Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing 5

The first date continues! Oh my.

If you haven't been following along, Shadowboxing is an M/M novella featuring Asher, a talkative yet romantically shy fella with cerebral palsy, and Roy, an occasionally not-so-gentle giant who has a stutter and rescued Asher from a sticky situation at the beginning of the story. In this chapter, they're headed to Asher's place to continue getting to know each other.

Shadowboxing, Chapter 5: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
Table of Contents

- Rowan

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Update to Baby Crazy

So after a comment last week, I went through the chapter I had already written, and tried to inject a little more "devviness".  You can let me know how successful I was.

In the last scene, Anna stormed up the stairs when Matt suggested making a baby.  Will he follow?  Can he?

Chapter 4

The entire story

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing 4

Thanks so much to everyone for all the love for the boys so far. :) I'm so very appreciative of the community and enthusiasm.

Here's the next chapter of Shadowboxing, featuring the agony of "will he/won't he text back," and a sketch of Asher:

Shadowboxing, Chapter 4: View from the Morning
Table of Contents

- Rowan

Monday, January 22, 2018

New Devo Diary!

Hi everyone, I'm back! This every other week posting schedule is a lot more manageable for me. Hopefully this will allow me to keep updating regularly rather than going on a long hiatus.

Devo Diary Chapter 39: William, part 2

Thanks for reading and commenting! I really appreciate all the comments.

Table of Contents

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Update to Baby Crazy

Thank you for all your comments last week!  I wasn't sure about this story because romance usually involves boy meets girl kind of stuff, not two married people thinking about having a baby.  That said, I struggled a little with whether to post Anna's chapter here, because I wanted to dive right into the nitty gritty stuff. But it's sort of important to her character development?  I don't know!  Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!  Love feedback!

Chapter 3

The entire story

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Update: Lobster, With A Straw

Hi guys, I'm so happy to write this update because I can finally show you this absolutely incredible, amazing drawing by Rowan that I love to pieces and also find soooo freaking devy... =) Thanks again, Rowan, it still blows my mind!

Lauren and Patrick. Art by Rowan
For everyone who is curious to know how Lauren and Patrick's evening continues: Here's Chapter 4! And because I wanted to give Rowan's drawing a proper place I made a Table Of Content.
Hugs,
Lovis

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing (now including ToC)

Happy Wednesday, all. Here's the next chapter of Shadowboxing, in which we find out just how Asher got himself into the sticky situation in which Roy met him - plus the beginnings of a Table of Contents for your convenience.

Chapter 3: Scheherezade

Table of Contents

Thank you again for reading, and for all of your kind and enthusiastic feedback so far.

- Rowan

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Update to Baby Crazy

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who read and commented last week.  I love this story, so I'm happy you guys do too!  This week is chapter two, which involves Viagra and possibly some babymaking, who knows? ;)

Chapter 2

And in case you missed it, here is Chapter 1.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Update: Lobster, With A Straw

Hi guys, here's Chapter 3 of Lobster, With A Straw! I really appreciate your comments, you definitely made my days last week.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Lovis

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing

Thanks so much to all for last week's warm reception - it's been giving me that happy glow all week. Here's the next chapter of Shadowboxing, in which Asher receives an intriguing revelation about Roy.

Chapter 2: At the Bus Stop

And here's Chapter 1 in case you missed it.

The next few chapters will be almost twice as long, so this week's briefer chapter includes a bonus sketch of Roy - since nothing says self-indulgence to me like making time to draw my already self-indulgent characters. :)

- Rowan

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Devo Diary

Hey everyone, Devo Diary is back! I'm still not sure if I can keep up with the pace of posting every week, but I have a new chapter and I wanted to share it right away, before you all forget what was in the previous chapters.

In case you did forget, at this point I'm singing in an opera where I get to dress as a fairy, and getting more and more into the SM scene with my friends from the opera, Lulu and Marty. Sarah is my red-haired friend from grad school, kind of moody and insecure. The guys I'm seeing are Atom the Archaeologist (a sexy but pretentious hipster who likes to be pegged), Brenno the Baritone (a friend with benefits who's about to move to Italy for work), Warren (the IT nerd who's very active in the SM scene), and of course The Mantis, the sexy submissive para. 

In this chapter, yet another AB guy asks me out, but don't worry, there is still more of the Mantis. He's not going to disappear anytime soon :)

Devo Diary Chapter 38: William, part 1

So with this chapter I'm going to switch to posting every other week. There seem to be some other days free so if any authors want to jump in, please leave Monday to me for now. If the other days get filled up I'm willing to alternate but only if we work out the details in advance and the other days are taken. Thanks!

Table of Contents

Baby Crazy: Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Sunday, January 7, 2018

New story: Baby Crazy

Hi all!  I'm back with a brand new story, called Baby Crazy.

I noticed there hasn't been one story on the blog that deals with a wheeler who is trying to make a baby or dealing with parenthood (or impending parenthood).  So that's the focus of this story.  Hope you enjoy!  Please let me know your thoughts!!!

Baby Crazy

Anna

Reasons not to ever have children

1. I am 36 years old, which is considered advanced maternal age, which means my risk of complications both for myself and my unborn child is significantly increased.

2. The lifetime cost of raising a child is a quarter of a million dollars.

3. I would have to change diapers.

4. While I would of course properly clean my hands after changing the child’s diapers, I could not guarantee anyone else (such as my parents) would do so, which means people with hands contaminated with fecal matter would be in my home.  I suppose I could ask them to leave immediately after changing a diaper, although this seems like the sort of thing my husband Matt says does not endear me to people.

5. We have 36 light sockets in my house, all of which would be a terrible opportunity for the baby to be electrocuted.  Yes, we would use socket protectors, but I suspect any child of mine would be intelligent enough to easily circumvent such a precaution.

6. The baby might vomit.  And then we’d have to have the entire house sterilized.

7. The amount of time I would lose from work for both the labor itself and the subsequent maternity leave, not to mention any time I would need to be absent for the child being sick, would seriously jeopardize my career and chances of promotion.

8. What if the baby tried to eat a banana and choked on it?

9. What if the baby tried to eat a grape and choked on it?

10. What if while I was driving in the car, the baby managed to open its car seat, and then I got into an accident while the baby was out of the car seat?

11. What if the baby doesn’t like me?  After all, most people don’t.


Reasons to have children:

1. I am beginning to think my husband wants one.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Update: Lobster, With A Straw

Hi guys, thank you sooo freaking much for those comments on the first chapter of Lobster, With A Straw! Holy shit, this seriously made my week :) You're all amazing!!!
As promised, I'll start posting regularly on Saturdays again. Starting right now with Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 2. Have fun!
Kisses,
Lovis

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The final chapter of "Christmas Crush" is here!

So sorry for taking so long to publish it.  I hope it was worth the wait.

