As the flock of ducks charged with waking you every morning begins its familiar chorus of quacks, you jump out of Mary’s bed and sprint on the tips of your toes to the messy heaps of discarded clothing at the foot of the bed. You hunt for your jeans and the phone hidden in the pocket, and after silencing the birds you are relieved to see that Mary is still asleep, her slight nose whistle still intact and her hair only slightly ruffled. You pull yesterday’s pink pinstriped boxers up to your waist before tiptoeing to the bathroom down the hall to the bathroom.
Tip 77: The Morning After Is Never How You Imagine It Will Be
Ideally, a post-coital morning eases into its being, with one party arising early to make coffee and take in the crisp morning air while the other sleeps soundly. This is followed by a trip to a farmer’s market or street fair of some sort where you share a bag of kettle corn and some fresh fruit until ultimately you gather enough ingredients for a light picnic brunch, something similar, in fact nearly identical, to the morning after scene in Sideways. This never happens.
Emma sleeps for another hour, waking to find you leaning against the headboard, reading, and twirling your hair with one of the teal chopsticks from her dresser.
“Oh my gosh,” she says sleepily.
Emma stretches until her sternum softly pops. She brushes her hair out of her eyes and pulls the sheet back over her waist before she rolls over and rests her head on your stomach.
“You need to let your hair grow out a little more before those will stay babe.”
“Good morning,” she says.
“Good morning,” you reply, closing the book.
“What if I’m pregnant already?” she asks with her playful smile.
You pull the chopstick away from your hair, hold the base gently between your thumb and index finger and place the tip against the small pooch of Emma’s stomach before you whisper, “Abortio.” The laugh you had imagined does not come. You wait for her to pull away, to roll over, or to ask you to leave, but Emma rubs her temple across your stomach as if to relieve an itch.
“Sorry,” you say tucking the chop stick behind your ear. “I was trying to be funny.”
“I know. So was I. We’re probably off before ten or something.”
“Maybe,” you say. “I wouldn’t use an abortion spell on our baby.”
“Good,” she giggles.
“Do you want to go get breakfast?”
“Not really,” she says.
“I could make pancakes.”
“I don’t have any more milk.”
“Are you mad?”
Emma sits up and places her pillow behind her back. She picks the crud from the corners of her eyes, flicking the crusty flakes toward the floor.
“You’re not bored with me already are you?” she asks.
“Good. I have a plan for the day, but I wasn’t expecting you to have your boxers on already. It throws off my timing,” she smiles.
Tip 56: You Have To Let Someone, Aside From Your Mother, Take Care Of You
All day you have felt that every movement, every look, every sentence had been hindered by the pull of your abortion comment. You watched your words, and said very little. You stared at Emma to the point of her feeling uneasy about it and blushing. The natural ease that you had been blown away by the day before was gone, and you were certain it would never return
That morning, even with the condom firmly in place, Emma sought constant updates of the approaching peak you both worked toward, and even after assuring her that you were nowhere near the apex she suddenly wriggled out from beneath you to coax out the dangerous droplets with her hand, physically confirming the hurt you knew that you had caused minutes earlier. She smiled at you as she tossed the condom into the wastebasket near the bed, rested against your chest after, assuring you that she’d finished long before you. She kissed you before asking if you wanted to share a shower, but as you watched Emma work her coconut shampoo into her hair you knew she was at the least disappointed in your response to the idea of her pregnancy, but more likely angry. You felt that the water rolling over your face fell not from the shower but the small cloud gray cloud which had begun forming over you and Emma since your joke left your mouth that morning.
Perhaps the dreary cloud did not hang over Emma as well. Perhaps her smiles were genuine. Perhaps there was no cloud at all and the uncomfortable gloom lived entirely in your head. It would not have been the first time you had created an awkward feeling that did not exist, but you forbade yourself from relaxing during the quiet lunch at the small sandwich shop down the street and the long drive around Winston-Salem, and even when Emma stood at her easel behind the sofa, adding tiny details to a canvas filled with sand and penguins, you were certain that something still wrapped itself around the two of you.
When she finally dunked her brushes into the jar of water on the coffee table and sat down at the end of the sofa, lifting your feet before letting them rest in her lap, you forgot to think about the cloud, but it was not until half an hour later, when she returned from her painting room with a box filled to the brim with colorful glass tubes, that you realized you were wrong about the gloom’s existence.
“Alright,” Emma smiles as she places the final touches on the last of the three joints she has rolled. “We’ll go slow. Ok?”
“Ok,” you breathe nervously.
Emma brings the lighter up to the joint and inhales deeply and drops the lighter onto the coffee table before finally releasing the smoke. You observe and try to repeat her actions when she passes the joint to you. While holding the smoke in, you roll the joint between your thumb and middle finger. It feels frail in your hand, more delicate than you had imagined. You think of how easy it would be to snap the joint in half. When you finally release the smoke you hand the joint back to Emma and wait for her reaction.
“Good boy,” she says before taking another drag.
“Not going to freak out on me are you?” she asks passing the joint back you.
“Does it look like I’m about to?” you ask shakily.
“No,” she laughs. “You’re not. There’s no reason to worry. It’s you and me. It’s only just you and me babe, and I promise that I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
“Ok,” you sigh and take another drag.
“Be cool. Enjoy it.”
“Don’t tell anyone,” you whisper, easing the smoke out of your lungs. “But I’m not cool.”
Emma takes the joint back and covers her face hiding a giggle.
“Nothing,” she says behind her hands. “It’s just something that I shouldn’t say, but it’s really funny.
“Of course you’re cool,” she says and lets out a laugh. “Of course you’re cool... you’re smoking pot.”
The two of you finish the joint in a haze of your own laughter, and you don’t speak until your head is resting in Emma’s lap, the nylon of her orange shorts against your neck, and her fingers are busy working a part into your hair.
“I think I kind of love you,” you say.
“I think I kind of love you too,” she replies
“I do. I love you, and I wouldn’t abort our babies. I’m sorry for saying that. I’d never say that, ever.”
“Really, never. Not with you.”
You turn your head into Emma’s body, and she moves her hands to from your hair to your cheek. You kiss her stomach gently, for a minute wishing there was a baby beginning to take form beneath her soft skin. You explain that you could think of no better place for a baby to come to life than within her, and that you would be willing to try right now if she wanted.
“Sorry,” you say into her stomach. “That was goofy.”