How Cara Learned to Stop Worrying Ch. 04byphlight©
How Cara Learned to Stop Worrying – Pt. 4 – Telling the truth; Cara and Keiji get handsy on a train.
(I didn't expect this to happen when I conceived the first sex scene of the first part of this story, but it seems like I have more to say than, "Girl meets guy, bones him, it's awesome, the end." This installment has a lot of talky-speaky-discussy with no sex for quite some time, but if you're into the story I hope you like it. Stick through the heavy stuff; I promise there's smut in here. Or just wear out the scrolly wheel on your mouse skipping to the good bits. I've done both in my day. CTRL+F+splooge?)
"Evan, we need to talk."
My son looked up from his book -- a copy of Julius Caesar -- with an evasive look on his face.
"Mom, if it's about my room I swear I'll clean it tomorrow. I just want to finish this tonight so that I can move on to Hamlet. We have to decide which one we want to do before Thanksgiving break," Evan said, returning his large blue eyes down to the page. Jesus, a performance of Hamlet in middle school? Then again, I guess being murdered by your best friend isn't much nicer. This drama teacher wasn't playing around.
"Ev, no," I said, sitting down next to him on the bed. "It's not about your room. It's nothing you did. Please, it's important."
I had his attention now, but he had to make sure I knew how much I was annoying him. He put the book down with a gusty sigh and crossed his arms over his chest, an "I'm waiting" expression on his face. Looking at him I remembered him as a baby; so young, round, and sweet. He had always been a good listener, adept at interpreting my meaning. I hoped he would draw on those skills now.
"I met someone."
"Oh...kay," he said, on edge at once. I tried to be careful about making our lives a revolving door for random men, but after I broke up with Adam Evan declared me hopeless and said I should give it a rest. As much as his words hurt, I didn't address it with him any further. I knew he was hurting more than I was, especially with Reed so far away.
"Hana," I said, and saw his eyes go wide with surprise. "Hana's uncle. He says he knows you. His name is Keiji. I met him at Our Town. We've been seeing each other since then."
"Why are you telling me this, Mom? I don't want to know the gory details. You never told me about anyone else. You just say, 'Hey Ev, here's this guy! He's so great! Let's all go out for a picnic!'" Evan tried to play his words off with a smile, but his tone was acid. I took a deep breath.
"I'm telling you because. We aren't just dating, Ev."
His smile faded.
"You're joking," he whispered. His voice got louder. "I know Keiji. He's cool, he hangs out with us whenever he's visiting Sachi. He's never said anything about you. What, are you guys like, married? Yeah, right!"
"I asked him not to say anything, Evan. I wanted to talk to you first, but I waited to make sure--" I stopped, trying to take the pleading tone out of my voice. "Evan, try to understand that we didn't plan it this way. I'm going to have a baby in the summer. Mid July, I think."
His tough-guy façade crumbled. He hid his face in his hands for a long moment and didn't look at me when he spoke again. His voice was dead.
"How do you know."
"How do you know it's him?" he choked, meeting my eyes with some effort. His nostrils flared.
"Evan, it can only be him," I began, ready to explain that I had waited until I was at least eight weeks along to tell him, wanting to spare him my anguish if something went wrong and made this whole situation nothing but a crazy memory. But by now I had seen a perinatologist (due to my "advanced maternal age"). She showed Keiji and me the baby on the ultrasound machine; we saw its tiny limbs moving vaguely, the heart pumping at what seemed to us to be an alarming rate. It looked like a gummy bear with an oversized head. We had looked at each other, tears in our eyes, terrified and elated. I knew miscarriage still wasn't off the table as a possibility, but by now I was praying to the porcelain god every morning and it was getting harder to hide my growing waistline. Everything that had happened to me with Evan seemed to be happening even faster this time -- my belly was already round and hard, difficult to suck in.
"Why! Why in the fuck are you doing this! Why did it have to be him? Do you even know anything about him!" Evan burst out. Now it was my turn to be shocked.
