When we arrived at the Bowling Alley it was packed. There was a group of young professionals who had clearly decided to have some kind of weekend get-together. They had booked most of the alleys but luckily we got one. While the boys went to get the drinks I sat down with June.
She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Okay, out with it. What’s bothering you?”
“Nothing’s bothering me,” I replied defensively.
“Well, you’ve got that look – you know the one I mean?”
“No I don’t!”
“Okay, take your time.”
The drinks arrived and question time was over. I’d lost my chance to speak with June. Oh, well, maybe she wasn’t meant to know. I took a sip of my drink and nibbled at a packet of crisps. Suddenly that wave of nausea came over me again. I wonder why they call it morning sickness when you actually get sick at all hours of the day. Blessed womanhood! Fortunately nothing happened. June gave me a knowing look. Zip it, please, I signalled.
“Hey guys we will get the next round of drinks”, June announced.
She pulled me to one side, “We need to talk.”
She dragged me towards the drinks counter. “Okay, spit it out. That’s an order!” June could be such a bully but sometimes I needed that.
I told her I was pregnant.
“So what’s the big deal? You’re married for God’s sake. It’s not like you’re a teenager whose boyfriend has just dumped her,” June commented.
“You don’t understand”, I began. "I can’t tell Paul.”
“Why on earth not?” she quizzed.
“Well, I just can’t. It’s complicated. He will want to know how I got pregnant,” I replied defensively.
June gasped in shock and the pregnant pause that followed could have given birth to triplets. When the conversation resumed, it was suddenly...deep.
Just then Paul walked up to us.
“Is everything okay ladies? Thought I’d check on you – you’re taking rather too long.”
We walked back to the Bowling Alley in silence.
June took my hands in both of hers.
"You have to tell Paul the truth."
I hated it when she got all perfect on me like that.
"He will understand. He is a good man."
"I know he’s a good man June. I wouldn’t have married him if he wasn’t."
"So, what’s the problem then?"
"It’s a long story."
"I’ve got time."
"Well, you know Paul is the youngest of three brothers."
"I remember you mentioning it. You said he fell out with his eldest brother or something?"
"That’s right. Anyway, because of that situation Paul never wanted us to have a third child. 'Two’s company, three’s a crowd. I know, I lived that nightmare,' he would say to me. It seems his family basically used him as the deal breaker whenever they didn’t agree on something."
"Okay I understand that part. What I want to know is what you meant when you said Paul will want to know how you got pregnant."
"Yes. That part. I’m coming to it. Before we started our family I was diagnosed with cancer. Due to the high probability of me never being able to conceive and carry a baby we froze some embryos. We talked about it extensively and were prepared to go the surrogacy route.
Luckily for us I recovered and successfully carried my two boys."
"Oh wow. That’s amazing. I didn’t know. That must have been so hard for you though."
"Yes it was. Anyway, Paul and I instructed the clinic to destroy the remaining embryos. I should say "he" not "we." I was upset by the whole thing and we fought about it."
"I then went behind his back and told them we’d changed our minds. I couldn’t bear the thought of killing my babies so I - you know.”
June nodded with understanding.
“I honestly didn’t expect anything to come of it. It just made me feel better that my baby was inside of me. Just allowing nature to take its course.
Now I’ve got to tell Paul the truth. Oh God. June what am I going to do? What if he’s so mad he decides to leave me and the boys. What will I do?”
Paul’s face went dark. He sank down onto the nearest chair trying to process what his wife had just told him.
"Why didn’t you tell me?"
I had a fitful sleep that night. Paul’s reaction to the news had taken me aback. I didn’t quite know what to make of it. June rang the doorbell around ten in the morning. I knew it was her because she’d been texting me but I ignored her messages. I just wanted to be alone.
Paul had slept in the boys' room then taken them out straight after breakfast. I didn’t know when they’d be back. There was no point in worrying. I needed time to adjust to my changed circumstances. I curled up in bed and sobbed into the pillow.
Footsteps in the hallway startled me. When my bedroom door swung open I wasn’t sure who was behind it.
"I’ve been trying to reach you all morning. What’s going on?"
I’d forgotten that June had a spare front door key. I emerged from under the covers with a tear-stained face and hair looking like I’d been dragged through a bush. June sank on the bed and I burst into tears.
"Oh, sweetie, you’re not okay are you?"
"No. I mean, yes, I am."
June’s brow creased in a frown. "Where’s Paul?"
June cut me off before I could finish.
"He left you?"
Suddenly aware that the house was unusually quiet she burst out, "He took the boys?"
The look of horror on her face said it all.
There was a click of the front door and the house was alive with the boys' shouts as they ran up the stairs. Paul walked into the bedroom and kissed me on the cheek.
"Okay stop. Everybody just stop!" June screamed. Turning to Paul she spat out, "She’s having a baby but you’re leaving her and everybody’s okay with that?"
"Who said I was leaving? I love my wife," Paul countered.
"June didn’t give me a chance to explain. I was trying to tell her that you had gone out with the boys so I could rest."
If you missed part one of this story you can read it here.