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I knew it wasn’t fair but I was angrier with Michelle for Scott-and-Michelle than I was with Scott. And I didn’t know how not to be.
I suppose it was because when I looked at Scott I thought about kissing Scott. And when I looked at Michelle I remembered that he’d had sex with her and I wasn’t sure if the things he did with me counted as sex or not.
I had thought it would be better once she wasn’t pregnant anymore. That maybe her presence wouldn’t be a constant reminder. I was secretly afraid that maybe I’d hate the baby instead of hating her but it didn’t work out like that.
Mani was perfect and I didn’t want to stop looking at him and I didn’t want to put him down and I didn’t want anyone to ever hurt him. It was Michelle who seemed to hate him and if I hadn’t yet worked out how to forgive her for having sex with Scott, I didn’t think I wanted to forgive her for the way she seemed to resent Mani. Or so it seemed to me. People often tell me I’m wrong about how people feel about each other because I’m bad at reading people. But I’m not convinced I am. I think I’m just bad at picking up on the things people say and do to make people think they like each other more – or less – or differently – than the way they really do. And I don’t know why they do that. Scott explained that sometimes people say things just because they think they are supposed to.
“Are we boyfriends?” I ask him one day. Mani has been asleep for more than two hours which is probably the longest he’s ever been asleep at once.
“I’m sorry,” he says and I’m pretty sure that means no which is the answer I’d expected but it hurts all the same.
“Okay,” I say. And he doesn’t say anything for a long time. And I wonder if he’s asleep but he’s still holding my hand. And I don’t know if I should try and go to sleep or if it’s pointless because Mani is probably about to wake up.
“I don’t want things to change,” he says. And I’m not sure that I want things to change either. I just want to have a name for the way things already are.
“I think I have to marry your sister,” he says. But he still wants to kiss me and I don’t really know what to think about that.
I hated being pregnant. I’d assumed that after the baby was born I’d be happy and feel all the things a mother is supposed to feel.
When Alan Sebastian held the baby for the first time he looked at him in awe. “He’s so tiny.” Alan Sebastian said reverently. “Hello baby. Nice to meet you. I’m Alan Sebastian and I’m going to look after you.”
Scott held him next. “I’m scared I’ll drop him,” he said and gave him back to Alan Sebastian.
I saw what Alan Sebastian felt. It was written on his face and in the curve of his shoulders. He loved the baby with his whole heart.
“I’ve had him for nine months,” I said when they tried to give him back to me. “You can keep him for a while.”
I didn’t feel that. What he felt.
It was a red, screamy thing and I wanted it away from me. I kept waiting to feel what they felt. To want to protect and look after it. But I just felt tired and used and angry and sad.
I’d thought that when I wasn’t pregnant anymore Alan Sebastian would forgive me. Like the growing space between us was my pregnancy and once the baby was out I’d get my brother back. But Alan Sebastian loved the baby and had no room for me.
Scott had moved in and although he theoretically had a roll-out mattress on the floor of Alan Sebastian’s room I don’t think he ever slept on it. Still, somehow Scott assumes he’s going to marry me which is ridiculous. Disgusting.
There’s no room for me here. But I’m trapped and I’m suffocating and I cry more than the baby does and I can’t stop crying and he won’t stop crying and he won’t stop crying and he won’t stop
he won’t stop
he won’t stop
And inside I’m screaming and I can’t stop and he won’t stop screaming and he won’t stop screaming and
he won’t stop
he won’t stop
and I think of all of the ways I could make him stop
…and I give the baby to my brother, who holds him so gently and speaks to him so softly.
“If you give him back to me,” I whisper to Alan Sebastian, “I will throw him at the wall.”
And I walk away back to my room and close the door and think of all the ways I could