Chapter 5

As I've said before I do have plans for a sequel, the storyline is outlined roughly, but I want to wrap up the unfinished stories I have on the site before I starte writing and publishing that.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New author, new story: Shadowboxing

Hello Paradevo folks -

Longtime reader, frequent anony-commenter, and first-time author here! I'm nervous and excited to share the first chapter of "Shadowboxing" with you, a moody M/M story. "Shadowboxing" will update on Wednesdays.

Paradevo was close to life-saving for me, when it came to rehabilitating my self-image and making me feel less alone and dysfunctional. So I thank you all deeply for the community that you have provided. I hope you enjoy the story.

Chapter 1: Joyride

- Rowan

Monday, January 1, 2018

Baby Crazy, Chapter 2


Anna

I could see Matt liked the 3-D pen I bought him, but between you and me, that wasn’t his real present.  His real present is something he’s been wanting for a very long time.  Something I’ve been resistant to give him.  Because it would have resulted in a complete disruption of our home.

But I’ve been on my medications for a long time now, and I’ve made great strides.  I’m finally ready.

When we get back to our house, I’m nearly shaking with excitement.  I can’t wait to see Matt’s face when he discovers what my real gift is.  He will be so thrilled.

Matt parks the car in our driveway, but doesn’t get out of the car immediately.  He stops for a moment, then turns to stare at me.  He reaches out and touches my chin gently with the back of his fingers.  “Can we go up to the bedroom now?”

I smile.  In the time I’ve been with Matt, he’s never made me feel like anything less than the world’s most desirable woman.  Considering I have been outright called a “cold fish” by at least one man in the past, it’s no trivial feat. 

And after all these years, I find him just as sexy as I did back when we were just coworkers who occupied adjacent cubicles—and I used to fantasize about the impossible dream of being something more to him. 

The truth is I still fantasize about him while I’m at work.

“Soon,” I say.  “I just want to show you something.”

He raises his eyebrows at me.  “Show me what?”

“Something you’ll like.”

Really?”

I nod and shove him playfully in the direction of his driver’s side door.  “Yes, get out of the car!”

Of course, I have to get out first so Matt can push my seat forward and grab his wheelchair from the back.  I’m not one to be in a hurry usually, but right now, I wish he didn’t take quite so long to get out of the car.  Not to say he takes that long, but he can’t just hop out like I do.

I dart ahead to open the front door, but I let Matt enter the house first so he gets to see my surprise.  I watch his face, getting a thrill at the way his eyes widen.

“Holy shit…”

I beam at him.  “You like it?”

He’s gazing up at the seventy-five inch HD smart TV that is now mounted on our living room wall.  I’ve seen him ogling these televisions online and even brought up the possibility of getting one, but I resisted because I knew it would involve a major reorganization of the living room.  I have had the living room in the exact same configuration since I moved in here, save for moving the couch a few inches to allow more space for Matt to maneuver his chair.  I was not enthusiastic about changing anything else in the living room, but I knew how much he wanted this television. 

Matt is gaping at the rest of the living room.  “Everything is different…”

I nod eagerly.  “I had Jake over earlier while you were at work.  We took measurements to make sure your chair would still fit everywhere.  He helped me move everything and mount the television.”  I hesitate.  “But it’s not hooked up or anything.  He said you could handle that, right?”

Some of the shock has faded from my husband’s face and he grins at me.  “Hell yeah I can.”

I knew he could.  Matt loves fiddling with gadgets.  While I am an extremely proficient coder, he could take a computer apart and put it back together with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back.  Hooking up the Smart TV will be a breeze for him. 

“So you like it, right?” I ask, because he hasn’t outright said so yet.

“Christ, I love it.”  Without warning, he grabs me and pulls me into his lap.  I laugh and cling to his neck so I don’t lose my balance.  “This is incredible, Anna.  I can’t believe you did this for me.”

I lean my head against his neck.  “Well, I got a very good deal on it, actually.”

“Not just the TV but…” He waves his hand around the room.  “The whole living room.  You changed everything.”

“Yes…”

It was hard for me.  I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t hard.  I had to throw out a bunch of my belongings because there was no longer room.  I moved an entire wall of photos.  After Jake and I shifted the sofa ninety degrees, I had to run upstairs and take a Xanax. Even now, looking at the room, I feel uneasy.  If I start thinking about it, I’m sure a cold sweat will break out in the back of my neck.  So instead, I cuddle closer to Matt.

“It was worth it,” I tell him.  “For you.”

He kisses me then, one of those long, luxurious kisses that would have been unthinkable a decade ago, but now makes me tingle delightfully all over my body.  I want him.  So, so much.

“Do you want to go upstairs now?” I breathe in his ear.

He hesitates for several seconds before grinning sheepishly.  “Uh… would you mind if I messed around with the TV for, like, half an hour?”

As much as I wanted to show Matt the other surprise I’ve got waiting for him in the bedroom, I can only laugh.  I’m really glad he likes my present.

 


Matt

I end up messing around with the new TV for about an hour and a half.  I know—I’m the biggest loser on the planet.  Why the hell was I fiddling with a TV set when I had a gorgeous wife who wanted to get me into the bedroom? 

In my defense, it’s an HD Smart TV.  With over eight million pixels.  And a spatial scaling engine.  I mean, I couldn’t go to bed without at least hooking it up to my Xbox and seeing what it was like to play a game on it.

Anyway, I eventually came to my senses and now Anna is in the bathroom, preparing some sort of other surprise for me.  I’m simultaneously blown away by how awesome she is and also guilty I didn’t get her a present that took her breath away. 

Before Anna gets out of the bathroom, I open the drawer on the bedside dresser where I keep my medications.  I don’t keep my meds in the medicine cabinet like a normal person, because it’s just a little high for me to reach, and I figure I’ll end up knocking one of the bottles into the sink at some point. 

I have six bottles of pills in the drawer.  One is the muscle relaxant that’s supposed to help with the spasms I get in my legs, although it barely helps.  Another prevents bladder spasms, so when I have to go to the bathroom, it isn’t quite so urgent.  I swallow both of those pills with the glass of water I keep on the dresser. 

 The next two bottles are Tylenol and Percocet.  So here’s the deal: I sit basically all day.  I also spend more than half my waking hours hunched over a computer screen.  And I use my hands and wrists to both push my chair and to type.  All that means the chance of not being in some kind of pain at the end of the day is virtually nil.  Right now, the pain sits between my shoulder blades—a dull ache that turns into a sharp jab when I use my arms to shift my position in my chair.  It’s not great, but it’s tolerable, which means I don’t need the Percocet.  I opt for the Tylenol, like most nights.

The next bottle is a medication I don’t take anymore.  It’s an antidepressant.  I started taking it about a month after I started using my wheelchair full time.  I was ashamed to be on it, but I really needed it back then.  Badly.  But after moving in with Anna and then getting married, any residual depression I’d been feeling vanished completely, so I got myself off it.  One less medication to have to worry about.  Sure, I have bad days here and there.  But not anything I can’t handle. 

