“Where have you been?” Freddy didn’t bother to look up as he heard Amy stumble through the door. It was after midnight, and she had been gone for a week this time—her longest stretch by far.
“Oh, Freddy. I am so sorry. I know how hard this is for you.” Amy walked over to Freddy and wrapped her arms around him. She was over six feet tall, lissome and had the grace of a ballet dancer—when she wasn’t manic. Her blond curls and light blue eyes had caused many a man to instantly fall for her—Freddy included. Tonight, however, he was immune to her charm. He remembered the first time she had disappeared, two months after they had started dating. He remembered how sick with worry he had been until she reappeared two days later. Then, he had felt nothing but relief that she had come back to him. Now, he was just weary.
“Do you really, Amy? I don’t think you do.” Freddy had no interest in rehashing the old argument, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself. “You quit your meds, didn’t you?”
“I had to, Freddy! They were making me so numb. I hate it when I can’t feel anything. You know that.” Amy hugged Freddy harder until he found himself relenting despite himself. “Besides, I have some big news, and it’s part of the reason I left this time. It’s also why I stopped taking my pills. Partly.” Amy wasn’t making much sense, but that was normal for her in her coming down phase. Freddy waited to hear what she had to say. In a far-off corner of his mind, he wondered when he had stopped trying to engage with Amy when she was in this mood. It had to be at least six months ago, and that made Freddy unaccountably sad. “Did you hear me, Freddy? I said I have big news.” Amy’s voice was rising, which indicated that she was still in the very tail end of her manic phase.
“I heard. Tell me, Amy. What’s your big news?” Freddy couldn’t get very excited because to a manic Amy, finding a twenty dollar bill on the street was big news.
“I’m pregnant!” Amy stepped back from Freddy and beamed at him. “We’re going to be parents!” Amy threw her arms in the air and started dancing around in circles. Freddy watched her as if she had grown another head. Amy danced a few minutes more before she realized that she was the only one celebrating. “What’s the matter, Freddy? Why aren’t you happy about the news? You want kids. You told me that.” The last line was delivered reproachfully, and that tipped Freddy over the edge.
“I never told you any such fucking thing, Amy,” Freddy said savagely, grabbing Amy by the wrist. “And, the baby is not mine. Do you know how I can be so sure? Because I am fucking fixed—that I’ve told you. I can’t fucking have children.” Fury filled Freddy as he forced himself to release Amy and step away from her. Freddy had wanted to have children, but a family defect had made him realize that it would be better if he didn’t procreate. After many years of agonizing reflection, Freddy had gotten a vasectomy when he was thirty. He still felt the pangs of regret so many years after the fact that he would never get to hold a child of his in his arms. The news that Amy was pregnant by another man was more than he could bear.
“What? That’s not true! You never told me that.” Amy looked at Freddy, her eyes wide in shock. “If you can’t have children, then how can I be pregnant?”