throw it away just like that."
I but my lip, taking in what he said. On one hand dropping out of school was a better option because I wasn't certain if I was going to balance school and raising a child. Plus, I also wanted to help provide for the welfare to the baby with Matthew. But on the other hand, part of me still wanted to continue my degree. I only had a year left until I finished the program.
I didn't want to be selfish but as the same time I didn't want to have any regrets knowing that whatever path I was going to take, there was no going back.
"Just think about it, please." He urged. "Don't rush into making an impulsive decision, okay?"
"Okay." I nodded.
Matthew fished out his phone from his pocket and checked the time. "It's getting late. You should head home."
Home. I frowned as I averted my eyes from his. If you thought things weren't going to be the same after Eaglesvale, then things were most certainly not going to be the same after telling Dad about the baby.
"Are things well at home after you announced the news?" Matthew asked after noticing the change in my mood.
I shook my head. "With the current atmosphere brewing back there, I doubt if that house feels like a home anymore. It's like going back to a lion's den."
"He'll get over it eventually, Beverley."
"Will he?" I looked at him. "You didn't see the way he looked at me after I told him. You'd think the person who's raised you and told you how much they loved you all your life would never look at you with such malice and disgust."
He pressed his lips in a thin line until his face lit up to indicate that he had just come up with an idea. An idea that left me shook the moment he suggested it. "What if you move in with me?"
I continued staring at him, still shook. "When you do decide to keep the baby and if the atmosphere back home hasn't changed, you can move in and stay with me." He said.
"Matthew, that's a lot you're offering." I told him
"I know but I don't want you feeling unhappy in your own home." He pointed out. "After all, it's about time you start making 'big girl' decisions." He smiled teasingly at me, to which I responded by lightly punching his chest and pouted. "Again, you don't have to rush to agree to it. Think about it first, okay?"
"Okay." I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding.
Matthew wrapped his arms around my small frame and pulled me closer to him into a hug. I hadn't realised how tense and rigid my body was until I felt it instinctively relax and melt into his warm embrace and wrapped my arms around his neck.
"I'm scared." I said in a whisper.
"I know." He replied softly.
We pulled away but still held each other. My hand moved to cup his face and gently caressed his cheek as I gazed deeply into his hazel grey eyes. "We'll be okay." He said. "I know we will."