It happened when the mad year of 2017 was nearing its end. To be more specific, it was November, a month called “listopad” in my mother tongue. It means “falling leaves” in English, which is a very fitting backdrop to this sore memory.
I don’t know anymore where we were coming from, and it’s not that important where I was about to leave. The point is we were sitting in the delusively warm metal bubble of a running car with my wife, silent and afraid to look at each other. Such moments would normally be nothing more than breaks in perfectly harmless conversations. Lately they’d been growing strangely heavy, though, and now I knew why.
I desperately wanted to look at her and say something, but I couldn’t. The trees lining the parking lot swayed in wind like a bunch of drunken ghouls. The windscreen was getting plastered with graveyard-brown leaves that had rotten on the branches weeks ago already. I knew I’d better go before the heavy skies spew another squall, but I also knew I can’t leave. Not just yet. A guy should respond when the woman of his life tells him she’s pregnant with their second child.
Yet I couldn’t find any words that would reconcile that merriest piece of news with the deathly fireworks it had set off in my mind. A child. Another one. That’s wonderful, no? Couldn’t imagine how would I make the boy part of my busy life but it turned out great. Been the best thing ever, really. No reason why it should be any different this time, is there? But what if things fuck up? Something happens to her, or the little human growing in her, or me, or all of us, because, let’s admit it, the world is going to hell no matter how slow it may seem, those psychos taking rein everywhere, building walls in people’s heads for now, who knows what comes next, war and plague and little backyard torture to boot like so many times before, only we’ve got too fat on the godflesh of progress to remember, and even if people won’t do one another in the planet will manage to dispose of us all right, it’s taking a deep hot breath already, the anger we’ve been stoking for the past century will soon roar back at us and then we’re gone, shall it be a firestorm coming from the dried up bogs, a hurricane or blizzard tearing our heads off with a roof gone rogue, or some other terror, the subtlety of hunger and thirst on the other side of the dying world wreaking havoc on the luckier lands in ways I can’t possibly imagine now? …
I said none of those things, of course. But I also didn’t say much else. A few lame words filtered out in the end, stuttering between my numb lips. Good for you, that’s great, just what you, no, we wanted, right? Glad it worked out so fast… Some such stuff. And then I left the woman I love in tears, knowing I could have done no better, not with that vicious thing in my head that was hurting me more than it had ever before, and I still couldn’t say a word.
To finish on a slightly less gloomy note – you who have read some other stories of my madness already know what’s to blame for my atrocious behaviour. I’m not really a vile monster of a guy who would gleefully indulge in deliberate torture of pregnant women. I just happened to suffer from a pretty major depressive disorder back then, and I was stupid enough not to tell anyone for quite a while, which would have saved us all a lot of trouble. Surprising as it is, however, my wife didn’t leave me (which says a lot about how amazing she is in that subtle way that lets good things take deep root no matter what kind of shitstorm rages around). And what’s more, the baby in question made it to the world just fine, and now she’s growing into a cheerful little lady (rather suspiciously cheerful, actually, given what doomsday vibes might have been hammering her while she was still in womb). But that’s already a story for another time.