Book One Excerpt: “That’s Not How This Works”
2019 Janine Infante Bosco
Learning our baby might be born with a heart defect if Lacey remains on her medication was the final card to fall. Now, all that’s left is a mountain of debris and I don’t know how to drudge through any of it.
“Just go,” Lacey says, keeping her back to me as she fills a water glass. It’s the third time she’s poured herself a refill and I wonder if she’s wishing it was something harder. God knows I’m fixing for something.
I’d fucking drink turpentine right now.
“I’m not going anywhere, Lace, that’s not how this works,” I tell her, bracing my hands on the kitchen island. We both know what happens if I leave, the problem is
she’s too wrapped up in her grief to realize she’s sending me straight to hell because if I do as she says, I’ll either go to a bar or drive out to Queens to score some drugs.
“Stop pretending like either of us know how anything works,” she hisses, dropping her glass into the sink. There’s truth to her words. A truth we’ve both been too fucking naïve to accept.
She turns to me, crossing her arms over her chest as she gives me her dark eyes.
“Every time we take a step forward, we take three back. We’re a fucking joke, Blackie. Two lost souls who will never get it right and now, we’re bringing a baby into the world. If that’s not fucking selfish, I don’t know what is.”
“You didn’t think it was selfish the first night I came in you,” I fire back, slamming my fist against the counter. My anger gets the best of me and I lose my patience.
Everything, all the shit with the club, Jack’s failing mind, my addictions, and
her fucking illness, it all comes crashing to the surface.
“I told you that night, I was worried about you getting pregnant and not because I thought we didn’t deserve to be parents or because I didn’t want to have a baby. I was concerned for you, for your fucking mental health but you told me there were
people like you all over the world having kids.”
“People like me,” she repeats.
Ignoring the hurt in her eyes, I continue my rant.
“You fucking promised me you’d get in touch with your shrink. You swore you’d tell
her we were trying for a baby—”
“I didn’t know I’d get pregnant so quickly,” she spats.
“You pissed on your fucking word,” I shout over her.
As soon as the words leave my lips, I regret them, but there’s no taking them back.
Maybe she was right.
Maybe I should’ve fucking left.
At least then I wouldn’t have to watch the painful expression fill her pretty face.
I can take pain, but I can’t take hers.
Exhaling, I swipe a hand over my face and bow my head.
“Shit, I’m sorry, Lace.”
“Don’t be sorry for expressing how you truly feel,” she spats, furiously wiping at the
tear that escapes the corner of her eye.
“I don’t know what the fuck I feel,” I admit, gripping the edge of the counter again.
Frustration claws at me as I keep my eyes pinned to her. “All I know is the last thing I want to see is you lose yourself to your maker. I don’t understand why you won’t just talk to the doctor before you make a decision.”
“And I don’t know what’s so hard to comprehend. You know, it’s my body, therefore it’s ultimately my decision, but it’s our baby, Blackie. It’s not a dream anymore. It’s not a what if—I’m pregnant and I can’t understand how you would risk our child being born with a heart defect.”
Her words slap me in the face, and I clench my jaw, trying to keep my emotions in check. There shouldn’t be a choice. We shouldn’t have to choose between Lacey’s mental stability and bringing a healthy baby into the world, but once again life’s got us by the balls. No one gets a say in the cards they’re dealt. You get what you get. You either play your fucking hand or you fold. Some people, go all in.
They risk everything they got and pray they don’t lose. Others, they’re more
cautious and maybe that’s because they’ve lost in the past. Maybe, just maybe
they want to hang onto what they got and don’t want to press their luck.
I already visit one wife in a cemetery.
I don’t want to visit Lacey in the fucking psych ward.
“Let me ask you something,” I say hoarsely, pausing to swallow the lump suffocating me. “Have you thought about what happens after the baby is born? More specifically, have you taken a fucking second to think about what happens to you?”
She doesn’t answer me as she diverts her eyes away and I take the opportunity to paint her a picture.
“The baby is born, and she’s perfect. She’s got a full head of dark hair and the prettiest brown eyes either of us has ever seen. She’s everything we dreamed of and yet, I’m the only one living the dream. You don’t look at her the way I do. You don’t hold her and feel the same things I do. To you, she just exists, and you don’t understand why. You forget the sacrifices you made bringing her into the world. You forget the dreams you had for her. You forget it all.”
“Stop,” she orders, balling her fists at her side.
“No,” I growl. “I won’t stop. You won’t get to experience the joys of motherhood,
Lacey. You won’t hold her in the middle of the night when she wakes. You won’t
get to watch her grow or teach her how to walk. You won’t even give a fuck
because you and your maker will be one. She wins and your child, the precious
baby you fought to bring into this world, she fucking loses.”
Lacey spins around and takes the glass from the sink. Before I realize what
she’s doing, she turns back to me and throws it across the room. It misses me
by an inch and crashes against the floor.
“Get the fuck out of here,” she cries.
When I don’t move, she advances towards me and stands across the other end of the Island.
“I want you to leave!”
“I’ll go,”I tell her. “But I won’t fucking apologize for a word of what I just said.
Children are born with birth defects every day, Lace. Sometimes the doctors
catch them early on and sometimes they don’t find out until the baby is already
in the mother’s arms. That don’t make them broken or any less loveable.”