The Substitute(5)

By: Lindsay Delagair

“I told him I’m sterile now and that I can’t give you any children.”

“Oh. You didn’t have to tell anyone that, Andy. I mean other than your mom and my….”

“No, Jen, you don’t understand. I told him I want you to get pregnant. I want us to have kids so badly.”

“Andy, we can’t.”

“Do you remember when I asked you to trust me and you said that you would?”

She nodded.

“Do you still trust me?”

“Yeah,” she said, but she didn’t sound very confident at the moment.

“I asked Gabe to get you pregnant.”

The bottom of the universe seemed to open up and Jen felt like she had just fallen through it. “WHAT!”

“Calm down, please.”

“Calm down?! Oh, my god, Andy, what did you do? I can’t sleep with Gabe!”

“You told me that you had a crush on him,” he began.

“Yeah, I did—in eleventh grade!”

“Look, Honey, I want you to get to experience motherhood. This is the only way it’s going to happen.”

“Bullshit! I’ll go to a fucking sperm bank. I can’t—can’t cheat on you!” She had begun to tremble all over as Andy wrapped her in his arms and held on tight.

“I don’t want you going to a sperm bank. I know right now the idea sounds flipping crazy, believe me, he thought the same thing when I asked him. I’ve given it a lot of thought. Even before the doctor told me we shouldn’t have kids; I’d already figured that out. Please trust me that this can be a good thing. I want children. Gabe doesn’t want to settle down. He wants to live a little until he finishes the military.”

“He probably has an STD, or several STDs!”

“He doesn’t. He’s not as wild as everyone thinks. A lot of what you see is show.”

“So you just figured you’d get him drunk and—and….”

“No. I wouldn’t let him touch you drunk. I told him I want the two of you to go on a date, sort of. Take a weekend off together whenever your….” His face reddened.

“Whenever I’m what? Whenever I’m okay with shagging your best friend?”

“No. Whenever your—your cycle or whatever it’s called is right for getting pregnant. I honestly don’t think I could handle him fucking you more than once or twice.”

She burst into tears. Andy was completely serious. Did she like Gabriel that way? She’d kissed him when they were teenagers before she chose Andy. She remembered how hot that kiss had been. She’d been willing to go farther, but he seemed more interested in playing the field, so she backed off. She went out with Andy—and then fell in love. She couldn’t deny that Gabe had been a fantasy of hers for a long time, but she’d always felt so ashamed to be in love with one man and day-dreaming about another. Surely that wasn’t natural, right?

“Shhh, Baby. Please don’t cry. I know you’re thinking that somehow this is wrong, but I know I don’t want you going to some sperm bank and picking a guy out of a folder that we don’t know anything about. Gabe is my best friend. We grew up together. He’s a show-off and a hot-dogger, but underneath all that he’s a good person. And—and he’s—he’s always liked you. When we started dating he told me to go for it because you were the hottest chick on campus, and that you deserved a nice guy.” He dried her tears and kissed the tip of her nose. “Think about it tonight and tell me in the morning. And, Jen,” he said tipping her chin back so that she had to look at him. “It’s okay to tell me no, but I want you to understand it is okay to tell me yes, too. I want to have a baby with you, and this is the best solution.”

She didn’t sleep much at all that night. She laid there and wondered about what Andy had said to her. She did want a family, but with his best friend? Gabriel was a very beautiful man, but what if the unthinkable happened? What if she fell for him? She loved Andy with every ounce of her life, but what if Gabe changed all that? What if she got pregnant and then Andy changed his mind? She was pretty certain he’d never ask her to have an abortion, but what if he grew angry and bitter that the child she carried wasn’t his? No, she knew Andy too well. He would be a good father whether the baby belonged to Gabe or a random number from a sperm bank. He was right about that though; she didn’t want to pick an unknown. And what would they tell their families about how she got pregnant? Just before dawn she fell into a worried sleep.