Occasionally, I’ll place my hands on my stomach and a tiny wave of love will come. I have no idea how I can already love something so much, but I do. I think about whether or not it’ll be a boy or a girl and what I’ll name it. I wonder if it will look like me or Ryle. And then another wave of anger will come and crash down on that tiny wave of love.
I feel robbed of the joy a mother should have when she finds out she’s pregnant. I feel like Ryle took that from me last night and it’s just one more thing I have to hate him for.
Hatred is exhausting.
I force myself off the bed and into the shower. I’ve been in my room most of the day. Atlas returned home several hours ago and I heard him open the door at one point to check on me but I pretended to be asleep.
I feel awkward being here. Atlas is the very reason Ryle was angry at me last night, yet he’s the one I ran to when I needed help? Being here fills me with guilt. Maybe even a little bit of shame, as though my calling Atlas lends credibility to Ryle’s anger. But there’s literally nowhere I can go right now. I need a couple of days to process things and if I go to a hotel, Ryle could track the credit card charge and find me.
He’d be able to find me at my mother’s. At Allysa’s. At Lucy’s. He’s even met Devin a couple of times and would more than likely go there, too.
I can’t see him tracking down Atlas, though. Yet. I’m sure if I go a week avoiding his calls and texts, he’ll look everywhere he can possibly look to find me. But for now, I don’t think he would show up here.
Maybe that’s why I’m here. I feel safer here than anywhere else I could possibly go. And Atlas has an alarm system, so there’s that.
I glance at the nightstand to look at my phone. I skip over all the missed texts from Ryle and open the one from Allysa.
Allysa: Hey, Aunt Lily! They’re sending us home tonight. Come see us tomorrow when you get home from work.
She sent a picture of her and Rylee, and it makes me smile. Then cry. Damn these emotions.
I wait until my eyes are dry again before I walk into the living room. Atlas is sitting at his kitchen table, working on his laptop. When he looks up at me, he smiles and closes it.
I force a smile and then look in the kitchen. “Do you have anything to eat?”
Atlas stands up quickly. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, sit down. I’ll get something ready for you.”
I take a seat on the couch as he works his way around the kitchen. The television is on, but it’s muted. I unmute it and click on the DVR. He has a few shows recorded, but the one that catches my eye is The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I smile and click on the most recent unwatched episode and hit Play.
Atlas brings me a bowl of pasta and a glass of ice water. He glances at the TV and then sits down next to me on the couch.
For the next three hours, we watch a full week’s worth of episodes. I laugh out loud six times. It feels good, but when I take a bathroom break and come back to the living room, the weight of it all starts to sink in again.
I sit back down on the couch next to Atlas. He’s leaning back with his feet propped up on the coffee table. I naturally lean into him and just like he used to do when we were teenagers, he pulls me against his chest and we just sit there in silence. His thumb brushes the outside of my shoulder, and I know it’s his unspoken way of saying he’s here for me. That he feels bad for me. And for the first time since he picked me up last night, I feel like talking about it. My head is resting against his shoulder and my hands are in my lap. I’m fidgeting with the drawstring on the pants that are way too big for me.
“Atlas?” I say, my voice barely a whisper. “I’m sorry I got so angry at you that night at the restaurant. You were right. Deep down I knew you were right, but I didn’t want to believe it.” I lift my head and look at him, cracking a pitiful smile. “You can say, ‘I told you so’ now.”
His eyebrows draw together, like my words somehow hurt him. “Lily, this is not something I wanted to be right about. I prayed every day that I was wrong about him.”
I wince. I shouldn’t have said that to him. I know better than to think Atlas would ever think something like I told you so. He squeezes my shoulder and leans forward, kissing the top of my head. I close my eyes as I soak up the familiarity of him. His smell, his touch, his comfort. I’ve never understood how someone can be so rock solid, yet comforting. But that’s always how I’ve viewed him. Like he could withstand anything, but somehow still feels the weight that everyone else carries.
I don’t like that I was never fully able to let go of him, no matter how hard I tried. I think about the fight with Ryle over Atlas’s phone number. The fight about the magnet, the article, the things he read in my journal, the tattoo. None of that would have happened if I would have just let go of Atlas and thrown it all away. Ryle wouldn’t have had anything to be so upset with me about.
I pull my hands up to my face after that thought, upset that there’s a part of me trying to blame Ryle’s reaction on my lack of closure with Atlas.
There’s no excuse. None.
This is just another wave I’m being forced to ride on. A wave of complete and utter confusion.
Atlas can feel the change in my composure. “You okay?”
I’m not okay, because until this moment, I had no idea how hurt I still am that he never came back for me. If he’d have just come back for me like he promised, I would have never even met Ryle. And I would have never been in this situation.