|Rowena's Page, Rowena Gets a Life.||Rowena Moves Closer, Part 13|
Rowena and Sammy stopped to let Linus examine a signpost. “Wasn't this where we saw somebody walking a rabbit on a leash?” Sammy asked.
Rowena laughed. “I think so. And he was sniffing around, just like a dog, and we wondered how dog urine smelled to him.”
“I still wonder.” Linus finished with the post, and they walked on. “And I wonder if you need to take a plastic bag with you when you walk a rabbit.”
“Dunno,” said Rowena, “but if they catch you, you won't be able to blame the beagle next door.” Linus, as she spoke, veered off to a flower bed. “I'd be afraid to walk a rabbit outside, with all the dogs and everything.”
“You hear that, Linus, you thug, you?”
Linus was not a very big dog, and certainly not a fierce one. “Thug, indeed,” said Rowena. “To a fly, maybe.”
Sammy had come over for dinner; he was going to spend the night. When they were able to spend the night together Sammy usually came to Rowena's; it was easier for him to leave his cat alone than for Rowena to leave her dog. “Speciesism,” Sammy had said once. “Shame, shame.” He hadn't helped much with the cooking tonight, but he had done the dishes for her. And now they were taking Linus for a walk.
“Ever try to walk a cat?” Rowena asked.
“They tell me that some people do.”
“I've heard that one, too,” Sammy said. “It's just an ugly rumor.” Rowena laughed.
“Or a conspiracy, maybe,” she suggested. “I haven't heard any cat conspiracies lately.”
“Some people think,” Sammy told her, “that cats are full of conspiracies.”
“So they do,” she said, laughing. “What do you think, Linus?” But Linus only pushed his nose farther into an ivy bed and pretended he hadn't heard.
Rowena raised her head and looked at Sammy in mock defiance. “Nope,” she said. “That's it. That's all you get.” She sat up and crossed her arms. Sammy waggled his finger at her and she laughed, bent again to take him back into her mouth, and sat up again almost immediately. “You don't believe me,” she said. “You never do.”
“Not as long as you keep giggling like that.” She laughed again and lowered her mouth back onto him, all the way down. She moved her tongue in a way she knew he liked and listened to him gasp. Both his hands in her hair . . .
He gasped again, pushed at her. “Hey. You're too much for me.” She smiled at him, moved up his body, sat down just above his knees. He reached for a condom, took it from the package, and put it on. He motioned her nearer.
“But you just said—” He slipped a hand between her legs and it was her turn to gasp. He helped her move forward and she positioned herself above him. She paused a moment to look at him; this was as close as she would come to teasing him for a while; for a while—
And down she went, and any thoughts, for a while—
But she loves the way he looks at her.
And the way—that too, and his hands his mouth eyes and in his voice he says—
He pulls her underneath him, strong he goes and her legs up and then deep he is and—
She is no longer so embarrassed about the sounds she makes. Not quite.
He came as her own orgasm tapered off. She held onto him, feeling little under the circumstances of his own pulsing inside her but happy, more than happy; close to tears. And more than close. And after a while Sammy gave her a sort of goodbye kiss and gently withdrew. He sat up, and Rowena, turning to him, started to speak but stopped abruptly.
He was pulling at the condom's rolled end, working it up his penis. But she could see the other end hanging down much farther than it should have, much lower. The entire head of his penis had punched through.
Rowena sat up. “Oh, Sammy.”
He looked at her. “Sorry, Sweetheart.”
“Did—couldn't—oh, God.” She closed her eyes and caught hold of the top of her head. She tried to remember when she'd had her last period.
“Don't worry, Beaut,” she heard Sammy say. “We'll be all right.”
“Uh-huh.” She could feel herself shaking. She heard the condom come off and in a moment Sammy's arm was around her.
“Remember how my mom made me get tested?” This had been just before they'd met, when he'd had two bad colds in a month. “The worst thing I could give you is a baby.”
“Is that all?”
“If that happens, now or whenever, I will marry you.”
Rowena felt even stranger. He sounded so earnest. It was too—
“How can you just say that?” she asked. “I'd still be pregnant,” she told him. “Oh, Sammy,” she said.
