We meet at a sticky-floored bar where the jukebox plays Conway Twitty's "Hello Darlin'", and you’re sitting alone, mouthing the words between sips of beer. I just finished slow dancing with an old high school boyfriend who I wanted to make jealous—he’s engaged now. This town is too damn small. I sit down beside you like we aren't strangers. I am drunk. You are not. I ask you to dance. You say you don’t dance.
“Ah, but you sing.”
You blush. “I can’t help it. Old country songs remind me of my dad.”
And just like that, you’re telling me your life when all I wanted was to sway against you for a few minutes and leave with someone else.
But I leave with you. And you’re so nice, like, the personification of the word nice. For weeks, every time you ask me out, I wrack my brain for an excuse, but can’t think of a good one. When we fuck (what I call it; you insist on saying making love), you tell me I’m the most beautiful girl you've ever been with, the most beautiful girl you've ever seen. You whisper it in my ear, like throwing bread to a starving mouth. In hindsight, the right word is overeager. For both of us.
And then the test shows two blue lines. I am afraid of how calm I am as I dial your number. I invite you over to talk in person, even though you've never been to my place—we’d always stayed at your trailer because I have room mates, even though you have cats, and I hate cats. Especially your cats, two black females who liked to snake between my calves every time I walked in.
You are strangely elated when I tell you I want to keep it. When your phone rings mid-conversation, you leave the room to take it. Through the thin door, I can hear you excitedly tell whoever is on the line that I’m pregnant; That Girl I Was Telling You About is what you call me. I wonder what else you've said about me, how you've painted me to strangers.
You had gone through two pregnancy terminations with previous girlfriends. I don’t know why, but you told me that on our first date, bringing me into your confidence too soon, always saying too much, like:
“You could move in. We could get married. I’d get rid of the cats for you.”
“I don’t want any of that.”
Sitting on my bed, you take my face in your hands and try to kiss me, and I pull away and slap you clean on the cheek.
“Don’t. Don’t do that.”
So you disappear. And I’m alone again except I’m not.
I try to love the boy, but he looks so much like you. It was easier before his eyes turned gray, before his milk-pudge melted, before his downy blond hair all rubbed away and grew back copper.
Amanda Miska lives and writes in Northern Virginia. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from American University. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from NIB Magazine, WhiskeyPaper, Black Heart Magazine and Buffalo Almanack.