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Broken Promises and Crushed Souls

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  Michael was stuck behind the counter at his boring job at the diner that only angsty hipsters and old tourist couples seemed to visit, staring at the clock on the wall to pass the time until his shift ended. He was, of course, dreading the time his shift would actually end, since he’d have to return home to Jeremy and their own whirlwind of accusations and fighting and making up.

  The soft tune of his phone going off pulled him from his thoughts, taking it out of his pocket and answering it.

  “Hello?”

  “Hey, can you come over?” A quiet voice answered.

  “Uh, Christine, I’m at work.”

  “When aren’t you at work?” She retorted, sounding rather serious.

  “I get off at five.”

  “Can you like, leave early please?”

  “It’s noon, Christine, I literally just got here a couple hours ago.”

  “It’s not like you’re being bombarded by customers or anything, Michael. I’ve been there before.” She sighed.

  Michael’s boss, who he had become friends with over the past few months he had worked there, snatched the phone out of his hand with a teasing smile on his face. “Fuck you,” He whispered jokingly to his employee, “Take the rest of the afternoon off.”

  “No, I love working actually,” Michael started, hearing Christine continue to ramble on the phone but unable to piece together everything she was saying.

  “No no no, it is your legal and ethical responsibility to go and get drunk with whoever this is for the rest of the afternoon.”

  “I’m nineteen, I can’t get-“

  “I’m not stupid, Michael. Go get drunk,” His boss laughed, grabbing a sticky note and writing something on it. “Here’s your permission slip, Kiddo. Consider it a raincheck for lunch.” He said as he slapped the sticky note on Michael’s shoulder, reading “Fuck you” with a smiley face on it.

  Michael laughed, rolling his eyes and taking the phone back from his boss. The man was in his twenties, and wasn’t unattractive, but all the craziness in Michael’s life right now meant he didn’t exactly want the attention he was getting from his boss, especially since it could easily be counted as flirting based on how you looked at it.

  “…It’s really important to me that you come over.” Michael heard Christine say as he raised the phone back to his ear.

  “Alright Christine, what’s up?” He asked, counting down his drawer to leave.

  “I can’t even do my taxes, Michael. How am I supposed to raise an entire human being?”

  Michael froze in shock, setting down the stack of dollar bills he was counting to keep from dropping them. “I’ll be right over.”

  He counted his drawer down in record-breaking time, waving goodbye to his boss and slipping out the door. The drive to Christine’s apartment seemed to go by faster than usual, mainly because he broke every single speed limit all the way across town.

  Thankfully, Michael had a spare key on the off chance that Christine forgot hers and locked the door on the way to work, which happened more than you’d think.

  He walked throughout the house in search of the girl, cautious walking into the bathroom was he saw her sitting next to the side of the toilet, back to him. “Christine?”

  “Six things.” She said quietly, holding up two white sticks.

  “What?” Michael asked, taking the sticks from her.

  “I peed on six different things.” He immediately dropped the sticks on the floor at her statement, wiping his hand on a nearby towel.

  “Jesus Christ, Chris.” He mumbled, using the nickname he knew she pretended to hate but secretly loved.

  “Yep. It was really easy for me. I always have to go to the bathroom, apparently. Because I’m pregnant.” Christine sighed, defeat clear in her voice as Michael took a seat next to her, his back behind her against the side of the toilet.

  “…I’m so sorry.”

  “I knew it, you know? I knew I was either pregnant or crazy.”

  “Is it really an either/or thing?” He joked, trying to make light of the rather dark situation.

  “No, Michael.” Christine whined in a scolding tone. “I have a life growing inside my womb. Incubating…like a wasp egg inside of a caterpillar.”

  “Oh my God.”

  “And I’m fat.”

  “Okay, obligatory “You’re not fat” speech.”

  “I’m getting fatter by the second.”

  “It looks like you’re giving birth to gum.”

  “I am not giving birth to anything.”

  “Okay, it looks like you’re aborting gum.”

  Christine smacked Michael’s arm lightly. “This is not funny. Stop trying to make a joke out of it, Michael! It’s not funny.”

  “You’re right…I’m sorry.” Michael sighed, looking over at her. “What happened?”

  “Well, when a boy and girl love each other very much and are really stupid- ugh.” She cut herself off, groaning and moving to rest her head on Michael’s leg. He gently played with her hair, trying to comfort her in any way he could.

  “Hey…can I get you something? Want me to make you some soup?” He offered quietly.

  “I don’t have a fucking cold, Michael. I am pregnant.” Christine sighed, pausing for a moment. “You can make me a drink.”

  Michael nodded and stood up, holding his hand out for Christine to take, which she gratefully accepted. He grabbed two glasses from the cabinet in her kitchen and a bottle from her hidden stash of alcohol, following her out to her balcony as she poured the drinks and downed her own. He raised an eyebrow as she began to pour herself another. “Alright, what are you doing?”

  “Trying to kill the baby.” She replied simply as Michael took the bottle from her.

  “Stop it…you’re just gonna make it stupid.”

  “Impossible, with my genes. Oh god, you know what I can’t even talk about it. Let’s talk about something else, like…tell me about this guy you’re fucking.”

