The more I walk around, the worse I feel. I can’t believe Riley did this to me. I had no idea what was in those pills he was giving me, but I can only imagine. Maybe the pills were what was causing me to lose my memory. Maybe they were responsible for my accident last month. They could be anything.
I feel sick just thinking about it. Sick.
Eventually, I wind up back at my office. I’m not entirely surprised to see Riley waiting for me outside the door. I was sort of hoping he’d be there. I want the truth from him, and I’m not going to let him weasel out of it.
He looks pretty bad. His hair looks like he was just in a tornado and his shirt is covered in coffee stains. He straightens up in his wheelchair when he sees me, and wheels over to me. I wonder if maybe he’s trying to cripple me too. Can pills do that?
“Maggie,” he says, “I am so sorry. You have to let me explain.”
“I don’t want to hear any more lies,” I say.
“No lies.” He places his calloused hand on his chest, where his heart would be. “I swear to you.”
I open the door to my office and let him in. After a hesitation, I close the door behind me. I don’t honestly think Riley would physically harm me, and I’d rather people in the hallway don’t hear what he has to say.
“So,” I say, sitting in my new chair. I give Riley a dirty look. “How long has this been going on? Have all those coffees you’ve been giving me had pills dissolved in them?”
Riley hangs his head. “Honestly? Yes.”
Despite the fact that I asked the question, I’d been praying the answer was no. I almost feel dizzy. “I can’t believe this…”
“Maggie, it’s not what you think…”
“It’s not?” I glare at him. “Fine. Please tell me why you’ve been drugging me.”
“I’m not drugging you,” he says. “They’re not drugs, I swear.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
“They’re not,” he insists. “They’re just… vitamins.”
“Vitamins,” I repeat.
“Yeah.” He shrugs. “That’s all.”
“You’ve been slipping me vitamins every day.”
“Uh…” Riley scratches his black hair, making it stand up even more. “Yeah.”
I’m getting a little sick of these games. “What the fuck would you do that? You think I’m not getting enough Vitamin C in my diet?”
“No,” Riley says. “They’re prenatal vitamins.” He reaches for a bag behind his chair and pulls out a large bottle of pills that say “Prenatal Vitamins” in large block letters. He hands them over to me.
I open the bottle and shake out a pill. It’s identical to the one I found in my drink earlier. I guess he’s telling the truth. “I don’t get it, Riley,” I say. “Why are you giving me these?”
He shakes his head at me. “You really don’t know?”
“Maggie…” He looks at a loss for what to say. “Haven’t you noticed that… I mean, ever since your accident, I’m guessing you haven’t, you know…”
He blushes slightly. “Gotten your period.”
I stare at him. He’s right—I haven’t. But it’s only been… well, I guess it’s been around a month. I don’t know. There’s been a lot going on. I haven’t really had time to think about my menstrual cycles.
“And you gained all this weight,” he points out. Now it’s my turn to blush. I thought he hadn’t noticed, but clearly he had. “And your breasts are… well, bigger.”
That dizzy sensation has returned. “What are you saying?”
Riley gives me a funny look. “What do you think I’m saying? You’re pregnant, Maggie.”
No… how could that be? I’m infertile. Walt and I were trying for years with no results. “How did that happen?”
“Oh, the usual way,” Riley says, looking slightly amused. He lowers his voice. “Sex. You know.”
“I can’t though,” I say. “I can’t get pregnant. My uterus is a battlefield.”
“No, love is a battlefield,” Riley says. “Your uterus is fine.”
“This doesn’t make any sense,” I mumble. “I was at the hospital after my accident. They would have known if I were pregnant at the time.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Riley says. “When I found out you were hospitalized, I thought for sure we were busted. But I guess they never checked. Maybe they asked Walt if there was any chance you were pregnant, and he said no, because as far as he was concerned, there wasn’t.”
It’s obvious what he’s implying: he’s the father of this alleged baby. But truthfully, I still don’t buy it. I don’t know why he’d make up a story like that, but I know I’m not pregnant. I mean, if I were pregnant, I’d know. Right?
