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Whole

Etelka de Marco was bored with Brussels. She had done her last two years of high school there and stayed and gone to Vesalius mainly because of a boy, but all there really was at Vesalius was Politics and International Relations and stuff that pretended not to be Business. She’d had enough of that shit.

“I just want to travel,” she told all her friends.

“Just stay in Brussels,” said Xin Borg, her best friend. “It’s not that different from traveling—you meet all kinds of people—“

“We must have different definitions of ‘all kinds of people’, Xin, because Vesalius is filled with rich brats from all over the world and Brussels at large is full of Belgians—“

“There are all kinds of Moroccans, though! And Turks! And—“

“I wanna go to Africa, though. South America, India, Taiwan. Papua New Guinea! Fucking Tuvalu and shit—“

“What would you even do in Tuvalu?”

“Well, how will I ever know if I don’t go there?”

The idea was to become an Anthropologist, even if only an amateur anthropologist. She wanted to understand people. No, that wasn’t it, it wasn’t just about understanding, she wanted to discover them. She wanted to expand her own horizons by learning about the scope of human awareness and culture. What were the things a person could believe? It wasn’t just about truth. It was about possibility and it was about context.

It was in Uruguay on a joint project with the US Peace Corps that Etelka met Caleb Robard. She honestly never thought she would fall for an American. She had thought better of herself, but here she was. “Etelka,” he said, slurring the first syllable and swallowing the l in a way she suddenly found adorable. “What kinda name is that?”

“My mother is Hungarian,” she said, “and my father’s Italian.”

“You must get a lot of that back in Europe, huh?”

“You’d be surprised how little, I think. People like us are the exception. Most people still don’t seem to have the wanderlust to leave their hometown even for a day trip.”

“Could be it’s expensive, too,” he pointed out.

It was this awareness that made her genuinely like him, in addition to just wanting to jump his bones.

“I thought you were skipping the U.S.,” said Xin when they Skyped. “Aren’t they, like, imperialist pigs?”

“See, we think that,” Etelka explained, “we assume that, but what if it’s just a different way of thinking? I have to know what drives that. I can’t call myself a searcher for truth if I just write them off as careless xenophobes!”

She was, yes, following a boy to his home country. Letting him guide her, telling herself it was something that she would do anyway.

“Are they everything you hoped they’d be and more?” asked Xin when next they spoke, and every time thereafter, with decreasing enthusiasm.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Etelka. “I don’t know how a whole country can be so oblivious to the outside world. So resentful I mean, it’s like they forget I’m a foreigner and they say something about some other country—one that I’ve been to, for crying out loud—and then they roll their eyes and make fun of me!”

“Well, you are kind of rich,” Xin pointed out.

“Me being rich is not an excuse for them to be assholes.”

“It’s a big place, though,” said Xin, “Maybe you should go to Seattle? Or New York? Not LA. Actually, I hear good things about Asheville—“

“No, it’s okay. I think it’s time.”

“Time?”

“Time for me to come back to Brussels. You know, it’s funny, I left ‘cause I wanted to see the whole world, but I think it left a hole inside. I wouldn’t trade my travels for the world, but I’m starting to think I need to come home to ever be whole again.”

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Emotion Sickness

Darryl was one of the first people Rachel met when she got to UNC-Trinity. She liked him. He was cute. Kind of a dork, but in a way she could appreciate. She’d made some bad choices already by then when it came to men and she was hoping to change her ways, maybe get it right this time.

Darryl didn’t seem to take to her immediately, though. He was more interested in this petite virgin, Michelle, who seemed like the shoe-in for the ingénue-protagoniste of their college saga. But was she interested in him? Nah. Darryl was the kind of guy who found a girl out of his league to be friends with and pine over.

She needed to save him from himself.

It was charity, really.

