30 or so Stories I’ve written in 2018 that have been rejected: On Call

 

We met in English class. Micah was a proper gal, that knew her way around a Neiman Marcus. It was light years away from my trailer park background but we shared a love of books. I fancied more Cormac McCarthy stuff, while she thought Faulkner was god. I gave her my number and told her to call me if she wanted to study. I never thought a girl like that would, but she did.

After that, everything happened so fast. We started on your typical college dates to the library to study. But it wasn’t long before we were that Facebook official couple on the couch at house parties. It was all going so well, until she showed me that double line on the First Responder Pregnancy Test.

Micah was only in her third semester of college, but it’s not like it mattered with the amount she went to class. This all happened so fast, I don’t even think she received a syllabus. I was in my junior year, and in an instant graduation seemed further away. She looked at me to say something. So I grabbed her hand and said the first thing I could think of.

“Let’s get out of here.”

She remained on the couch, so I grabbed the arm of her oversized gray sweatshirt and started walked. The keys clanked when I picked them up.

I chose a direction and drove it as far as the road would let me. Micah was silent. Only sound was the heater and the occasional wiper blades. It drove me nuts, so I put in a Kings of Leon CD.

“Are you hungry?” I asked.

Her eyes stared ahead at the passenger airbag sign.

“Yea” she whispered.

Sonic was close so I pulled in. She ordered a cheeseburger with a blue raspberry slushy and I pushed the limit with my Citi Card. The Grand Am was low on fumes, so I turned the car off. Micah rolled her eyes. I clicked the ignition to keep the heat going and she smirked. It was the first time her worried expression changed. We talked about our food until the courage came for the heavy stuff.

“Look I know we’re young, but I think we should keep it.” I said. “We could move to Phoenix. My parents have a place there, I’m sure they’d be willing to help us.”

The windows were fogged up, yet Micah still look out them.

“Yeah?” She said.

“Yeah, I could get a job working construction with my uncle. It wouldn’t be glamorous but it could work for now.”

She let out some air.

“You just got it all figured out. What about my parents? What do I tell them? They’ve never even met you!”

“I know. I know. It’s not an ideal way to meet. But I want this and I know it’s a lot to process right now, but think of baby. Our baby.

He moved the extra large cup from her grip and placed it in the cup holder. Then he grabbed both of her hands.

“I don’t care what she says. I love you. We can do this.” I said.

She looked in his eyes and took a deep breath. She looked scared, like she wanted to say a few more “what if”s but decided against it.

“Okay.” She said.

He kissed her on the cheek before turning the ignition. The wiper blades unlocked from the middle position and water flew in both directions.

#

Days went by, and I made the arrangement to move to my parents place. I told them everything and they were angry but understood. Micah was taking it hard so I’d show up with a gift at her place every time I came over. I’d bring boxes over too and we’d get to packing up her dorm room. She was quiet most of the time, still taking in the situation. The day before the move she said she was going to hang out with her girlfriends one last time. I let her go, as I had to pack my own things.

On the moving day, I swang by Starbucks to get her favorite, a double mocha with just a splash of almond milk. It was rainy and I almost dropped my coffee trying to open the glass door against the rain. I took the elevator up four flight to find a sticky note left on the door.

Tom,

I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you this in person, but I just couldn’t. I can’t do this with you. I moved home to figure this out.

Please don’t hate me.

-Micah

I pounded on the door out of reaction. I threw the coffee at the wall and started pounding louder, even yelling her name. Her neighbors started staring at me. Then I just ran. I didn’t know what else to do. I guess, I felt like if I got far away from the note, it didn’t exist. I sprinted all the way home. Once I caught my breath I called Micah’s like I was a telemarketer. Every voicemail I cursed, apologized, and pleaded until I wore myself to sleep.

Years have passed, and I’ve barely spoken to Micah. After a month of calls and letters, the restraining order came in the mail. I got the hint then. I eventually graduated I moved back to Phoenix.

The math tells me my boy should be around six but I don’t know for sure. I’ve never seen a picture of him. I just know he exists on paper because the child support keeps coming out of my check. I don’t even think he knows that I exist. That’s sad. He doesn’t even know where half of his features come from. My lawyer is still working on getting me some sort of custody. But it hasn’t been going well.

I’ve kept my phone number the same all these years, hoping he’ll call one day. It’s one of the things that keeps me going. Everyone I know hates unknown numbers. Not me. I get exited. I’ll even answer them at four in the morning. I can’t tell you how much it hurts when Comcast asks me to rank my internet service. My friends think I should give it a rest and I’m starting to think they’re right.

I’m always on call,

and it’s fucking killing me.

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