Paul walked swiftly down the road. He had not wanted to reply at all to text from his girlfriend that simply reads “urgent!!! Must talk.” Also: Fiancé; he needed to start remembering that. That had been engaged for a little over a month now. It was winter again: cold. He had to bundle up: Scarf and everything. Now he was marching his way to meet his “urgent!!!” girlfriend. Fiancé! Gah!
He coasted up beside her as she walked the boulevard. Paul tried to sound nonchalant about the whole thing, as if he wasn’t anxious about the whole situation. “So, what did you want to talk about?”
She looked at him with eyes of…Well he wasn’t sure. There was a grab bag of emotions there. While he to a moment to be taken aback, she spoke.
“We’re together no matter what, right?”
“Yes,” Paul quickly replied. “You know this. That’s why I asked you to marry me, and I kind of just assumed that’s why you said ‘yes’.”
“I do know that, but I just needed to hear you say it again, that’s all.”
“I love you. Is that what you want to hear?”
“Yes, but I also want you to mean it.”
“I feel like I have demonstrated that I love you every way I know how.”
Mary turned on him with a very serious look on her face. “That may have been the problem.”
Red alarms started going off in Paul’s head. A bomb was approaching and he was bracing for impact. He spoke a little more tentatively now. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’m pregnant.”
Back inside the command center, the lights suddenly ceased because someone had cut the power. Paul didn’t know what to say.
Mary: “Say something!”
The back up generators kicked on and left just the bare essentials running. A mad scramble was made to check assess the damage. “What?! How?!”
“Oh, you know how!” She wanted to shout at him, but also kept her voice low so no one could hear them.
“It still happened.”
Paul put a hand up to his head and began massaging his temple. “And in a moment of weakness, it always comes back to haunt you.”
“Moment? When we decided to get married, we both agreed that that we loved each other, and by Biblical definition we were already married before God. Why are you acting like this is a haunting disaster out of sin?”
Paul let his hand drop. “Because it feels like it. Truthfully, Mary, because right now, I don’t feel happy to have a child, which is something you know I’ve always wanted, but right now, I feel ashamed to have a child. I imagined that one day, you would tell me, and I would kiss you, and swing you around like in the movies, and we would be happy, but this-“
“Makes me want to go hide in a bush; curl up and pray to God I’m not seen by anyone again, for the rest of my life.”
“Yeah…Something like that.”
Mary put her hand over her mouth and plopped down on a bench. “I just want to be forgotten now. I know what people will think when they find out, I know because I’ve been there before.”
Paul put his arms around her and tried to reassure her. “Don’t judge yourself too harshly.”
“Why not?” She cried. “Shouldn’t I be? For someone who judged so much, now to be judged?”
Paul swallowed, hard. This was a sin they could not hide, and a finger put to both of them. This wasn’t an improvable crime. She wasn’t the Blessed Virgin, and he wasn’t Joseph. He was not willing to leave her over this. Regardless of the outcome, they were in this together; bound in sin and love and yet more sin. They would be exposed for their sinful selves.
There had been a couple in this situation at school before. So the results would probably be the same. She would be kicked out of school, and he would be allowed to stay; which was jacked up in its own special way. As if separating them like that wasn’t bad enough, you would expect them to stay together in order to at least try to live a semblance of a Christian life, but then leave him to deal with some sort of daily shaming in the community on campus while she is isolated away from her former classmates.
But that was because they had decided to keep it.
Mary spoke first. “What…what should we do?”
She was looking to him for leadership, and he had an answer. He just didn’t like it. But nor did he like the alternative of being shown out as an authentic sinner.
He tried to calm himself, to sound speculative, to not seem out of his mind. “Do…do you want to keep it?”
“Yes!…but…I mean, not now…” Her voice trailed off into silence. “I thought you wanted to.”
“We don’t have to.”
Mary buried her face deep in his coat.
Paul tried to stay calm, but he only felt a hollow cold. “We can go tomorrow, downtown. I’ll go with you.”
This sin, like all the others, was intentional.