I suppose most guys would have been worried getting involved with a girl like her, but I wasn't. Just the opposite. I loved that she wasn't ashamed to admit she enjoyed sex, that she had it as often as she wanted and didn't let petty words like "slut" define her.
And I loved her name—the irony of it, the way it sounded, the way it tasted in my mouth. Despite its meaning, "chastity" has got to be one of the most erotic words ever invented. It made me want to fuck her even more. Every time I said it—every time I thought it—the air around me would humidify and I would look at her and see an innocent child, pure and untouched, and I would want to deflower her all over again.
I told her this once, and she laughed and said, "Oh, Christian… how un-Christian of you."
I gave her the finger. Then winked.
I've always hated my name: Christian. Not because it's ugly or anything, but because I'm a hardcore atheist. Have been since the age of fourteen, and damn proud of it.
Chastity and I made fun of each other's names something terrible. It was our way of making light of them, of forgiving our parents for giving them to us. Honestly I think part of the reason why we loved each other was because of our names—because they described the opposite of who we were, because we accepted them even though we hated them. I also think it had something to do with us both coming from fundamentalist households and having a strong distaste for religion in general.
But there was so much more. Chastity was unique. She represented something rare and special, a person unwilling to conform to social standards. She was an attention-seeker if I'd ever seen one, and she showed it. She dyed her hair orange and wore white, star-shaped sunglasses that she'd once found at a thrift store; they'd been on sale for less than a dollar because they were broken, but she'd bought them anyway and fixed them with duct tape.
She had a tattoo. The day we met she told me about it. It was a blooming rose directly above her left breast with a thorny vine that curled around and circled her entire torso. When I asked her why she didn't get one in a more "traditional" area like her shoulder blade or her lower back or her ankle, she scoffed and said, "Because that's so cliché!"
She was definitely not like any of the other girls I'd dated, and I admired her for that.
Sometimes I still can't believe she and I only fucked once.
I'd been lying on her bed shirtless, trying to get a nap in after taking a ridiculously long midterm. Wearing just a bra and checkered miniskirt, standing next to her desktop which had iTunes open and was playing Madonna's "Vogue," she turned to me, a smirk on her face, and said, "I love it when you do that."
"Do what?" I asked, half-asleep.
She sauntered over to the edge of the bed, next to my waist. "Lie on the bed shirtless, looking like you want me to fuck you."
I smiled, instantly horny, and decided to play with her. "What makes you think I want you to fuck me?"
"You do," she answered, and then crawled over top of me, straddling me. "Don't tell me you don't," she said, "because I know you do." She grinned, her cherry-red lip gloss shining in the light that was spilling in through the window.
And I couldn't play anymore. I gave in, just like that. "Yeah, I do."
She let out a giggle—a really cute "teehee"-sounding giggle—and then quickly changed her expression to a feigned look of seriousness. "Well, I suppose I should give you what you want, shouldn't I?"
I couldn't help chuckling. She was playing with me now.
"That's what a good girlfriend would do." She ran the manicured nail of her index finger over my chest and stomach, stopping at the button on my jeans. She tucked her bottom lip under her top teeth as she popped it open. "Am I a good girlfriend?" she asked.
"Of course," I replied.
She grinned in return—"Hell yeah, I am"—and then took it from there.
The next day I left for Thanksgiving Break.
About a week after I returned, once I'd gotten back into the swing of my classes, she invited me up to her dorm room again. It smelled like puke. As I closed the door behind me, I heard her toilet flush. She wobbled out in her pajamas, looking groggy and sick. "It smells like barf in here," I said. "Are you okay?"
She took a seat on her bed. Patted the space beside her, beckoning me to sit there. I did, and the next thing I knew she was sobbing into my shoulder.
"Hey," I said, "what's the matter?"
Gently, she lifted her head up, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and replied, "I'm pregnant."
My stomach clenched. My whole body went stiff—so stiff I could actually hear my heart thumping. I felt electrified, frozen. I asked the first question that came to me: "Is it mine?"
"What do you mean?" she snapped. She looked at me like she wanted to tear my throat out. I don't think I'd ever seen her so pissed before. "Of course it's yours, you fuck face! Whose do you think it is?"
"No, I just meant—" I paused. I didn't know what I meant. That question had come out before I'd had time to think about it—about what I was really implying. Truth is, as much as I loved and trusted Chastity, I didn't want it to be mine. I'd rather her have said she fucked some other guy over break than say I was the father. "I'm sorry," I said quickly. And I really was. "What are we going to do now?"
She shrugged, combed her fingers through her hair, and then shook her head. "I don't know."
That scared me. It wasn't like her to be uncertain. She was the type to know what to do, and to do it.
To make matters worse, she asked me what we should do.
I took a deep breath. What could I say but the truth? "I really don't want to be a father right now," I said. "I'm not ready for that."
She nodded, her expression blank. Contemplating.
"Are you angry?"
She thought for a moment before answering. "No." Then she looked me in the eyes and told me we shouldn't see each other anymore.
If I were any kind of man, I would have stayed. I would have set my fears aside, taken her hand, and told her I'd stand by her no matter what. Like the gentlemen in movies do. But I wasn't a man, so I left.
A few weeks later, she sent me a text telling me she was going to adopt the baby out. She said she still wasn't angry at me for wanting nothing to do with it, and that I wouldn't have to worry about child support.