The last bottle is Viagra.

That one I need.  And will always need.  Yeah, I feel like a loser being thirty-four years old and needing to pop a pill to get it up, but there it is.  And that’s not to say I can’t get it up without Viagra, because I can sometimes, but it’s not reliable.  Without it, there’s a fifty-fifty chance I’ll have trouble, and nothing is un-sexier than failing to get hard enough to penetrate your wife.  And even with the Viagra, there’s some chance I’ll have trouble, but it’s not too common.  Usually, I’m okay with the Viagra.

So I take one now.  It’s our anniversary, after all.  I want to be ready for whatever surprise Anna’s got for me.

After taking my pills, I transfer from my wheelchair into our bed.  I pull my undershirt off over my head and drape it on the back of my chair to wear it later, so now I’m wearing nothing but my boxers.  I’m propped up against the pillows, and I glance down at my chest, trying to see it as Anna will when she comes into the room.  Yes, we’re married so it’s a done deal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good for her.  I mean, she’s really hot, so I want to look at least decent.

My chest is good.  Maybe even better than good.  I don’t manage to make time to work out much anymore, but I do everything with my upper body now, so I have muscles I never had before.  Objectively, I think I’m okay in that department.  And from the neck up, I’m also okay.  Women have mostly liked the way I look. 

From the waist down, there’s nothing too terrible either.  My legs aren’t muscular, obviously, but they’re not stick-thin either.  Even though I can’t move them, I’ve still got some muscle tone.  Only problem is since I don’t have any strength in my legs, when they’re lying out in front of me like they are right now, my ankles turn in and my feet hang down and knock against each other.  I don’t like the way it looks, considering I’m attempting to be sexy for Anna.

I move my legs so they’re lined up next to each other, my knees and ankles now touching.  But somehow that looks worse.  Artificial.

I sigh and just throw the blanket over my legs so they’re completely covered. 

Better.

I nearly doze off waiting for Anna to get out of the bathroom.  Christ, she takes forever in there.  I don’t even know what she’s doing, aside from brushing her teeth, brushing her hair, washing her face, and swallowing her own pills.  I get a sudden urge to yell at Anna to ditch the birth control pills.  Tell her let’s make a baby tonight. 

But I get the feeling saying that would kill the mood.

It turns out it’s worth the wait when I see what she’s wearing. Anna peeks her head out of the bathroom door and gives me a nervous smile before coming out into the bedroom. She’s got on nothing but a lacy red bra, and instead of panties, she’s wearing…

What the hell is that?

“What are you wearing?” I ask her as I struggle to sit up straight in bed and get a closer look.

Anna grins at me.  “They’re edible panties.”

Whoa.

She’s wearing what is essentially a G-string made out of rainbow-colored hard candies.  I stare at her in those edible panties, and feel myself getting hard, even though it’s too soon for the Viagra to have kicked in.

“I have the coolest wife in the world,” I manage.

She laughs and shakes her head.

“What?” I say.

“I think,” she says, “this is the first time ever that anyone has ever called me the coolest anything in the world.”

“C’mere,” I say.

She climbs into bed beside me, but all I can think about is eating those candy panties off her.  Maybe I didn’t buy her an enormous TV or drape myself in edible boxers, but I can sure as hell make her scream tonight.  I’m determined.

After we make out for a few minutes, I transfer back into my chair to have more leverage to eat these panties off her.  She lies on the bed, spreads her legs, and I take a minute just to look at her.  Sometimes it floors me this woman is my wife.  She’s so freaking sexy.  I know she wishes she had more curves or bigger tits, but she’s wrong—she’s perfect.

I lower my head to examine the edible panties.  The candies are the same kind that are on those string bracelets they give out during Halloween.  I remember liking those as a kid.  These edible panties are bringing back memories.

I choose a pink candy and dig my teeth into it.  I bite down, except to my dismay, the candy doesn’t give.  I bite a little harder, but no luck.  I roll the candy back in my mouth to try to bite it with my molars, but the candy is holding fast.  I try a second candy—a blue one this time, but it’s equally rigid.

Shit.

“Anna.” I lift my head.  “These candies are too hard.  I’m going to break my teeth on these things.”

“Really?” She props herself up on her elbows.  “You can’t bite through them?”

I shake my head regretfully.

My heart skips a beat as she removes the panties entirely.  She tries to chomp on one of the candies, her brow creased in a frown.  I can tell she’s not having any better luck than I did.

“Well,” she finally says, “they were only seven dollars on Amazon.”

“That’s okay.” I tug them out of her hand and toss them on the floor.  “As long as they’re off, right?”

Anna grins at me.  “I love you, Matt.”

I place my hand on her knee.  “I love you too, Anna.”

I may not have bought Anna an expensive TV, but I make her very, very happy tonight.

To be continued...
 
Note: This story is meant to stand alone, but it is technically a sequel to my book, Crazy in Love.  You don't have to purchase Crazy in Love to enjoy this story, but several devs have told me it's one of the devviest things they've ever read, so, you know... :)

Baby Crazy, Chapter 3

Anna

In the last two years, my older sister Lisa and I have been spending a lot more time together.  Lisa and I were close as small children, but by the time she reached her teenage years, she decided I was “too strange” to spend time with.  Then she took the path of getting married and having children, while I chose to focus on my career.  We had very little in common.

But now that I’m married like Lisa is, we at least have that in common.  Our lives aren’t as different as they used to be. Matt, a software engineer, doesn’t seem like he could possibly have much in common with Lisa’s husband Jake, who is employed as a mechanic, but the two of them will chat about sports and seem to root for similar teams.  So when we have dinner together, Matt and Jake enjoy themselves.

Today I came to Lisa’s house for lunch, which means that I made sandwiches for us, as well as for her two boys, Jayden and Luke.  Jayden is nine years old and quite a nice boy, actually, even though he picked all the lettuce out of the sandwich I made him.  Luke is two, and he didn’t care for the turkey and Muenster cheese sandwich at all.  He picked it apart into its components, ate a hole in the center of the cheese, and threw every last bit of lettuce on the floor. 

Now the lettuce is just lying on the floor of Lisa’s kitchen.  And she doesn’t seem to care in the slightest.

When something like that bothers me, I have a little mantra I recite in my head.  It keeps me from popping Xanax like Tic Tacs:

Most germs are not harmful.

My immune system is strong.

I have a husband who loves me very much, and I love him. 

I know the last one has little to do with germs and infection, but it calms me down to think about Matt.  Still, there’s only so much I can tolerate.  Food on the floor is ridiculous.

“Lisa,” I say.  “Luke dropped the lettuce.”

She laughs.  “There will be plenty more on the floor before he’s done.  Don’t worry.  Anna, you don’t have to clean it up…”

But I’m already picking it up with a paper towel.  What if someone steps on it and it gets ground into the floor?  What if I step on it?  Tell me, how can you leave food just lying on the floor?  Matt would never do such a thing.

