Pauline looked over at her daughter, playing with her nephews and nieces. She couldn’t believe that Ashanti was turning five. The more she watched her, the more she wished her father was around to see how beautiful his daughter had turned out to be.
Pauline rarely thought about Fred, but as she marvelled at how much Ashanti had grown, she couldn’t help but reminisce about their past relationship. The two had met at a restaurant after Pauline’s failed blind date. Fred had walked in and ordered but couldn’t find a free table, so he opted to sit with her.
Pauline was in a sour mood and couldn’t help ranting about how her date had shown up with unkempt hair and shabby clothes. Fred didn’t mind listening to her and even asked for more details. They bonded over many more stories, and Pauline was glad that she had met him during one of the worst days of her life.
They developed a friendship, and the more they spent time together, the more they liked each other. A few months later, their friendship turned into a relationship. Their relationship grew stronger each day, and before they knew it, they had moved in together.
Two years into their relationship, Pauline introduced Fred to her family, and Fred did the same with his. They would attend family gatherings, birthdays and graduation parties together. In every one of these functions, Pauline couldn’t help but admire how Fred was with the children in her family or those in his family.
He would play with them, tell them stories and give them advice. Whenever a toddler cried, he would even take the initiative to soothe the child to sleep. With time his family and Pauline’s family nicknamed him the child whisperer since he was good with children.
“You love children, huh?” Pauline asked on a random day as they were heading home from a function.
“Yeah, they’re so adorable, plus there’s just this joy I feel whenever I spend time with them,” He replied with a smile.
His response warmed her heart, and she couldn’t wait for the day they would have their bundle of joy. Pauline and Fred had never talked about having their own kids since it was a heavy topic, and they liked to go with the flow. However, seeing the excitement on his face whenever he spent time with children was evidence enough that he would be a great father someday.
As they entered the third year of their relationship, Pauline missed her period. She knew what that meant, but to be sure, she decided to take a test and realised she was indeed pregnant. At first, she had mixed feelings since she didn’t know how Fred would handle the news. After some time, however, she remembered how good he was with kids and was sure all would be well.
It was a weekend, and Fred had decided to spend time with his friends, so she waited for him to come home. She couldn’t contain her excitement when he arrived and blurted out the news.
“I’m pregnant! We’re going to have our bundle of joy!” She said with excitement.
Fred remained silent.
“Did you hear me? We’re going to be parents! Aren’t you excited?” She said.
“No, I’m not!” He replied angrily.
“I thought you said you love kids?” She asked.
“Yes, I do, but kids I can spend time with and return them later,” He said as he paced around the room.
“What’s wrong with spending time with your own kids?” She asked in a disappointed tone.
“I’m not ready to be a father! That’s too much pressure!” He replied.
“But we’ll have each other; you won’t go through parenting alone,” She said as she tried to calm him down.
Fred took a deep breath and sat down on the sofa.
“Are you sure this is the path you want to take?” He asked softly.
“I’ve always wanted to have a child, and I know you’re going to be a great dad,” She replied.
“Okay,” He responded.
They didn’t talk more about the pregnancy but seeing him come down assured her that things would be okay. As they went to bed, Pauline fantasised about the little family they would have; she couldn’t wait to be a mother.
The following morning, she woke up, and Fred was not by her bedside. Her first thought was he had gone out to run an errand, but then she remembered it was a Sunday. She picked up her phone and tried to call him, but his phone was off.
As she sat up, she noticed a note on his side of the bed. She picked it up, and everything she had hoped for their future shattered.
I love spending time with kids, but we never really talked about having our own. I can’t be responsible for a human being; it’s just too much to take in. I’m sorry.
Pauline got up, opened their wardrobe, and his clothes were still there, which could only mean he was just in a state of panic. She looked around and noticed that one of his bags was missing. She picked up her phone quickly and called one of his friends.
“Hey Pauline,” John said as he picked up his phone.
“Hey John, is Fred there?” She asked.
“Nope, did you two fight?” He asked.
“No, it’s just a small misunderstanding,” She replied, trying to contain her disappointment.
“Just give him some time; I’m sure he’ll be back,” He said.
Pauline hung up and realised John was right. Fred just needed some space, and things would be back to normal. In the days that followed, Pauline decided to go about her days like usual. However, she kept checking her phone, hoping Fred would call or text her.
At the end of the week, she got home from work and found John standing by her door. His facial expression made her realise that Fred was serious about not wanting to be a father. She walked into the house and allowed him to pack up his friend’s stuff.
As John left, Pauline sat down in silence, trying to process that her relationship was over as she was beginning her pregnancy journey. A part of her wanted to give up and fix things with Fred, but she knew that even if they went back to the way things were, she would never be able to be a mother as long as she was with him.
As she snapped out of her thoughts, she saw Ashanti laughing with the other kids. At that moment, she realised that even if Fred had given up on them, she was glad she didn’t choose to give up on her.
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