Quarterback's Unwanted Baby(9)

By: Nicki Jackson


“Yes.” He saw her expression close up. She looked detached and cold, and he suddenly felt like a beast for being so upfront about it. He ignored the expressions on her face. She was not the least bit teary, but looked furious. “This isn’t just about me. It’s about the both of us.”

Hartford gaped at him, anger, helplessness, and pain swirling together. She shoved the helplessness away. It wasn’t an emotion she identified with herself. She wasn’t helpless. She wasn’t going to beg him. She didn’t even recognize him in that moment. She turned to the bedroom door wordlessly.

“Hartford…”

She didn’t stop. She was at the front door when he caught her wrist and spun her around.

“At least let me pay for it.”

Her face blank, her insides screaming in agony of his betrayal, she spoke woodenly. “Pay for what?”

“The procedure. The abortion thing… whatever it is.”

Hartford’s face devoid of any emotion, she wondered how she’d ever missed the fact that he was completely incapable of feeling. She didn’t want his money. She didn’t want anything from him if something that she’d assumed was her right—his support—was so hard for him to give. It was free too. That’s all she’d come for. To help her sort out the mess they were in. The mess she was in. He felt no responsibility for the consequences of his sexual gratification. He only wanted it gone. She’d be the one to deal with it. Alone. And she didn’t give a fuck at that point.

Without a word, she freed her wrist and left, feeling his eyes on her back as she walked down the corridor to the elevators. She was glad she was alone on the elevator, because she looked like a zombie, a pale zombie that didn’t utter a word until she reached her apartment. Ignoring the worried glances of Christy, she shut her bedroom door and paused as she stepped on the pregnancy test. The two lines were still dark and bright, reminding her of the life growing inside her. Slowly kicking the test sideways, she spent the next three hours crying into the pillow, unable to stop the wrenching pain in her chest. In that moment, she knew she’d lost Gerard. She’d never see him the same way again. They were over.

***

Hartford had always been a strong woman. She’d always managed to make the most out of any situation, and she was an easygoing, happy person all year long. Sometime in her teens, she had perfected the art of seeing the silver lining to every cloud. She was positive, and she believed that everything happened for a reason, and it was always the best thing to happen.

As a result, her positivity toward her studies had given her the best rewards. She had been top of her class in both high school and college, and if she ever faltered, she’d always taken it in stride and believed it was for the best. She cherished that faith of hers, but today it was faltering.

Gerard was leaving for Seattle. It had been a month since she’d last seen him. He was packing and busy as he planned to head out to his new life as a pro football player for the Seattle Seahawks. When he’d called her to ask her to come see him, she’d found an excuse to avoid it. She was still trying to heal from the last encounter she had with him. She didn’t want to see him and be reminded of what had been. He still acted like nothing was out of the ordinary. She had spent a good two weeks recovering from the way he’d simply extracted himself out of the situation. Or maybe, he just didn’t have the time to call or drop by to inquire how she was doing. He was just gone. He hadn’t even left for Seattle and he was already gone.

She left for the airport with him, his twenty friends, and his parents. It was loud and everyone laughed and Gerard was beaming in excitement. She stayed away from the group, not really mingling with anyone. She was only there to see him one last time before he headed off. She wasn’t sure when she’d see him again. There had been no talk of how they would communicate, how they would continue being together, and Hartford felt like Gerard had simply caved to the same impulse she had—to quit.

She had her reasons. She was disappointed and heartbroken by Gerard’s reaction to her pregnancy, but of course, he had his reasons too. He was not equipped to deal with the child that he’d helped create. He reserved the right to choose, but so did she.

As the good-byes and hugs started, Hartford felt her heart bursting with love and admiration for Gerard. She was certainly proud of him. Being a star college quarterback’s longtime girlfriend had never really overshadowed her promise as a premed student. It certainly did not define how she viewed herself. Or she’d thought it hadn’t.