Rachel told herself she wasn’t going to use it anymore, but she actually had a superpower and her high school fan-club (which had consisted of her gay best friend and her frenemy Susan) assured her that it was the scariest, most powerful and most dangerous superpower there was—even if it was the most subtle and hardest to detect. Rachel had the ability to psychically manipulate other people’s emotions. If you were having a bad day, she could turn on the sunshine and make you infectious with glee. If you were too happy with yourself, she could activate your sadness and drown you in self-doubt.

It was horrible, of course. There had been a learning curve, because she knew she was a horrible person for using it and she had to deal with that, but when she found out the guy Susan had been sleeping with was becoming abusive, she had to do something, right? So she took away her love and her lust and replaced them with anger and a very rational fear.

She wasn’t sure how this power she had worked, or where it had come from or anything, but she conceptualized it as a color wheel of six basic emotions. The primary colors were Love (blue), Hate (red) and Fear (for the yellow-bellies). The secondary colors were trickier, but she figured that Grief (Green) was founded on Love and the Fear of losing it; Lust or Passion (purple) turned Love into a kind of Rage; which left Joy as a combination of Hate and Fear, which only makes sense if you really stretch things (but orange is the color of stupid people, so that makes it okay).

With these six basic emotions, she was able to get people to do pretty much anything she wanted them to do, as long as she activated them at the right times. So making this Darryl kid fall in love with her? Easy..

Not that easy, of course, though. It was a process. She couldn’t get him to fall out of love with Michelle (not that “love” necessarily had anything to do with it) but what she could do was push the Purple more to the Red end of the spectrum when he was around her, maybe sprinkle some Green in any time she went Orange.

It was weird, though, because Darryl still kept hanging out with Michelle, no matter how angry she made him. It was like there was something else compelling him towards her.

So she put herself in play, perhaps a bit sooner than she should have or otherwise would. She put herself in play as an antidote to Darryl’s unrequited feelings for Michelle, and she encouraged him to take her advances seriously.

But she underestimated Darryl. She underestimated what we are forced by the limitations of language to refer to as Darryl’s rational mind. The part of him that longed for Michelle wasn’t just physical or even emotional. She challenged him intellectually on a level few other people ever had, and shared his interests in ways few others could.

When he started to feel an attraction to Rachel, he knew it was irrational. He knew it was his body telling him to want sex, his heart (as it were) longing for amorous attentions, but Rachel couldn’t fulfill the roles that Michelle was taking up. She couldn’t, wasn’t even equipped for it.

So the more Rachel changed Darryl’s heart, the more conflict Darryl felt. He wanted to like Michelle, but he felt some strange irrational anger towards her at the strangest times. Was he really that shallow? He knew she didn’t want him—it didn’t stop him from wanting her, but it allowed him to cope with it. Was he really turning into that crazed, psychotic asshole misogynist taking out his own insecurities on the girl who wants to be his friend?

And then there was Rachel. He could tell she wanted him—he couldn’t imagine why, but he wasn’t blind. He just had to ask himself, How would that work? OK, she wanted to sleep with him, but then what? Did she want to be his girlfriend? Having someone willing to warm his bed did appeal to the baser facets of Darryl’s sensibilities, but no matter how many simulations he ran, he couldn’t make any of these numbers add up to a long-term sustainable connection. So he resisted. No matter what parts of him pumped his gas, he forced himself to stay in neutral around her.

He was sad (green) when she wasn’t around, passionate (purple, never completely blue) when she was, jealous (bright, blinding red) when she was with someone else, happy when she spoke (the orange of the stupid people) and all the while he was desperately frightened (yellow) of himself, of his yellow-bellied cowardice in dealing with the whole situation.

Finally, Rachel asked him “Why don’t you want me?” She was drunk at the time, they were at a thing, and he was drunk, too; when Darryl is drunk, he waxes poetic: “Because I don’t understand you. You’re this huge, terrifying force and there is absolutely no reason why I should want you.”

“So you think I’m fat?” she slurred.

