This story is by Christopher Wager and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It’s 5am and I tossed and turned all night. Today is finally Sunday, the day I said I would take the test if my period hadn’t arrived yet. Being 5 days late just isn’t me. I am always on time if not early.
I know this because it breaks my heart every time I must tell him that my period is here right on time like an eclipse, scheduled perfectly almost to the minute.
It has been over two years that we’ve been trying with no success. This feels like the closest, and it was a long week of waiting to take the test to see if this month finally worked.
As I rolled over, I see him sleeping so peacefully. Lightly snoring, his face so relaxed. I sneak out of bed as quietly as possible and make my way to the bathroom.
Time to take this test and see what our future holds. I read the instructions twice to make sure I don’t mess anything up. I even bought the most expensive test to ensure accuracy, that’s how it works right? I set the timer and set my phone to vibrate so as not to wake him. Five minutes until we know for sure.
I think it worked this time. I have felt different the past couple weeks. My stomach, my head, my emotions. He’s going to be so happy. I just want to give him everything he’s ever wanted. But I am surprised this is something he wants now. I remember when we were first married we used to always have the same response to the big question of: “When are you guys going have kids?” The response was always a laugh, or a “never.” After ten years of marriage, and no kids, people just stopped asking, assuming we were telling the truth. In all honesty, I don’t think we ever really discussed it. I just enjoyed being on the same page. It has made for a wonderful ten years. I really feel we have a perfect relationship.
I hear her get up for the bathroom around 5. I try not to stir, not wanting her to know I am awake. I listen to her as she quietly slips out from under the covers to head for the bathroom. She said she wanted to wait until this morning to take the test. That it would make it five days late and should be more than enough time for her period to show up. This was the first time she was late though, normally she functioned like a Swiss timepiece, so we never had moments of excitement or panic. She would say, “I’m supposed to get my period Monday,” and BAM!, her period would hit on Monday or sometimes even Sunday, just to throw salt in the wound. So here we are now with a five days late buffer, and still I just feel like we have been cursed. It doesn’t really matter how late she is because that stupid little test will still stay negative.
When did kids become a thing? Is there something wrong with me that he doesn’t just want me anymore? Why is there all this pressure now on me to grow this thing inside me like a parasite that is going to live off me for 9 months?
Ok now I am starting to panic. What if it worked? Do I really want this change in our life? In our routine? My breath becomes much more erratic as I imagine how everything would change. Now I would have to focus on a child over us? Now “us” would include a child? Do I want that?
He wants it so badly, and so suddenly that I feel I do too. Will this change be good for us? Or will he just run away, leaving me alone with the child I never really wanted.
I mean I find it hard to imagine a child in our life as it currently stands. I just can’t picture it. What’s the point of trying when it hasn’t happened yet? It is something I suddenly want. My biological clock just decided to go haywire. Is it weird that it went crazy before hers? Isn’t it supposed to go the other way? Isn’t she supposed to be the one begging me for kids? Is this some weird shift in the evolution of man that now I want to stay home and take care of kids while she goes off to work.
I’m now pacing on the cold bathroom tiles, having a hard time focusing. I crouch on the floor in the corner where the tub and the wall meet, rocking back and forth like a crazy person. I find myself staring at the sink where the test is sitting. Possibly changing our life as we know it. I can’t look. I just won’t. I’ll just go back to bed and nothing will change. That’s how this works, just ignore it until it goes away.
It would be pretty sweet though, if she is pregnant. I have felt so bored lately with work and just life in general. What happens when I get older with no kids? Who do I hang out with? My parents seem to have so much fun when we come to visit, having adult conversations and being able to not worry about raising your child but just hanging out with them. I can imagine myself missing that in 20 years. I know she would be a great mother, she does light up around kids and I think, even though she won’t admit it, she wants kids as well. She loved the dog after we got her. She wanted to take the damn thing back as soon as we adopted it, now I can’t tear her away from the dog.
I mean five days is a long time to be late, especially when she is always on time. What if it worked? Ten months from now would be August, we could have a child by the end of next summer and everything would be different. That could be amazing.
I have tried not to get too excited. Failure after failure has taken it out of me, out of us. At some point it must work, right?
I roll over and looked towards the door. The light around the door barely illuminating the room. What’s she doing in there? Did she take the test or was she too afraid? She has seemed to be avoiding taking it, but test or no test, if my boys worked, they worked.
How can I tell him if it’s negative, again? I can see it break his heart every time I have to utter those words to him. I see his hopefulness fade month by month, period after period. What if I can’t give this to him? What if I am the problem? What if he is the problem and he wants it so badly but physically can’t do it? How would he take that? How would he change? Are we at the precipice of our relationship after all these years? How can something that hasn’t even happened yet change the course of our relationship? Why can’t I tell if the possibility of these changes is good or bad?
Oh my God. It totally worked. We’re gonna have a kid! It happened, I knew I could do it. That’s right, I’m the Man.
My phone gives off a slight buzz as the vibration moves against the porcelain. I take a deep breath and stand up, not knowing, or prepared for what I will see once I look at that little test on the bathroom sink. That stupid little test that will change everything regardless of what it says. I continue pacing, trying to work up the courage to look. Should I wake him up first, do this together?
I prop myself up in my elbows and stare at the bathroom door, wondering what she is doing in there. Did she take the test or is she still avoiding it? I need to make sure she is ok. I don’t want to leave her alone in this type of situation, I think she wants me there. I want to be there. I get out of bed and start to walk towards the bathroom.
Suddenly, the light turns off and the door opens. I see her standing there with her hair all tussled, and her PJ’s hanging lose from her body. At that moment I don’t know what to think, but I know I want to hold her no matter the result.
We stare at each other in silence, for what feels like forever, both wondering what the other is thinking as we looked towards the crossroads of our future.