By Laura King
Molly sat on the couch with her knees pressed to her chest as she balanced the bowl of cereal on top of them. Nothing was on TV except for an infomercial telling her about some new wonderful exercise equipment that would make her thighs tight and her stomach shrink in fewer than four weeks. Noah slammed the cabinets closed canceling out any thoughts Molly had in her head.
He stood behind her, leaned over and said, “Goodnight.” Molly didn’t respond.
After finding herself nodding off on the couch, Molly decided she would be more comfortable in her bed. She walked past the bathroom and thought about how that used to be her favorite room in the house. She’d sit in a yoga pose on the tile, her legs folded on top of one another, anticipating her future. On the first night after they moved in to their home, Molly sat in the new bathroom realizing her life was actively moving while she hadn’t caught up to it yet. Molly sat down again, this time leaning against the bathtub, hoping the quietness would allow her some serenity. The last time she took the time to reflect in the quiet she held a positive pregnancy test.
On her way to her bedroom, Molly noticed Noah in the extra room, sitting in the rocking chair with the baby’s blanket draped over his lap. Molly stood in the doorway, letting her arm rest on the frame.
“I talked to my sister,” she said.
Noah looked up, startled to see her.
“I asked her if she wanted some of Sam’s old things for her baby.”
“Isn’t she having a girl?” Noah asked.
Molly noticed that he was gripping the blanket. “She can still use some things like the sheets, blankets. Stuff like that. The rest of it we can pack up and give away.” Molly watched Noah get up from the rocker.
He stood to the right of her. “I thought we were going to save things,” he said. “Just in case somewhere down the line we needed them.” He tried touching his hand to her cheek, but she turned her head down.
That night, Molly went to bed alone. She looked at the calendar on the wall. It was almost mocking her; time was moving, but the sticky stuff attached to her feet wasn’t letting her go with time. It was forcing her to stay in the present. And if Noah didn’t remind her enough of Sam, there was his pacifier on her nightstand. That was the first thing she bought. Her mom and sister kept asking her to start buying baby clothes, instead she bought pacifiers.
Molly said, holding up the test, “I don’t think I’m going to make a good mom.”
As Noah hugged her, he said, “Of course you will. We will be the coolest parents ever. I know everyone says that, but I know for a fact that we are cool.” He was making his goofy face where he pursed his lips and arched his eyebrows really high.
Molly shrugged. “It’s not that I’ll be less cool. I just don’t know if I want a baby. I never had the desire to have one. I don’t want to be responsible for a life. I don’t like taking care of dogs or cats and they are much more independent than a baby.”
She watched Noah sit back in his chair. “When I said we were the coolest people, I really meant we could handle anything life threw at us,” Noah said.
“I know, but I can’t explain it. I’m terrified of raising a child.” Molly stopped.
Noah took her hands. “I’m not discounting your fears, but there are some pretty amazing things in this world. Like the fact that the two of us can create a human. That’s a big deal.”
Molly hugged Noah and grasped his shirt. He was wearing a plaid black and grey one that she bought him for Christmas. It was the holiday where they almost broke up. Something about each person wanting different things was the cyclical argument they were having months before Christmas when they decided to give it three more months. It was three months later when he was wearing the shirt.
Molly woke up early the next morning and when she walked by the extra room, she saw Noah passed out in the rocker. She went into the kitchen and fixed herself some breakfast. After she cleaned up, she decided to set the table. After Sam, her sister told her that even if she didn’t feel like doing anything, she should at least make her bed. Each day, one thing Molly told herself.
On her way out to her car, Molly saw their neighbor, Rose. Her white hair was pulled back under her sun hat. Time was starting to wear her down.
“Hi Molly, how are you doing?” Rose asked.
Molly walked over to where Rose was watering her vegetable garden. “I’m fine. I’m about to go to the gym. I’m paying a monthly fee, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth it. I haven’t used it in three months.”
“Well, you’ve had a lot to deal with. It’s definitely understandable. ” Rose said.
Molly paused a second. “How did you do it?” She stopped.
Rose smiled. “It’s okay. You don’t have to worry. After my husband died, I thought my life would crumble. Turns out, it didn’t.”
“I don’t know how to explain my feelings, yet.” Molly looked over to the front of her house, where the extra room was. She thought about the sign that Noah put up as soon as they got home from the hospital. “It’s a boy” was advertised for a couple of weeks.
“I’m sad, of course, but I’m trying to find at least one positive thing each day. Today, it’s going to the gym and of course, talking with you.”
