You tell yourself you’re not ready, that no one ever is. That being married for only six months is not enough time. How could it be when your main priority is leveling up your Jedi Knight on a Star Wars MMORPG? Twenty-five-year-olds, who just signed a new lease for a one bedroom apartment, have no business getting pregnant. That business is for adults with careers, who own four bedroom homes and have furniture. But, whenever anyone told you, life never goes as planned, you just rolled your eyes and cracked your knuckles, thinking, I’m different.
It’s not until one night, when you’re sitting in your boxers, basking in the dim blue glow of your computer lights, that you’ll realize you’re just as normal as everyone else. The bathroom door will open, flooding the room with its bright light, and a short woman will tell you she’s pregnant. In her hand will be a little white stick, and her eyes will be filled with something you’ve never seen before. You’ll turn to her, with your headset on, mouse in hand, and say, “Are you sure?”
Her disappointment is not something you’ll remember, though she’ll remind you for years to come. She’ll purse her lips and reply, “Yes, I’ve taken two tests.”
One of your strengths is thinking one dimensionally, not letting things distract you. Strengths can also be weaknesses, and here, it betrays you. You disregard everyone else in existence and don’t notice the shift in the orbit of the sun. She’s wrong, you think. There’s no way I’m a father. No way I’m ready. The universe doesn’t care if you’re ready; it only has cause and effect.
“Take another one.”
The words fall flat on her face as you turn back to your screen and convince yourself that the third time is the charm. You don’t notice that she still stands there, with her mouth slightly open, her heart slightly torn.
Nine months later, you lay next to your wife in a queen size bed, twenty miles from your home. Not everyone was excited that your wife insisted on having the baby in a birthing center instead of a hospital, yourself included. Instead of doctors, there are midwives. Instead of a regimented medical environment, the room you’re in looks like a five-star hotel room. With a couch and two armchairs that complement the color of the thin white curtains letting the sun shine through its windows, first thing in the morning. None of these things matter as you hold your wife’s hand while she brings a new life into the world.
Your newborn daughter is now nursing her mother’s breast and you don’t care that you’re crying. It doesn’t matter that nine months wasn’t enough time to prepare yourself. It doesn’t matter that, at times, you tried to not think about this day, tried even to justify how you reacted on that first night. The only thing that crosses your mind now is how beautiful this baby is, and how you would do anything for her.
You slip your index finger into your daughter’s tiny hand and smile when she grips it tight. The books say it is instinct, but in that moment she turns her head and looks at you. She can’t see you, she can’t see anything as a newborn, but she knows you’re there. A swelling begins to build up, like an artesian spring. It comes from deep down inside and reminds you of the spring of eternal salvation the church always talks about. A spring that keeps on swelling, keeps on enveloping you, consuming you with love for this child. There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for her, and it’s only now that you realize what it is to be an adult.
WILL RINCON is a native Floridian with a deep love for sushi. His fiction is forthcoming in 30 North.