Black Bill Part 2
It had been a good time to get pregnant. She was in the middle of everything at once, and it was going OK. It was best to be distracted while pregnant, have things to do, to say no to. She was running a little online shop, selling shelves. Why were most shelving systems so ugly? Badly constructed? She’d spend hours, with a mix of power tools and hand tools making her own systems. No Dieter Rams, but she understood how to make something affordably and well, mostly alone. She’d put them up on the store. They’d sell out in a few days. Her boyfriend had a buddy who ran a company that would deliver them in his truck within 100 miles for a flat rate. Some people would even pay freight fees to get them across the country. She was asked to participate in a few local pop-ups by an attractive woman who had recently begun renting a beautiful house down the road; the origins of this woman’s own tight community connections unknown. Chez Chez Chez Chez Chez started selling her stuff, too, and featured her in a magazine ad. She bought five copies of the magazine and sent a few to her parents with a postcard that said, “Look at at the back. My shelves!” Her own home was bizarrely unfinished, mostly charming and incoherent Craigslist finds a few years past expiry. Her boyfriend had low expectations of what their lives would look like aesthetically and was impressed with her woodworking skills. He’d invested instead in a fine hand plane, a mini-shop installation in the garage with a table saw and filtration. He would inherit a cattle ranch from his father that he would sell immediately upon acquiring in order to buy a house, but for now, he worked remotely as a product designer for a major building supplies company. They got a hook up on shipping materials.
Bill would be born into a world of small business and a big salary. Maybe a bastard, because mom had been hanging out, from time to time, with an old friend, saying she was visiting potential retailers. Her intention, subliminally, she thought, was to have sex with this friend, and this time she did not make an effort to sabotage was going on behind the scenes. But they had used a condom, so who knew. And anyway, Bill was like his parents. The twins would not come with the same cosmic grace.
And oh well it had been fun to think that maybe he was not her boyfriend’s son. None of her wrongness had ever come so starkly to light. And she loved her friend, who was happy to have an affair with her, bored as he was of being right, and only being vaguely wrong in reciprocating the sidelong advances of a woman he had been fond of for a long while and whose boyfriend was a bit standoffish. She called him maybe five months in. “This is so weird to say on the phone. And I know it sounds fake. I just have to get it out so I’ll be callous but I’m pregnant. It’s probably not yours but who knows, because I don’t we can be sure about the condoms.”
He wanted to know if there would be a paternity test. “If you like.” Had she been having sex with her boyfriend in the last year? “A little. It was not passionate.” Who did she want to be the father. “I imagine either of you would be up for it, but of course I’m calling you to tell you something I could’ve kept from you forever. I realize I’ve been stupid.” He didn’t know what to say. What did she want? For him to drive up and confess the affair to her boyfriend, who thought his girlfriend was pregnant with their child, and might be anyway? “I can tell him.”
So, in this world, she had chosen love, and a lesser salary. It had been a different kind of convenience. And he also had health insurance, teaching undergraduate chemistry to career-changing post-grads. And if she wasn’t asking for child support, her, in this world, ex-boyfriend said, there probably didn’t need to be a paternity test, because it would probably be expensive. He had been cold the way she expected, but suddenly certain the child was not his in a way she hadn’t. Her mom was all over the place helping her move in with her new guy. “Why wouldn’t you just get married? Having his baby?” “Well, we don’t know whose, yet.” “I can’t believe this. This is not right,” she said, in these circumstances. Dad was on the phone with the delivery company, who had not given them a window. “It’s not right. Your dad and I are worried. What if he leaves you, eh? After the excitement is over. And you have to find them both and get this test?” “But what was I supposed to do? Stay with him?” “What you were supposed to do is not get pregnant living with a man like that, mmhmm.” But now she was living with a man she liked, pregnant. Her mother didn’t see her resourcefulness, her craft. But Bill would, if only he could have seen her then.
Except it was unclear to her which father he had been born to, and under which set of circumstances. The soon-to-be-very-wealthy one or the lapsed PhD student? Her memory zapped between at least three, often six versions of events, and nothing happening to her currently could confirm which had taken place. You see, there had been no test, and she had never gotten married.