More Protests

Author’s Note: Fi said no. She does have good reasons for saying no.

More Protests

“What? No! I don’t—why would I want that? Why would I keep around an endless reminder of how Richard betrayed me? Do I really seem like that much of a masochist to you? I’m not. I’m not capable of being that good or noble or self-sacrificing. Even if that social worker called me up today and told me there was nowhere for the baby to go with Chloe’s family, I would not change my mind. I can’t keep her. I’d end up hating her and myself and doing horrible things that I’d regret. She’s not staying. Why would you think that I would do that?”

Darren took a step closer to Fi, putting his hands on her shoulders. “I think that because you have shown already that you can be a good mother, because I know how badly you wanted your chance to be one, and because you’ve been more or less forced into it right now. Someone dropped what you wanted in your lap, and you can’t help being a bit weak to that.”

She shook her head. “I don’t care if I am. This… It’s not right. It’s not my chance. I never wanted to do it on my own, and I am not raising Richard’s child after what he did. I hate him, and I’d live my whole life afraid of taking that out on the baby.”

“I think you’re a good enough person that you’d never do it, and you’d hate even the slightest thought that you might have, so you wouldn’t.”

“That still doesn’t mean I can do this. I just had a marriage fall apart, and technically, I’m a widow, and I need to get my head on straight before I become a mother. I don’t know if I wanted it so much for me or because of Richard, and if it wasn’t for me… I can’t do that to any child. Maybe in a few years if I’m reorganized and settled and over what Richard did enough to trust someone again, and we’re committed to each other and to the adoption, but now? That would be insane, and I’m not that kind of crazy. I’m just not.”

“I never said you were crazy.”

“Even if she’s got no other family, keeping her would be crazy.”

Darren let out a breath. Again, Fi was protesting too much. She’d already started to care about the baby, a lot more than she would admit even to herself. He didn’t know how to make her see that or if he should. This was not his field of expertise, and he’d lost touch with her over the past few years with all the traveling and her husband’s irrational jealousy. They were still family, but that just meant he heard about her through his sister, not directly.

“I am not saying you have to keep her. No one can force you to do that, and Richard was wrong to think that he could get you to do that. I’m just… I think you’re a bit attached already. Who wouldn’t be after all this time you’ve been alone with her? Sure, she’s refused to eat, and she’s got horrible smelling diapers, but she’s cute and doesn’t look much like the bastard, so there’s that.”

“Oh, I see what it is. You’ve gone and fallen for the baby. You want to keep her, so persuading me to do it is your way of—”

“Excuse me, I am not the one who asked me to keep my project within commuting distance of here. Why would you want that if you didn’t want to have support raising the baby? You know I’m a sucker, so of course you’d put it out there, ask me about it, but I’m not the one who’s the problem.”

“I don’t—I was looking for some kind of ridiculous demand to get you to agree to. It’s not like I expect you to drop everything and move here—not as a roommate and sure as hell not as a husband—and you can relax about that. I just… I said something stupid, that’s all.”

“Well, we did kind of fall out of touch thanks to Richard—”

“Who was jealous because he was cheating on me the entire time.”

“—and so we could probably use some time to catch up, and I’m not entirely opposed to helping out or sticking close to you while I work on this project. I just think if you do want to adopt the baby, you allow yourself to admit it and plan accordingly.”

“I know I can only afford a one bedroom apartment on my salary. I wasn’t enough of a feminist to insist on making the same amount of money as him. His income covered the house, and mine gave us luxuries. That was fine with both of us.”

“So you need a roommate.”

“Darren, don’t go thinking you need to volunteer. I already told you. I am not keeping her.”

He had a feeling she was still trying to convince herself of that, but he let it go because he had work to do. “I need to grab my laptop. You should probably call that social worker. You know, since you’re not keeping her.”

She flipped him off and walked away.

Next: Time to Step Back and End the Confusion

Back: A Strange Route to the Truth

Beginning: The Loss of Eight Years

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