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My brain exploded at the supermarket. One minute I was arguing with my three-month-old about how many grapes she could stick in her tiny mouth and the next minute I was staring at the face of the father of my child.
The guy ghosted me after I told him I was pregnant. I sent him texts, called him and even posted a certified letter but received zero response. While he was down for the baby-making activities, he had zero desire to accept the consequences.
So I did what any other like-minded woman would’ve done in my position. I reached into my cart and started hurling things at him.
To my surprise, he not only paid for the damage but followed me home. Now, he’s telling me he never got my messages or my letter and that he’s ready to be a father.
He’s patching drywall, doing the laundry, and carrying the trash to the curb, and I’m remembering what it was like when he was loving me every night. A few heated stares and a few brushes of his hand against mine and my long-dormant female parts are roaring to life. Everyone’s going to think I’m a few French fries short of a Happy Meal if I let him back into my life, but my heart can’t keep asking what if…
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“Where did you say you got that shirt again?” Mae asks. The svelte blonde in her heeled boots, black skinny jeans and carefully tousled bob leans over and places a bag of spinach in my cart.
I pluck it out and place it back on the shelf. I don’t like spinach. I don’t care that all the parenting magazines talk about how high it is in nutrition. It tastes gross and if my daughter, who is currently gumming the back of her fist, could do more than make gurgling noises, I know she would agree with me. “In the back of my closet. You told me to wear something grown-up that didn’t consist of elastic and college concert tees.”
After a year of watching me wear almost nothing but pajama pants and T-shirts, Mae had had enough. When she came over for her weekly visit, she took my computer and phone hostage and refused to give either back until I left wearing something that couldn’t be slept in. It took me nearly a half hour to find a pair of jeans and a button-down shirt that I should’ve thrown out months ago and not because the dark blue and forest-green flannel hangs down to near my knees.
“That shirt does not look like it’s yours.” She eyes it suspiciously. “You had to roll the cuffs up three times and I still can barely see your fingers.”
I try not to fidget. “It was in my closet and I haven’t slept in it.” At least not since I had Anna. Before then, well, I’ll admit that it might have been wrapped around my shoulders while I was in a prone position. Not that I’ll confess this out loud to even my best friend.
“I guess it’s better than your Hufflepuff T-shirt with the holes in it,” she concedes and moves on from the lettuce produce to the vegetables.
“That one is awesome, thank you very much.” Not to mention comfortable. Besides, since giving birth to Anna, I haven’t had the time or energy to shop. Babies require non-stop constant attention. I grab a bunch of bananas with one hand and pluck three grapes from my daughter’s fingers, which she somehow managed to snag when I wasn’t looking. “Anna, we talked about this. No food at the grocery store.”
My girl scowls and gurgles a soft protest. Taking the three-month-old out of the house is always a challenge, which is why I prefer grocery delivery. And diaper delivery. And, basically, anything delivery. God bless delivery. I tap the monkey applique on Anna’s little cap to distract her. She clasps her pudgy fingers around my wrist. I let her pull my hand down to her mouth where she proceeds to gnaw on my knuckles.
“It was awesome”—Mae tries to hide a bundle of kale behind the grapes—“ten years ago when you bought it and the matching pants on our senior trip to Universal. You’re twenty-eight now and they’re so worn I don’t think they qualify as clothes anymore. They’re just pieces of holey fabric held together with a little stitching.”
Like me, I suppose. I brush a thatch of my straight brown hair out of my face. I should get a haircut. I haven’t had one in…how long has it been? Six months? A year? Mae was right to drag me out of the house. Still, that doesn’t mean I should eat kale. I tug my hand away from Anna and replace the leafy food with a bag of tomatoes.
“And the hole around your right butt cheek,” Mae continues. “It’s big enough to stick a shoe through. How’d that happen anyway?”
I brush my fingers over my backside. I’d forgotten about that hole. It did feel airy back there. Good thing the shirt was long. “I was putting Anna’s swing together and it caught on one of the bolts.” I reach in to grab the kale but am distracted when my daughter reaches for another grape. I shake a finger at her. “No more.”
She merely grins impishly. Tiny dimples appear on either side of her mouth like periods to emphasize how stinking cute she is. An image of another person with heart-stopping dimples pops into my head—only his were larger but they served the same heart-melting purpose, which was to draw you in like a magnet. I push the memory away. The owner of those particular indents doesn’t exist in my life—or Anna’s.
“You put that swing up last March and it’s nearly Christmas,” Mae reminds me, holding out an avocado.
“Do I like avocados?” I take the fruit and set it beside Anna. “I can’t remember.” Since Anna, I’ve subsisted on apple sauce, peanut butter sandwiches, and the occasional peas.”
“Don’t change the subject. You’ve been walking around with a hole in your butt for nearly nine months?”
“It’s almost like I gave birth to it,” I joke. “What do you think, Anna?” I heft the lizard-skinned pear-shaped fruit into the air. “Do you want some avocado toast?”