The Letter


She knew what she had to do — and that she needed to do it now. Procrastinating would only make the task ahead more difficult — for both of them.

Her circumstances — and the future of her unborn child — required that she be fearless now. Decisive. Determined. Protective.

As she showered and dressed in anticipation of Dennis’ visit, she vacillated between being extremely angry with herself for not being more responsible — the thought of using birth control had never even entered her mind on that fateful New Year’s Eve — and worry about what her future held. She knew that her discussion with Dennis this evening would only be the first of many conversations she would be having in the coming weeks and months with the people she loved. She wondered how she would tell her parents, knowing that they would be disappointed, but fiercely protective. Although she had not had time to fully evaluate her financial circumstances, she presumed that she would need to move back into her parents’ home and secure employment back in her home town, dependent upon her parents to assist with child care and other responsibilities.

“I just don’t understand why the doctor can’t prescribe something to help you.” Her friend was clearly irritated. “How long did he say it would take for this thing to ‘run its course’?” she inquired.

“I told you,” she responded, staring out the passenger window of the vehicle as she adjusted her sunglasses to hide her swollen, puffy eyes. “There is no medicine that he can prescribe. It just has to run its course and I’ll feel better when it does.”

“It’s a virus?” her friend pushed.

“Breathe . . . breathe,” her friend urged, as she knelt alongside her chair, rubbing and patting her back. “Come on . . . deep breaths. You can do it. Get some air into your lungs . . . there you go . . . you’ll be all right.”

Upon hearing that he was planning to marry the woman with the dark heart — and the betrothal had been publicly announced — she had been unable to catch her breath. Her eyes filled with tears, she was rendered mute, and she thought she would suffocate. Her friend immediately came to her aid, soothing and consoling her as she struggled to maintain her composure and avoid the stares of the cafe’s other patrons.

The ringing telephone startled her awake. She sat straight up on the couch, disoriented. The telephone was on the coffee table directly in front of her with a hand-written note taped to it: “Make an appointment with the doctor. I’ll call later and check up on you. Love, Me.”

She threw off the blanket that covered her and reached for the telephone, noting that she was still fully dressed.

“Hello,” she said groggily.

“Good morning, sweetheart,” Dennis replied tenderly. “I didn’t want to call too early and wake you up, but it sounds like I did just that. How are you feeling? Any better?”

The sun was just setting when they arrived at the nearly empty restaurant. He turned to her and asked, “Would you like to take a walk on the beach before we have dinner?”

Although she didn’t feel well and would have preferred to be home sleeping, it was a beautiful night. The sky was perfectly clear, the air crisp. She reasoned that the sea air might help settle her stomach and relieve the pounding in her head that only intensified as she studied his every gesture and movement. She searched his face for clues as to what he was thinking and feeling.

“You know that I want to see you tonight,” she reassured Dennis, “but I just don’t feel up to going out. I think I’m coming down with that flu bug that has been making the rounds. I’m really tired, kind of achy all over, and my stomach has been doing somersaults for a couple of days. I’m just going to stay here in my nice, warm bed and try to sleep it off.”

“I could bring you chicken soup,” Dennis offered.

“Are you planning on making it yourself?” she teased.