Straight and true, my cryptic e-mail swiftly found its mark. On my doorstep within an hour, anxiety was radiating off his immutable face. I never realized how his emotions turned to stone during a crisis. You’d think he had been hardened by Medusa’s deadly gaze. I didn’t know how to react. Straight to the point I asked, “What happened?” I was letting down all of womankind by not screaming, slapping his face, or putting oft overlooked accelerants to good use on his clothing. I was guilelessly hopeful for a rational explanation. This was his offering.“Remember when I went to the bar to play darts with the family last summer? Well, she was there, and I drank quite a bit. I went home and went to bed. It was pretty uneventful. A few months later, dad was congratulating me. I had no idea for what.”
“Dad told me, ‘She’s pregnant.’”
“Good for her.”
“Well, she said it’s yours.”
“That’s impossible. It’s been two years since we slept together.”
Yes, My Haunted Hearts, they have a history. Until this episode, their relationship had never been punishable. He had not been under my jurisdiction during their previous rendezvous. Their relationship has a long and sordid history which I will gladly spill for you at a later date. For now, let’s stay on message. After being congratulated by his dad, he called to find out why she was spreading this toxic rumor. After he went home and went to bed that night, she let herself into his room. She thought he had been sending her signals all night, so she crawled on top of him. She realized the next morning that he didn’t remember they had slept together after the bar. She said she never meant for him to find out. Upon hearing this, he blurted out, “You pretty much raped me?” She hung up on him. I was stunned. I did not know how to process this information. No one forced him to drink that much, but he also went home to the safety of his own room and passed out. There is a reasonable expectation that you should be safe in your own home. If I had returned to the safety of my room and a man had sex with me while too intoxicated to give consent, it would have been rape. There are no two ways about it. And in the dark if he woke up to her on top of him, would he even know who it was? It could have easily been me in his bed, but I don’t take advantage of drunk people.
Though I was angry about the lying, I still felt empathy for him. I needed to know why he had hid this information for so long. “Why did you keep this a secret for a year? Why didn’t you tell me when it happened so we could work through this together? This was not your fault. People in your family knew and hid it. I feel like there has been a campaign of secrecy.”
“I thought it would be the end of our relationship. We were in such a good place when this happened, and I didn’t want to lose you. Even though I had no knowledge of it, it still felt like cheating.”
“Did you think this would never come out? That she would never pursue you in court?”
“I told her I never wanted anything to do with her or the baby. I even told her I would rather she have an abortion if she really believed it was mine, but it was her body, her decision. She kept it, and her husband signed the birth certificate. It’s over.”
“There is no way this is even close to over. She clearly wanted you to know that this is your child. If she was afraid to tell you that you’d slept together, then why did she announce it to your entire family? She’s married for God’s sake. She could have passed it off as his if she wanted, and that’s what it sounds like she’s doing now that you’ve rejected her. If she gets a divorce, she could come after you for child support. She could tell this child 5, 10, 15 years down the road that her real dad is somewhere out there. A teenager could show up on your doorstep wanting a relationship. She wanted you to know because she was hoping you would rescue her and set up house with her. How were you going to explain this to me when a teenager showed up on our doorstep? And what about her husband? He has a right to know.”
I broke up with him. I did not break up with him because they had sex. It was rape. I broke up with him because of the lengths he had gone to hide it for over a year. The baby had already been born, and she had been flaunting it in front of his family for six months. I was terrified that this child might be his. I had never wanted children and had even gone as far as having a tubal ligation to prevent it. Now this woman had inserted herself into our lives and had introduced an innocent child into this mix. The baby was an elegy to this woman’s malefaction.