Pregnant By The Panther(9)

By: Riley Moreno

“I was at the hospital in Waterville,” he said. “Didn’t Mel call you? I asked her to call you.”

“Why were you at the hospital?” she asked urgently, her feelings doing a yoyo between relief that it wasn’t him some woman was panting with at the station but a spike of fear on why he had to go to the hospital.

“Henry Tyler broke his leg. The kid went on a lone shift and fell down a ravine.”

Sonya noticed the scratches on his neck, fingered them tentatively. Diesel blushed.

“I fell too,” he mumbled but wouldn’t meet her eye. Sonya stared at him quizzically wondering what it was he wasn’t telling her. He never kept secrets from her and it scared her that he was hiding things from her.

“Let me put something on that,” she said and went in to the bathroom for the first aid kit. When she came back Diesel stripping his dirty clothes off, his skin white from the cold, his feet wrinkled because his socks had gotten wet. Sonya disinfected the scratches, kissed his cheek then pushed him in for a nice hot shower.

She had dinner ready for him when he came out. Diesel ate silently, his head bowed, a frown furrowing his brow.

“Hey,” Sonya said lifting his chin. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m just thinking what if I hadn’t found him when I did,” Diesel said ashen faced. “What if I’d been too late?”

“But you weren’t,” Sonya said patting his thigh.

“All the way to the hospital I kept thinking I was too late, that kid was going to die because I hadn’t reached him in time,” Diesel’s knuckles were white.

Sonya got up and embraced him. Diesel placed his hand on her belly and the baby kicked.

“I kept thinking how I would die if that were my kid,” he murmured in to her shoulder, “How I’d be demented with grief.”

Sonya kissed the top of his head; strangely relieved by how passionate he was about their child. She stroked his head and decided to talk to him about the thing that kept her up most nights.

“D?” she said. “Have you ever thought about finding your father?”

Diesel held her a little tighter then let go. He began to eat slowly, chewing his bites thoughtfully before swallowing. Sonya decided that he wasn’t going to answer and poured herself some juice to hide her disappointment.

“I wasn’t sure he’d like me,” Diesel finally said. “I mean, of course, I’ve thought about finding him. I’ve thought about what my life would have been like if he had been around. But it’s too late for that.”

“Do you think your mom ever wished she’d told him?”

“No,” Diesel chuckled bitterly. “My mom hated my father. She never took his name in all the years I lived with her. She would just allude to him being this dead beat who left her with nothing. She wasn’t an easy person to love with,” he wiped the crumbs off the table, “I was her son but sometimes I got the feeling that she resented me; blamed me for her life. Don’t get me wrong, she fed me and clothed me and made sure I went to school and she did love me in her own way but she still resented me for ruining her life.”

“But what if you got a chance to find out who your father was,” Sonya said breathlessly, “what if your mother finally told you his name; would you go find him?”

Diesel rubbed the back of his neck, wincing when he brushed the scratches. He shrugged.

“I don’t know,” he said splaying his hands in front of her. “Part of me wants to say yes, part of me is terrified of the rejection. I mean the man probably has a life of his own. I wouldn’t want to ruin it all by showing up at his door. I think it’s enough I ruined the life of one parent.”

“Don’t say that,” Sonya admonished gently cupping his cheek. “You’re the best thing that’s happened to me and I won’t hear a word that says otherwise.”

“We won’t be like that to him,” Diesel said placing his hand fondly on her belly, and the baby kicked, always sensing the touch of his father.

“How can you be so sure it’s a boy?” Sonya asked beaming.