Wow, I was so pleased to see that this story hadn`t been forgotten while hibernating. Thank you so much for all your great reviews. I even learned things from them – like the Jewish rules for having sex during your period and a Dutch saying on the same subject :-D.
I also want to thank Suki59 for doing such a great job at betaing this chapter.
Being with Eric all summer – and it had been all summer – had been amazing. He was so sweet and gentle but also funny, smart and so very, very hot. I`d had the best sex of my life when I was there and it had felt like I was filling up a bottle of strength and happiness every time we`d made love.
But – and there was a very big but here – the difference in our ages showed. Eric was in a different stage in his life than I was. Yes, he`d casually mentioned children and formalizing our relationship but he was still fresh out of nursing school and had the future ahead of him.
It wasn`t as if I had one foot in the grave with my big four-O closing in on me but I did find myself checking out the shelves of “restoring your youth” creams in the tax-free shop at the airport when I was going home. I felt old.
Not to mention the after effects of the attack from Bill. I still needed to rest a bit every day which had been fine the days Eric worked but was harder to hide when he was having his days off. My concentration wasn`t as good as it had been. It was getting better, though. I had started writing on my new book and I managed to get into some kind of writing flow.
What really worried me was my bad memory. I kept finding myself surprised that I`d already taken my birth control pill, for instance. And I would put them in the weirdest places. Behind the soap or even dropped on the floor. It was as if my subconscious wanted me to become pregnant. Or rather, that my subconscious managed to make me take the pills without my realizing it.
It scared me, to be truthful, but I never told Eric. My bad memory was not something I wanted to discuss with anyone except possibly a doctor.
I made a mental note of bringing it up at my next medical checkup.
Back at my apartment I was overwhelmed with a loneliness I`d never felt before. I missed Eric so much and the stomach flu I had apparently caught in my last days in Scandinavia didn`t help my well-being.
I threw up every morning and was tired all day because of it.
Eric and I were back to our online chats, e-mails and skyping each other whenever we could manage. I mentally chastised myself for acting like a teenager with her first crush because I couldn`t help smiling whenever I saw an e-mail from him in my inbox or whenever his face turned up on my computer screen.
His smile made me forget my worries over my bad memory, my stomach flu and even the difference in age between Eric and me. When I saw him, when I wrote to him or read what he`d written to me, we were just Eric and Sookie with no worries in the world.
Just like we`d been all summer.
I`d been home for three weeks when I felt I`d been sick for too long and made an appointment with my doctor. Even Eric had asked me if I was fine though I`d never shown him how sick I was or told him how often I threw up.
I suppose he just knew me well enough to wonder if I was sick though I`d never given him reason to think I was.
It was a hot day when I took the subway to the doctor`s office. It seemed every smell, every stench, was amplified by the heat and it was a close call that I didn`t throw up in the subway car.
I did the moment I entered the doctor`s office, though. Before I could state my name, I had to make a run for the bathroom. It was highly embarrassing but I figured a doctor`s office was used to seeing sick people so I tried to smile when I came out again – only to find all the other patients looking at me as if I had the bubonic plague.
I managed to state my name, chewing hard on the gum I carried with me for emergencies like this, and went to sit down in a corner, far away from everyone else and said a silent prayer that my doctor was not too delayed with other patients.
It`s strange. When you`re sick you can sort of forget about it when you`re at home – pretend that nothing serious is wrong with you. But as soon as you`re waiting for the nurse to call out your name, you start thinking about all the deadly diseases you might have. I know I began to wonder if Ebola had a Scandinavian sister or if I`d eaten something with salmonella and was rotting inside. Or – and that was the thought that gnawed at me the most – I began thinking about cancer.
I drew a breath of relief when my doctor finally came to examine me in but had to wonder about his state of sanity when the first words he said to me were:
“You look amazing, Sookie. Did you find the fountain of youth on your vacation?”
“Excuse me?” I asked, feeling my stomach turning once more and hoping there wasn`t anything left to vomit.
“You look radiant. A bit pale, perhaps, but very … happy.”
I couldn`t help laughing. My doctor had been a pillar of strength and optimism after Bill attacked me but this was beyond his usual You`ll be back at your normal self in no time.
“I throw up every day,” I said when I managed to stop laughing.
“Oh,” he said, looking almost disappointed. “Well, we can`t have that. I`ll run some tests but first I need to ask you a few questions.”
“First of all I need to ask you if you`re sexually active.” He checked his computer screen. “I prescribed birth control pills for you earlier this summer so I assume the answer is yes?”