"It--it's only been about two months, I know, but we've seen each other as much as we can without neglecting our other responsibilities, I've been trying to get to know him--"
"This is disgusting, you know," he interjected, running his hands through his dark curls. He looked a lot like Reed when he was angry. "Neglecting other responsibilities, sure. This guy has lots of responsibilities. You know you're just his flavor of the month, right? He's always bringing over a new girl, all these hot girls. Once he had two of them and said they were just his roommates but they couldn't keep their hands off of him. Hana laughs about it, says he's so cute, too bad he's her uncle, hardy-har-har. I used to think it was cool, he got so much pussy, but now I know he's fucking gross. You've known him for two months and you're having his kid? What did he do, hypnotize you with his dick?"
I tried not to be shocked at his words -- I know how kids talk, I used to be one, and I can swear like a sailor with the best of them. I expected him to be emotional but I didn't expect this depth of anger; he had thrown me completely off my planned script. His words also cut right to the core of my worst fears. As amazing as these past weeks had been, I did worry about my future with Keiji. I worried that my affection was misplaced, that I had been "hypnotized by his dick," so to speak. And it still made me feel uneasy every time I learned more about Keiji's sexual past. The doubts started to whisper again and I wished he were here to ease my mind. But maybe that was exactly the opposite of what I needed.
"Evan, I'm sorry," I said, looking down and fingering the pattern on his quilt. The tears began to drop out of my eyes. "I'm sorry to surprise you like this but I wanted to you be the first person I told. I haven't said anything to Grandma or Grandpa yet."
"What about Dad?" he asked, sitting up straight and getting a faraway look in his eyes. Searching for Reed.
"He doesn't know yet."
"I want to go live with Dad," he said, his response immediate and firm. He looked at me straight on, his expression full of challenge and some other emotion I couldn't read. I sighed, feeling utterly defeated.
"Ev, you know that won't work--"
"We've been over it before!" I said, my voice starting to rise. All this painful shit all over again, me feeling rejected by him, him feeling rejected by Reed, and I was the one to dredge it up. I made my bed, all right. "You can't go with him because his company is so new, he has to be there all the time. He's not home enough. He can't be there for you. He can barely call you right now!"
Evan's face went brick red. He knew I was right, and he hated me for it. Well. Mission accomplished, I guess.
"Like you're fucking going to be here for me now with your precious little shit machine and your baby daddy, who also happens to be the town bike in case you didn't know," he spat, deliberately trying to wound me. I saw no way out but to end the conversation and let him live with the knowledge for awhile, feel out all its sharp edges in his own way. He wouldn't be placated and led into acceptance by me.
"Evan, all I can ask of you is that you trust me. I've thought about it for two months and I want to have this baby. I know it's going to take some time to get used to the idea. Keiji says he's not going anywhere--" Evan barked out a harsh laugh here "--and you know I'm not going anywhere. I will be here for you when you want to talk. I love you, Evan. I love you so much."
I didn't try to touch him; I knew he would flinch away and I couldn't take any more heartache tonight. I got up as gently as I could and left the room, closing the door behind me. I didn't move for a few minutes, but I heard nothing. The silence was deafening.
The next morning I knew I needed to talk to Reed. If there was a parallel experience in my life to my present situation, it had happened to me with Reed. He might have some perspective to offer, might give me some idea of whether or not I was headed down the right path. He was also going to hear about my pregnancy from Evan if I didn't speak to him first, and I knew he would appreciate a heads up on the "Can I come live with you" request Evan was sure to lob at him.
I was pretty sure I would end this conversation with yet another Arkady male hating my guts.
I dialed his cell number and chewed my nails waiting for the call to connect. It rang for so long that I expected a voicemail prompt, but suddenly he was there, his voice clipped and bright.
"Reed, it's Cara."
"Oh hey, Cara. What's up?" The brightness dimmed considerably, although he maintained a pleasant tone. As always with Reed I felt the sad ghosts of "What if?" hovering around me. I imagined his open, handsome face, always looking eager to help and please. I sighed.
"Um, a lot, actually. Do you have time to talk right now? I know you're really busy, but it's important," I said.
"Sure, just let me go into my office. Oooh, doesn't that sound so fancy? I have an office now!" he joked. I heard his feet climbing stairs at a brisk pace, the sound of a door opening, someone greeting him, and finally a closing door.
"Okay, I think we're alone now." He hummed a few bars of the song. I wished I could laugh.
"Reed, I'm kind of at a loss here," I said, trying to keep my voice level.
