The room smells of stale alcohol and vomit, but the sun casts a beautiful slice of gold across Pete’s fully clothed body as he lies face down on the floor by the bed. He snores heavily and carelessly, his whole body heaving with the effort of each breath. Her eyes are heavy with exhaustion and tears, dry from crying, stinging and crusted. The fire crackles next to them, but her breath still floats, frosted, in front of her face, as she waits for him to wake up.
Yesterday was hell. The fight in the café, the evening spent not knowing where he was, the two o’clock in the morning entrance and subsequent dramatic speech, culminating in the confusing, drunken confession. She’s not even sure what he was trying to tell her, but she knows it’s not good. He kept saying her he loved her, which is insane but sweet, but then he disintegrated into crying, hand clasping and telling her that he was sorry, that he didn’t know about it before they met. About what? About the baby, he said. He was incoherent from then onwards, too drunk and emotional to make any sense. In the end she left him to sleep it off where he dropped, while she spent the night freaking out on the bed next to him, not sleeping, watching him twitch and snore, wondering what the fuck she’s got herself into.
What bothers her most about the whole thing was how much she cares. When he didn’t follow her out of the café, she was gutted, but pride kept her marching homeward, fully expecting him to be ringing the doorbell within half an hour. When he wasn’t home for dinner, she imagined he was calming down, walking it off, but by midnight, she was distraught, as she realised she didn’t even have his phone number. They have barely been apart since they met and she has never needed it. She thought that was it, that he’d gone, and she was very surprised at how much that upset her. She wanted him to come back, she wanted to see him again, she wanted to say sorry for being such a cold bitch and she wanted to hold him and crawl into bed with him and spend the night touching each other.
Instead, she is waiting for him to wake up from his drunken stupor and tell her what the hell is going on. He grunts and rolls over, squinting into the light, and she braces herself.
“Yeah. I imagine you’re feeling pretty bad.”
“I don’t even know how I got here. Last I remember I was still in town.”
“You turned up at two in the morning.”
“Really. And I think you’ve got some explaining to do.”
He sits up, rubs his head and then pats himself down as if looking for something. “What do you mean?”
“You told me about the baby.” The colour drains from his face and he looks as if he is going to be sick. “Well, you told me that there is a baby. That’s all I know so far. But I think you need to tell me what’s going on.”
They sit there for a while, the air vibrating around them. Dust motes float through the strip of sunlight from the window as she waits for him to speak.
“I don’t know where to start.” is how he starts. It’s such a cliché. He puts his hands to his face and stares at a spot on the floor. She doesn’t speak, just waits. She can tell he wants her to prompt him, but she’s not about to make things easier for him.
“The girlfriend I had back home. The one I broke up with before I left. She’s been trying to get hold of me for a while, but my phone’s been off. She’s saying…she’s saying she’s pregnant.”
Hold it together. Don’t react. Not even a flinch.
“I don’t know what she wants to do. I haven’t spoken to her yet.”
“You haven’t called her back?”
“How long have you known?”
“A week or so.” Say nothing. Wait for him to speak. “I don’t want to leave you. I want to stay. With you.”
“You need to call her.”
“What will you do if she wants to keep it?”
His hands find his face again. “I don’t know.”
“So you have no idea what she wants to do?”
“Not a clue.”
“Right. Well you need to call her. Right now.”
His cheeks flush and he stands quickly, wobbling as he does so.
“Yes, you’re right. I’ll do that. I’ll go call her now.”
She sighs, wishing she could rewind to the previous morning, when everything was more simple and they were just two people with nothing to worry about but themselves. “Are you okay?” he asks. “I mean, this is pretty fucked up.”
“This has nothing to do with me. It happened before we met. It doesn’t matter how I feel.”
“It matters to me.”
“I’m fine. It doesn’t change anything until we know what she wants to do. Then we’ll see what happens next.”
“But what if she wants to keep it?”
“Let’s just wait and see.”
“Just go and call her, for fuck’s sake. Then we’ll know where we are.” Don’t let it show, don’t to be that person. Be understanding, forgiving, human. Everybody makes mistakes, she knows that better than anyone, and she wants to be that person who can let life happen without feeling like she is the centre of the universe. “I have to go into work today.” she says. “Someone called in sick. Make your phonecall and I’ll speak to you when I get back tonight.”