“You don’t believe me,” he observes.
“You’re right,” I say. “I don’t.”
He shrugs. “Take a pregnancy test. Do it right now. I’ll drive you to CVS.”
“I don’t have to drive to CVS,” I say. “I’ve got plenty of unused pregnancy tests at my house.”
I start fishing around in my purse for my car keys, until I feel Riley’s hand on my forearm, stopping me. “I’m going to drive you,” he says.
“I can drive myself.”
“You’re shaking,” he observes. I pull my hand out of my purse and it turns out he’s right. My hands are both trembling. “I don’t want you to get in another accident.”
We take Riley’s car back to my house. We drive in silence, although several times I catch him throwing nervous glances in my direction. He knows the circuitous route to my house so well, like he’s been there a hundred times, which maybe he has. At this point, I have to believe that he at least thinks he’s telling the truth about me being pregnant. Otherwise, he’s about to get busted big time, and he’s not putting a stop to it. I just don’t know what to believe anymore.
Walt isn’t home, of course. If he had been, I’d have been in trouble because I had no explanation for why Riley and I would be here in the middle of the day. I start up the steps to the front door, and then realize what I’m doing when Riley hangs back. “Sorry,” I say.
He nods. “No problem.”
We head around to the back, and I let us inside. “The pregnancy tests are in the bathroom,” I say. “I’ll just... I’ll be a few minutes. Make yourself comfortable, I guess.”
Riley nods again.
I shut myself in the bathroom, my hands still shaking. I open the drawer full of baby-making items and locate an unopened pregnancy test. I’m now shaking so badly, I can hardly get it open. I try to take a few breaths to calm myself down, but the breaths themselves are shaky. I read the instructions on the test: Catch the urine mid-stream and wait two minutes. In the viewing window, there’s a test line and a pregnancy line. Two lines means I’m pregnant, one line means I’m not. Simple enough.
Luckily, I have to pee pretty badly. I crouch over the toilet, trying to do this without getting pee all over my hand. Not an easy task. And how do you know if you’ve gotten the stick wet enough? You’d think with the number of times I’d apparently done this, I’d be an expert by now.
I manage to successfully pee on the test strip, and I put it on the sink counter to wait. The test says it’s supposed to take two minutes. Except the second the moisture touches the viewing window, two lines almost instantly appear. This is not an ambiguous result. I’m pregnant.
I’m freaking pregnant!
I stare at the test for a minute, unable to believe my eyes. Then I place my hand on my belly. An hour ago, I thought this was all just fat. But apparently, there’s a person inside me. Also, there’s probably a lot of fat. But also, a person.
I close the lid of the toilet and sit down, unable to stop shaking. I can’t believe this is happening. I’m pregnant and I can’t even remember the conception.
There’s a knock on the bathroom door. “Maggie?” Riley’s voice. “Are you all right?”
“Uh huh,” I manage. I pull open the door a crack and peer at his worried face. “It’s positive.”
“Yeah, I know,” he says. He bites his lip. “Can you come out, please?”
I shake my head no. I drop my face into my hands. “Jesus, Riley. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I wanted to. Believe me. But look how freaked out you are. I couldn’t do it to you. I wasn’t sure how you’d react if I told you earlier.” He sighs. “So I figured... well, I thought if I looked out for you and made sure you got those vitamins, it would be okay. You have no idea how hard it was to keep you from getting trashed at that barbecue.”
I remember the night of the barbecue, how Riley’s juggling ball had knocked the drink right out of my hand. And then Susan removing my wine glass under the guise of being worried about her carpet...
“Susan knows...” I murmur. It’s almost but not really a question.
“Yeah,” Riley admits.
I groan. My boss’s wife knows I’m having an affair and got knocked up. That’s just great.
“I had to tell someone,” Riley says. “I was going nuts. And Susan really cares about you, Maggie. She didn’t tell Frank, I promise.”