“Maybe you need to increase your medication dosage?” Lisa casually suggests as she unstraps Luke from his booster seat.  She ruffles his wispy blond hair, pops a pacifier in his mouth, and allows him to toddle away.

I know Lisa is trying to get a rise out of me.  She’s trying to act like I’m the unreasonable one for not wanting food on the floor. 

“Kids are messy,” she says.  “It’s a fact of life.”

I shrug and drop back into my seat.  Lisa might tease me about my medication dosage, but prior to my current pill regimen, I used to spend at least an hour cleaning Lisa’s house every time I visited.  If not for the medications circulating through my blood stream, I would have the mop out and would be doing the entire kitchen floor as we speak.  And look at that sink full of dirty dishes—I would never have been able to let that go.

“You have to learn to live with a little mess,” Lisa says. “After all, what are you going to do when you and Matt have kids?”

I shake my head. “Matt and I aren’t going to have kids.”

“Oh really?” My sister raises her finely plucked eyebrows.  She has time for her eyebrows but not her kitchen floor.  I don’t understand her priorities.  “Not that I think it’s a bad idea, but does Matt know this?”

I feel a tiny twinge of panic in my chest.  There’s a bottle of Xanax in my purse that I try not to use unless I absolutely need it.  I don’t need it now.  “He and I are on the same page.”

Really?” Lisa’s lips curl into a smile.  “That isn’t what he said to Jake.”

Luke trips over his own tiny feet and falls onto the floor.  He’s so short that it isn’t a bad spill—not like the ones I saw Matt take before he started using his wheelchair all the time.  But Luke’s pacifier pops out of his mouth and he wails, drool dripping from his soft pink lips.

Lisa bends over and scoops the pacifier up off the floor.  She hands it to Luke, who pops it back in his mouth, mollified.  I stare at my sister in horror.

“You gave him a pacifier from the floor?” I gasp.

She laughs.  “Well, he already eats Cheerios off the floor.  Why not?”

“Oh no.” I reach over and pluck the pacifier from my nephew’s lips. That poor child!  The floor of this kitchen is absolutely disgusting—people walk on it. There’s probably rotting food on it, based on the display I just saw.  I won’t let Luke have a pacifier in his mouth that was just on that floor.  He could die!

I empty a large glob of dish detergent into my hand and start scrubbing at the pacifier.  Luke is wailing again without his pacifier, but I don’t feel one bit bad about it.  He’ll have to wait for a clean pacifier.  He doesn’t know better than to eat off the floor, but Lisa should.

“For Christ’s sake, Anna,” Lisa says.  “It’s clean.”

Lisa doesn’t even know what clean is.  Nothing in this house is clean.  But when I get done with this pacifier, it will be safe for Luke to put in his mouth.

Except when I finish cleaning it, I still feel uneasy.  The floor is so dirty.  It can’t possibly be enough to simply clean the pacifier with soap and water and expect it to be clean.  It will be in his mouth.

Most germs are not harmful.

My immune system is strong.

I have a husband who loves me very much, and I love him. 

No, it’s not working. I have to sterilize this pacifier.

“Anna, what are you doing?”  Lisa’s eyes widen as she watches me put a pot of water up to boil.  Five minutes in boiling water should do it.

“The pacifier needs to be sterilized,” I explain.

“No,” Lisa says, “it doesn’t.  It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine!”  The panicked feeling is rising in my chest.  I’ve got to sterilize this pacifier.  If I don’t, I’m going to have to take a Xanax.  I hate taking it.  I already take both Paxil and Abilify every day to control my symptoms.  It should be enough.  “Just let me do this, Lisa.”

I drop the pacifier in the water, but Lisa has already fetched another pacifier for Luke.  I suppose it’s for the best because the pacifier will be very hot when it comes out of the pot.  Can you imagine if I had given him a boiling hot pacifier?  That would be even worse than a pacifier from the floor.

And this is why Matt and I could never have children.  I would be an unfit mother.  He must know that.

 
Matt

I give my wheels one push then lift my hands off them and into the air.  My six-year-old niece Haley squeals in my lap as the two of us coast down the ramp in the park.  Haley’s got her arms up over her head like she’s on a roller coaster and the wind whips her reddish brown hair into my face.

At the end of the ramp, we hit a bump in the pavement I didn’t expect.  My chair jerks and I have to grab Haley by the waist to keep her from bouncing out of my lap onto the cement.  But it’s fine.  We’re fine.  Even though my sister Erin gives me a look like I just threw her daughter in front of moving traffic.

“Again!” Haley shrieks.

“I’d like to keep her in one piece, if possible, Matt,” Erin comments. 

“What’s the problem?” I retort.  I point at her bulging midsection.  “You’ve got a spare ready.”

Erin rolls her eyes and hugs her belly protectively, as if I might take her fetus for a joyride too.  Someday.

Haley tugs at my shirt sleeve.  Again, Uncle Matt.”

“We did it three times,” I point out.  “I’m getting tired.  And your mom is getting mad.”  Mostly the latter.

“One more time,” Haley says.  “One more and I won’t ask again.  Please?”

My wheelchair is the source of unlimited fun for Haley, as it turns out.  That’s why she’s whispered to me on several occasions that I’m her favorite uncle.  I don’t want to lose that honor and also, if I’m being honest, it’s fun for me too.  Going down a ramp really fast is fun—what can I say?

I was still able to walk when Haley was born, but she has no memory of that time.  She doesn’t remember when her Uncle Matt wasn’t in a wheelchair.  Last year we were looking through a photo album at my parents’ house and she came across a bunch of photos of me on my feet, and she was absolutely amazed.  “How did you do that?” she asked me.

It was funny.  We all laughed, but at the same time, it made me just a little sad.  She only knows me as disabled.  The little boy in Erin’s uterus will only know me as disabled.  Everyone I meet from now on will only know me that way.  And while there’s nothing wrong with it… shit, I don’t know.  It’s dumb. 

 I go up the ramp and repeat my joyride with Haley.  And then once more time, because she was lying through her teeth when she promised she wouldn’t ask again.  At which point, Erin practically yanks her daughter off my lap.

“Okay, enough of that,” she snaps.  “Uncle Matt has had enough.”

Haley looks back at the ramp longingly, then bats her eyelashes at me.  “One more time?”

I laugh, but Erin holds her ground.  “Haley,” she says.  “We’re at the park.  Why don’t you go on a slide or something?”  Haley doesn’t budge.  “If you’re good, you can have ice cream when the truck comes by.”

The promise of ice cream lights a fire under my niece.  She chirps, “Okay!”  Then runs off in the direction of the playground.  I watch her, half-wishing I could follow her out there and keep being her cool favorite uncle.  But the uneven woodchips that make up the surface of the playground are going to be hell to push on.  And no way I can go on a slide.

