When Adam exits the bathroom, he’s surprised to see Naomi is no longer in the bedroom. He also finds that her bag is gone, and upon inspecting the drawers, her extra clothes as well. He feels a wave of panic wash over him, and quickly swings open the door as if to give chase but stops abruptly when he sees her sitting at the table sipping her tea, as though nothing was wrong.
She looks up at him, a thin smile on her lips behind the mug. “What’s wrong honey? You seem as though you’ve had a scare.” Her words are those of concern, but her tone is dry.
He runs his hands through his hair to settle his nerves, and then offers a small grin. “Nothing’s wrong baby, I just got a little nervous when I saw you weren’t where I left you. Did you move your bag?”
She nods. “I did. I decided to get dressed for the day and so now I have no use for it. I put it in my car already, so you won’t have to bother with it later.”
“You know I wouldn’t have minded, but that’s fine. I thought you were going to shower later though?”
“Yea, I did say that, but I changed my mind. I’ll just shower once I get home. I’m going to be heading out soon, but I wanted to have breakfast with you first. Why don’t you get dressed and join me?” It’s an honest request, yet it feels like a demand.
“Sure. Let me go slip on some clothes.” He walks away and proceeds to put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. A couple of minutes later, he returns to the kitchen. “Is oatmeal fine with you baby? I’m not feeling up to making a grand breakfast this morning. I will if you want me to though.”
“Oatmeal is perfectly fine, but you don’t need to make me any.”
“Oh? Why’s that? Did you eat already?” He asks curiously.
“No, but I don’t have much of an appetite. Actually, I’m feeling a bit sick to my stomach, so I opted for tea to settle it.”
She can see a glint of hope spark in his eyes. “Oh no, I hope you’re not coming down with anything. Should I go buy you some medicine or something? Whatever you need.” He walks over to her and hugs her. He places his right hand on her belly and caresses it softly. “Has this been going on for a while?”
“No, just since this morning. It was a sudden development.”
“Oh, I see. I hope it’s nothing serious.” He’s quiet for a moment. “Baby, I know we’ve been being careful, but do you think it’s a possibility that you could be pregnant? That time in the car-.”
“No.” She says abruptly. “At least, I’m fairly sure I wasn’t. Either way, it won’t matter now. While you were in the shower, I ran downstairs to the store on the corner and bought a box of morning after pills. I just took a couple with my tea, so that should resolve any issue that might have developed.”
His hand goes still, and his neck stiffens up, as though he was forcing himself to hold back his reaction. He finally looks at her with a sad expression. “Why would you do such a thing? I know we said it’d be best to wait a while before that, but if it happens naturally, I think we should accept it. At least talk to me first.”
“What was there to talk about though? I told you I wasn’t ready for that yet and you said you understood. I thought we were on the same page. I mean, if I had been pregnant, what would have happened?”
“I’d have taken responsibility and we’d tackle it together. That’s the way it should be between a couple who loves each other and wants to build a future. It would’ve been difficult with our current obligations, but I’d do whatever it took to make it work.”
“Would you walk away from baseball?” She looks at him directly in his eyes as she asks this, and she can see his surprise.
He’s silent for a moment, but finally replies, “I’m sure we’d be able to figure out a solution that didn’t require me to do that.”
“So that’s a no, you wouldn’t.” She simplifies his answer. “So, where would that leave me? If you would continue on with your career as normal, which is only going to get busier I might add, then who’s going to be home to care for the baby? Should I ask my parents to take on the responsibility for my irresponsible behavior?”
“I don’t think that would be necessary, no. If you were pregnant, the baby would be due around late December to early January. That’d be just before your final term at school. I’m sure you could manage to complete it with a baby. You’re smart and by then you’d only have a few classes anyway. We’d get a babysitter for those times when you have class and I’m working.”
“Yes, perhaps I could manage that way, but you’re forgetting an important element. The final semester isn’t just for finishing my last few classes; it’s also for preparing my resume, scouting jobs, applying, and going to interviews. How could I focus on those things if I had to care for a newborn baby? Furthermore, once I’m fortunate enough to land a job, then what? Should our child be subjected to only knowing the sitter as her parent, since her real parents are both too focused on their careers to give her any attention? Should she grow up feeling alone and abandoned?”
“Even if we make it clear we love her, the absence of us in her life would definitely affect her deeply. She’d be suffering, but she’d hide it from us because she wouldn’t want to burden us or seem ungrateful for the wonderful life we’re sure to give her. She’d become broken and probably fall into the arms of the first man to give her meaningful attention. Maybe she’d come to love him so much that she’d go along with anything he wanted or believe everything he says, because surely she’s his world. Even when the signs are there, telling her something just isn’t right, she’d ignore them because she doesn’t want to be alone again.”
Adam looks at her with an uneasy expression. “Naomi, we are still talking hypothetically about our future baby, right?”