Rose smiled. “I’m glad.” She held her hands over Molly’s.
Molly said, “We’re going to give Sam’s stuff to my sister. She’s having a baby pretty soon.”
“Oh good. I’m glad you found some use for them,” Rose said.
Molly nodded. “I want someone to use the clothes. It’s silly because we have so many outfits that have gone to waste.”
“Well, I’m sure you and Noah have thought it out and made the best decision.”
Molly said her goodbye to Rose and left to the gym.
When she returned home a few hours later, Molly walked in to Noah on the phone. She could make out the other voice as her sister’s.
“Karen,” he said. “Molly and I are so happy. You know that, right? We are so excited for you.”
Noah was staring at the animal mobile that hung above Sam’s crib. Molly watched him as he started pulling packed boxes from the closet. He opened each one, looking through them, before deciding what clothes to set aside.
“What are you doing?” Molly said, walking into the room. “I had everything packed up to give away.”
Noah stopped. “I just talked to your sister, and she’s coming over today.”
Molly sighed. “I was just going to give her all the boxes.”
“I wanted to go through them and hold on to a couple of things.” Noah said.
“It’s not like my sister lives that far. It’s just easier to have her go through them and decide what she wants.”
She knelt down next to Noah. “Here. I’ll clean this up. There are a few more boxes in the other closet. Can you please grab them?”
Molly’s hair was falling in her face, so she tied her hair back, noticing the light brown shade looked red in that light. Both she and Noah agreed that Sam inherited Molly’s coloring. He had her green eyes with specks of blue and light brown hair. Even his smile was like hers, with one dimple on his left cheek. Noah came back in the room with a few more boxes, interrupting her thoughts.
As they were repacking the boxes that Noah had unpacked, he held the Cubs onesie he bought when he was on a work trip. Molly remembered how excited he was when he came home. Both she and Noah weren’t into sports at all, but since she was from Chicago, she loved the gesture.
Noah was meticulously packing the clothes and blankets in the box that was in front of him.
“You know my sister doesn’t care about that. You could just throw that in with the clothes,” Molly said.
She watched as Noah stood and walked over to Sam’s crib. “Do you think they’ll need this blanket?”
Molly stopped packing up her box. She remembered picking out the pattern for the blanket. Her mom and sister went with her, guiding her on picking neutral colors. She and Noah didn’t know if they were having a girl or a boy, so she picked pastel yellow and green as the colors.
“Sure. You can never have enough blankets.”
“I know,” he said. “But do you think they’ll appreciate it? Or do you think it’ll just be another blanket?”
Noah stared at Molly, unflinching, as he held up the blanket. The light was shining through the blanket, highlighting the meticulous detail of the pale yellow and green stenciling around the frame. It took her five months to make the blanket and another two months to embroider that outside.
She turned her head to him. “I don’t understand why you want to keep it.”
“It’s a very nice blanket.”
She looked down and waited a few seconds before responding. “You know, we’re going to have to go through this eventually.”
He took the blanket, folded it neatly and hung it on the crib. “I know that,” he said. “Of course I know that.”
Molly followed him out of the room into the kitchen. “Noah, we need to talk.” Noah sat down at the bare table.
“Okay,” he said. “What do you want to discuss?”
Molly sat down at the table. “This,” she said, holding the Cubs onesie and some other outfits Noah had unpacked. “Why can’t you let these go? They are just pieces of clothing that we can’t use.”
Noah sat down across from her. “Yes, that’s why I repacked it for your sister.”
“Why do you think I’m pushing getting rid of the clothes? I have to practically run to get by that room without breaking down. I can’t brush my teeth without thinking I’m hearing a baby cry.” Molly felt her cheeks flush. She was gripping the end of the table.
“Do you understand?” She inched her hands close to his until their skin was almost touching. “All I want is for you to tell me you understand.”
“I don’t know if I can do this,” Noah said. He looked up at her, and when Molly’s eyes met his again, he felt embarrassed.
“What? Giving my sister the baby stuff? Or is this about us?”
Noah was fidgeting with his hands. “The stuff. Giving away the stuff. Giving it to your sister, seeing it again. All that.”
“Then don’t,” Molly said. “Don’t pack it. It’s fine. It’s just stuff.”
Noah nodded. “Right. That’s all it is.” He left, leaving Molly at the table. She got up and went to Sam’s room. She took the blanket from the box and set it on her nightstand, next to the pacifiers.