“Christin, didn’t you know he has a girlfriend?!” Jen said while ushering me to a quiet area in the store. “What??” I had no idea. Once again, always the last to know everything. “Yeah his girlfriend works with Jessica (Jen’s current roommate) in stationary” This could go one of two ways. Plan A- Go up to Karl and confront him about his lying and cheating ways or Plan B- Disregard him completely. Pretend that he didn’t exist. I was never one for confrontation so I went with plan B. In addition to not wanting a big blowout or he said/she said nonsense, I really didn’t care enough to do anything.
The news that Karl not only had a girlfriend but said girlfriend worked in the same store as us was unbelievable. I mean it wasn’t like I was in any way invested in him but the fact that he had the audacity to be flirtatious with me while his girlfriend worked in the same damn store – disgusting. That’s the word that comes to mind. I was disgusted by his actions but also with myself because once again I had let someone play me for a fool.
Things changed for me after I found out Karl’s secret. He would still swing by my department a lot but I just wouldn’t engage in the conversation like I used to. He would stop by my apartment and I just wouldn’t answer the door. I thought I made it clear that I didn’t want to be a part of his—I don’t know what it was but I wasn’t going to be in it. Maybe he had a fetish for pregnant women or maybe he did genuinely like me. I was never going to find out because once a cheater, always a cheater… Right? I didn’t have time to deal with Karl’s or anybody else’s lies or manipulation.
A relationship wasn’t in the cards for me. I had bigger, more important things to worry about. Ben was still MIA. My hope of him coming back was slowly beginning to turn to anger. I knew what I had to do but it would have to wait. My emotional health was more important right now—so my plan of revenge would have to be put on the back burner. My pregnancy was good other than the looming possible diagnosis of spina bifida. My weekly ultrasounds showed normal growth with the baby. I now began trading my late nights at work with reading pregnancy books. I especially liked the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book by Heidi Murkoff. I must have read this book 5 times—just in case I missed something. I wanted to be prepared. I just wanted to be a good mom.
One evening after a particularly long day at work, I walked in the door of my apartment. I just wanted to sit down. My feet were swollen—My doctor claimed that my addiction to pickle juice and Salt & Vinegar chips were not helping this situation. I needed an intervention but today was not going to be that day. I grabbed the bag of chips and sat down. I pressed play on the answering machine. “Hey, it’s me — call me back when you get a chance. My number is 408-***-****.” God, it was nice to hear that familiar voice. I had missed talking to him so much. I had missed so much about him—mostly just being in his presence.
A memory of just a short two years earlier when I had left him in my rear view mirror flashed through my mind. How he placed that ring on my finger that day. So much had changed since that day. So much I wanted to tell him. So much I didn’t want to tell him. But now I had to tell him the truth. It didn’t matter that so much time had gone by. I just didn’t want to disappoint him. I didn’t want him to think that I didn’t love him anymore because I still did. I didn’t want to face the reality that this would be the real end of us—even though we had been done for almost 2 years. Of course telling him that I was pregnant was going to make him never want to talk to me again. Hell, maybe he had a kid of his own by now. That would be a hard pill to swallow. I slowly dialed the number. It was rehearsing exactly what I was going to say. I didn’t know what his reaction would be so I was preparing for anything. Maybe he wouldn’t even care. Maybe he would never talk to me again. Maybe he would tell me it’s all going to be ok. That was my wishful thinking though. It’s ringing. I can hear my rapid heartbeat. My palms are sweaty. Wait maybe that was the greasy chips. I don’t know what it is but I am nervous. “Hello?” “Hey Freddie—it’s Christin”