“Come here.” He pulled her onto his lap and put both arms around her. “I love you very, very much,” he said. “I will take care of you.”
“But . . .”
“Hey, I can think of worse things than marrying you and having a kid.”
“But now? Are you ready for that? Are we?”
“Maybe? Sammy, this is—we'd have to—somebody would have to look after the kid and we'd have so many bills and there's 2 AM feedings and—have I had rubella?”
“You're asking me?” He gave her a squeeze. “Darling, there are times one just has to do what needs to be done. If you get pregnant—whenever—we'll do what we have to. We'll get you your checkups; we'll look after everything. And we'll get married and I'll love you and I'll love the kid too; and you'll love the kid, I know you will.”
Rowena closed her eyes, then opened them. “It's a little sooner than I'd intended,” Sammy was saying, “but as I said before, I can think of worse things.”
“This is—oh, Sammy.” She pictured a baby, wrapped neither in pink nor in blue, with Sammy's light hair and—
“You're not going to freak out on me,” Sammy said. “We're both reasonably mature. And this is not the end of the world.”
Rowena thought, “It might be happening right now.” It seemed strange she couldn't be sure.
“You're not ashamed, are you?” Sammy asked.
“That we're making love.”
“Oh, no,” said Rowena. “Of course not.”
“Because the things they tell girls growing up—and I'm sure you got plenty from your mom—”
“I considered the source,” Rowena said. She smiled at him, then looked away. “I don't see how it can be wrong, the things we do, or anything else about our relationship, either. I feel dumb about ever having had anything to do with somebody like Neil, but that's—that's different.” She gave him a quick smile, then turned a moment to gaze across the room. “I'd feel stupid about ‘getting caught,’ as they used to say—maybe they still say it; I don't know—I know about failure rates and everything but you kind of assume that somebody was careless, if not downright stupid—and I—”
“I love you,” Sammy said. “And I don't think that's being stupid.”
“And I love you.” She took a breath. “But it's been so nice, and we haven't . . . you just don't rush into marriage and children and all that. It's just too important.” She stroked his knee with one finger. “Everything involving you is too important.”
He turned her face towards him and kissed her, tenderly. Then he held her close; Rowena clung to him. She began to cry; Sammy held her even closer and began to rock her gently.
“What if it's too much, all of a sudden?” Rowena asked. “What if—what if we can't—if you leave me or—”
“Oh, Rowena.” He began kissing her neck and shoulder, all the parts he could get to without loosening her. “Rowena. For me to leave you . . .” He kissed her again, then again. “If it turns out you are pregnant, which you probably are not, we will have several months to work everything out. Maybe not as much time as we'd like, but . . . but I think we'll have our eyes open. And I think we'll be okay. I seriously do.”
“I hope so.”
“I think we're willing to work on it. And I think we can succeed.” He drew back a bit and looked at her. “Right?”
She waited a moment for an answer to come to her, to come up from inside. “Right,” she said.
“So we're not going to fret,” he said. “We'll just be careful—”
“Continue to be careful,” said Rowena.
“Well, we'll do what we can and we'll see what happens. And if you get pregnant we'll take care of everything, but right now we'll relax. Okay?”
“And no shame?”
“Not—like that . . . but I hope—I just wouldn't want people to think we only did it—only got married—because of the kid. That we'd just been messing around.”
“Nobody who knows us could believe that.”
“Yeah . . .”
“So, unless you want to get married right now, just in case . . .”
“Don't be silly.”
“Then fuck 'em,” said Sammy.
And she had to laugh.
Lying all snug with her head on his chest she felt better. Probably nothing had happened; she knew that usually nothing did. And if it had . . .
Thank God, she thought, that this hadn't happened with Neil. Even if he had been willing to take some sort of responsibility. Especially if he'd been willing to take the sort of responsibility Sammy had offered to take. She found herself remembering Neil, the way he used to shake his hair out of his eyes. Arrogant jerk. She had thought, once, that the opposite of being ignored was having attention paid. She had thought that a few soft touches meant tenderness.