“I’m going to sit,” Erin informs me as she points to a bench closer to the playground.  She’s wearing shorts and her legs are visibly swollen, as is her face.  She’s at the point in pregnancy where she’s waddling.

I wonder what Anna would look like pregnant. 

Erin keeps one hand on her belly, but her eyes on Haley.  A smile plays on her lips as she watches Haley trying to befriend some other girl with blond pigtails.  Haley is outgoing in a way that Erin and I never were.  Erin’s husband isn’t particularly outgoing either, so I can’t figure out where the kid gets it from.

“So,” Erin says, rolling her head in my direction, “when are you and Anna going to start trying?”

“Uh…” That was the same answer I gave last time she asked me. 

“Anna is thirty-six, isn’t she?” she says.

“Yeah, so we’ve got time.”

“Thirty-six isn’t young.”

You’re thirty-seven and you’re pregnant.”

Erin cracks a smile.  “Yeah, and look at me.  I’m falling apart.”

I sigh. “I want to ask her.  But… you know Anna.  I’m afraid she’ll freak out.”

“Maybe she’s been wanting to ask you the same question?”

I consider that possibility.  But no.  I know my wife.  Anna is not excited to have children.  That’s one thing I’m certain about.

“I’ll talk to her about it soon,” I say.  “Before she becomes an old lady of thirty-seven.”  I look at Haley swinging from the monkey bars.  “And if she’s dead set against it, well… I guess I’ll have to live with that.”

I almost say it convincingly.  Then my stupid voice cracks on the words. 

“Matt,” Erin says, “if you really want kids, which you obviously do, it shouldn’t be entirely Anna’s decision.  The two of you need to talk it out.”

It’s funny because for ninety percent of my life, I couldn’t have cared less about having kids.  Just the opposite—I was terrified of it.  

In college, I was dating this girl named Chelsea for about four months when she called me up on the phone to inform me she had missed her period.  I was twenty years old and practically dropped the phone.

“You’re pregnant,” I managed.

“I don’t know yet,” she said irritably.  Chelsea was always irritable and I’d been thinking of breaking up with her and holy shit, how could she be pregnant?

“We used a condom,” I reminded her.

“Well, gee, Matt,” Chelsea said.  “Tell that to my uterus.”

Dear Chelsea’s uterus, we used a goddamn condom.  You can not have a baby in you.

“So you need to take a pregnancy test,” I said.

“Can you buy one for me?”

I wanted to ask her why she couldn’t buy the goddamn test herself, but I knew there was no point in arguing.  I left all my textbooks spread open on the coffee table in my dorm common room and raced out to the drug store to buy a pregnancy test for Chelsea, which was about as embarrassing as it gets.  I then made a beeline to her own dorm room, and shoved the test into her chest without even saying hello.

“Take it,” I said.  “Now.”

Tears sprung up in Chelsea’s eyes.  “Why are you being such a jerk, Matt?”

I felt guilty, but in retrospect, I was a twenty-year-old computer science major who’d just found out I might be a father.  I was scared shitless.

“Sorry,” I said quickly.  And I hugged her because I knew it was what I was supposed to do, but all the while, I felt nothing for her.  I knew if she didn’t end up being pregnant, I’d break it off with her.  And if she was pregnant…

At the time, I thought it meant I’d have to marry her.  Maybe I would have.  I wonder how Chelsea would have dealt with my MS diagnosis.

I was worried she’d make me come into the bathroom with her, but she didn’t.  I waited outside the door, pacing the whole time, and a couple of minutes later, she came out, holding the test strip up in triumph.  “Negative!” she cried.

I clutched my chest, certain I was going to faint from relief.  Chelsea wasn’t the only pregnancy scare I’d experienced, but she was the first.  There was some point where even though I most definitely did not want to get a girl pregnant, the idea didn’t terrify me quite so intensely.  I could deal with being a dad.  If it got thrust on me.

But lately…

When I look at my niece, I get this ache in my chest.  It’s great being an uncle, but I want to be a dad.  I want a kid of my own. 

I wonder if I can talk Anna into it.

 
Matt

Anna is a great cook.

I’m not saying that because she’s my wife.  She’s a bona fide great cook.  She’s light years better than my mom, and I always thought my mother was a decent cook.  Not just that, but Anna makes things that are healthy yet still taste good.  She’s clearing the fat out of my arteries that I earned after all the years of fast food before I started living with her.

The only problem is that Anna loves routine, so she wants to cook the same meals over and over again.  On the same days of the week.  I put up with this for a few months, then we made a deal.  Five nights of the week, she could cook the meals she wanted and I’d eat them, but then on the sixth night, she had to make something new that she’d never made before.  And the seventh night, we’d go out to Luciano’s.

But tonight is Monday, which means it’s lemon-pepper salmon with asparagus.  I can smell it from where I’m working on my laptop in the living room and my stomach rumbles.  I never liked asparagus before I ate Anna’s.  She really makes it good.

“Ten-minute warning!” Anna calls from the kitchen.

The ten-minute warning means it’s time to wash my hands.  I have to be honest—prior to dating Anna, I didn’t regularly wash my hands before eating.  I mean, my hands were essentially clean.  I wash them when I use the bathroom, so I figure if I haven’t done anything disgusting between using the bathroom and eating, they don’t need to be washed again.  It’s not like I spend my time digging around in the sewer.

Although to be fair, now that I wheel with my hands, I’d probably wash them before eating even if Anna didn’t make me.  Not that my pushrims aren’t clean.  I actually wipe them down with Lysol every evening, because if I don’t, I know Anna will.  And I don’t want her to have to be cleaning my chair for me.

Back when Anna and I first started dating, the bathroom on her first floor was not accessible.  And the truth is, it still isn’t.  If I were buying a house now, I never would have chosen one with a bathroom like this.  We widened the doorway so that I can at least get inside now, but it’s really too small for a wheelchair to fit.  When I transfer to the toilet, I have to turn ninety degrees and slightly backwards and it’s scary.  I fell once doing it. 

And the bathroom isn’t the worst thing about this house.

Our house is not accessible.  There, I said it.  She bought it before she knew she was going to have a husband in a wheelchair and it’s terrible for me.  We did install a ramp to the front door, but it’s not a regulation ramp because there wasn’t room, so that means it’s steep.  When I go down the ramp, I’m going fast.  When I go up the ramp, I’m pushing hard.  It’s fine because my arms are strong, but if they ever weren’t (don’t want to think about that possibility, but it’s there), I’d be in trouble.

Once we’re inside, the doorways are too narrow.  I have to take my hands off the wheels and propel myself through by holding the doorframe.  I could never get a wheelchair any wider than the one I have now.  We’ve rearranged the furniture, but it’s still not great.  But that’s not even the worst part.

