The BBQ crackled out, as the heaped plates of food were left lounging in the sun, free game for the wasps who instead reclined lazy and drunk under rum cups. In the afternoon-long-shade and full satisfaction, the conversation turned, as it always did with this particular group of girls, to the BIG TWO. Houses. And Babies. I rarely contribute my opinions on either, preferring instead to go inside my internal chatter, much louder than anything I can offer vocally, quietly sipping a little more on my strong punch. It’s not that I don’t believe these to be great aspirations, it’s just that a white picket fence around 2.5 kids has never been my dream. For my romanticised heart this type of convention has always signalled a kind of demise. As discussion floated from houses to babies, two of my good friends being pregnant, bets were on as to who would be next. No one could have known, as I sipped my rum soundlessly, that this would be my last for a while. The monkey was in the banana patch.
Five lanky days followed of blinking into a crystal white toilet bowl, down between my quickly softening legs, wondering where the fuck the blood was. I’m clockwork, probably the only thing I’m ever on time for, and with each water-clear leak my pins became a little weaker, a little more like jelly, a tickling in the tummy, a rattling of the ribs. It was exhilarating, to feel the rush, that something so monumental could have occurred. And then I’d wash my hands, catch my eye in the mirror and the whole thing would be comical, a farce and so utterly absurd that I’d tell myself to go get a grip.
But, deep down I knew.
The BBQ was on Saturday and the following Thursday Clifford wove his way home from DJing at the Jazz Café, with a swollen eye that he’d popped the top of a bottle cap into, blowing beer hurricanes across me and trying to cuddle in the unbearable stickiness of a UK record heat-wave. It was as hot as Spain and Mexico that night and I pushed him off, not using much force but he toppled off the bed and slept most of the night on the floor. It was between his melodic snores and the sounds of hot air getting close and snapping in the blackness that I thought, how can a baby fit into this?
I had to do a test but we agreed to wait for the weekend to pass, as my parents were visiting, and I shelved it neatly into a lower part of my mind, as much as I could. I was also keen to prolong knowing. Knowing meant having to deal with real things but potentially having to let go of this feeling that I’d not yet been able to define. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to stay in the middle space, the unknown, that had its own kind of peace with no responsibility.
On Sunday evening Clifford BBQed fish, turning them with ease above the glowing coals, sipping a beer top, blissfully unaware of the historic turning point that was about to occur. I went upstairs, removed the test from its wrapper and tried to clasp at the moment. It was one of those real moments, when life pulses down through the feet, making you acutely aware of those two tiny patches of connection that root you into the planet and the minuscule minutes passing in the vastness of forever. There was no movie-tension build up, like Hollywood trains you to expect, waiting for a pink line to snake its way across in that fateful one minute’s silence. The second the piss hit the stick it was abundantly clear.
I took the test downstairs and it shivered in the air between us.
“It’s positive,” I said.
Clifford blinked, “What does that mean?”