It seemed a very long time ago, Neil and all the frustration, all the tedium. She always thought of Neil's true self as the one he'd ended up showing her, had always wondered how she'd missed seeing it earlier. Certainly her mother had missed it, but that was to be expected. Her mother's advice about almost anything was almost uniformly bad.
But Sammy couldn't end up like Neil, could he? Even if he did change somehow, Sammy could never be like that. Even if her mother did profess to like him, he still couldn't end up like that.
She herself had changed, since Neil. She didn't hope in the same way, for a start. Not that she'd entirely given up; just . . .
Sammy's breathing was so peaceful, so steady. They had turned off the light some time ago, but she knew he was awake. She raised her hand and barely, barely brushed over his chest hairs. He pulled her closer. Rowena, already snuggled along the length of his body, wriggled as though she thought she could wriggle into him. She thought his name: Sammy. Sammy. She wondered, if there was a baby, if they had one now or years from now . . . their own baby . . . would it . . .
Probably nothing had happened. She would get her mother to show her her medical records under some pretext or other, and she would get vaccinated if necessary, and then she would be sure to eat properly, and otherwise she would go on as before, and if she did get pregnant later she'd have that much less to worry about. Of course, she should have done all those things already.
Would she have to give up her job? Not that it was such an exciting job in the first place or anything. She'd have to look after the kid all the time; feed it, clean it, worry about it, bandage it and kiss it better . . . She held tightly to Sammy; he began stroking her hair. It was ridiculous, but she could still see that little person—a toddler now but still of unspecified sex—wailing next to an overturned tricycle.
She felt so sorry. She wanted to comfort the child, but of course the child was not there, could not be comforted. She took a deep breath. Of all the things to worry about. Of all the things in the world.
She woke with a full bladder. She eased herself away from Sammy, who stirred and reached as if to pull her back, and made her way in the darkness to the bathroom. She sat, adjusting her eyes to the light, thinking of little else. Finally she took some toilet paper and—
There was no mistaking it. Her period had started; her various cells, and Sammy's, were already draining away. There was no pregnancy; there wouldn't even be a mess, with her supplies so close at hand, everything orderly as usual.
She was vaguely surprised that she was crying.
“Something wrong?” Sammy asked.
“Not really,” said Rowena. She had come back to bed but could not lie down. “It looks as though I'm not pregnant. How's that for timing?”
Sammy was silent just a moment. “Are you sorry?”
She had to wipe her eyes. “Don't mind me; I'm just being perverse.”
“Do you want to—”
“No. No, of course not. It's just—I don't know. If I'd known I already kind of wanted a baby—wanted to have one now, I mean—I could just say, ‘Oh, well, it'll just be a few years.’ But here I put all this energy into worrying and everything without really realizing that I—” She sighed. “It caught me by surprise. That's all.” She moved her hand restlessly over the blanket. “So I'm a little confused.”
“Mixed feelings,” Sammy said. “I have them too.” She peered at him in the darkness. He began stroking her back. “There's plenty of time,” he said. “We have lots of time, and we can do it properly.”
She sighed again. “I know . . .”
“And you've got a wonderful dog to look after, not to mention me . . .”
She almost laughed. “And here I thought you were being serious.”
“I am serious,” Sammy said. He wasn't so serious that she couldn't tell he was smiling. He raised himself, his weight on one straight arm, leaned over and nibbled her ear. “Are you going to be satisfied for a while?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said. “Actually, I am.”
He moved down to her throat. “Good,” he said, between kisses. She put her arm around him.
She wasn't sure what she meant to say. What finally came out was, “Do you—did you really mean it?”
“Oh, Rowena,” he said. “Oh, my darling.” He sat up and pulled her into his lap. “Don't you know, my heart? Don't you know?”
She burrowed up against him. She was crying again. He put his arms around her and she dropped her head to his shoulder. “I shouldn't be crying,” she said into his warmth. “It's so stupid.” She could feel him shaking his head, no, no, no. She held onto him.
“I love you,” she said. She felt as if she was committing herself to something. She took a breath and said it again before he could reply. “I love you.”
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