This confused him.

“You do, you think I’m fat! I’m a fat whore manipulizing other people and their—“

“I don’t think I’m fat!”

“Well fuck you, then, because I am fucking fat! I’m fat and I’m horrible person!”

This made him feel worse. She knew because she was upping the Green in his aura. He made a move towards her and for a brief moment, she thought maybe she’d won, maybe this would be it.

But instead of taking her into his arms and smothering her insecurities with kisses and then guiding her to the bed, he just wrapped his arms around her and held her.

“It’s okay,” he told her. “You’ll find someone. There are plenty of reasons to like you, your fire, your personality. Those reasons just aren’t mine.”

It isn’t fair, she thought. Why does he have to be so nice?

But he was right, so she dismantled what she’d done to his aura.

By then, she had more important things to use her powers for anyway.


Truth, Faith and Joy

Truth Goodkind was born with a superpower. She could see the truth around a person. To her, the truth followed people around and kept them honest. She had this ability all her life and it took her a while to realize that she was the only one who had it.

“There is no Santa Claus!” she insisted, once she was old enough to talk about it. “You’re going to put the presents out with Daddy! You’re not Santa Claus!”

It was why she never wanted to sit on Santa’s lap as a child, either.

Truth’s younger sister Faith was different.

If Faith ever had a superpower, it must have been that she believed in herself. And when she believed in herself, she could do anything.

Of course, it’s hard to know for sure how much Faith might have achieved, even as a child, because every step of the way, she had her older sister Truth looming over her shoulder behind her.

“Faith!” Truth bellowed when she found her sister on top of the house. “What are you doing? Get down from there!”

“I’m going to fly!” Faith called down to her.

“No, you’re not!” Truth yelled back without thinking. “There’s no such thing as flying, you’ll go splat like an egg or a kitchen plate!”

But even as Truth said this, something she knew to be true, she noticed Faith’s truth hovering around her. Faith’s truth confirmed her actions. As she said it, the truth was that Faith could fly. She would fly. And yet, once her sister Truth had spoken to her, the truth that followed her around changed.

Truth watched it change before her very eyes.

“Remember,” her parents always told her, “don’t ever tell your younger sisters about Santa Claus.”

The lie distressed her, but when she looked at her sisters, all of them, she saw the lie of Santa Claus become truth.

“Mommy,” Faith asked one day, “Tell me about God?”

Truth knew by now that her parents were atheists, so she listened intently. Her father watched her, too, which told her this was one of those times she should keep the truth quiet.

And as her mother told her little sister the theory of the existence of God, of what God represented in the Christian worldview and others, she saw that her mother’s truth never wavered, but Faith’s started to deepen, started to expand and include all other types of possibilities.

“But you lied to her!” Truth scolded her mother. “You don’t believe any of that God crap!”

“That doesn’t mean she’s not allowed to. I want Faith to make up her own mind on this issue, Truth. We don’t know. We don’t. We just believe.”

Of course, the price for the rest of them was that Faith became absolutely insufferable. She read the Bible cover to cover and treated it as though it were… well, the Bible.

“Rather than a poorly written piece of ancient literature,” Truth complained to her parents. “And now she’s harping on the littlest things, stupid things, and telling the rest of us that we’re going to hell!”

So the parents talked to Faith. “You know, sweetie,” their mother said, “not everyone believes in God. Or hell. Or sin. A lot of pepole think the Bible is just an ancient text.”

But Faith didn’t care about all of that. She knew what she knew and what she knew was what she believed. And what she believed was her truth.

Then there was Joy. Joy was the youngest of the Goodkind sisters. If Joy had a superpower, it was to always see the good in people and bring it out, no matter how long it took. There are those who say that this is the most important power of them all.

“Why do you keep correcting people?” she asked Truth one day while coloring.

“Because they’re wrong!

“But they’re happy,” Joy pointed out. “Don’t you want them to be happy?”

