Judy Capiral 9/4/14
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Well that sounds morbid.
Lily place the finished form on the desk and let the lady at the front accept it. She left the newspaper office and strolled back to her apartment. Expectedly, he was there.
“What do you want, Drake?” she asked, annoyed at his prescence.
“Where were you? I’ve been waiting for over an hour!” He stood up from the couch and stepped towards her. Instinctively, she took a step back and crossed her arms. If he did the same thing to her a year before, she would not have stepped away. “I sold a couple things at the thrift store,” she stated.
“All of them?”
“No, not the expensive ones. I put an ad in the newspaper to sell to a better buyer.” Drake’s mood changed, as did the light in his eyes. He sat back down and rested his head against his hands. This was the usual routine for them. Everytime they met, he sulked. She, however, lived with her life as normally as she could. It wasn’t like she was completely better, though. Drake had a way about him that let her know anything and everything. His eyes reflected his emotion. Lily kept her feelings in control, and preferred not to be read like an open book. She glanced at his hand, and saw he was still wearing the ring.
The phone rang, which startled both of them. She picked up the phone.
“Hey, it’s Jen. Are we still meeting up for lunch today?”
Lily sighed and replied, “It completely slipped my mind.” She made brief eye contact with Drake and answered Jen, “Sure, I’ll meet you at the usual place.”
Lily hung up and glanced again at Drake, who wasn’t looking at anything in particular. “I’m going out again. Is there anything you needed?” The look in his eyes answered the question, but she refused to hear it. They’ve had this conversation everyday since the separation and she was tired of it. Still, she felt obliged to ask, “Do you want me to get you something?” And there were his eyes again, a solid gray that consumed her soul like he knew just how to twist her stomach, and not in the entirely bad way. “No,” he spoke plainly.
“Alright then,” she excused herself and left without another word. She didn’t have the heart to kick him out. He wasn’t ready, so all she could do was give him time.
“How are things with Drake?” Jen asked as she took a sip from her drink.
“Not good,” Lily answered truthfully, “He’s still at my apartment.”
“Why didn’t you tell him to leave?”
“It’s too hard.”
“For him or for you?” Lily suddenly felt like she entered an intervention. “You know you still love him,” Jen assured.
“I can’t give him what he wants.”
“He doesn’t want a baby, Lily. He wants you! God knows you’re all he’s ever wanted!”
“But not what his family wants!” Lily snapped, “All they want is for their only son to have a family of his own, and I’m sure he’d like that too. If the doctor said I can never get pregnant, then I shouldn’t have to let Drake never have his chance at becoming a father.”
“So you’re just going to decline the option of adoption then?” Jen suggested.
“You know how his family is, Jen. They’re lunatics.” Lunatics wasn’t a word she would use for it, but it was Drake’s nicer version of what she wanted to call them. She briefly remembered the first time she met his family after a month of dating.
His dad, cold and relentless, immediately disapproved their relationship because she wasn’t “high society.” Not everyone could be born into the richest family in the area, and money shouldn’t even be a factor in dating anyone. His mother, whom she could tell where Drake got his looks from, was equally as bitter but nonetheless happy her son found someone. Upon their first dinner together, they managed to slip two words into the conversation multiple times: “Marriage” and “Family.”
Eventually, they did get married, and in the most reckless way possible. Getting eloped was not something his parents took lightly, but Drake and Lily were a lost cause. It was clear they were meant for each other, so for a while his parents were docile. Then the time came when they decided to have kids. But after months of trying, Lily decided to consult a doctor. She recalled every moment from when the doctor stepped into the office to when he ended the appointment with, “I’m so, so sorry.”
Drake was obviously upset, but not with her, and he made sure she knew it.
“Lily, it’s okay.”
“No, it’s not!” she snapped at him, “It will never be okay!”
She took a handful of baby clothes and shoes from a dresser and tossed them on the floor. “We’ve been planning this for months, and after buying all these stupid clothes,” she sobbed. Kneeling to the floor, she picked up a pair of white, fancy baby shoes and looked at them sadly. He sat next to her and let her cry onto his shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Drake,” she whimpered. He kissed her, and let her know that none of it was her fault.
The pain became worse when they told the news to his family. First they were shocked, and then they became angry. The couple tried to suggest adoption to them, but simply nothing could get through their thick skulls. They wanted blood grandchildren, and an adopted child, “Simply won’t do.”
It was worse when those thoughts followed the couple around for weeks until Lilly voiced them. “I can’t do this, Drake.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can’t let your family resent you for all of this.”