She laughs. “Past or future, the reality is the same Adam. I refuse to bring my child into this world to suffer such a fate. So, let me tell you exactly what would happen should I become pregnant. I’d drop out of school, move in with you, stay at home with the baby once it’s born and care for it, while you play ball across the country and continue your ascent into stardom. I’d have nothing to do but care for that baby, and think about what my life could’ve been, but never will be. My success would be becoming the wife of an All Star. I’d choose that future willingly though, because I swore long ago that I would always put my child first and be attentive, no matter what I had to give up.”
“That...that doesn’t sound like a fair future at all. I’d never allow you to live such a fate. I would never force you to give up on your dreams just to become a housewife,” He says with sincerity.
She gives him a skeptical look. “Wouldn’t you though?”
Adam frowns, showing his anger at last. “What’s that supposed to mean? Are you saying I would?”
She doesn’t answer his question but asks another instead. “Were you really fine with my decision to not move in with you?”
“What? Why are you asking me this? I said it was fine, didn’t I? I’ll admit, I was disappointed, but I understand your reasons. I can wait until you’re ready.”
“So, you’re saying you respect my wishes and wouldn’t try to force me? Just how you wouldn’t force me to have a baby before the time is right. That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I’ve said that many times already Naomi!”
“Indeed you have Adam. So then, please tell me why.” She gets up from her chair and walks to the sink as she pulls out a condom.
“What are you doing with that? Tell you why what?” He sounds a bit on edge, and he looks hard at the square foil in her hand.
She rips it open, puts it under the faucet and turns on the water as she did earlier. Just the same as then, slow streams of water flow from the tiny holes at the bottom. “Please tell me why this condom has leaks in it. Tell me why the last ten did as well.”
His eyes widen a bit, but he otherwise maintains his composure. “I don’t know, maybe those were defective? It can happen.”
She tosses the filled condom at his face in rage and shouts, “Cut the bullshit Adam! You’re telling me every single condom in the box is defective? Do you take me for an idiot?!”
He wipes the water from his face with a frown. “Are you seriously insinuating I sabotaged them Naomi? Is that what you’re getting at? Because if that’s what you think, then I’m honestly disappointed. I’ve done nothing but everything you’ve wanted. I’ve given you all that I could since the start, and I want to build a good life for us and secure our future. That’s all I want, yet you’re accusing me of such deplorable acts!”
“If you really mean all of that, then tell me why you never take me anywhere. Eating at the diner every now and then or catching a late-night movie doesn’t cut it. Why haven’t you taken me to real restaurants, or nightclubs, or anything that young couples enjoy doing together? Why haven’t you brought me out to places where we can have fun, like amusement parks or other recreational establishments? Why have you insisted that we stay at home every time we’re together and only play around in the house? And don’t you dare tell me it’s for my sake, as I never asked to be coddled. I was prepared to face whatever attention came with being your girl because I loved you. It was that simple, yet you chose to manipulate me and control the situation instead.”
He’s silent. He sits down and rubs his head in frustration. Gazing through his fingers he says, “Everything I’ve done has been for you Nai. There are things you don’t even realize I’ve done for you and you have the nerve to say that? I’ve been there for you all these years and gave you the confidence to go after your dreams. I saved you, protected you when you were drowning. I filled the hole that your parents left in you with their neglect. You were lost when I found you, and I put you on the right track. Had it not been for me, you’d probably be some scumbag’s bitch and he wouldn’t be treating you so kindly. I’ve done nothing but love you and this is how you thank me? I even introduced you to a world of pleasure on demand. You should be grateful!”
A loud slap echoes around the room as Nai’s hand connects to the side of Adam’s face. He staggers back, stunned, as he rubs the stinging mark. Tears pool in her eyes and he can see her spite clearly in them. “Go to hell Adam! I never want to see you again!” She storms out the kitchen and exits through the door, slamming it extra hard as she goes. She leaves Adam’s head reeling.
“Goddammit!” He swipes across the table, sending the mug flying across the kitchen and into the cabinet, where it falls to the counter in several pieces. He flips the table and kicks the chairs. He yells in anger and punches the wall, leaving a deep hole. He considers going after her, but that would only complicate the matter. He must make his next move carefully. He holds his head and crouches to the ground instead, tears slowly falling.
The door creaks open, and soon he can feel someone standing behind him. He doesn’t react, as he knows who it is and why he’s here before he says a word. However, when he does, it confirms his suspicions. “Are we going with THAT plan now Peter?”
He doesn’t respond immediately, but after a moment he gets to his feet and faces his doppelganger. “It would seem I’ve got no other choice at this point. I will have her, even if it means using a little force. She will choose me in the end, even if she doesn’t know it yet.” His expression becomes dark. “Let’s make the preparations Adam. It’s finally time to play with your toy.”