No worries. Now you all can enjoy it!
by Maren Bradley Anderson
Some people swore that the house was haunted. They were wrong. It was just me hiding out. I guess I can understand how they’d make that mistake. I didn’t look right, and the house was creepy and empty, and I only came out after dark ‘cause Sam was at work then.
See, Sam didn’t know that I was pregnant or that I was still in town. He thought I was in Albany, going to art school—so did everyone else. I passed as just fat for a long time, but when the baby got to wiggling inside me, and my belly started to round out, I knew it was time for me to disappear, though I couldn’t afford to be far away.
Some guys, you know, just can’t think about being dads. One I was with was hurt by his daddy—actually, most of the guys I’ve been with were hurt by their daddies, come to think of it. But, anyway, most of them don’t never want kids. Sam was a little different: he said he didn’t want kids now. That’s why I hid. Sam could say “no” to a pregnancy, but he wouldn’t say it to a baby. A boy baby, especially if I named him “Sam.”
It wasn’t so bad, living in the “haunted house.” I hid my car out back, so Sam wouldn’t see it. It was still warm, so I slept with the windows open. I figured out where to turn the water on, and when the utility company came, I hid in the house and turned it back on when they left. When I needed food, I walked to the Circle K and got enough burritos to last a while with my school money. On Thursdays, the public library is open late, so I went and checked out stacks of books on babies to read during the week.
Sam called my cell almost every day and told me how much he missed me, though it wasn’t every day after a while. He said he was busy and asked when I was coming home. I would pat my round beach-ball belly and tell him “soon” and imagine the look on his face when I knocked on the door holding his son. It made me smile and love him even more.
I don’t really know what I was thinking. Maybe that the baby would just slide out of me, and I could surprise everyone with him? But on Halloween, my belly hurt for the whole day. When I started howling in pain, I finally dialed 911. The operator actually said, “Isn’t that the haunted house?” when I gave her the address. When they heard me shrieking inside, even the EMT guys hesitated on the dark doorstep as the trick-or-treaters who had been daring each other to ring the bell ran away. Cowards.
The baby was backwards, and, insurance or no insurance, I needed a C-section. He is so beautiful, with hair so blond it makes a white halo around him. But I couldn’t leave the hospital without someone’s help. I chickened out and called my surprised parents.
They were going to call Sam, but I begged them not to. Instead, I convinced my dad to drive me to Sam’s place with Little Sam so I could tell him myself. I dragged my sore body to the apartment’s front door with our baby in my arms and rang the bell, grinning ear to ear.
Polly answered it clutching a filmy robe and a cigarette.
Nothing was ever the same again after that.