If love is the light that dissolves all the walls, why did it make these ones thicker? What you did was ultimately love, I know. Well, mixed with the quiet desperation of never making it outside the realms of Almost There. You wanted out so badly that you made love up. Love was going to work for you so well. You told me that so many times. But it’s made me love you so much less as I witnessed it all. I can’t help it. I feel bitter, resentful, and downright upset, even though I know the truth – that this love isn’t real.
There is nothing to be jealous of. This is all make-believe, I know. And yet here I am, standing still at the door of your made-up world, gathering my strength to knock, be let in, and not let it show; how jealous I am. How mad I am. How unforgiving I find it all, and how beautiful I find it all, and how unbelievable I find it that you went through with it all. I’m standing in front of it, trying to get myself to believe in the lie you turned into truth in front of our eyes. I just can’t get over you making the ugly this beautiful.
“Come in,” Eric says, moments after I finally go for it.
He stands in the door with a warm smile plastered across his gorgeous face and all I can think is ‘Fuck’. If one didn’t know me and read this, they’d think I was secretly in love with him. But if one knew Eric and didn’t read this ’till the end, they would be in love with him too. Eric is out of this world wonderful and that’s not a matter of opinion, but let me get to the why in due course.
“Thanks, Eric,” I say, my voice shaking a little.
It’s been so long and yet my voice still shakes during the first few minutes with him.
Unbelievable, and yet.
“Sofia’s in the shower,” – that means, ‘you’re early,’ but Eric can’t be rude – “but I’ll gladly keep you company ’till she’s out. Coffee?”
“Please,” I say, looking around as if it was the first time.
Always as if it was the first time.
“Unbelievable,” I mutter to myself as I examine the photographs, the souvenirs, the magazines spread across the dinner table.
“I made a mess,” Eric laughs, his face all flustered.
He’s standing behind me, hands shoved deep in his black jeans’ pockets.
“What do you mean?”
“With all the magazines and catalogues and flyers,” he says, pointing at them. “I can’t help going through them as soon as they’re here. Sofia doesn’t quite get why I still get excited about direct mail. I guess it’s just one of those things!”
Yes, one of those things she hasn’t thought out too well, I say to myself. To Eric I only give a kind smile, the kind that understands. Even though, frankly, I will never understand, no matter how hard I’ll try. But I digress…
“Did she tell you?” he changes the topic, and his expression changes instantly from embarrassment to pure delight. “Come, join me in the kitchen, I think the coffee’s all done.”
I follow him, mug in my hand, and ask, “Tell me what?”
“We’re going to have a little intern!”
Eric lets out a sigh.
“It’s an inside joke, no wonder no one else finds if funny when I say it. A baby, Joanna. We’re going to have a baby! January next ye..”
I drop the mug seconds after he drops the bomb.
That’s impossible. It is, isn’t it?
“Are you for real?” I ask in my angriest voice.
Dear Eric. He looks utterly confused. He has no idea I already know the answer to that one, and it’s not the one he thinks.
“Yes… ? Joanna, are you ok? Here, have a seat,” he says and pulls a black wooden chair for me. “Please, sit. I had no idea it’d affect you so badly. I was just really eager to say it to someone new. Knew I should’ve left it to Sofia…”
“Who else knows?” I ask, head in my hands, curled up on the chair.
I press my chest against my knees and can feel my heartbeats down to my very toes.
“That we’re having a baby, you mean? Just family, for now.”
“Whose family, Sofia’s you mean?”
“No reason. I forgot you have no family, Eric, I’m sorry,” I mutter out loud and cover my face, exasperated.
“That was a really mean thing to say,” he says in a stern voice, towering over me.
I need a minute or so. This can’t be.
I heard Eric laying down a (new) cup of coffee on the table next to me.
“Don’t kick this one with your elbow,” he says in a soft voice, as if I was already forgiven.
I shake my head, eyes still closed.
“I won’t. Thanks.”
This can’t be.
“He was holding that same watering can when we planned it,” Sofia tells me and points in his direction.
Eric’s on the terrace, watering their many, many, many plants. Or, dare I say, her plants. Until the moment of conception, anyway.
“So… you’re pregnant?” I ask her and my heart skips a beat or two as I wait.
“No, of course not. That can’t really happen,” she laughs. “When he said January? That’s just what he knows. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth.”
“That we’re in January now, and no human being can be pregnant for way over 12 months?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
I make little circles in my coffee with the teaspoon and think out loud.
“This is so messed up, Sof. Why doesn’t he know basic things?”
“I never thought of the basic things when I put two and two together. They were so… basic, they didn’t even cross my mind!”
“Yeah, I get you… So now what, you have three months to figure out how to get pregnant so he doesn’t catch you with a first lie?”
“Joanna,” she says, reaching for my hand. “Sweetheart, I wanted this so badly. I don’t have to get pregnant so he doesn’t catch me with a lie. Even if he did, that wouldn’t mean he’d leave me. That’s not something he’d do.”
“Yeah,” I say, letting out a big sigh. “Go figure.”
“I know what you mean,” she says, a slight tone of guilt in her voice. “Most guys would. But that’s precisely why I wanted Eric, so that he isn’t like most guys. I would love to have a baby with him, but so far I can’t. Even if through some medical miracle I could, I’d be pretty scared of that baby. That’s not something he’s supposed to do either,” she says and looks in his direction as if to make it clear to me that we’re still talking about him.
I’m staring at the coffee, lost in my thoughts though, and don’t notice she can’t see him anymore.
“Imagine,” I say, “if he ever were to find out you made him up.”
A loud crash somewhere in the back, behind Joanna, makes me look up and see the frozen look on both their faces.
“What is that you just said?” he says, at the exact same time as she says, “I can’t believe you just said that!”
to be continued