“Well,” I started. “I was this summer.” I`m not sure why I blushed. My doctor had probably also read the gossip magazines and knew all about Eric.
“Yes, you told me you were going to Scandinavia to visit someone. Did you take your pills as prescribed?” he asked and looked at me.
That was when it hit me why this sudden interest in my sex life. Pregnant women throw up – I knew that. But I couldn`t be … no, that wasn`t possible.
“I did,” I replied. Then after a moment`s thought, “At least I think I did.” I looked at him. “I`m still struggling with some memory problems after ….” I took a deep breath. “A few times I looked at the pills and saw that I`d already taken one and I couldn`t remember taking it.”
“You never forgot to take a pill?”
“No, not that I know of. It was always a missing pill. Towards the end of my vacation it was as if I`d taken half my pills without remembering it afterwards.”
“Could you have taken the pill a day too early?” he asked and I had to think.
“I … I don`t know. I can`t remember.”
It was terrible, absolutely horrible to have to admit that one`s memory was like Swiss cheese. I sat there almost wishing I could have told my doctor I just hadn`t cared enough about the pills. That I`d been one of those girls who would look at her pills and see that there was one too many and just go whoops. But I was not a whoops-girl. I had always been very sensible and reliable.
“Let`s run the tests first, shall we? For all we know it`s just some stomach bug or something you ate.” He smiled at me and I could see that he didn`t believe what he was saying. Some people claim to be able to spot a pregnant woman from some “magical glow” or something. I bet my doctor was one of those people.
Later, when I sat in the waiting room, with an empty bladder and a urine sample being tested, I knew what they would say. I was just surprised that I hadn`t thought of it myself.
But then I`d lived with Bill for so long and pregnancy had never been anything to worry about. I`d wanted children at first but Bill never did. He`d had an awful childhood and felt he had too many monsters inside he didn`t want to inflict on his children.
As sad as I`d been about never having children, I also felt that Bill was very mature in recognizing that he would be a bad father and drawing his conclusions from that. I`d had friends (Tara mostly) who would suggest, usually after a few glasses of wine, that I could “forget” my contraceptives and that Bill would be thrilled with becoming a father.
Suggestions like that had always made me both sad and angry. How could anyone suggest that I would betray Bill – and our relationship – by doing something like that? Having a child was something both parties decided on. Not something one forced through against the other`s wishes.
I sighed to myself. Very soon I might be doing the very thing I`d never wanted to do to Bill, to Eric. If I really were pregnant – and it would be because of my not being able to handle something as simple as taking a few pills – I would be telling Eric he was going to be a father without our planning it.
Yes, plenty of pregnancies weren`t pre-planned but that didn`t make me feel any better.
When my doctor came out, sporting a huge grin, I told myself that it would be all right. That a pregnancy would be better than … I wasn`t sure what a pregnancy would be better than. Cancer, of course. But having eaten bad shrimp and paying the price now had started to sound like a much better alternative.
I walked behind my doctor back to his office and sat down in the chair I had occupied just half an hour earlier. I took a deep breath.
“Sooo,” he started out. “It`s customary to say one`s congratulations in these cases. You`re pregnant.”
I nodded. Pregnancy had never crossed my mind before my previous conversation with my doctor but while waiting for the results, it had seemed like the only logical answer to my throwing up all the time.
“Are you in a relationship?” he asked in a neutral voice – especially considering I had only hours earlier revealed that I had boinked like a bunny all summer.
I shrugged. Was I in a relationship? “He lives in Scandinavia,” I said as a kind of a reply.
“Are you going to move there? Or maybe he`ll move here?”
I could feel tears starting to form and let my tongue glide over my teeth. “I`m not sure. We haven`t talked about it.”
“But you`re still … you didn`t end the relationship?”
“No, we didn`t. It`s just ….”
Suddenly I felt his hand on mine. In all the times I`d visited him after I`d been beaten up by Bill, he`d never touched me like that but it was exactly what I needed from him now. His hand on mine, just for a few seconds, told me it would be fine. That I would find a way to get through this.
“You`ve been through a lot and I`m sure you`ll handle this well too. It may not be what you planned for now and it will be very tough for you, especially if you end up being alone with the child, but you`ll see. In a few years you may look back at it and see it as a blessing in disguise.”
I sniffed and nodded. I`d never been one to let anything break me. I`d never not wanted children. Now was the time to start actively wanting this one.
It was when I was back at my apartment reality hit me. How was I ever going to bring up a child on my own? I wasn`t entirely well myself and I didn`t have much of a network to help me out. I had money and I had a place to live but children needed more than that.
