Continuation of a story of two people, each of them with a shared yet distinct history.
Across the street, little Ben edged his helmet back on his head to keep it out of his eyes, then went back into the action with the others.
She could have married Ashley's father. Once she knew she was pregnant, she'd called to tell him. It was the summer after their freshman year, and he was a million miles away in New Mexico. She told him she didn't expect him to say something right away, but she had expected him to call back maybe an hour later or so, after he'd thought about it.
Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. A whole week passed before he called again.
"Well," he said, "I suppose we got to get married."
Any kind of proposal would have been fine. That's what she had expected. But her systems went flat when he said it that way, and some tyrannical voice came up out of nowhere. "No," she said, "we don't 'got to get married.' You're wrong, Jason," she told him. "You don't got to do anything."
"What do you mean?" he said.
She let that stupid question hang onto whatever carries a phone's little bleeps.
"You don't want to get married?" he said.
Anger stiffened her shoulders. "I don't want to have to," she said.
"Well, that's what it is, ain't it?" he said. She was too angry to speak. Again, silence. And then, finally, "I got things to do," he said.
That's when she unloaded. She told him how she'd been heaving her guts out, how telling her parents was no great shakes, how in her own heart accepting what she'd done was terribly hard. How confessing to God was awful. She told him how, for the last month--all by herself, him out mountain-climbing or whatever it was he was doing in the desert--she'd done all of that and more. "You think I'm sitting here darning booties? This is no picnic, Jason."
"What are you going to do with the kid?" he said.
"The baby," she told him.
"'The baby,'" he repeated.
Behind his silence, she heard Garth Brooks on that fancy sound system he'd claimed cost him a fortune, and she knew at that moment she didn't want Jason. When she put the phone down, she cried, not because he was gone but because she had been so incredibly stupid to give in the way she had to someone like Jason.
Tomorrow: the skinned knee