The worst part is the house is two stories.  And there’s no space for a bedroom on the first floor—it’s a small house that Anna purchased thinking she’d be single for the rest of her life.  So I have no choice but to sleep on the second floor, which sucks.  We installed a stair lift so I wouldn’t have to drag my butt up the stairs every night, but it’s a piece of shit.  It’s slow and it breaks.  So plenty of nights, I have to drag my butt up the stairs, where I’ve got a secondhand chair waiting for me at the top.

It’s awful.  I’ve put up with it because Anna is very anxious about change.  I didn’t want to make her move right when her medications were being adjusted.  And then there’d be some crisis.  And now, if I’m going to bring up the possibility of trying for a baby, I can’t make her move.  I can’t.

So I’m stuck with a tiny bathroom and a scary ramp and a fucking stair lift.

For now.

I wash my hands in our tiny bathroom for the requisite eleven seconds, then wheel to the kitchen to see the progress Anna is making.  She’s lifting the lid from a pan of food, looking cute as hell in her fitted black pants from work, and the shapeless white blouse she’s got on only makes me picture what’s underneath.  What can I say?  My wife is hot.

“Can I help?” I ask.

Anna turns from the pan and smiles at me.  “You may set the table.”

“May I?”

“Yes, please.”

I grab some silverware from a drawer under the counter, and some napkins from the pantry, while Anna pulls out two plates from the cupboard over the sink.  That’s another thing—most of the cupboard space in the kitchen is too high for me to reach.  Yeah, I hate this house.

I lay out the napkins first, and put a fork, spoon, and knife on top of each one.  In that order.  It’s not the way my mom taught me to set the table, but it’s how Anna likes it.  It always has to be the same way, even if we’re not using a spoon for our meals.  And the utensils all have to be the same distance apart from one another.  She doesn’t say anything if I do it wrong, but she’ll fix it.  So I try to get it right.  Whenever I arrange them in a way that she doesn’t need to fix, I give myself a pat on the back.

She doesn’t have to fix them today, so I’m golden.  She serves us each a piece of glistening salmon with garlic asparagus.  Our plates look identical.

“What do you think?” she asks me in a proud voice that makes me smile.

“What can I say? My wife is a great cook.”

She beams at me.  And instead of settling into her own chair, she leans in for a kiss.  I know it bugs her when the food gets cold, but when I grab her and pull her into my lap, she doesn’t complain.  Anna is never adverse to a make-out session.  I know people think she’s uptight, but let me tell you, she always acts like she can’t get enough of me.  I cringe when I see my sister sometimes push her husband away when he tries to kiss her—Anna’s never done that to me in the time we’ve been dating.  She always wants me.

Even when the salmon is getting cold.

“We should probably eat,” I say as our lips separate.

She smiles at me.  “Okay, but later…”

“Yes,” I agree.  “Later.”

I watch with a twinge of regret as she climbs off my lap and settles onto the chair across from me.  I’m hungry, but I’m also horny.  Too many tempting choices in life.

“You will be pleased to know,” Anna tells me as she settles in a chair across from me, “that I used a new spice today on the salmon.”

I grin at her. “Did you?  How exciting.  And how did you get that spice?”

Another way in which I know I’m enabling my wife is that I do all the grocery shopping because the grocery store freaks her out so much.  Well, we get a lot of our groceries delivered.  But then once a week, I put a basket on my lap and scan the aisles for stuff that can’t get delivered.  Which means she doesn’t get any food that doesn’t go through me.

“I went shopping,” Anna says, the pride now clear in her voice.

“Really?” I raise my eyebrows at her, now genuinely impressed. Anna was shopping.  Voluntarily.  That’s huge. “That’s great.  How was it?”

“Well, I only bought the one spice,” she says.  “But it was good.  Uneventful.”

A few years ago, Anna never had uneventful shopping trips.  Every trip would involve, I don’t know, someone sneezing in the fresh produce aisle and then Anna would fly into a panic and leave her shopping cart behind as she mowed down shoppers in her haste to escape the store.  Now she can buy stuff.  The meds have really helped her.

Maybe it’s time to bring up the baby thing.  Now or never, right?

“So I saw Erin today,” I remind her.

“Oh.”  Anna averts her eyes, looking down at the salmon.  “So can you guess what new spice I used?”

“Um,” I say.  I can’t think of any spices.  “Paprika?”

She smiles and shakes her head.

“Turmeric?”

She shakes her head again.

“Um, curry powder?”

“Curry powder!”  Anna laughs.  “Do you really think I doused the salmon in curry?”

Well, how should I know?  “Whatever you used is good.”

“It’s tarragon,” she says.

It is really good.  It’s got a little something extra. 

“So Erin is getting pretty big,” I say as I take another bite.

Anna shudders.  At least, I think she does.  Maybe it was a shiver.  It’s a little cold in here.

“She and Steve are really excited,” I add.

“And probably worried.”

“Why would they be worried?”

Anna sucks in a breath.  “Why wouldn’t they be worried?  So many things can go wrong during a birth!  What if the umbilical cord is compressed?  What if the baby is deprived of oxygen during delivery?  What if—”

“I’m sure it will be fine,” I interrupt before Anna can go on one of her Anna-spirals.  “The chances of anything going wrong is really small.  They’ll be in a hospital and they’re going to monitor the baby closely.”

“I would worry.”

I smile at her.  “Well, you shouldn’t. When you have a baby, I’ll be right there next to you, making sure everything is okay.”

She stares at me, her mouth hanging open.  When I have a baby?  When am I having a baby?”

This isn’t going as well as I’d hoped.

“Look, Anna,” I say.  “We don’t have to start trying now, but… you want to have kids someday… right?”

She’s shaking her head, a horrified look on her face.  No.  Why would you think that?”

“Because…” I grip my fork more tightly, even though I’m quickly losing my appetite for tarragon salmon. And I’m beginning to worry I’ve lost my chance at sexy time after dinner. “That’s what everyone does.  They get married and then have babies.”

“Right,” she says.  “And what gives you the idea that I do what ‘everyone’ does?”

Fair point.

“Anna.” I reach over to take her hand across the table.  She lets me, but barely.  I can feel her shaking.  “I love you so much.  I want to have a baby with you.”

Her blue eyes fill with tears.  “So I’m not enough for you?”

“Of course not!” I can’t tell if she’s intentionally twisting my words around to dissuade me.  “I want a baby because I love you so much.  I just… I feel like it would complete our family.  And… don’t you want to be a mother?”

“No!” She yanks her shaking hand away from me.  “I don’t, Matt.  I’d be a terrible mother.  I don’t think I could take on the responsibility of another human life.”

“Don’t say that.” I shake my head.  “You’d be a great mom. You’d probably make all your own baby food.  And you wouldn’t let the house become a disaster like Lisa does.  And you’d be on every school trip…”

Anna stands up, half the salmon left untouched on her plate.  “I can’t, Matt.  I’m sorry.  I just can’t.”

