Claiming Them by Rosa Mink
The flashing on the test holds my attention, disbelief still running through me. I should not be having to take a pregnancy test. Hell, I haven’t taken one in over ten years. Every time the negative appeared back then made me sad. Now, my stomach is in knots, certain I already know what the answer that’s going to appear on it is going to say.
I’ve only ever felt like this once before. When I was sixteen and pregnant with Tyler. The tiredness, sore breasts, and constant nausea. I can’t remember the last time that I actually threw up, until the last two days. Twice yesterday and once today.
That had me forcing myself to dress and out the door to the pharmacy. I grabbed the two pack of tests and came straight home, feeling tired still.
The display pops up, the single word turning my whole life upside down once again.
Now, after so many years, when I only had sex once—for five minutes at that, and I wind up pregnant.
This is not what I wanted, needed. I had a plan. This wasn’t part of it.
Tyler just turned eighteen. Just graduated from high school and soon, he’ll be off to college. It was time to do this, change my life. Do something for me.
I’ve given the last eighteen years to my son, stayed married to his father. Although for the last eight years we’ve been little more than roommates. Other than that night a month ago, we haven’t been intimate for the last three years. And that night…it was a fluke. A stupid five-minute, completely unmagical fluke.
The sound of a door closing downstairs has me slipping the test into the bag on the bathroom vanity. I wash my hands, then zip it up. This isn’t changing all of my plans, just some of them. I can’t spend the rest of my life here, or even the next eighteen years. I’m done living this lie.
The rest of my bags are in the back of my car, and I grab the bathroom bag, heading downstairs finding Mark in the kitchen.
His eyes flow to my bag, a bushy brow lifting up and I don’t know what I ever found attractive about him. I guess it was just teenage hormones and a bit of shock that someone like Mark Curtis wanted to go out with me. He was one of the most popular guys in the school, every girl wanted to be his, and he asked me to go to his junior prom with him.
We spent the entire summer together and then just after his senior and my junior year started, I found out I was pregnant. It wasn’t planned but I couldn’t begin to get rid of it. I didn’t anticipate his family insisting that we get married or my parents agreeing to it.
It was exciting though, to have it all happen so quickly. But back then I was thinking of happy ever after and instead, got bored housewife.
“We need to talk,” I tell him, setting the bag onto the table with my oversize purse. It has the legal separation papers I had the lawyer draw up a few weeks ago. I don’t know how long a divorce might take if his parents get involved but I want to be done when I leave here tonight.
“Ry, look, I get it,” Mark says, surprising me at the way his shoulders slump. “This isn’t how I wanted you to find out…”
“Find out?” I state but he goes on as though he didn’t hear me.
“I tried, I really tried to ignore it Ry. I didn’t want to be that guy, the one that slept with his assistant. Last month, what happened…I didn’t stay afterwards because I couldn’t even look at myself, let alone want you to look at me because I knew then it was completely over. I’ve been fighting this thing with Kristen for six months now and I slipped. It’s only been happening the last two weeks.”
“You’re sleeping with your assistant?” I ask, my eyes widening in shock.
“That’s what you wanted to talk about, why you have a bag packed, isn’t it?” he states, and I shake my head no, his brow lifting higher.
“No, I didn’t know about your assistant being so personal with you. What I was going to say was, I want a divorce.” He doesn’t argue but his brows both lift this time as though it’s a surprise still. It’s baffling especially since he just admitted he was having an affair.
“We’ve been roommates more than partners the last few years and it’s been even longer since I felt anything for you. I stayed because of Tyler, because I didn’t want to miss being part of his daily life. We’ve lived separate lives for so long that it’s time to make it official, Mark. I had the lawyer draw up a legal separation document. It’s the same terms as our agreement. Look it over, I’ve already signed it, so when you do, send it back to my lawyer and he’ll file it,” I manage to get out without the nausea overtaking me. Mark’s cologne is messing with my head, and I don’t like it.