I just stare at him. This is all too much.
“Please come out of the bathroom,” he begs me. He wheels back a few steps. “Here, I’ll give you a ride to the couch. A platonic ride. No funny stuff.”
Reluctantly, I rise from the toilet and allow myself to fall into Riley’s lap. I lean against his solid chest as he wheels us both into the living room. When we get to the couch, he pauses to allow me to get off his lap. I settle onto my cozy blue couch so that I can face him. I have so many more questions, I’m not even sure where to begin.
“How far along am I?” I ask.
“I’d guess 11 or 12 weeks,” he says. “You actually have an appointment with an obstetrician next week. They’ll probably be giving you a reminder call soon, which would have tipped you off.”
“We didn’t use protection?”
Riley shakes his head. “Look, I’ll be straight with you. I was told by a doctor a while back that I probably wouldn’t be able to conceive without medical intervention, and you got told the same thing. We could have used a condom, but because of my injury, that doesn’t work so well for me. I need a lot of direct stimulation to... perform. So we just figured there was no point in using anything. I mean, it was like the Special Olympics of conception. Literally. Well, not literally, but you know.”
I study his face. “How do you know it’s not Walt’s?”
“I don’t,” he admits. “But you swore to me you hadn’t had sex with him in six months.”
“But you don’t know for sure.”
He lowers his eyes. “You’re right. I don’t. But I trust you. I mean, I trusted you.”
I don’t know what that statement means. Is he saying he doesn’t trust me now? That I’m fundamentally a different person than I was when he knocked me up three months ago?
Riley runs his hands through his hair, then rubs his eyes under his glasses. “This is so fucked up,” he says. “When you found out you were pregnant, you were so happy. I mean, so happy. You drove over to my apartment, told me the news, and said that you were leaving Walt for good. That was a week before the accident.”
If that’s the truth, why am I still living with Walt? “So why didn’t I leave him?”
“I told you that you should pack a bag and move out that night,” he says. “But you were worried about losing everything in the divorce because you cheated on him. I told you over and over that it didn’t matter, that I had money and I’d take care of you...” Riley pauses, his voice suddenly a little hoarse. “That’s why I bought you those dresses... so you could hide it as long as possible...”
I look at Riley’s face and I’m a little worried he might start crying. His eyes are rimmed with red and his breaths are as shaky as mine. “I shouldn’t have let you go back to him,” he says. “I should have tried harder to convince you to leave right away.”
I lean back against the couch. It still seems completely surreal that I could have conceived a baby with this man. Walt, maybe. But this just doesn’t make sense to me. And to be honest, it’s a little hard to believe a guy who has been slipping me pills for the last month. “Are you absolutely sure it’s yours?”
Riley stares at me. “What?”
“I’m just saying...”
Riley frowns, looking a little pissed off. “Look... you don’t believe me, ask Walt. Go ahead and tell him you’re pregnant. See how he reacts. Because believe me, he’ll know it can’t be his.”
“Maybe I will,” I say.
He narrows his eyes at me. “You know, you really shouldn’t.”
“But then how else can I know for sure?”
Riley throws his hands up. “Fine. Great idea. Please tell him everything. Frankly, I’ve been waiting for you to do that for a whole year. At least this will speed things up.”
He reaches into the bag behind his wheelchair and pulls out the bottle of prenatal vitamins. He holds them out to me. “Here,” he says. “I know you at least care about the baby.”
I take the bottle from him. It’s about a quarter full. I can’t believe he’s been giving me these for a whole month. I imagine him picking them out, trying to figure out how to get them to me without my knowing. “Okay,” I say.
He nods at me, then without another word, he leaves my house out through the back. I go over to the window and watch him transfer into his car, much more slowly than he did on the way over here. After he closes the door to the car, his head sags down and he buries his face in his hands. He sits that way for several minutes before he finally drives away.
To be continued.....
(P.S. from Annabelle: Who guessed it??? Be honest!)