Sometimes you just know things. You can feel it.
Like I knew something wasn't right about his mother giving me that little spiel her first time meeting me.
I felt it.
Abram sits before me, his head lowered, eyes down on his black Kenneth Cole casuals.
He's one of the most honest people I have met, but I still wasn't expecting him to be this honest with me. The sincerity in his eyes cannot allow me to look at him accusingly though.
He lifts his head up and he brings his sad eyes up to mine, only his third time since we started this conversation. The last hour has uncovered more than I could have ever imagined.
"So..." He says nervously.
"I don't know what to say."
I'm trying to digest all the information he has just spilled out so candidly for me with an objective mind, but every time I look up at him and see the shame and guilt that is so obviously burdening him, it's hard for me to want to do anything but hold him until his beautiful smile returns
I would have never known he hid so much pain beneath that sunny disposition.
"I just want you to know that I'm not dwelling on it. The guilt I feel is still strong, most definitely, but it doesn't define me like it used to. I realize that we both had problems far beyond the other's abilities to help. I realize that now. And I accept it. I wish things had gone differently. I wish I could have done something. And I can't lie and say that it still doesn't hurt. I can't deny that I think about it... often. But it's just something I've learned to live with now... I have to."
His nearly-bald head descends back into its former position and he exhales heavily.
I stop. Breathe. Rub my hands over my denim-covered thighs. Think about how he must feel. How much trust it must have taken for him to tell me something this heavy and personal. My eyes float around my small apartment. The hum of my refrigerator the only noise breaking the silence besides Abrams heavy sighs every now and again.
I still don't know what to say. I mean, what do you say when someone tells you that they had a pregnant fiancée who committed suicide a month before their wedding, and they most-likely were the cause? What is the correct response to that? I am in shock.
"How long ago was this. Abram?"
Another sigh. "Ah, three years ago. Four in August."
Now I understand why he told me August was his least favorite month in a conversation we had a few weeks ago. His reason then was that he is just very 'unlucky' in August. I told him he would just have to get over that unlucky streak, my birthday being August 15th. His response was a low-muffled, "yeah, I suppose."
"I honestly don't know what to say. I'm sorry. I'm very sorry you had to go through that. I can't even imagine." I say quietly.
Mrs. Montgomery had used the term challenging. I'd say insufferable.
When I asked Abram to come over earlier so we could talk, he seemed uncomfortable. Kept asking me what his mother had said to me. Even laughed and asked if I'd found his secret ball of hair in a closet at his mother's house, jokingly referring to a part in the movie Fever Pitch when Drew Barrymore and company were discussing 'too good to be true' men.
When he realized I really wanted to talk, he'd gotten serious. Said he really liked me, wanted to see this go further. Expressed that this is the first time he's felt like being in someone's company more than a few times in a long, long, while, almost four years. He told me he's dated casually a few times, but it was never anything serious. Since I felt we were crossing a threshold in our growing relationship, I told him about my previous relationships. The drama, the love, and the losses.
Still, I was unprepared for his revelations of the happenings in his last relationship. He spoke low, so low I had to strain to hear. Turned the TV off so that the only noise was the refrigerator humming quietly:
"We were happy. Young, in love. We were friends for a long time before I got the nerve to step to her. But it worked, we just clicked. We'd only been together for a year and a half when she got pregnant. Both of us had just graduated from MSU. Right after we found out she was pregnant, she told me she didn't love me anymore. She'd fallen in love with some other dude. Told me to step. I couldn't believe it 'cause we had always talked about getting married and having children. It didn't work out how we had planned, but I was willing to take responsibility, to make it work. So, I was pissed when she told me she had been messing with some other dude. All I could hear was Maury Povich in my head saying 'You ARE NOT the father.' over and over."
"So you two broke up?"
"Yeah, we broke up. Then a week later she comes over to my house, crying and stuff. Saying she was making it all up cause she was scared. Didn't want to have a child at that point in her life, but didn't want me to be mad about her wanting an abortion. Kept apologizing and saying she still loved me, swore that she had been making it all up, there was no other dude."
"Wow." He was looking past me, no doubt watching it unfold in his mind as he has so many times before.
"I loved her though, supported her decision, took her back. When it came time for her to actually go through with it though, she couldn't. I was happy that she didn't, but still there was this nagging in the back of my mind, telling me that she hadn't made it all up, that she was just saying that to me cause things hadn't worked out with the other dude. I wasn't about to be the default man. I couldn't make myself not think about it. She knew it too, I didn't hide it, but she said yes when I proposed to her anyway. She thought it would make things better."
"So why did you propose if you were so uncertain?"
"I did love her. And I kind of thought it would makes thing better too. My family was upset with me for getting her pregnant out of wedlock. They're real old school if you haven't noticed. I thought it would help us."
He sat up straight, fiddled with his large fingers for a moment. "I can't believe I'm telling you this. I haven't talked about this with anyone in three years."
I remained quiet. Just absorbed in all he was telling me, waited for him to finish.
"Anyway, the engagement didn't help. I became more and more suspicious of her being pregnant with some other guy's baby. I was stressing, she was stressing. She started leaving at night while I was at work, so I started talking to random women, playing her like I thought she was playing me. All the while her mother is planning our wedding. It was real messed up, but I only cared about a paternity test after the baby was born. Then one day when she was about seven months pregnant, she's sleeping and some dude is texting her at midnight. Talking about what time is she coming over and he needs to see his 'baby'. I blew up. Kicked her out. Told her I hated her and I never wanted to see her again. Her mom found her the next day in the bathroom overdosed on all these pills. They tried to save the baby, but he died too."
After hearing this, I still don't know what to say. He sits before me, his head down, his pain apparent in his sad tone and slumped shoulders. .
"Like I said, I have learned to live with this. There's nothing I can do now, but not make the same mistakes I did before. I will always miss her, miss the chance of getting to know my first son, but I really want us to see where this goes, Ata. Really. I'm ready."
His glossy eyes look into mine sincerely. I reach out to him, pull his hand in mine, scoot closer to him on my beige couch, wrap my arms around him. He embraces me back immediately, the stark honesty in the air making this moment more intimate that it would have been otherwise. Slowly I lift my head, search for his lips with mine. His are like a magnet, urgently pulling me into him, engulfing me in a kiss so passionate it makes my head swim.
He pulls me closer, hugs me tighter. Kisses me deeper. His hands roam, travel my breast, my waist, my legs, the small of my back. His tongue finds my neck, sends soft electrical currents tingling down my spine. I rest my face in the curve of his neck, inhale his scent. Close my eyes. Breathe him in and smile.