"Uhhh, okay," he said, sounding so much like Evan that I wanted to go run out and play in traffic. "Is Evan all right?"
"No, no, I mean, yes! Yes, he's okay, I mean, he's...that's why I had to call you. I'm pregnant, Reed."
There was silence on the other end of the line for a few beats.
"Well, I've heard that before," he said, his voice tinged with bitterness. I hated myself. It was excruciating to go from my high of being with Keiji, of being supported by him, being excited about our baby, to reliving the stress of my pregnancy with Evan and the end of my relationship with Reed. The worst part was that I knew Reed felt more for me than I ever had for him; he continued to let our separation affect him as if it had happened yesterday instead of almost fifteen years ago (and as if we had dated for six years instead of six months). Reed had told me several times that he was unmarried because of his experience with me. Usually I got angry, told him to come off it and stop blaming me for his problems, but right now I couldn't stop the guilt from consuming me.
"I told Evan last night. He's upset."
"I know. He asked to come live with you. Again."
"Understandable," Reed repeated, this time with a sigh. "So, who's the lucky guy? I didn't even know you were with someone."
"It's a long story," I said, and then realized that actually, it wasn't. It was a short story. "Reed, no, that's not right. The truth is that I just met him. I got pregnant because we weren't careful the first time we--"
"Wow, I really have heard this before! Should I start calling you Myrtle, as in Fertile?" he said. I knew he was trying to protect himself using humor but both of us knew it was futile, so I didn't respond to the joke.
"Reed, I need to tell you this because I want you to know I am not going to make the same mistakes I made with Evan and you. I am not going to pull my son in multiple directions. I am not going to kick this guy to the curb because I'm ashamed that I made a mistake. I'm sorry, Reed. I know you probably think I'm full of shit."
"Hmm," he said.
"And I know I don't deserve your blessing or whatever, that's not why I'm calling. I needed to tell you because this time it's different. I mean, of course I can't know what will happen and I am second guessing everything. But I think if I did to Keiji what I did to you I couldn't live with myself. I made a huge mistake, again, but I can't keep doing what I've been doing. Ignoring my life, pushing people away." I had no idea if I was making sense or not but those were the words that came to my heart.
"Yeah, definitely don't do -- what you did before. To Cagey? What's his name?"
"Kei-ji," I corrected. "With a K. And an I at the end. It's a Japanese name."
"Hmm," Reed hummed again.
"Reed," I pleaded. I didn't deserve his blessing but I wanted to hear that I wasn't crazy, that he would be okay, that he wasn't going to swoop in and take Evan and call me a heartless bitch and hate me forever.
"Don't give him no choice," Reed said, his voice gone hard but with a tell-tale thickness that said he was fighting to keep his emotions down. "Don't tell him this is what it's like and go fuck yourself, because who cares if I loved you and wanted to be with you, because you were over it. We fucked up and you ran as far away from me as you could, like that would make it go away."
"I know," I said, my voice as small as I could make it. "I know, Reed. I know. I'm not going to run."
"Do you love this guy?"
I froze, maybe looking for the right answer, maybe looking for the answer Reed wanted to hear. I wasn't sure what the answer was in either case.
"Do you love him, Cara?" he repeated.
I felt something in my mind let go. It took Reed's questioning to crystallize my feelings for Keiji into solid, stark reality. I wasn't going to run anymore.
"Yes. I love him."
"Then love him. Have his baby. Don't fuck it up." His last sentence was distorted by tears.
"I'm sorry, Reed," I said, feeling hollowed out. I heard him sniff and fight to get control back. When he had it, he sounded like I felt.
"Yeah, yeah. I know. I'm sorry I let you go. Been kicking my own ass over that for years. Listen. I gotta get back. Tell Evan I'll Skype with him tonight at 7. On the dot. And don't come in on the conversation, okay? Let me talk to him one on one."
"Okay, Reed. Thank you."
I hung up the phone and leaned against the wall next to it, thinking nothing for several moments, waiting for all of the old pain and guilt and sadness to fade. I hated dragging Reed through all of that but it had to happen sooner or later. Then I remembered what I had said to him about Keiji and adrenaline kicked my heartbeat up a few notches.
I was in love.