I sent her one back telling her to take care. She responded with a simple "You too."
I didn't get another one until March of the following year. She told me she was four months along and that she'd changed her mind about giving the baby up for adoption—she was going to keep it instead. She'd dropped out of college for the time being and was dating again; a Christian named Andrew. He was going to help her raise it.
I wondered if he knew she was an atheist. I wondered if he knew I was too, and how he'd react. He'd probably be happy about it, I figured. Probably think he was doing the Lord's work, saving an innocent soul from the likes of the damned or some bullshit.
I texted back, saying that was great and I hoped she and her new beau enjoyed their little bundle of joy.
Then she sent one saying the baby wouldn't know of me.
I told her that was just as well.
The next time she texted me it was the end of summer, and her text consisted of three lines:
His name is Joshua.
He has your eyes.
She'd sent me a picture. I braced myself as I clicked on it.
It had been taken right after he was born. His skin was a reddish color, his eyes open to just slits. He had a dark tuft of hair on his head; that was the only thing of mine that I could see. I stared at him for a long time, then texted back with "He's beautiful."
I never spoke to Chastity again, and she never sent me any more pictures. But I kept the one she did send.
I look at it every day.
It is very sad he couldn't actually meet Joshua. I know this probably happens a lot but he should be given at least a shot at meeting him, even if older and even if in secret, as in not telling the kid he is his father. Also, I have always found it strange how a girl can find another man so quickly. I was kind of hoping she would give it up for adoption and he would adopt it instead, for the piece held a linger of regret throughout its entirety.
Just, I don't know. As a girl myself, it would break my heart not to know any kids I would have and I wouldn't even think of what the men would do since they didn't carry it. Ugh, it is just so sad.
So sorry for this inexcusably late reply!
Agreed, it is very sad. He may still meet Joshua in the future, but now he probably thinks it's for the best that he doesn't, and, as the author of the piece, I can understand him. If he were to meet Joshua it would probably make the whole thing more emotional than it already is. He looks at the picture of him every day. If he were to see him in person, he may change his mind about fatherhood, and I think deep down he's scared by that: he's scared of fatherhood, scared that he wouldn't make a good father, scared that his involvement would make things worse for Joshua (especially since Joshua has a father figure in his life now).
I get that, but like you said, this sort of thing happens a lot. We tend to vilify fathers who aren't in their children's lives. I wanted to get into one's mind and humanize him. Perhaps some of those hit-the-road fathers want to be involved with their kids but are afraid to - afraid they'll be just like their own fathers, afraid they'll screw their kids up. Fear is a strong emotion, y'know?
Sorry for my own late reply.
Actually this piece is helping with one of my characters right now. The situation is he is technically married without it being his choice but he comes to like his wife but now they are having a baby and he is less than enthusiastic though he tells her she can keep it. I am trying hard to show that he is as supportive as he can be even though he grows more and more distant from her, though after the baby is born he will pretty much let all those previous worries be gone in a heartbeat. I wanted that when I started writing it in high school but only now is it actually getting to that part. This is helping me figure out that depth of regret.
On a more realistic note, one of my best friends and her sisters were given custody to their father after her parents divorced because of her mother's, um, issues. Usually our courts favor the mother above all else when, if you think about it, the father could be just as good if not better than the mother from time to time. Heck, I bet there are a few guys that would rather be just like the women who say to hell with marriage and just get knocked up and raise the babies on their own. Science has found that all a zygote needs is to connect to blood-rich tissue to grow, meaning so long as it is controlled to where what said blood-rich tissue is (not the liver,) men could technically carry a baby. But then, there is this: A little cruel to laugh at Though Henry Cho, a comedian I rather like, said in his show that if God came down and said that men were suddenly the ones to have babies, they would turn right around and say "Okay, no more people."
I'd be interested to see these two as secondary characters in other stories you write [they're too good to just one off like this].
Or don't, I mean, don't let ME tell YOU how to write, haha.
I take that back. It's far too easy to put it into words, but the words themsevles don't seem to cover it.
It's hard in the first place to envoke feelings like that from experiences from another gender, and you did it beautifully and passionatly. The regret and remorse that he has you place in just the right subtlety to make it real from his standpoint.
I've had two abortions done on a girfriend and wife. The one without my knowledge, and the other with full knowledge. I wonder everyday what my kids would have looked like and the remorse that you described is exactly how it feels.
Bravo. You hit it right on the head. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for letting me deal with that.
Beautiful peice and don't ever stop writing.
Thank you! I've been writing from the male perspective quite a bit lately, experimenting with it. I'm glad I succeeded in making the narrator believable. Despite his flaws, he has a good heart (and his raw honesty about his mistakes is admirable). Whether he's good-hearted enough to earn the reader's respect and sympathy is of question. As the author, I have to say I feel for him. But of course, I'm just the author.
Thank you very much for sharing that personal detail about yourself. I appreciate it more than words can say. I fully admit that I'm pro-choice; however, I understand how an abortion could cause uncertainty and regret. I hope you don't let such feelings keep you from living life. Everyone makes spur-of-the-moment mistakes. What is truly important is learning from them.
Aww, thank you! I'm moved. Rest assured, I have no intention to stop writing.
By the way, you might want to check out "A Thousand Needles" (another prose piece I did). It's longer, yes, but I think you'd like it. I'd love to have your feedback on it.
His regret in this piece is intensely beautiful.