After Charlotte announced her pregnancy, my mental state roughly resembled the following.
"Aaah! No way! It's a joke, right? Please tell me it's a joke. Oh my God, it's not a joke. You're serious. You seriously have a tiny human embryo in your uterus. What were you even...and when...how?! He's a robot! How could he...Nooo now I have a mental image and it's not going away get it out get it out get it out!"
To my credit, I didn't say any of that out loud. I sat frozen with what I imagine was a blank deer-in-the-headlights expression.
"The traditional response," Charlotte said, "is 'Congratulations.'"
I couldn't say that. For the sake of our friendship I could resist saying what I was thinking, but I couldn't force myself to say something I didn't mean. "When did this...I mean, how long have you guys...."
Charlotte calmly unwrapped her Monte Cristo sandwich. "Remember that day you came over after fighting with your folks?"
Of course I remember that day. It was the worst day of my life. I remember every painful word of the phone call with my ex-agent, every humiliating moment with Winston at the Old Mill, and every tense heartbeat of my showdown with Mom.
I remember the warm feeling of relief when Charlotte texted, "U can crash @ my place." I remember thinking she ought to be sainted as she fixed me a cup of herbal tea, and put guest towels in the bathroom, and kindly offered to stay with her parents so I could have the...oh.
I said, "You didn't stay with your parents, did you?"
"Winston was upset. He thought you guys had a connection, though I'd tried to tell him that was wishful thinking. I went to his place with a bottle of wine to cheer him up."
But you didn't have to go that far to cheer him up! I bit my tongue hard.
Charlotte said, "I want to be clear, this wasn't a drunken accident. We decided, mutually, that this is what we wanted."
"You mean you got pregnant on purpose?"
"Yes. Well. Sort of. We decided to become a family; the third member of it just showed up sooner than expected."
Charlotte sighed and put her sandwich down. "Winston cries when he drinks. That day, he had a lot to cry about. He was upset because you turned him down, but not really because he wanted you. No offense."
"He was upset because he wants to settle down. He's thirty-seven already. He wants to have kids before he's too old to raise them. He wants the two-story house with the white picket fence and the playset in the backyard. And I said, you know, that's what I want too."
"Really?" That was news to me. Charlotte never struck me as a white-picket-fence-and-playset sort of person.
"Yes, really. The single life was fun in my twenties, but now I want some stability. There comes a time, you know, when a gal gets bored with Cosmopolitan and wants to start reading Good Housekeeping instead."
"I get that, but..." But...Winston Collins?!
Just because Charlotte wants to settle down doesn't mean she has to settle. There are hundreds of single men with good jobs in Bend. At least ninety percent of them must be more interesting than Winston Collins. A cardboard cutout of Ryan Reynolds would be more interesting than Winston Collins.
I couldn't understand it. I still can't understand it. Charlotte is one of the most intelligent and driven women I know. She likes pantsuits and yoga and artsy films with ambiguous, vaguely depressing endings. How could she stand to spend even a single night with Mr. Self-Help, much less a whole lifetime?
YOU ARE READING
Lizzie Bennet's DiaryRomance
"Today I met a man, and I thought he was my soulmate, but then he turned out to be a conceited, judgmental, small-minded lemon-sucking jerk." When free-spirited writer Lizzie Bennet meets handsome lawyer Will Darcy at a party, she's smitten...until...