“No,” said Truth. “I want them to be right.”

“But what does it matter what they think?”

But it did matter. Maybe not for most people, but int he case of Faith Goodkind, it certainly did. Because Truth was starting to think (based on evidence carefully gathered and curated) that if Faith was left to believe in a Christian God, then given enough time—given enough faith—she might be able to make that God real.

“And why would that be a bad thing?”

“Because,” Truth rounded on her obstinate middle sister, “the Christian God has been responsible for some terrible atrocities. Can we start with the plagues? Or wait—maybe go back farther, all the way back to the Garden! Or the Flood? And don’t start with your ‘Oh, but that was before Jesus’ crap—I know for a fact that you’ve read Revelations! And just look at his followers! The Crusades? The Witch Trials? The Inquisition?”

Everything that Truth said to Faith was hurtful at that time. But Truth wasn’t the only one speaking to her.

“What is it that you actually like about God?” asked Joy.

Faith thought about that for a while and decided, “What I like most is the idea of forgiveness. People spend too much time obsessing about Sin, about the Fire and Brimstone of it all. What I like about God is His capacity to forgive. Not just the little things, but the big ones, too. Anything, literally anything, can be forgiven. And He teaches us how.”

“As long as you agree to worship him,” Truth muttered from the corner.

“Maybe,” Faith conceded. “But if there was such a God, one who was willing to forgive unconditionally… Wouldn’t you want to worship that?”


“Butterflies and Hurricanes”

I don’t know that I can say that Declan “thrived” (throve?) after Raven left, but I might say that he blossomed. I could even say “hatched”. He broke out of the cocoon he’d woven for himself with his girlfriend those first couple years in college.

“We should start a band,” he said to his friend Jeffrey. Jeffrey had been in a band in high school, too, overseas in Brussels, of all places. “Anus de Manus” was the band’s name and they were, as he put it after watching Declan’s videos, “even more terrible than your Fear-band.”

“Angst,” Declan corrected him.

“Angst is Dutch for fear,” Jeffrey pointed out. And now, building on that, he added, “I think maybe it’s time you moved past that Fear.”

Jeffrey had an “actual classical education” in guitar, whcih was an unexpectedly huge adjustment for Declan.

“Why are you holding your guitar like that?” Declan asked.

Jeffrey had it propped on his right leg, which looked super awkward and put the guitar at an almost vertical angle, more like a cello. “It’s so I can reach further,” Jeffrey explained. “Or at least, that’s what my instructor used to tell me when she jabbed my thumb with a pencil.”

“You’re supposed to have your thumb there, though.”

“Not where I’m from.”

It was a weird adjustment, too, when it came to sound. “I want to add some violin,” Jeffrey said out of the blue. They weren’t even recording yet. “Guitar is too… There are too many memories for me.”

When school started up again—their junior year in college—they actually picked up a couple of freshmen.

“Don’t you think we need a name now?” asked Martin J. Quindlen.

“Butterflies and Hurricanes,” said Talthybius Jones.

“Sounds more like a name for an album,” said Jeffrey.

The name they decided on, ultimately, was Gorgasm and the Astral Vices.

“Why?” asked almost every girl Declan found himself sleeping with that semester.

“Well, our lead singer, Rachel, has a beautiful voice, so it was gonna be Astral Voices, ‘cause we’re going for something really, like, cosmic and ethereal, but then we got into this thing, the rest of us, about Greek mythology, and went waitaminutewaitaminute, and I can’t remember how, but we went from ‘Gorgon’ to ‘Gorgasm’ and decided that ‘Vices’ was more appropriate than ‘Voices’ then. I don’t know. We’re kinda metal? We’re kinda weird?”

Jeffrey didn’t make it the whole year with them. He was majoring in Physics and it became too much of a time commitment, but he did help set them up with a guy who ended up being their agent: Magnus Murgatroyd.