And then there was Eric. How could I ever tell him he was going to be a father? That I had messed up like that? We`d only barely touched the subject of children and that had been at the beginning of my vacation. We`d never discussed it – let alone planned this pregnancy.
Would he be angry? Happy? Would he blame me for being so careless with my birth control pills?
Would I even tell him?
I felt a sudden pain in my knuckles and realized I`d been biting them. What a mess I was in. I thought about all the different ways this could go down. Me as a single mother, me and Eric as parents, me choosing not to have the baby.
I shivered at the last thought. No, that was clearly not an option. Though I`d given up on having children long ago, I wanted the baby now. I was close to 40 and this could very well be my only chance at motherhood. How could I say no?
But both the other options seemed impossible. How could I ask Eric to move to New York? And how could I ever pack up my life and move to Scandinavia? Eric and I had enjoyed some very fine months together but what did we really know about each other?
Being a single mother didn`t seem very appealing either. I knew I would be able to handle it. I was not one to whine or give up. But it wouldn`t be easy. I knew that.
I sat down in front of my computer, realizing that this wasn`t even my decision. Eric needed to be told. My conscience was clear on that, and there was no point in debating whether Eric and I would be living together here or there if he didn’t want to play house with me.
I checked my watch and figured he would be home, late at night as it was in Scandinavia. I sent him an e-mail, asking him to go on skype and then I went to fetch myself a cup of coffee.
He was there, smiling at me, when I came back. His smile faltered a bit when he saw me. I`d always been a master of keeping my emotions away from my face if needed, but apparently having to tell someone he is going to be a father was too much to keep hidden.
“What`s up, Sookie?” he asked.
I took a deep breath. I`d planned to just say it and then wait for his reactions but now I found my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth.
“You know you can tell me anything,” he continued.
“Oh, you may regret saying that when you know what I`m going to say,” I said.
He gave me a tiny smile. “I doubt that. Unless you`re telling me you never want to see me again, I can`t imagine there`s anything you could say that I don`t want to hear.”
I couldn`t help smiling at his naivety. After all, I could be severely sick or I could be going to prison. Or I could be telling him I was pregnant.
“I do want to see you again,” I started. “But you may not want to see me.” I paused. “And that would be … understandable.”
“Stop it, Sookie. Just tell me what it is.”
I looked at Eric`s blue eyes, drowned myself in them even though he was looking at the screen and not the camera.
I had expected Eric to ask me questions or to be dumbfounded but I had not expected the immediate and very loud expression of pure joy I witnessed on my computer screen.
“Oh, Sookie. I want to hug you and kiss you and dance around with you right now,” he yelled when he`d stopped his yahoos and yipees.
I smiled and felt relieved too though there were still a couple of hundred unsolved problems. But at least Eric`s being angry with me wasn`t one of them.
“I must have mixed up my pills,” I said as an answer to the question I`d expected Eric to ask me. I felt I owed him an explanation. Or maybe I wanted to tell him that I hadn`t planned on getting pregnant.
“It happens all the time, Sookie. Don`t worry about it. You know I asked you about having children and though we never talked it through, it was definitely something I wanted … some day.” He added the last two words almost as an afterthought.
“There are a lot of issues to work out, Eric. It`s not like we`ve been living together for ten years and having a child is the next logical step.”
“So we`re special and we do things our way.” Eric grinned and I loved hearing the happiness in his voice. It almost took away my worries. Almost. “And we`ll work out the issues too. I have a profession that I`m sure can be used in your country and you can basically write anywhere. We`re lucky that way, Sookie.”
I nodded though I couldn`t imagine either him or me moving. “I guess we are.”
“We are. Neither of us have to give up doing what we love doing but we`ll have each other and soon we`ll have our own little bundle of joy.”
I laughed. “Clearly your nursing school failed to teach you about colic, sleepless nights and kids being sick all the time.”
Eric smiled. “You know what? I`d planned on a surprise visit to New York and the timing couldn`t be better.” He turned around and looked through some papers on his desk and then turned back to me with a paper in his hands. It was a print-out of a document and I recognized the airline logo in the upper left corner of the paper. “I have tickets for a week in your bed 12 days from now.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes. I spoiled the surprise now, but I just wanted to see you again.”
“I`m very glad you think so,” he said with a grin.
I hope you liked this chapter.
I feel bad for Sookie even though I was the one who wrote this. And I want to kick Eric for not telling Sookie what he`d done. But then book-Eric may be telling book-Sookie the truth, but he certainly doesn`t tell her the whole truth. I tried to stick with that.