She races out of the kitchen in tears.  And of course, she makes straight for the stairs.  Which means if I want to follow her, I’ve got to get on that goddamn stair lift.

I glare at the stair lift.  I hate that thing—I want to punch it. I hate this house.  But I’ve stayed here three years for Anna’s sake.  Because she would freak out if we moved somewhere suitable for me. 

Yes, I love her.  But I’ve made more sacrifices for her than I can count on both hands.

I’m not going to give up on being a father just because Anna had a panic attack.

This isn’t the end.

To be continued....

Baby Crazy, Chapter 4

Anna


I am well aware of the sacrifices my husband has made on my behalf.

I know he would love to go to more than one restaurant.  He mentioned trying the new Mexican place that opened up last month, but when he saw my reaction, he quickly backed down.  He didn’t push me.  He was understanding.

He accepts most of my cleaning rituals—within reason.  He has never asked me not to wash something I believed to be dirty.  He has never ridiculed my anxiety.

He lives in this house even though I am well aware he hates it.  He wants to move.  I see the way he has to struggle to get into the bathroom on the first floor.  Two weeks ago, the stair-lift failed on him halfway up, and he had to lower himself to the ground and pull himself up the stairs one by one.  He got a muscle spasm in his leg from doing it that was so severe, it was still jumping ten minutes later, after he’d brushed his teeth and was ready to get into bed.  He didn’t even get angry at me when that happened, even though I’m the only reason we’re still living here.  He hates it here so much, yet he hasn’t pushed me to move.  He brings it up from time to time, but always just feeling me out.  He hasn’t forced me to look at other houses.  He has been so patient.

And now he wants a baby. 

I hoped he would back down right away when he saw how upset the idea made me, but for once, he held his ground.  I could see in his eyes how much he wants this.  He wants a child.  It would not be an unreasonable request, but it’s not something I can give him.  He must see how hard it would be for me.

How could I convince him of that though?

He does not follow me upstairs after I leave the dinner table.  He stays downstairs, although I suspect he has lost his appetite, same as me.  He will probably throw our food into the garbage disposal, knowing it will never be eaten.  It’s a shame—I was so pleased at how the salmon came out with the addition of tarragon.

I go straight to the shower to try to calm myself down.  It’s easier for me to shower than it used to be.  I used to have strict rules about how long to spend in the shower and not being able to touch anything besides the soap while inside.  Now if my arm brushes against the wall, I don’t mind.  In fact, it seems preposterous to me that it used to bother me so much.  I’ve made incredible progress.

After my shower, Matt still hasn’t come upstairs and now I’m worried.  What could he be doing down there?  I want to go check on him, but I have a rule that I don’t leave the bedroom after my shower.  It’s a rule Matt and I made together, because I would spend hours checking to make sure I locked every lock and shut off the oven and closed the refrigerator door.  When he first moved in, I’d go up first and he’d stay on the first floor with his cell phone, so I could ask him about anything I was worried I’d forgotten.

“Did I lock the back door?” I would ask him.

“You absolutely did,” he would assure me.

He did this with me every night.  For months.  It would go on for an hour or longer, but it worked.  Now he just does a quick check of all the locks and I’m satisfied with that.

I look at my phone lying beside my bed.  I’m itching to call him.  I want to ask him if he’s angry at me.  I want to tell him I love him, even though I don’t want a baby. Also, I’m worried I left the stove on.

I pick up my phone and select Matt’s number from my list of favorites.  It rings twice before he picks up. 

“Anna?”  He sounds baffled.

I want to ask him if he hates me for not wanting to bear his children, but instead, I blurt out, “Did I leave the stove on?”

He sighs heavily.  “Hold on.”

He can’t hold his phone and wheel his chair at the same time, so he must put down the phone to get to the kitchen.  After a few seconds, he says, “It’s off.”

“Oh,” I say.  “Good.”

“And the back door is locked,” he adds.

“Okay,” I mumble.  I hadn’t been thinking about the back door, but it’s good to know.  “Did you wash the dishes from dinner?”

“Yes, I did.”

There’s silence on the line between us.  And it’s not good silence, like when we’ve just made love and we lie next to each other, just holding hands quietly as he gazes at me.

“Listen,” I say to break the silence.

“Uh huh?”

“I was just thinking…” I bite my lip.  “Maybe we should get a new house.  To live in.”  I don’t know why I added that last part.  Of course we’d live in the house.  What else would we do with it?  “Because… well, I know how hard it is for you with the stairs.  And the bathroom.”

Matt is quiet for another few moments.  “That would be great.”

“Good.” My pounding heart slows a few beats.  A new house.  I could deal with that.  It might even be nice.  “I’ll call a real estate agent tomorrow and we can start looking.”

“Okay,” he agrees.  “Except…”

Except?

“I still want to try for a baby, Anna.”

“But we’re getting a new house,” I whisper pathetically.

“Yeah, and I’m glad,” he says.  “You know I wanted a new house.  But I also don’t want to rule out the idea of us having a child together.”

“I just…” I grip the phone so tightly that my fingers start to tingle.  “I don’t think this is the sort of conversation we should have on the phone.”

“Anna.” I can tell from his voice that he’s starting to get angry.  “I’m in the fucking kitchen, okay?  You want me to come upstairs and we’ll talk about this more?”

I swallow hard.  “No, I don’t.”

“Another time then.”

It isn’t a question.  Another time then.  For once, Matt isn’t going to let me off the hook.  He wants to have a baby.  Maybe I can make him see reason, but he isn’t going to just let this go.  It’s clearly important to him.  And we don’t have forever. 

“Are you coming to bed?” I whisper.

“Not yet,” he sighs.  “Maybe… I don’t know.  In a while.”

“But…”

I can’t sleep without you next to me.

In the last two years, Matt has been lying next to me nearly every night as I’ve gone to sleep.  On the few times he’s stayed awake longer than me for whatever reason, I’ve lain awake, waiting for him to join me.  I can’t find sleep until he’s beside me.  His body gives me more comfort than any of my medications.

“What?” he says.

“Nothing,” I murmur.

I’ll have to try.

 


Matt

Calvin Fitzgerald has been my best friend for the last decade.  I met him on my first day working at my company, and he suggested going out for drinks at a bar after.  I was okay at getting girls pre-Calvin, but he showed me how to be a real player.  We had a lot of fun together.

Once I started having trouble walking, I didn’t want to go out with Calvin to hit on girls as much.  My pants hid the braces on my legs, but if we made it to the bedroom, I couldn’t hide them anymore.  I hated the way women’s eyes would get wide when they saw the plastic wrapped around my calves.  The first time in my life I ever got called “crippled” was when a girl I’d slept with the night before sobered up the next morning and saw me putting my braces back on.  I didn’t realize you were crippled, were her exact words.  I wanted to throw up.  Instead, I lashed out at her, saying some very regrettable things, which made it all the more humiliating when I accepted her help five minutes later to get down the stairs to her driveway.

