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I’ll be out front in five minute. It’s gonna be fun xxx
His text message is very specific. Five minutes is a distinct amount of time, far better than “see you soon”, or “on the way,” those simply leave you wondering whether you’ve got time to pee or not. And I loved that he named the place too. All the boys my age say vague things like “see you round,” or “I’ll be there.” But not him. He will be out front in five minutes, and I will be waiting for him. There’s comfort in knowing these small things, and I need some comfort right now.
“Hey babe,” he says, one hand on the wheel, one reaching out to touch me. Not in a gropey way, like boys at school would paw at me, but with the hands of a man; a reassurance that says Here I am.
“Where we going?” I ask.
“Little drive. Little music. Little fun.”
He plays Willy Nelson on the old tape deck, a surefire sign he’s horny, and I know he’s driving out to our spot even though he heads out of town on Chester Street. But I love him for thinking I don’t know all his tricks.
I’m not speaking because I want to enjoy this drive before the storm comes.
“Cat got your tongue?”
There’s no easy way to break the news. I just say it. “I’m pregnant.”
We take a small trip off the asphalt before he composes himself. He swears for two minutes straight, then he’s silent for five, and we’re doing seventy out on Hicks Road, dust flying everywhere. I love how he drives, how it’s an expression of himself, and tells me exactly how he’s feeling.
We slow down to somewhere near the speed limit, and I know the worst is past.
“You lied to me,” I say. “You said this was gonna be fun.”
“And you said you couldn’t get pregnant.” He’s still angry, but it’s okay.
“Well, I didn’t know I could.”
“You know what this means, right? You know what they’re gonna do to me? I’m gonna get the fucking chair.”
“Relax, I’m not telling anyone.”
“Oh please, how long is that gonna work for? Just tell ‘em all you’re getting a bit tubby? Few too many ice cream sandwiches? They gonna know.”
“Yeah, but they don’t need to know it’s yours.”
“They gonna find out. That’s one hell of a big secret to sit on, and you gotta sit on it your whole life. That’s the kind of thing that eats you up real good. You’re young, you don’t know what it’s like to carry around a secret like that, year after year.”
“I’m doing alright with our little secret.”
He doesn’t answer because he’s a real man like that, doesn’t open his mouth to just say nothing, just to get the last word in. I can tell he’s thinking, and it’s costing him a big effort, shoulders flexing under his shirt. We get to Dundas and come to a complete halt at the stop sign. He turns and looks right at me, right in the eye, like he used to back in the day.
“I promised your daddy I’d look after you. I gave my word.”
“You are looking after me.”
“Kiddo, I’m your uncle and I got you pregnant. Nobody in the whole country is going to think that’s looking after you.”
We’re moving again and I can hear his thoughts humming through the tires on the asphalt. I don’t need to say a thing because I know he’s already thinking it. What work can he get up north? How much will it cost to get up there? Up where it snows in winter, where they have a Tim Horton’s on every corner, and we can pretend to be different people, just your regular married couple—him a little older, me a little younger. A nice quiet place where you can raise a family without people asking too many hard questions.
I know this will cost him, not just money, but on the inside. It’ll hurt him thinking he’s failed to live up to his promises, thinking he’s failed daddy. But it can’t be helped. He’s not the only one with promises to keep. I promised daddy to always keep the family together, and that’s what I’m doing.