“That’s the most ridiculous name I’ve ever heard,” said Talthybius Jones.

“I gotta say, guys,” said Magnus upon meeting them, “your stuff, I really found it quite uh… quite moving.”

“Thanks,” said Martin J. Quindlen. “We do practice a lot.” Then Tally hit him. “Ow?”

“You kids got plans for the summer?”

Who needed Acid Monsoon, anyway? Who needed established platform and fanbase?

“Now,” Magnus told them, told Declan personally, closer to crunch time, “there are one or two things…”

There needed to be something in Declan’s look, you see. “We gotta kinda rough you up, audiences expect something kinda, I don’t know, a little bit rougher, a little bit gruffer, you know what I’m saying?”

“No,” Declan said. “It seems to me the audience wants a voice. My voice—or at least, my lyrics, my songs, my playing. They’ll want to know who this person is who’s making this music. Not the plastic thing the agents and record companies mold.”

“Listen, kid—“ He tries to make it sound conspiratorial when he says it, but he’s still kind of a dick. His message here was how people want things, people are predictable, and he was the one with all the answers.

Is that who I want to be? he finds himself asking.

Then he gets a text from Raven.

It’s been a while. Raven doesn’t feel a whole lot of need to come back. Not like she has family here. Not really. Just Declan and he doesn’t count because they broke up.

Does he regret that? Of course he regrets it. You know he does, because theirs is the big love story, the epic showdown. They’re the ones here who bleed for each other. He loves her. He would be in love with her, too, if they hadn’t kicked each other out.

“Playing in Trinity,” she says. “You should come. I’ll comp you.”

Did she not know that he wasn’t going to be in Trin’s Field that week?”

“I’ll be in Alabama,” he texts back.

“Alabama?”

“Yeah, didn’t you know?” He explains his new situation.

“Oh, wow,” she texts back. Thirty seconds pass. “Congratulations!”

“Thanks.”

How could he not have told her? How could they be so out of touch?

The next summer, they end up at a festival together. “You should totally open for us!” she says, then catches herself. “Unless that would be weird?”

“I’m sure the guys’d be thrilled,” he says, wondering if he is.

He assumes that she’s sleeping with at least one of her bandmates.

Not that he hasn’t slept with Rachel a time or two… He wonders why that feels different, reminds himself that wondering isn’t going to make the feeling go away. He needs to just be okay with it. He takes a cold shower, forces himself to think about it, to normalize it. She’s moved on.

“Hey, man.”

By now, Declan is out of the shower and wrapped in a towel. He wasn’t expecting to see Caspar June right there, his ex’s boss and whatever else, but he shouldn’t be as bewildered as he is. It’s not as if they haven’t met before.

“Do you feel awkward around me?” Caspar asks, and of course Declan does—especially after that question. “Can I ask you—is it because of the fame thing, or is it because of Raven?”

Declan doesn’t even need to answer. He knows it. Caspar knows it.

“Listen, I like you,” Caspar says. “I like your music. I think you’ve come really far. I’d like to see you go further. But there’s something that you gotta understand about the Game.”

Somehow, thinking of marketing and imagery as a game with an opponent was not somethign that had ever occurred to Declan. It helped. It reminded him of the campaign he’d run back in high school to get into Raven’s good graces.

“You don’t have to be that person,” Caspar said, “You don’t have to war the mask or the hat 24/7, even out in public. But you gotta treat the camera like a stage, certain people, especially journalists and producers, but even your own agent, they aren’t people and they are not your friends. They are your audience. Your audience wants a character. And a character is the opposite of a person.”

That was the most useful information anyone had ever given him about being an artist.


Schrödinger’s AfterLife

Somewhere, there is a cat in a box
with a radioactive substance
rigged
to a vial of hydrocyanic acid.
Perhaps the substance has decayed
and the cat has died as a result.
Or perhaps not.

