The Ground Rules_ Undone - Roya Carmen


…what have I done?

I’m racing down the highway in my Mini Cooper. I’m bopping along to my favorite song on the radio, free as can be. Life is good. I don’t see it coming when an eighteen wheeler T-bones me and sends me flying into the clouds. I’m thrown repeatedly, and my head feels like it’s not attached to my body. I’m falling…

I wake up in a sweat before I hit the ground. The nightmare makes sense. It’s exactly how I felt when Dr. Fisher uttered the words ‘you’re pregnant’. I was completely blindsided.

But I should have seen it coming. When you break the rules repeatedly, so brazenly, you can’t very well expect there to be no repercussions. I thought I had defied the odds, that I had gotten out of this mess scot-free — no one hurt. I could finally move on with my life, and I was ready to do just that.

Now I must deal with the consequences of my actions. This was my mistake, not Gabe’s. He doesn’t deserve this. He hasn’t done anything wrong. I will bear the burden of this for now. I will keep this secret to myself. I know I can’t hold on to it forever. But for now… I just can’t bring myself to break his heart.

He doesn’t need to know…yet.

The room seems to close in on me. I stare blankly at the tropical fish swimming along the decorative border lining the small intimate room. “How did this happen?” I know this is a stupid, stupid question as soon as I ask it. But part of me still can’t believe I’m pregnant, given all the facts.

Dr. Fisher smiles. It is a soft smile, the kind of smile a mother gives her child when he’s just scraped a knee — everything’s going to be okay.

But this isn’t a scrape on my knee. I want to scream. This is a life growing inside me. Sure, it’s the size of a peanut right now. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a huge, immense part of my life — of all our lives.

I fiddle with the keychain attached to the strap of my purse — a miniature Volkswagen Beetle. I’ve had it forever. The girls used to love playing with it when they were small. Those days seem so long ago now; diapers, potty training, sippy cups, building blocks, puzzles on the floor.

I can’t do this again.

My girls are finally independent. They still need their mother of course, but gone are the days of twenty-four-seven care. I never thought I’d ever be doing this again.

I bite back a tear, and tell myself to settle down. “I don’t understand…”

Dr. Fisher stares down at the stack of printouts in her hands. “Well, first off, as you may know, condoms are about ninety-two percent effective, and that’s if they are used properly.”

I’m brought back to all the times Weston and I have skipped the condom. The first time was pure craziness — we got lost in the heat of the moment. And after that, we just weren’t quite as careful anymore. I justified to myself that since I was on the pill, and we were all monogamous and clean, it wasn’t the end of the world. But it was so wrong. Every time we were careless, I knew it was wrong.

And New York was just sinful. Wrapped up in Weston’s arms, I wasn’t thinking straight. I had been so good up until then, keeping my emotions in check, always using condoms, never crossing the line. But I was weak that night in New York — the night we made love. I’ve thought about this incessantly since Dr. Fisher’s phone call. It had to be that night. It was him who had wanted to go bare. He had wanted nothing to separate us.

I had tried to pull away. I should have insisted. But I had wanted it too.

“At your recent physical, you mentioned you’d had unprotected sex,” Dr. Fisher carries on, “so I decided to test for pregnancy, just in case.”

I can’t quite look at her. I feel so ashamed.

“But I never thought…” she goes on. I finally venture a look up at her. She fixes her gaze on me, curious. “The pill is almost one-hundred percent effective when taken properly and consistently.” There’s an edge to her voice suddenly. She seems very confused, and not too impressed with me.

Yes, obviously something went wrong, I want to tell her.

“Well,” I say with a heavy heart. “Weston and I did