It was becoming more and more common for me to have to stay late and go in to do some work on the weekends. We had no choice though, given the childcare costs.
One night, my husband asked me if something was wrong. I mostly avoided his eyes and told him I was just stressed from work. He asked me if there was anything that I wanted or needed to talk about, and I just snapped at him.
“Nothing’s wrong. I’m fine!”
I glanced briefly at his face to see that it was entirely dead. There was no anger. No worry. No concern. There was nothing. I shuddered a bit, but wanted to get away, so I just turned and went to the bedroom and slammed the door.
I realize now that he must have suspected. In retrospect, I also realize that this was the same emotional roller coaster I rode after becoming pregnant with our daughter, dragging my husband along for the ride then. He must have remembered. Back then, though, we had talked. Now, we were not. I was the one shutting it down.
And I understand now that he knew then that I was lying to him and that he was deeply angry.
Soon after learning that I had become pregnant, it became clear to me that I did not want to have another child, and I was completely disappointed in myself for having such a lapse in judgment that I thought it would be okay to get pregnant again. I wanted to avoid all the stress and the arguments that I was sure would come from telling my husband about it, so I scheduled myself to get an abortion and resolved to keep secret the results of my drunken failure of will.
I cleaned myself up and splashed water on my face.
I finally opened the door and came put away the food, and the table cleared. Our daughter still napped in her bedroom. At least there would be no screaming. No one would want to wake her.
My husband was in the living room, drinking whiskey. He looked at me without expression.
“You never answered my question,” he said.
My mind was a blank. I honestly could not remember exactly what he had said.
“I forgot what you asked.”
He grimaced, as if he were about to yell at me, but rallied and let the tension out of his face.
“I asked,” he said slowly, “whether Dan is the father of the baby you aborted on Wednesday, or whether someone else had the honor of fathering it.”
I remembered and was shocked again.
“How can you even ask that?”
He just looked at me.
“Easy. I opened my mouth and let the words come out.”
He had never been this sarcastic with me before.
“And you still haven’t answered my question, which I have now asked twice.”
“I have never cheated on you,” I told him. I was not lying.
He just continued to look at me. Then, he broke eye contact to empty his glass. He spoke again finally after he swallowed.
“I’ll assume that is true for the sake of argument. Which means that you decided to go out and kill my child, which you did not even bother to tell me we had made. Correct?”
This is the whole argument that I had wanted to avoid in the first place. I just slumped down on the couch across the living room from where he sat in his favorite armchair.
“It wasn’t a child. It was an embryo. I had the abortion before I had been pregnant for ten weeks.”
Kelly looked at me for a moment, then got up with a sweeping wave of his arms, eyes wide, and his mouth formed into an O.
“Oh, well thank goodness. Then there is nothing to worry about here,” he said, as he walked into the dining room, rummaged through the liquor cabinet, and returned with the whiskey bottle.
He plopped down into his chair loudly, poured a large portion of the liquor into his glass with exaggerated precision, like a parody of a scientist, put the bottle down, drank about a third of the glass, and finally looked back at me.
“Back to my earlier question, I infer that the answer is that, yes, you did decide to go out and kill my embryo”—he put emphasis on the “embryo” in “my embryo”—”that you did not even bother to tell me we had made.”
There were a lot of ways that I could have tried to answer. I just went with complete honesty because it was the easiest to remember, and my mind was all over the place.
“I didn’t want to have an argument about it. I made a mistake thinking that I wanted another child.”
My husband simply looked at my face for a moment, then downed the rest of his drink. After a quiet moment, he pulled himself up in his chair and began to speak.
” I don’t believe that the law should require that a wife get her husband’s permission before she gets an abortion. But that’s a different story than what a wife who says she loves her husband ought to do when she finds out that he made her pregnant. The bottom line here is that you ended a life I made with you and did not bother to tell me. That bothers me more than I can possibly tell you, and that’s assuming I believe it was mine to begin with.”