Little Secrets:Unexpectedly Pregnant

By: Joss Wood



“We’re not done discussing this, Sage,” he said, his voice a low growl.

“We really are, Tyce.” Sage forced the words through her tight lips. “Don’t contact me again. We are over.”

“Yeah, you can think that,” Tyce said, standing up. “But you’d be wrong.”

The slam of the taxi door was an exclamation point at the end of his sentence.





Three

In his converted warehouse in Brooklyn, Tyce stood at the massive windows that provided perfect light for his studio, his forearm resting on the glass. He’d been home an hour and he was grateful that he’d fought the impulse to follow Sage to her apartment. Instead of acting impetuously, he’d fought his way through the shock to slow his thoughts down, to think this situation through. He needed time to let the fact that he was going to be a dad sink in, to figure this out.

Tyce walked away from the window to the far wall, to a row of canvases that were stacked against the wall. Sitting cross-legged on the paint splattered floor, he reached for the most recent canvas, a portrait of Sage at her workbench, her brow furrowed in concentration, a pencil in her hand. He’d painted the portrait from a photo published in an arts magazine and it was, he admitted, as lifelike as the photo. Bending his knees, Tyce stared at the canvas, thinking that his child was growing her belly, that his DNA was joining with hers to create a new life.

God, what an awesome, terrifying, crazy thought. What the hell did Life think it was doing, asking him—the most emotionally disconnected person on the planet—to be a father? As a child he’d been consumed by anxiety, responsibility, overwhelmed by a world that asked him to deal with far too much, far too soon. Adulthood, his and Lachlyn’s, and his mother’s death, allowed him some measure of relief. But, because he never wanted to feel so unbalanced—scared—again he deliberately distanced himself from emotionally investing in situations and people because that would make him vulnerable. To Tyce it was a simple situation, vulnerability equaled hurt and pain was to be avoided. The logical conclusion was to avoid emotion altogether, like he had with Sage three years ago, or to disconnect, like he had learned to do with his mother.

Tyce supposed that, to the world, he looked normal, content, like he had it all. Nobody knew, not even Lachlyn, that on the inside, he felt hollow and empty. Kicking the crap out of his sparring partner at the dojo and pushing his body to the limit made him feel alive but the endorphins soon wore off. Art, mostly, provided a distraction and he, occasionally, felt the hit of adrenaline when he painted his oils or constructed his sculptures. Mostly he found the process easy and intellectually undemanding.

Tyce tipped his head back. Instead of seeing paint-streaked wooden beams and the steel pipes that were a feature of his converted warehouse he saw the faded walls of the small, two-bedroom apartment he’d lived in for most of his life. He was sitting on the cold floor outside his mother’s bedroom door, rocking a crying Lachlyn, wishing that his mother would unlock the door and tell him that she was okay. That they’d be okay. He’d always wondered what he was doing wrong, why his mother needed to hide from him and his sister. He remembered the hundreds of drawings he did for her, hoping that, maybe once, she’d acknowledge his effort, desperate for any attention from her.

His index finger traced the line of Sage’s jaw. At one time selling portraits—quick charcoal or ink sketches—had kept the roof over their heads, food in the fridge. In his early teens he’d sold rough sketches on street corners and in Central Park and later he sold his sketches to the women attending the art classes where he posed, naked, as an artist’s model.

He clearly remembered feeling anxious as his hand flew over the paper, working out how much he could charge, how many sketches he needed to do to cover the latest unexpected expense; a kid struggling to gather rent money. Eventually he managed to control the anxiety, the burning resentment, and he’d learned to do that by detaching. From things, from the need for support and affirmation and, eventually, from people. Sage was the only person who’d ever threatened his control, who tempted him to edge closer, to climb into her head and let her climb into his. He couldn’t do that, wouldn’t allow himself to open up again.

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