Daddy Still Wonders©

The room was nearly empty, the pastel yellow walls bare and smeared with dark shadows cast by the misty curtains. Pieces of furniture were scattered about, covering the tan carpet that flowed through the entire apartment. He had disassembled the dresser and the rocking chair that once held two teddy bears, the dark wood changing table with the extra shelving space, and the bookshelf full of board books, rattles, and oversized blocks with letters painted on them. Now it was time for the crib, made of solid cherry wood and filled with fuzzy white blankets and one of those giant pillows, shaped like a “C” and covered with clouds and ducklings.

He was careful as he stuck the screwdriver into each silver screw, twisting slowly, deliberately, but absently. The sunlight of the autumn afternoon was not welcome in the room, but in it came. It should be storming, but it wasn’t. Mother Nature adamantly denied his wishes, ignored his pleas for a different outcome in this moment. What should he have expected? No one listened to him, not even his fiancée. Being twenty six without a college education, or even a high school diploma, people seemed to believe that he was lacking in intelligence. Maybe that was so, but at least he was honest.

He hadn’t been the one to sneak away throughout the afternoons, taking off work for lunch dates with friends that didn’t exist. He hadn’t asked his fiancée questions and then ignored the answers. He didn’t think he had been misleading or dishonest. He had followed his future mother-in-law’s instructions, saving up money by washing dishes in the backs of restaurants, fixing cars at the local mechanic shop, and repairing small household items, in addition to his janitorial work, all so he could purchase the matching dark cherry furniture that he and his fiancée had chosen together.

Apparently it hadn’t been enough. She had still felt it right to make a decision without him, three months after they’d made a different decision together.

He shoved the legs of the crib across the room and stood in order to ease the side rails against the back wall. The mattress now sat in the center of the room, a white raft on a sandy sea. He took a moment and spared a glance down the hall, where some empty picture frames lined the walls and no lights shone to brighten the way. He stared down past the doorway into the bigger bedroom, where his fiancée sat on the cream colored bed, staring back at him with lost icy blue eyes and tousled red hair. Her rose lips were in the perfect shape of a pout. The quarter karat diamond ring he’d chosen for her was held delicately between her fingers, the gold winking in the fading sunlight as she turned it. He wondered, as he sank down onto the tiny mattress and crossed his legs, why she had gone behind his back, why she hadn’t told him about the doctor. Had there even been a doctor?

“It wasn’t your decision to make,” she told him last week after returning home one day. “And I’m not going to feel sorry.” What had that meant? She had smelled of antiseptic and hand soap, and black circles had framed her clouded eyes.

She broke his gaze to stand and walk away, disappearing behind the wall. He found the air too thin to breathe then. The apartment became colder the further she distanced herself from him. A wrenching pain ripped through his chest, and he curled up on the mattress with his knees pressed against his stomach. He wondered if the baby would have looked like him.

Copyright © Kat Jenning//Shade Shadows 2012-2016