~the following is part of “Prompted Prose,” a series of posts from the prompts I’m working with during my Spring 2016 online writing course
Maybe I didn’t expect enough.
Was it thirty years of varied letdowns that had me figuring I’d always, eventually, be abandoned?
Dad backing down the driveway in a, rattling, empty station wagon, leaving to live in a new home. My first-love-turned-fiancé, cheating on me with the bookstore clerk at the Fresno Mall. Years of subsequent relationships with boys-becoming-men, all who loved me, but just couldn’t commit.
Maybe it was that time in my twenties, in India, when the local boy delivered a handwritten note from my traveling companions, explaining that they were sorry. They had tried to find me. They had decided to move on. Taking a train to a new city. They hoped I’d have a great rest of my trip.
Maybe anyone would have had some trouble, if their water broke at 1am, and the father of their child just wouldn’t wake up. Maybe it’s true that a woman would feel a bit unnerved, when her boyfriend finally did awake to call the midwife, only to discover that she was on another island, 200 miles away, and the first flight back wouldn’t be for another five hours. Maybe all of that would be enough to make a mother hesitate and stall, contractions or not. Maybe nothing in that moment made it feel safe to birth a baby. Maybe that’s why when the midwife finally did arrive, there was trouble pushing.
Maybe I didn’t expect enough. Just assumed that no one would really be there. That everyone made promises, but none were ever kept. Maybe I figured I was always alone, so I surrounded myself with people who were only halfway in.
But no expectations means no disappointment, and I’d had disappointment plenty. And every time I was let down, I landed in that same, mildewed, stinking, shame-filled spot. Just certain that their leaving was confirmation: something must be wrong with me.