“Resent me for what? Not having a baby? There’s nothing we can do about it!”
“Yes there is. You need someone whom you can have kids with, someone who your family can accept with their blessing.”
“My parents don’t control me. I make my own decisions.”
“You want kids, Drake! You want a family! You deserve all of it, and with someone who can give that to you!”
“So, what? Are you saying you don’t want to be with me anymore?”
“No, that’s not-”
“That’s what it’s starting to sound like! Stop making such a big deal out of this! I want kids, of course I do! But if you can’t, then we just won’t have them!”
“I’m not going to be a ball and chain for you!” Lily started to cry. “I want you to be happy, and clearly you’re not.”
“Quit telling me what I am!”
“But it’s the truth and you know it! I’m a nuisance, I’m a bother, I’m unacceptable by your family standards! I should be nothing to you!” she yelled, “So let me make the decision for you, if you can’t decide it for yourself. It’s over, Drake. I’m done.”
In the end, it was her decision to end things. That’s why he came to her apartment everyday, hoping somehow that she’d realize that he could never truly move on. “I’ve talked to him about it before,” Jen explained, “He couldn’t care less what his family wants.”
“And what about what he wants?”
“Do I have to write it in the sky for you, Lily?” she complained, “He wants you.”
Lily opened the door and was relieved to see that he wasn’t still on the couch. However, just as she removed her coat, he stepped into the living room with a look of concern on his face. “I thought you were just going out for lunch,” he said as he checked his watch.
“I took a walk in the park afterwards,” she told him, “I just needed to do some thinking and- Wait, where’s your ring?”
He looked down at his hand and said, “I took it off. Same as you did.” She eyed him carefully. What was he playing at? “But, why?”
“The same reason you took yours off,” he challenged.
“You always have it on, though.”
“It’s not like you were giving yours much thought either.”
“Pretending like you don’t care!” she burst out.
“But neither do you.”
“Who says I don’t care?!”
“Care about what?”
“About you!” Lily wished she had the chance to stop the words from escaping her lips. A smile formed across Drake’s face. He shoved his hands in his pockets and grinned sheepishly. “This isn’t about the ring, Lilly,” he said too proudly, “You still care about me.” He took two steps towards her, and for the first time in weeks, she allowed it to happen without backing away. From his pocket, Drake pulled out the ring and stuck it on his finger. “You see? It’s still with me,” he said. Lily said nothing, and Drake took the opportunity to reach into her open bag at the side. His hand searched until he found the hidden pocket under the bottom.
Lily knew what he was about to pull out, and she still said nothing.
“I knew where you kept it, you know,” he revealed, “And it’s still with you too.”
“So? I keep a lot of things in my bag.” She snatched the ring away from him and put it back in her bag. Lily raced into the kitchen and set her things down at the table. She needed to breathe, and to put distance between them. “So are you planning on telling me what you were thinking about in the park, or did I really have to ask just now?” he startled her.
“I....needed your answer to a question,” she replied.
“What is it?”
She turned around to face him, “I never gave you a say in what happened, when we- I ended things. I made the decision to end things, because I thought you were better off. So, if you had the chance to convince me, what would you say?” He pondered her request. It was a lot to ask for in a question, and her mind and gut were at war about what he might say.
“My parents were part of an arranged marriage,” he began, “So any concept of love was out the window and turned them into the most cynical human beings you could ever meet. Having me was only part of the plan, but my parents need to see that there is still another budding apple on the tree before they can be at peace. That’s why they want me to have children. Growing up, it was hard for me to relate to anyone in a special bond because I’ve never witnessed what that was like. Then, as utterly cliché as it sounds, I met you. No, it wasn’t love at first sight, that doesn’t exist. In all honesty you were so annoying when we met-”
“Right, sorry. Well when we met, I never realized how strong a connection like that could grow. And I fell in love with you, which was terrifying because I barely knew what love was. When you met my parents, we both knew how stupid they were for not seeing what was right in front of them. They may still have the vision of another apple on the tree, but all I ever really cared about was you. I’m not going to deny that I planned to have kids with you one day, but even if you can’t, that doesn’t change the way I feel about you. It still hasn’t.”
“So after everything I said to you, you would still take me back?”
“We’ve never really left each other, have we?” It was her turn to step forward, this time wrapping her arms around him and never wanting to let go. “I’m sorry, Drake,” she said to him.
“Don’t apologize,” he muttered as he hugged her back.
“I still love you.”
The light in his eyes came back to life, and she knew he was saying the same thing.