It’s 3 a.m. and I’m sitting at the kitchen table. The table is small and round, no corners anywhere do this is one thing I would not have to child proof. Angie wants a baby. It’s not that I don’t want a child.
Even if only to have a bit more of Angie in the world. even if only to make Angie smile her smile, if she forgets for once to cover her mouth with her hand. I can’t see the gap she sees between her front teeth. I just know her smile makes me want to kiss her.
But a child? A baby? Even if it is a gap-toothed Angie baby. Isn’t the cat enough work?
I met Angie holding a baby, bouncing it up and down on her wide hips. Wide hips, large breasts and love filled eyes, beaming down at the child as she crooned the words with to the busker’s song. All that made me believe it was hers.
“Mine?” She laughed. “No thank you! I’m not good with kids. I don’t like them very much and they don’t like me.”
She handed the child to me and I though I would drop it. My hands shook. My arms were stiff. A bead of sweat ran down my back as I concentrated on holding the baby. Angie smiled, pressing her lips together and took the baby back from me.
“Thanks for watching her, sis.” A slightly taller women with just as much ease, but a little less softness took the baby into her arms.
Back then Angie swore she did not want children. “They are loud and mean,” she said, but that didn’t stop her from stopping at every stroller.
Once we were traveling to Florence. It was our first big trip together, a make it or break it relationship moment. I was tired and irritable, unhappy about my hand luggage being searched. I had forgotten to remove my father’s pocketknife and it had been confiscated and thrown away unceremoniously at security. Now a baby was crying a few rows in front of us. The helpless mother spoke to the flight attendant, holding in tears herself, assuring them that she would calm her child. I ate my anger, trying not to spoil the trip for Angie. She meanwhile stood up, walked over to the mother and squatted next to her. From our row, I couldn’t hear them, but a few minutes later, Angie came back, carrying the baby.
“I just figured the mom could use a little rest” she whispered to me as she rocked the, now fast asleep, newborn.
It was always clear that Angie would want children one day. But she always insisted that she wouldn’t and now, though I have always known that I would, I’m not sure I’m ready.
“This is your out,” she said. “If you don’t want to be this kid’s father, that’s okay, but I want to keep it.”
Of course I want it. To have a little bit of myself in something that is mostly Angie, to make a new person …
“I guess I should make an honest women of you.”
“You haven’t yet and you won’t because of the baby.”
I blushed, not wanting her to think that I only wanted to marry her out of a sense of obligation. She held my hand, playing with the family ring.
“Besides, how sweet would it be for our baby to be the flower girl?”
The cat is rubbing its body against my legs. I get up and poor out the rest of my glass. I feel my way up the stairs in there dark.
Angie calls my name from the bed and I slide in beside her. I pull her close to me and kiss her neck.
“I love you, Angie.”
“I know,” she says already asleep again. I lie against her, feeling her heart beat and hearing her steady breath pulling me into sleep beside her.