If the substance has decayed
and the hydrocyanic acid has been released,
then the cat is dead.
But there is no knowing whether or not that is the case.

As long as we do not know
how rapidly the substance has decayed,
as long as we don’t know
whether the acid has been released,
as long as we don’t know
whether or not the cat is dead,
the cat is both dead and alive.

So somewhere,
in some subset of possibility…

We don’t know what happens.
That’s what it amounts to.
That’s what it comes down to,
we don’t know what radioactive substances
might lie beyond the grave.
We’re the ones in the box, after all.

How can we,
the cat,
know that the rest of the world is still turning?
How do we know they’re not all dead?
How do we know what the hell is going on?

There are so many possibilities.
So many variations on this theme.
But as long as we’re still in the box,
as long as we still don’t know…

Somewhere,
there is a cat in a box
who is about to die.
It does not know what will happen
afterwards.
There are so many possibilities.

It could go to the cold place,
the place that might or might not
be a code for oblivion.

It could go to a place of reward
or of punishment—it’s impossible
to know which,
what arbitrary criteria would apply.

It could come back,
either as a cat again,
or as a human,
or an insect,
or a whale,
or a tree,
or a rock,
or a song,
or a feeling of desperate uncertainty in the face of profound loss.

Or something else could happen to it entirely.

Until the moment has arrived,
there is no way of knowing
what AfterLife will bring.
But standing at the threshold,
every conceivable possibility,
every possible outcome,
every final destination,
exists all at once.

As he hovers on the brink of death,
spinning at the precipice,
everything that could ever happen to him
is happening, all at once.
He is infinite.


The Choice

EMILY: Hey.

MILES: You’re awake.

EMILY: How’d it go?

MILES: The news isn’t good.

EMILY: The baby?

MILES: We need to talk.

EMILY: Miles. Is the baby…

MILES: It’s alive.

EMILY: He.

MILES: He’s alive. But…

EMILY: Is he in danger?

MILES: You’re in danger.

EMILY: I can take care of myself.

MILES: You’ve been asleep for ten hours, Emily.

EMILY: I can take care of myself!

MILES: This is what we have doctors for. You need…

EMILY: What? No, go on, say it. Say it, Miles, go on. Tell me what I need.

MILES: This pregnancy will kill you.

EMILY: What are my chances, exactly?

MILES: Catastrophic.

EMILY: Oh, boo fucking hoo.

MILES: Emily—

EMILY: I’m not having an abortion.

MILES: Emily—

EMILY: Miles! I am not having an abortion. I will not kill this baby.

MILES: Then this baby will kill you.

EMILY: I cannot imagine a worthier adversary.

MILES: Emily, there are other options.

EMILY: Oh, like what? Adoption?

MILES: Not even that! We can try again! We can—

EMILY: You expect me to carry another child after killing this baby?

MILES: It’s not a baby yet.

EMILY: Yes, he is. Miles, you’ve seen him—

MILES: I saw a speck on a screen! You wanna talk about things I’ve seen? You wanna go there?

EMILY: It’s not your decision.

MILES: He could die, too. Emily, if you don’t do this—

EMILY: I’m strong.

MILES: Emily. You could die for nothing.

EMILY: Might be preferable.

MILES: Have you ever loved me? Did you? Ever? Do you even realize what you’re telling me? You’re telling me death is preferable to you, death would be a better prospect than… We can try again, Emily. It doesn’t have to be this way.

EMILY: Yes. It does. OK, let me tell you how this is going to go. I am going to have this baby. He is going to survive. And I’m not. And I’m okay with that, because you—listen to me! You are going to be an amazing father. You are going to be the best fucking father to our son that the world has ever seen. You’re going to find someone else—let’s be honest, it’ll probably be Ashley—

MILES: Oh, fuck you—

EMILY: And you’re going to be fine. You’re both going to be fine. You’re all going to be fine. Without me.

MILES: I don’t want to do any of that without you.

EMILY: You don’t have a choice.


