“Do you want to go for a ride?”
I looked up from my phone. Kelsey stood at the end of the couch, her brows raised and keys in her hand. She didn’t look particularly excited. Her lips were straight lines with no curve up or down. It’s not a look that means something good. We were going for a ride whether I wanted to or not.
I stood, pocketed my phone, and followed her to her car—a newer green Mazda. It was only the second time I rode in it since we brought it home from the dealer eight months or so earlier. We got her the car instead of getting me the truck I wanted. It turns out, she needed the car more than I needed a truck. I guess part of me was still unhappy about it since that’s what we went shopping for to begin with.
She pulled out of the driveway and drove. Neither of us spoke for several minutes. We just watched the road in front of us get eaten up beneath her tires.
“Going for a ride” usually meant it would be a long drive and involve a serious discussion. Sometimes those conversations were good, other times, not so much. The first time we went for a ride was when I proposed to her. I took her down an old country road to a pond surrounded by lush grass and tall trees. It’s a place I’ve always liked. Dad and I went fishing there when I was a kid. It was a place of lessons and conversations that mean more to me than most.
She took me for a ride to tell me she was pregnant. That was ten months ago, right before we bought the car. There were other conversations, most of them about work or relatives—her mom dying was news I had to give her on one of those drives. I hated having to pull over and tell her. The way she cried … I get a lump in my throat thinking about it.
The last one we took was nearly six months ago. She drove in silence for a long while, seemingly aimlessly. Then it was her turn to pull over. With tears in her eyes, she told me about her miscarriage.
Yeah, there’s that lump in my throat again.
Things haven’t been the best for us since then. We still do things together, but sometimes it’s strained, as if we’re putting too much effort into a relationship that never needed effort. Even sex felt like work.
“So, what’s this about?” I asked.
She said nothing at first. My brain screamed, She wants a divorce!
She took a deep breath. “Be patient.” There was an edge to her voice.
The remainder of the drive was spent in silence. No talking. No music. Just the sound of the thoughts in my head. My mind wandered to images of her asking for a divorce, me crying but agreeing to it, leaving the house, leaving the marriage … just leaving and taking another long ride, this one by myself.
“Hey,” she said and shook my arm.
I looked at her. She didn’t look angry or sad. Concerned, maybe. I stared at her, confused, so certain she was about to lower the hammer on our relationship that I didn’t notice where she had parked.
“Are you just going to stare at me?” she asked.
“Are you going to tell me what this is about?”
She smiled, then pointed. I looked out the windshield. We were at the pond. The grass was lush green. The trees were tall. A slight breeze blew through their branches. A black truck sat less than fifty feet away. I turned back to her. She was smiling.
“I thought you might still want a truck.”
I felt shame right then. She brought me out here to give me a present and on the way, all I thought were negative things. Still …
“We can’t afford two car payments,” I said.
“Don’t worry. I have it all figured out.”
“We’re not trading your car in—”
“We can’t. I need it.”
I didn’t respond to this. The miscarriage took the need away. I didn’t mention that.
She handed me a card that simply said, Chase, on it. I opened it. There was a balloon on the front and nothing more. The inside was blank. A slick piece of paper was there, faced down. I picked it up, flipped it over. On it was the oddly faint black and white image of a baby. I looked up at her. I’m sure my eyes were as wide as they have ever been.
“Are you …?”
She smiled. Tears spilled from her eyes. “Yes.”