Her nails were bitten right down and when she grasped the glass in her hand the delicate skin she had picked around her nail beds stung uncomfortably. This was the least of her concerns. She watched as Jimmy paced the room nervously. Every so often he would pause and look at her with his mouth agape, as if to start up the conversation again, but the words did not materialise and so he would resume his ritualistic wandering with furrowed brow and pursed lips.
Megan gulped down the wine, hoping it would give her the necessary courage to voice her thoughts, to share with Jimmy the fear, confusion and awkwardness of what came next. The wine had no such effect. She placed the glass on the coffee table and leaned back into the sofa for safety, thumb automatically going to her lips to chew on the already worn nail. She continued to observe Jimmy in silence waiting for him to work out what she had already decided.
Eventually he appeared to clear his mind. ‘What do you want to do?’ he asked, his deep tone much calmer than the wild panic she saw in his brown eyes.
Now it was her turn to stumble. She understood Jimmy’s necessary movement only moments before, and jiggled her foot rhythmically to dissipate the nerves. ‘Jimmy, I’m fifteen. There’s no way I can have a kid.’
Jimmy nodded pensively. ‘I know.’
Suddenly Megan felt like the adult in the room, despite Jimmy being old enough to do grown-up things like vote and drive and drink. Isn’t that what her mother had always said, that the women were always the responsible ones who made plans and prepared for the future in the relationship; the men just happened to be along for the ride?
‘I’ve got an appointment, next week, at the clinic.’ Her voice was cold, systematic; not like her at all. She realised that she had set aside her emotion, fastened it away in some little box in her mind to be dealt with later, when she might be able to accept what she was going to do simply because it would be too late to un-do it.
‘Are you sure?’
She knew the tears were there, pushing their way up. She could feel them in her gut, writhing around. She swallowed them back, tensing her stomach as she did so; trying not to think of the potential life she held there. Thinking it brave, she lifted her chin, not realising her lower lip was trembling.
‘Yes’ she answered; clear and concise. Jimmy knelt on the floor in front of her, his arms encircling her in a tight hug.
‘It’s okay. I’ll be there for you. I’ll come. You won’t have to be on your own.’
Megan thought that her heart shattered then and there: the broken pitch to his voice, the wavering of the last few words, as though if she were on her own he would be alone too. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, one hand stroking the tuft of hair on the nape of his neck. She adored that small section of soft, wispy hair. It had always reminded her of the curls found on newborn babies…
Her sobs could not be held back any longer and she cried unashamedly into Jimmy’s shoulder for what seemed like an eternity. Only when he gently rocked her back and pushed her hair away from her face did she notice the dark night through the window. She must have been there for hours. Jimmy pulled her close enough to lean their foreheads together, noses touching, his hand cupping her cheek still wet with tears.
‘It’ll be okay’ he whispered, ‘I promise.’
She let him kiss her. It was a deep, tender kiss that tasted sweet with the salt from her tears. She hadn’t realised she was still crying, the tears falling from her wide, blue eyes with abandon. It was as though she had never truly cried before and every tear that had ever built up inside of her was escaping in this one moment. But, she had calmed down, she didn’t feel as hopeless anymore; Jimmy would be there for her and everything would be okay. She took a deep breath and managed a weak smile as Jimmy pulled away, his eyes gazing lovingly into hers.
‘I love you’ he said.
‘I love you too Jimmy.’