THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE - CHAPTER TWO (PART TWO)

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Submitted Date 02/27/2019
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“That poor baby,” Jolene says with her eyes all droopy and her lower lip puffed out. I sit down and roll my eyes, pumping a generous glob of hand sanitizer into my palms and rubbing it vigorously until the alcoholic scent burns my throat.

A moment later, Isaiah and his mother walk out of the room with Jackie trailing behind them. Isaiah is still sniffling, but he now has a Lightning McQueen sticker pressed onto his t-shirt and a blueberry flavored Dum-Dum in his tiny hand.

“You two have a great weekend,” Jackie says as they go back out through the half door and leave. When the door to waiting room clicks shut behind them, Jackie lets out an irritated sigh. “That mother had no control over her child whatsoever.”

“I could tell,” I reply.

Dr. Carver comes walking up to the reception area next. His slight beer belly pokes out of the white lab coat he has on, and he runs a hairy-knuckled hand over his thinning brown hair.

“When’s the next appointment?” he asks me.

“Ten minutes,” I tell him. “It’s a sick visit. That same kid who was in two weeks ago with the cough.”

“Trevor?”

“Yep.”

He sighs and turns to walk back down the hallway without another word. Trevor is in here a lot. All the kid has to do is clear his throat and his mom will think he has whooping cough. I honestly don’t know which type of parent is worse. Isaiah’s mother who is more concerned with clicking away on her iPhone than she is with her own son or Trevor’s mother is so concerned with her son that he’s been in to see Dr. Carver seven times this year and it’s only the middle of March.

Seeing all of these different types of parents sometimes makes me wonder about what type of parent I’d be if hell ever froze over and I decided to have a child. Would some maternal instinct I never knew I had suddenly kick in? Or would I be one of those mothers who constantly feels lost and doesn’t know how to get her child to stop crying? I feel like it would be the latter. But then again, I’ve seen girls I went to high school with who used to drink Robitussen for fun post pictures of them and their pudgy little babies on Facebook talking about how much they love being a mom and how having a child has completely turned their life around.

Sometimes, if I let myself, I think about what would happen if Brad and I stayed together and eventually had a child of our own. Would he inherit Brad’s large nose or my green eyes? Would he be high strung like Brad or laidback like me? For some reason, the child is always a boy in these fantasies.

But as soon as these thoughts begin to enter my mind, I try to shut them down as quickly as possible. Brad and I aren’t going to have a big nosed, green eyed baby boy who we may name Jayden because I don’t want a child and Brad doesn’t want me. No point in thinking about something that’s never going to happen.

“Oh my gosh, I love this part,” Jolene chuckles from beside me as Stitch begins running rampant through Lilo’s house on the TV screen. I blink away the thoughts of me and Brad’s fictional child and start straightening up the stack of charts that sits on my desk.

---

It’s Saturday night. Today, I watched an entire season of Law & Order SVU on Hulu without really watching it. My best friend, Tara, texted me asking me to come out drinking with her for St. Patrick’s Day, even though she’s not even a little bit Irish, but I told her that I wasn’t feeling well. I honestly just didn’t have the energy to be around Tara. I love her, but she can be so extra sometimes.

Now, I stare into the mirror, lightly pressing the tips of my fingers against the dark skin underneath my eyes, watching it become pale from the pressure, then return back to its purplish hue. My teeth are stained red from the wine I’ve been drinking. My lips are chapped and the wine has settled into each crack in them. I wet a finger under the faucet and try vigorously rubbing at my lips, but the red remains.

I splash some water on my face, turn off the sink, then head back to bed where I continue to scroll aimlessly through Facebook. Social media just depresses me even more, but I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from it. A picture of this guy I know from high school on a beach, on vacation somewhere with his girlfriend, arms linked around each other, tan and grinning from ear to ear. A status this girl I vaguely know posted bragging about the new promotion she got at work. Countless selfies, all happy and gorgeous and perfect.

I toss my phone down on my bed and reach over to my nightstand to pour myself another glass of wine. I switch from Hulu to Netflix and put on Pulp Fiction, something familiar that I don’t have to pay too close attention to.

Against my better judgement, I wonder what Brad is up to right now. We used to spend every Saturday night together. Cooking dinner together, watching movies, trying out a new bar, making fun of all the hipsters we saw there. It’s been just over two weeks since we broke up. That makes this the third Saturday night we haven’t spent together.

He’s probably trying out a new bar with a new girl whose hipster jokes are probably much funnier than yours ever were, my anxiety tells me. I bet she’s smarter than you and has a job that she went to school for. I bet she’s classier and wittier and everything you could never be.

“Stop it,” I utter, but it’s the first time I’ve spoken all day and my voice sounds hoarse and distant, as if it’s not my own.

He said he was ready to settle down, remember? If he’s not settling down with you, then he’s definitely out finding someone else to do it with. Someone who’s actually ready to settle down with him. Someone who wants to have his babies and start a family with him. Someone who is settling down with material.

I reach for my phone and go to Brad’s Facebook page. I’m not even sure why I continue to check it. It’s not like he ever posts any new statuses or anything. The last thing on his wall was his relationship update from the day we broke up. Single.

Thirty-two people had liked it. Twelve had heart reacted it. His younger brother, Ben, had wow reacted it, then commented saying: What happened?! I hope you’re okay. Call me!

I always liked Ben. He always thought that I was good for Brad, even when Brad didn’t think so himself. The three of us were all out to dinner one time and when Brad got up to go to the bathroom, Ben looked at me and said, “I’m really glad you and Brad started dating. He’s been a much cooler person since he started going out with you. I think you’ve really broken him out of his shell.”

I couldn’t stop the corners of my lips from pulling up into a smile. “You think so?” I asked.

“Absolutely! Brad’s always taken himself way too seriously to the point where he never just lets loose and has fun. I feel like you’ve gotten him to relax a little bit and actually enjoy himself.”

By that point, I was beaming. It felt good to be good for someone. Of course, Brad didn’t feel the same way that his brother did. In fact, he felt the complete opposite.

I close out of Facebook and spend the remainder of the night half-watching Netflix, trying but not succeeding to stay off social media, drinking wine in bed, spilling some on my comforter, until I finally drift off to sleep. Sunday morning, I wake up with a dull headache and a dry mouth. I spend way too much money on Chinese food that I have delivered via Grubhub. I force myself to shower because I need to wash my hair before work tomorrow. When I finish, I lay naked on my bed, scrolling through Netflix for a full seven minutes before finally turning on an episode of Parks and Recreation that I’ve seen five times already. I smoke a bowl and fall asleep without brushing out my hair.

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