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  • In 1982 I was married and pregnant with our first child. I’d been sick for six months and the coming three months didn’t hold any promises of recovery. Miserable couldn’t begin to describe it. Oddly though, I was happy.

    We were living in our first little home. The first home I had lived in that wasn’t a rental. My illness cut into our income a little, but we were getting by. I was able to work some as a Realtor.

    We were in love. It was a magical time.

    One evening, as we happily lay in bed, feeling the baby jump and slowly falling asleep together... the phone rang.

    My husband answered, and then rolled over, holding the phone out to me, “It’s for you,” he sleepily mumbled.

    I suppose we both thought it was a client. Clients sometimes had the notion that I had no life and spent my time waiting by the phone at all hours for them to call and ask to be reminded how many bathrooms were in the third house we’d seen several days ago.

    “Hello?” I answered, a bit miffed, but trying not to show it.

    “Hi,” the man’s voice said, “do you know who this is?”

    For unknown reasons, my heart began to beat a little faster. I didn’t recognize the voice, but the tone was more intimate and familiar than a client would use.

    “No...I don’t.” I struggled to sit up a little bit in our waterbed. “Who is this?”

    “Steve.”

    My heart dropped and my mind raced. Steve? How could Steve have my number? What the hell was he doing calling me and at this hour?

    The last time I’d seen Steve, he’d been ripping my clothes off in a violent rage (who knew that jeans could actually be torn off a person?), holding a knife to my throat as my girlfriend pounded on the door and instructing me to tell her to go away. Those were the high points.

    There had been a warrant out for his arrest on rape and battery charges for several years after. His mother had helped him escape the state. He’d been at a National Guard training camp in Texas and I’d thought I was safely away from him until he showed up at my door way back then... AWOL.

    And now, when I was happy and secure, he was calling me.

    “How’d you get this number?” I said.

    I suppose I could have just hung up on him. But knowing he had my number, he would probably call back again. I looked at my sandy-haired husband curled up beside me. He was a person who made me laugh, wanted to share a beautiful life and cared for me deeply.

    Steve used his best voice, the sing song nice one. The smiling one.

    “Ruth gave it to me.” He said.

    “Ruth?”

    Ruth was my father’s wife. We rarely spoke. I had hoped when I married two years previously that she would feel less jealous and protective of my father and be more interested in having a relationship with me. It didn’t happen. I never saw her and she never accepted my dinner invitations.

    “Yeah.” He said, casually.

    He’d known Ruth. I’d worked with her when she was dating my dad. She’d gotten me a job at her office. It had been a part of my long term plan to get away from Steve. First, I had to get a job and get away from that isolated beach town. My dad had helped. He wanted to see me out of that town too. Steve had been a temporary worker in the beach town and his job was over. We moved for my job.

    That was when Ruth and dad were simply dating and she hadn’t completely taken over his life.

    “You called Ruth?”

    This was incredible. Ruth knew enough, though not all, about my relationship with Steve to know full well that I would never under any circumstances want to speak to him. That bitch. That spiteful crazy bitch. I wanted to kill her right then, but Steve was on the phone and there were other fish to fry.

    “Yeah.” He said. “I was, uh, looking through some stuff and found your year book. Thought you might want it.”

    “Uh...” another mind race. Truth was, I did want my year book. I had no idea he had it. He and his mother must have packed it up when they were ransacking our apartment and grabbing his things to send him back to Texas, while I was at work calling the police.

    “Listen, “ he said, his voice suddenly serious and real, soft and normal. “I know you have every reason not to want to talk to me. I want you to know that I’m married. I know you are too and that you’re pregnant. “

    “What? She told you all that?”

    “It doesn’t matter,” he impatiently brushed off my concern, “I hope you will see me. I do have your yearbook. But really what I want to do is apologize and ask for your forgiveness. I want you to know how sorry I am for what happened and that I’ve changed. I was so young and dumb then. I feel like I can’t have a full and complete relationship with my wife without apologizing to you in person and letting you know...”

    He sounded serious. Gone was the sing song voice.

    “I forgave you a long time ago Steve. What you did was wrong and horrible. But I’m over it.”

    I really was over it. But this call, this call brought some of it back. And that was no fun.

    The baby kicked and twirled in my belly. My husband snored.

    Our bedroom felt surreal. A nest. A safe place violated by events that I wanted never to think about again.

    “Will you see me? Please? I promise, just the year book and an apology. It would mean a lot. And I know you don’t have to.”
    Who knows why I agreed? Probably reasons I can’t recall now. But I did.

    I made sure I looked a mess when he came. Pregnant, sure, with my hair in a frizzy wild coif and the house in sorry need of dusting.

    He was waiting for me as I pulled in my driveway from a long morning of previewing listings.

    Exhausted and sick, I wasn’t anything close, I hoped, to the girl he remembered.

    “You’ve gained weight.” I said as he approached. He had.

    He smiled.

    “Yeah,” he said.

    We sat at the kitchen table. He told me that he met his wife on the plane trip back to Texas. She was his stewardess. A member of a fairly wealthy Texas family, they’d had a huge wedding and a month honeymoon in Italy.

    I nodded, thinking of our wedding in my aunt’s living room with borrowed flowers and folding chairs. Our honeymoon, a night at the airport Red Lion, a gift from his sister. Back to work for both of us the next day.

    He gave me the year book and his apology, which seemed heartfelt. We talked about how badly he’d treated me and his problems with anger. He was ½ Italian, ¼ French and ¼ Cherokee. A pretty volatile combination – but no excuse whatsoever.
    My husband knew he was coming, but smartly didn’t make a fuss. He knew we were good. He called several minutes after Steve left.

    “How are you?” He asked.

    “So happy to hear your voice.” I said.
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