“Parallel Universe”

I’m in trouble.

I fucked up this time.

Bigtime.

Is that one word or two? I guess if it’s one word, it can be an adjective, but two? “Big time?”

Fuck me.

“Big time.”

I’m pregnant.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. I know that it’s not supposed to happen because I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen anything like it. In fact, I’m pretty sure just with a cursory glance into the stuff that I know is going to happen to me in the next couple of years, that this completely contradicts everything I know about how my life’s supposed to be.

And I mean, come on, even beyond that, come on now, you know me. By now you must know who I am. Is this my story? Is this who I am? Who I…

I mean, I did… do this. I consented. I had sex. This wasn’t something that was done to me, it was a mistake I made, I was complicit. I had sex. With one of my best friends. We haven’t really talked since, not about… I don’t know if it was bad, if I… Maybe that’s…

Or maybe I was right about Trevor.

“I’m pregnant.”

I practice saying it in the mirror—a lot—before I finally work up the courage. It stops him dead in his tracks. He looks like he’s never going to smile again. Like there are too many other emotions he has to sort through first before he can get back to happiness.

“It’s okay,” I tell him, after I tell him. “You don’t have to do anything, I just—“

“How can you say that?”

“I’m taking care of it.”

He is genuinely confused and I realize too late there are too many ways that sentence can be read. Which way is he reading it? Which way does he want it to be read?

It doesn’t matter, I remind myself. He’s not the one who’s pregnant.

“Are you gay?” I ask him. Because maybe that’s a factor. I don’t know why it would be—no, that’s a lie. I can think up a million reasons, only half of them silly and a quarter more stupid, but that still doesn’t make the rest relevant. Not to me. Not here. Not now.

He looks at me and I can see him going through so much. I can see rejection, how he’s offended that I’d even think that—again/still—after what we’d done. But then underneath that, I can see… I don’t even know. It’s too complicated and I’m not a gay man—or any kind of man—myself. I can’t really fathom, psychic or not, what he’d be feeling now if he is gay. Or, for that matter, if he isn’t. But what I think I see is like a fear of what I’ll think of him and then underneath that, some sense of relief that he maybe just doesn’t have to hide it anymore.

“It’s okay,” I told him. “It’s okay if you are, and if you aren’t…”

He lunges forward. He kisses me.

It should be raining right now. Scenes like this belong in the rain.

I don’t even want to tell my mom. I mean, seriously, think about it. I’d be her third child to go through this. The hat trick. The fucking hat.

But Trevor doesn’t want me to have the abortion.

“You don’t have to come with me,” I tell him.

“Why did you have to tell me?” he asks. “I mean, if you knew that—that this was what…”

“Did it ever occur to you I needed someone to talk to? Who else is there? Lucy? Isabella? I only had you.”

But Trevor and I have very different ideas about how our life would be, how our kid’s life would be. To him, it’s so clear, it’s like a golden path, so shiny he doesn’t notice the mists at the edges. But I have seen the future. Almost a third of my life, I have lived there. It isn’t a path, it’s a maze and there are so many ways to get lost in it.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to have a child someday, to make all those mistakes, but I’m not ready. I’m not there. And I don’t think she is, either. I don’t know that it’s a she, of course. I can see her, like I said. It’s just easier to think of her, of the person she’d be, as me. Who would I be? How would my life go?

She could kill me. She’s not even a person yet, but already she’s a threat. They don’t teach you to think of reproduction as an extreme sport, but god fucking dammit. I know. I’ve seen it. I was in the fucking room and I’m not ready. I’m not ready for something that I can’t see.

He’s cold on the drive back. I think someday he might forgive me. I think so. Or get over it, at least. Or at least move on. I think. I hope. But I don’t know.

Was this supposed to happen? Was any of it supposed to happen? Did I make a mistake? Is everything… is everything going to change now?

Was any of it ever actually fucking real?