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A Missing Heart(3)

By´╝ÜShari J. Ryan

“You’re not due for another week. We have time. We should make this decision together,” I argue, while at the same time trying my hardest to calm down.

“We’re seventeen. We’re hardly old enough to care for ourselves, let alone a baby. Plus, I—I don’t have much say in this…I don’t have any say in this,” she sighs as droplets of tears slowly trickle from her light chestnut eyes. “I don’t want to do this to her either, you have to believe me.” She places her hand over her stomach in a loving way.

Her? “Wait,” I say, waving my hands in the air. “You just said her…you knew?” She told the doctor she wanted to wait until she gave birth to find out if the baby was a girl or a boy. At least, that’s what she told me. I don’t understand any of this. When was this bullshit adoption decision made? She knows I’ve been saving every dime from work, putting it aside so we can feed and clothe the baby. I cleared out an area of my bedroom so I could make a place for her to sleep. I bought toys, and I’ve been storing them under my bed. As much as I have not been ready to be a dad, I’ve done the best I could to prepare for being one. I may not know much about caring for a child, but I know how to love one.

“I didn’t want you to get attached—I didn’t want to get attached, but I broke down and asked if it was a girl or boy during the last ultrasound,” she says, looking down to her fidgeting fingers, twiddling the promise ring I gave her a few months ago. I made a promise that we would have the most incredible family and that I would give her and our baby everything.

“So you made your mind up about this weeks ago, huh?” I ask, running my hands through my hair in aggravation. Her mother needed to escort her to every goddamn doctor’s appointment so I couldn’t even be there for the ultrasounds. This is bull.

“I didn’t make this decision, AJ.”

“Who did then? Why didn’t you tell me, Cammy? Why?”

“You like to fix things, help people, and solve the world’s problems. You love everyone and everything, and everyone loves you. AJ Cole would never hand his child off to anyone. I know you well enough to realize that you wouldn’t agree with this and…since it’s out of my hands and I don’t agree with it, I didn’t know how to tell you.” Her words become stronger, and the tears clear from her face as if the sun were peeking through on a dreary day. Has she made her peace with this decision…the decision that was made without me? I’ve never seen this particular expression on her face before.

“The Cammy I know would never give her child up for anything in the world either…she’s our daughter. How is this out of your hands, Cammy?” I whisper angrily, pointing to her stomach. “She’s ours and no one else has the right to make this awful decision for you.”

“My parents—they left me no choice, okay?” she snaps. “We aren’t married. You have no rights. None, AJ.” I can’t believe what I’m hearing. This doesn’t even sound like something Cammy would say. It sounds like something she’s been programed to say. She fights for what she believes in and what she wants, and this makes no sense.

“How could you not fight for her—for us? How are you going to be able to live with this after giving our baby away? I sure as hell won’t be able to.” I think I might be snarling at her. I try to tame my anger, but there’s no way to tame what I’m feeling right now. “I don’t want to give her up. I’m not going to consent to this. I’m going to be at the hospital, and they’re going to want her father to sign papers too, Cammy. I know you think I have no rights here, but I do. That little girl is half mine, whether your parents like it or not.” In any other circumstance and on any other subject, the way I’m speaking to her, the way she’s speaking to me, this would be grounds for breaking up. This would be grounds for a nasty high-school breakup. But I love her. I’ve loved her for almost two years and we’ve been forced to grow up faster than I thought possible in the past few months.

 She looks up at me, the glossy look in her eyes returning as she sniffles softly. “This isn’t up for debate. The lawyer my parents hired said so.”

“Lawyer?” What the fuck? I should have figured. Mr. and Mrs. Beverly Hills of Connecticut would force her to have an attorney. Her parents seemed understanding, from what I’ve heard. Though, I’ve never actually met them. I was never allowed over at her house since I have been her best-kept secret, aside from the first few months of her pregnancy. I don’t know if she’s trying to protect herself or me, but now I realize I never should have agreed to keep our relationship hidden for so long because she might be right. Any dude could walk into the hospital that day and claim to be the baby’s dad. There’s no proof, other than a DNA test, which I’ll do if they give me the time to prove myself. I don’t know how this shit even works. “I’m at a loss for words, Cammy. God, this isn’t right. This isn’t fair. I’m so angry and I don’t even know what to say,” I hiss through boiling rage.