After I started relying on crutches to get around in addition to my braces, it became a lot harder to land a one-night stand.  Impossible, actually.  I didn’t try anymore.  No point.

For a while, it seemed like my steady loss of mobility might be the end of my friendship with Cal, but then somehow it wasn’t.  It turned out Calvin was a better friend than I gave him credit for.  Or maybe he just grew up. 

So now it’s ten years after that first time we hit on girls at a bar together and we’re at a bar again.  Except this time we’re just having lunch together—nothing more.  Both of us are married, and four months ago, Cal’s wife Ginger had a baby boy.  Calvin Fitzgerald is a father.  God help us all.

Cal is stuffing fries in his mouth like he hasn’t eaten in months, but it’s obvious that’s not the case.  He’s stress eating, as my sister would say.  When Ginger was pregnant, Cal put on almost as much weight as she did.

“Ben never sleeps,” Cal says as he pushes two fries into his mouth.  “I know what you’re thinking—he must, right?  Because you need sleep to live.  But I’ve never seen him do it.  The second I lie down in bed, he screams the whole night.  The whole night, Matt.”

“Maybe he has…” I search my brain, trying to think of something I know about babies.  “Colic?”

“Yeah, no shit.” This time Calvin takes a huge bite of his bacon cheeseburger.  “Knowing that doesn’t help.  Colic is a bullshit diagnosis—all it means is the kid cries all the time for no reason.  He’s just… always pissed off.”  He rubs his eyes, which have purple circles under them.  “I love him to death, but the kid’s killing me. Ginger and I are sleeping in shifts.”

“Well…” I take a more moderate bite of my own burger.  “I’m sure he’ll get over it.”

The waitress who had been serving us comes over to check on us.  She’s in her mid-twenties with a curvy figure and blond hair in a high ponytail.  She’s the sort of girl Cal and I would have been ogling years ago, when we were both single, in our twenties, Cal didn’t have a baby, and I wasn’t in a wheelchair. 

A lot has changed since then.

“You boys enjoying your burgers?” the waitress asks us.  Her nametag says Jenny. 

Calvin shoots her his famous Calvin Fitzgerald grin, the one that used to get any girl in the bar to go home with him. He always did better than I did even though I did pretty good. “Delicious.”

Jenny turns her mascaraed eyes on me, doubling down on her smile.  “And how about you, sugar?”

I nod. “Very good.”

She reaches out to touch my shoulder.  “Anything else I can get you?”

I shake my head no.  Back in the day, Cal would have answered, “Your phone number.”  But now he keeps his mouth shut.

Cal stares after Jenny’s ass as she walks away from us.  He exhales, shaking his head.  “Wow.  She was hot.  A solid nine.”

I shrug. 

He grins at me. “And she likes you.  She was flirting.  You should try to get her number.”

I roll my eyes.  Nine times out of ten when a waitress is nice to me like that, it’s because of my chair.  Special treatment and all that shit.  Even if I were single, I’m sure she wasn’t aiming to go home with me.  Good thing I couldn’t care less.  “I’m married, remember?”

“So?”

“So?” I repeat.  “Why don’t you get her number?”

“Well, I’m married too.”

We look at each other and laugh.  Sometimes we joke around, especially Cal, but even he wouldn’t mess around on Ginger in a million years.  He’s an honorable guy when it comes down to it.  And he loves her as much as I love Anna.

“It’s tempting sometimes though,” Calvin says.  “Especially when you’ve got a kid killing your sex life.  We’re like some old married couple.”

I take a slow drink of water.  I used to guzzle water all day, but now I’m careful about everything I drink because I don’t want to create an urgent bathroom situation. “You and Ginger?  Never.”

“I’m telling you, Matt,” Calvin says. “Having kids just ruins your life.  I can’t imagine a situation where Ginger and I will ever have sex again.  Maybe we can get a babysitter and a hotel room once a year.”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad.”

“It is—trust me.” He takes a long swig of his beer. “Not that Ginger cares.  She doesn’t have any interest in sex anymore.  Anytime I touch her, she pushes me away.  And you remember what she used to be like, right?  She was like a fucking nymphomaniac.”

He’s right.  When I met Ginger for the first time, all I could think was that my friend had finally met his match. She was hot as hell and had a mouth like a sailor.  The two of them were always all over each other.  He claimed they had sex more than any couple in history, but I bet Anna and I could have given them a run for their money.

“Well, don’t worry,” I say.  “I brought up having kids to Anna, and she had a complete meltdown.”

“You’re lucky then,” Calvin says.  He rubs his eyes again.  “It’s not worth it.  I swear to God, babies are parasites.  All they do is cry and eat and supposedly sleep, but I haven’t gotten a chance to witness that last part.  What’s the point?”

“I’m sure it will get better.”

“That makes one of us.”

I shake my head.  I know Calvin is miserable with a baby that won’t sleep that is apparently ruining his exciting sex life, but I’m jealous. Ginger was on board with the baby thing (actually, it was her idea in the first place).  I don’t know what I’m going to have to go through to convince Anna to have a kid.  I don’t know if I even can.  If Anna is anything, it’s stubborn.

Maybe I can replace her birth control pills with tic tacs.  (I’m kidding.)

“Look,” Cal says, “all I’m saying is maybe Anna has the right idea.  Having a baby makes women crazy.  And Anna is already… well, you know…”

I narrow my eyes at him.  The subject of Anna’s mental health is a source of tension between the two of us.  Back when Cal first met Anna, he nicknamed her Crazy Anna.  And got everyone else at work to call her that too.  He used to devise ways to subtly torture her, to the point where Anna would be in tears and I was ready to drag his ass to HR—best friend or not.  Eventually I got him to quit it, but I know she’s not his favorite person in the world.  He doesn’t say it anymore, but he thinks I made a mistake marrying her.  He doesn’t get it.  He doesn’t get Anna the way I do.

“I think Anna would be a great mom,” I say.

“Oh yeah.” Cal grins at me.  “Because every kid wants a mom who makes you wash your hands every five seconds and sprays every surface with Lysol ten times a day.”

“Come on,” I say, “she’s not that bad anymore.”

“Fine.” He shrugs.  “Spread your seed if you must.  I’m sure if Ginger and I can get through it, you and Anna will be okay.”

I take another bite of my burger, wondering if my friend has a point.  Anna already has issues—maybe saddling her with a newborn baby isn’t the wisest thing in the world.  But then again, it’s not like she’d be a single mom.  She’s got me.  And I’m all in.  I’ll do whatever I need to.  I’ll change every diaper if I have to.

Well, no.  I won’t change every diaper.  But I’ll change at least half of them.  Maybe sixty percent.  I’m just saying I won’t shirk my diaper responsibilities. 

Christ, how am I going to convince her?

To be continued....
 
P.S. If you would like to read the scene in which Matt's hook-up realizes the morning after that he is disabled, it is included in Crazy in Love...