“You don’t have to leave,” Mark says, taking the folder from my hand, his pale hand swiping down his face. He’s gotten old I realize it, wondering when the last time I actually looked at him was. The lines around his eyes are deep, his hair nearly half gray, and not one little part of me is sad to be leaving here or him. “You and Tyler can stay in the house.”
“I don’t want it. I can’t stand this place,” I state, stopping his offer. “You chose it for the way it would look to the others in your circle. I wasn’t allowed to make it mine in anyway, so no, I don’t want it. I’ve found an apartment that has plenty of space for me and Tyler if he wants to stay with me for the summer. I’ll tell him tomorrow that I’ve moved out, he’s with Grant tonight,” I add knowing Mark doesn’t keep track of our son, but I do to know he’s safe. “He’ll be at college come August and you can do whatever you want with the house. The legal separation lets us lead our own lives until the divorce is final. We can discuss that more later. Right now, I think we should talk about last month.”
“It was an ass thing to do to you Ry and I’m sorry. I came home worked up over watching Kristen all day and heard you in the shower. You can damn me to hell for it because I know you didn’t want it, didn’t get anything from it. Kristen already chewed my ass out over it, but you’re welcome to as well. I won’t argue you taking anything you want. I’ll keep the house for now and you can come take anything you want from it,” he says but I want nothing from this house. None of it is mine, other than my son but he’s an adult now and I can’t make him come with me.
“Kristen and I were talking. We want to travel. It’s the right time for it. I’m not ancient yet and Kristen is happy for us to quit our jobs and travel. I hesitated because of all of this,” he adds motioning around us. “I knew people would talk even more than they did when we got married. They’d ask if she was pregnant, and I didn’t want that again. Didn’t want more kids, but Kristen doesn’t want kids either and doesn’t care what people say. I still hesitated because of us, needing to tell you but now, I think it’s a good thing we didn’t have more. Tyler’s eighteen, we’re done raising him.”
Mark’s words stop me from telling him about the positive pregnancy test in an instant. I wasn’t looking forward to sharing a child with him, the back and forth of it, but now, I’m damned if I’m going to tell him, yet or if ever. “Like I said, I don’t want anything from the house. I’m going to go; you can contact my lawyer with any questions. His info is in the packet. Tell Tyler I’ll call him tomorrow if you’re here when he gets home in the morning.”
I don’t bother waiting to stick around another minute. I knew he wasn’t going to be thrilled about the pregnancy but didn’t expect to hear him say he was glad we never had another child. I’d spent years wanting one, wanting someone else to love me.
Tyler did when he was younger and I’m sure part of him still does, but he doesn’t show it.
The last two years has felt like ten with so much free time and nothing to do.
The stupid morning coffees and luncheons grew old a long time ago. Likely because everyone always looked down their noses at me. It was a whole thing amongst them. The ‘that’s Julia Curtis’ daughter-in-law but you don’t want to be friends with her; she only got pregnant to make Mark marry her.’ It didn’t matter how much I loved Tyler, I was always looked down at, and I stopped bothering with them.
Tyler’s birthday is late May, just a month after mine. It was two days after my birthday that I wound up pregnant this time, whereas it was likely just a couple days before Mark’s when we got pregnant with Tyler.
That time, I didn’t have a huge say. This time, I’m doing it my way.
The drive through town lets the nausea slip away but the tiredness is still there and all I want is a nap. I did a six-month lease at the apartment and had new furniture delivered and set up two weeks ago. Until the last few days, I’d spent a lot of time there getting it ready for this. Nothing was changing my mind on this move—nothing.
Not this baby, not however Tyler’s going to take this. Nothing is going to stop me from living my life finally.
It only took thirty-five years to find my backbone, but it feels damn good. A new start with a new life growing inside me—one that will be just mine. Julia Curtis isn’t getting near this baby.