The Burden

“What happened?” Angie asked. “You look like you lost your best friend.” She closed the distance between us and rubbed my shoulders.
“My grandfather died,” I said, brushing her hand off my shoulder. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
“You get to pick out the coffin?”
“Angie, I’m serious.” I said, shaking my fists in the air. “Can’t you grow the hell up for once in your life?”
“Oh, you’re one to talk about ‘growing up.’” Angie folded her arms and shifted her weight to her left leg, glaring at me.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I know you’re trying to help. I just never lost anyone. You know? I mean, I picked up the phone to call him and remembered; he’s dead.”
“You sure?” Angie crinkled her eyes.
I shrugged. “My brother called.”
“He’s not exactly the best source of information.” Angie reached for her back pocket.
“Wait, what are you doing?”
“Calling your grandfather’s house.” She winked. If there’s one person my grandfather wanted to hear from least, it was Angie. The old bastard hated Angie, and I hated him for it. We’d all got along until Angie had the abortion. Granddad hasn’t forgiven her for it. He said something about how it was murder and that Angie should be ashamed of herself. But what Granddad didn’t know is that Angie was raped and the baby wasn’t mine. With his hatred for her, we never got a chance to tell him.
“No,” I said, placing my hand to her free hand. “I haven’t talked to him in a few years.”
“And?” Angie’s narrow eyes turned to crinkled slits.
“And?” I said, giving a dismissive hand wave. “And they’re all bastards, that’s what.”
“Don’t do this,” Angie said, pulling her hand away. “You don’t get to sulk and pretend Jason told you the truth.”
I lowered my chin, and my eyes followed. The more I tried to squeeze back the tears, the more they spread my cheeks.
“You’re going to have to get over it,” Angie said. “That whole suck it up and move on kind of thing.”
“And you’re serious?”
“Dead–pardon the pun–serious.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I said. “Why are you acting so… so cold-hearted?”
“It’s not about me, and it’s not about you.”
“I guess I don’t follow.”
“I’m pregnant, and she’s going to need a dad.”
“Pregnant?” Blood raced through my face, and my fingers turned cold to the touch.
“As in having a baby, you idiot.” Angie laughed.
“Right. A baby.” I’d felt weak in my knees. I wanted to fall and jump for joy at the same time. But both emotions pulled me to the center of reality.
“Is it–“
“Yes, it’s yours.”
“You sure?”
Angie paused and lowered her head. “Not exactly.”
“I knew it. I knew it,” I said. “My grandfather died, and my girl gets knocked up by some rando.”
“Hey, you… were weren’t exactly on the best terms.”
“Oh, you would turn this around on me. I guess I spread my legs for you, right?”
Angie’s soft hand-cracked my cheek; I placed my hand on my cheek. “Who is he?”
“I’ve got it down to one… maybe two guys.”
“Two guys?”
“Maybe three.”
“You know, you’ve got some nerve telling me this shit today.” My voice cracked.
“Oh my gosh. I’m only kidding. I’ve only been with you. I was playing off you asking who the father was. It’s you.”
I nodded. I didn’t believe Angie, but I wanted to.

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