  “I’m not fucking anybody, especially not my boss. Jesus, Chris. It’s just getting lunch.”

  “Okay, whatever- “getting lunch”.” She scoffed, doing air quotes with her hands.

  “I’m not getting lunch with anybody if you’re gonna put it in quotations.”

  “Except for Jeremy?” She asked suddenly, making Michael tense a little.

  “Well…occasionally.”

  “…Oh, man. Somebody should really put you two out of your misery.”

  Michael turned from where he stood against the rail of the balcony, looking out over the small city as he spoke. “This is our misery, thank you very much. We’re in this together. We’re even.”

  “Romantic, huh?”

  He raised his glass, as if toasting the city before taking a drink. “Sure.”

  “Ya know what, I’ve heard this story a million times, Mom. Tell me another one.” She said sarcastically, giggling a little.

  “Look, just because you’ve had a lot of breakups, doesn’t mean you’re some authority on relationships.”

  “I have not had a lot of break- I’ve had a lot of breakups” She sighed. “And now I’m pregnant. This is happening, this is really happening.”

  “C’mere,” Michael said, setting down his now empty cup and pulling Christine in a hug. “It’s gonna be okay. Look, this is just gonna be a bad memory.”

  Christine pulled away, looking up at Michael. “Can you pick me up from my appointment on Wednesday?”

  “What appointment?”

  “To get my nails done. What do you think?!” She rolled her eyes as Michael snickered.

  “I know, I’ll be there.”

  She sighed. “It’s at four thirty. I know you have to work, because you always have to work, but Jake said that he could drop me off. Can you be there to pick me up?”

  He grinned and poured them each another glass. “Whatever you need.”

  “Thank you…” There was a pause before Christine looked over at Michael, a small smile on her face. “So how’s Jezebel?”

  Michael tilted his head in confusion, before finally understanding what she meant. “You mean Rich.”

  “Same thing.”

  “Alright, well, he showed up at my work last week, scared the shit out of me.”

  “Did you tell Jeremy?”

  “…No. I mean I’m going to, I just-“

  “Bullshit.”

  “-I haven’t had the right opportunity, and-“

  “Bullshit! Please, man. I am pregnant, I can smell everything.”

  “…You told Ethan?”

  She shook her head, raising her glass to clink it against Michael’s.

  “Straight to hell.” He mumbled, moving the glass to his lips and taking a long drink.

**

  Ethan was outside, sitting on his porch when his phone rang. “Hello?”

  “You and me, stud. Drinks, four thirty, Wednesday.”

  “Jake?”

  “Here’s the deal. You’re gonna come with me, but it’s gonna be dressy casual, but not like straight casual, more like gay casual, which is straight dressy.”

  “How did you get this number?”

  “Christine likes you so much, okay? I feel like you and I should become really close friends. I feel like I have a moral and ethical responsibility as her gay best friend.”

  “I thought that Michael was Christine’s gay best friend.”

  “I have a moral and ethical responsibility as her gayest best friend.”

  “I think Michael still owns that title, but…okay. Isn’t four thirty sort of early?”

  “Or late. Depends on who you’re asking, calm down. Okay, I gotta go bye.” With that, Jake hung up, leaving Ethan utterly confused.

**

  Wednesday arrived sooner than anyone anticipated, and before Christine knew it, it was done and she was sitting in a wheelchair in the waiting room at the stuffy clinic, a little loopy from the medication and uncomfortable from the aftermath of the procedure. After calling Michael twelve times, to no avail, she was ready to just get up and go home herself. Only, the nurses wouldn’t let her and told her she’d have to stay for observation if she didn’t have anyone to come pick her up.

  Which is how Jeremy ended up at the clinic an hour later, wheeling her to his car and helping her into the passenger seat.

  “Thank you, Jeremy. You’re not all bad, y’know?” She mumbled as he moved to buckle her in. “I mean, you’re pretty bad. You’re pretty awful, but, hey…thank you.”

  He smiled softly and nodded before shutting her door, getting behind the wheel and pulling out of the parking lot. Christine, who was beyond upset with Michael for breaking his promise and ignoring her calls, pulled her phone out of her pocket and clicked his contact.

  A few rings, and then suddenly Michael picked up. “Christine- Christine, hey.”

  “Where are you?”

  “I, um…I got caught up at work, but I’m on my way.”

  Christine tired expression turned into a scowl. “You sound drunk.”

  “I’m not drunk-“

  “You are soooo drunk! Christine, he’s drunk.” Another voice called, causing Christine to scoff.

  “Ha! You’re fucking your boss.”

  “No, I’m- I’m on my way right now-“

  “I already got a ride.” Christine mumbled, “Besides, don’t drink and drive. It is the law; take a bite out of crime.”

  Michael could tell she was clearly still affected by the medication. “Did you have to tell Ethan?”

  “No, but you know what? I’m going to. I had this dream about it. Anyway, I gotta go. I’m rude in the car.”

  “…Okay, I’m sorry. Bye.”

  Christine hung up the phone, looking over at Jeremy and his shocked expression with a sigh.

  “You two need to get your shit together.”