To Have And Bear All
It was dark and wet. Spring had just arrived and all was quiet but for the sound of his heavy breathing and the dripping water. His snoring echoed throughout and frightened intruders away.
All of a sudden, he woke up coughing and heaving. He scrambled for a cigarette and found a half smoked one in the ground. It was damp and moldy, but he didn’t care. He lit up and the coughing stopped. His breathing slowed down. His eyes were bloodshot and he could taste the bitterness of his own breath. It felt like a horrible hangover, but he had just been sleeping and living in a very dark place for a long time, as he does every year.
With the cigarette still in his mouth, he fell back onto the pillow and stared blankly into the darkness. The smoke scared the bees away. As he reached over to the jar on his nightstand, he heard footsteps. He recognized the trespasser’s familiar scent.
A silhouette appeared in the archway, dark and mysterious. He closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. The figure came closer and said, “It’s the first day of spring, I know you’re awake.”
He grunted and replied, “What do you want?”
“I want to be back in your life.”
“Go away. You hardly know me.” He sighs and turns away.
He didn’t respond.
He was furious. The adrenaline rushed through his blood. He jumped out of bed and roared up a storm of cusses and angry expressions.
“And you’re telling me now?” He asked angrily.
“You’ve been asleep for the past few months, what was I supposed to do?”
“Is this even possible? Are you sure it’s mine?”
“It’s unmistakably yours, I’ve seen the ultrasound pictures.”
“Great.” He said as he calmed down. His hand still trembling, he picked up another half smoked butt and lit it.
“I’m… I’m sorry I left. I was scared. I had never done anything like that before and I woke up with scratches all over my back. I panicked. I just wasn’t ready for a relationship with a…”
“Say it. Go ahead say it. A relationship with a bear.”
It was the very words that he had played over and over again in his mind and never thought he’d hear them again aloud, especially from her.
“And now what? All of a sudden you’re Miss Tolerant? What do you expect
“This is your child as much as it is mine. You did this to me. You found me in the woods and took me back here and you did this to me. The least you could do is help me raise this child.”
He stood up again and looked at her. He turned away taking a deep drag. He exhaled and turned to her again.
“With what job, Olivia? What job? I have two degrees in quantum sciences, but no one will hire me. Who would? I sure as hell wouldn’t if I were one of you. What parent would want to send their children to be taught by me? To them I’m a vicious beast. A wild animal.”
She broke into tears and fell to her knees.
“I don’t know what. I came here hoping that you might just be happy about this. That maybe you’d want to be a part of this. After all those words you said to me that night. Was it all just a lie? How I could I be so stupid?”
He shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes.
“No. It’s not that. I’m just trying to be rational here. Who would accept our child? Your kind would torment. Mine would abandon it. What are we supposed to do? Where would we raise it? Whose religion would we teach it? I’m just trying to figure this out. Besides, you’re the one who left me. Remember? I was ready to commit. Everything I said to you, I meant. You left and I got hurt. Look at me. Take a good look at me. I’m miserable. Broken.”
She started to cry even more. She got up and ran to the kitchen. She started boiling water to distract her self from crying even more. Things weren’t going the way she had hoped.
He came into the kitchen hold a jar of honey. He was bringing it over to add to the tea, but then he remembered she hated honey because of her allergy to it. He reached up to open the cabinet and put it away.
“No, don’t. I like honey. I lied to you, before.”
“I know.” He said confidently, but he didn’t know. He was just bluffing. He wanted to keep the upper hand. He had loved her once before. He remembered the day she left and hasn’t been himself since.
“So where do we go from here?” He asked.
“I suppose we could start by planning this properly. Finding the right doctor. But my health care only covers so much.”
“Marry me. The one good thing about being an endangered species is that the government pays for my health care. I have full coverage.”
“But would we be able to get married? Legally?”
“That’s my child there. They’ll have to let us.”
“And our families? What will they say? And the press?”
“That’s not important right now. We’ll figure it out on the way.”
As absurd as the idea was to him, it was something he had been willing to do since they met. He was going to propose the morning she left. Once she was gone, he sold the ring and used the money to buy gourmet honey. He developed a taste for the expensive stuff. It grew into an addiction. His addiction grew out of control. He became violent and attacked people in the park. He knew the only way to get clean was to go into hibernation. Just as he thought he was clean this morning. She came back into his life.
As he came back from the bathroom, he heard a loud sound and was thrown back against the wall. It was an explosion. Olivia didn’t come back to live happily ever after. She had turned on the gas and lit a match after it had built up in the air.
His head was bleeding. His vision grew blurry. He was losing consciousness, but he didn’t put up a fight. He knew he had this coming. He accepted his fate and closed his eyes, ready to die. The next morning he awoke in a veterinary hospital not knowing who he was or where he was. It was the first day of the rest of his life.