November 26 approached. Evan was going to visit Reed and I was going to visit the Nakamuras. This Thanksgiving break was sure to be a crazy one, organized last minute and with several fast ones pulled to explain to my parents why Evan and I wouldn't be seeing them this holiday as we had planned originally . I promised them a visit before Christmas to placate them. Evan was giving the performance of a lifetime with an all but unbroken streak of silent treatment, though he thawed a bit each time he spoke with his father. He seemed relieved to be getting time away from me, and with sadness in my heart I realized that I felt the same. I hoped we could reconnect soon.
For Evan's sake Keiji and I were doing our best to be discreet, keeping phone calls short or sticking to texts and email. We were only able to meet twice between the time of the perinatologist appointment and the time we'd be leaving for Keiji's hometown to tell his parents about the impending arrival. (One of those times had been a quick meal at a restaurant while Evan stayed after school for a drama meeting; the other had been a late night booty call after a day of suggestive messages. I finally reached the point of no return and begged him to come over. He showed up at my door, we fucked as quickly and silently as possible in my laundry room, and he left me no less horny than I had been before.) I was going crazy not seeing him, and I still hadn't said those three little words that I had admitted to Reed.
I wasn't able to decide on a good way to tell my family about the baby, but Keiji's gut told him to just get it over with when it came to his parents. I was worrying myself to death about meeting them. Obviously there was the, "Hey, you don't know me, and this is crazy, but I'm having your grandbaby" angle, but more mysterious to me was what they would think of me as a person. Keiji tried to wave my fears away by saying that they had met a variety of his girlfriends and disliked them all equally without discriminating on the basis of race, creed, or educational level. That didn't quell any of my anxiety.
Sachi called me a few hours before I was due to meet Keiji at the train station for our trip to their hometown. Evan had flown to Reed's home the day before and I was in a frenzy of packing, having put it off while he was still home. I hadn't spoken to Sachi since the day at the play, but Keiji told me she knew what was going on.
"Hi Cara," she said, her voice as bright as ever but with a hint of careful analysis. Oh brother, I thought. This before I've even said a word.
"Hey, Sachi, it's good to hear from you," I said, trying to sound light and unworried.
"Same here! I think we'll be seeing a lot more of each other from now on, don't you?"
"I guess so!" I said, feeling like a dutiful puppy. Her next words sounded genuine, though, and put me at ease for a moment.
"I wanted to tell you that I am happy for you. Surprised, of course, but very happy. It can only be a good thing for my little brother to calm down and focus on something important like raising a family," she said. "If you ever need any baby gear, I think I still have some of Hana's clothes and toys. I couldn't bear to part with them."
"Oh wow, thank you," I replied, my stomach doing flip flops as I considered the concept of baby gear. I also felt a twinge of sadness at the thought of Keiji needing to "calm down." The guy would be in a coma if he calmed down any more. I didn't want to change him, and the idea that he should narrow his focus to me and only me made me feel inadequate.
"I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I'm still so floored about you guys," Sachi continued. "Keiji told me you met at the play, and um, that's how it happened, but I just never thought someone like you would go for someone like him. You're so responsible and put together and stuff. He's so...well, he's Keiji."
I sniggered, wondering how much she knew about my past. I had told Keiji bits and pieces of that story but probably not enough for him to relate to his sister with much clarity. For that matter, I wondered how well she knew Keiji. He seemed rather staid when I compared him to me. Just being around him made me feel less like I was coming apart at the seams.
"Well, he's very...nice?" I tried. Nice. Yeah. That was a good summary of Keiji Nakamura's sexual prowess. But somehow I didn't think his sister really wanted a great level of detail.
"I was going to guess that you had an Asian fetish," she teased. "I run into that all the time."
"Oh, wow," I mumbled, not sure what to say. I'd never considered the concept of a fetish before as a cause of my strong attraction to Keiji. Certainly he was physically different from the men I had been with before which was a huge turn on in terms of the excitement of discovery, and I noticed Asian men more since meeting him...but did he need to be Asian for me to be attracted to him? I wasn't sure.
"I'm just kidding, just kidding. It seems like that usually happens with women, you know? Every time I go on a date with a guy who isn't ethnic Japanese I ask myself if he's really interested in me or if he just wants me to put on a geisha costume and walk on his back. And they always really hate it when I have opinions and talk and laugh out loud and stuff."