A Tale of Two Relationships

For one, it was the best of times. For the other, it was the worst. It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of maturity. It was the epoch of codependency. In short, each relationship served a purpose to learn from, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. 

Both relationships were fairly new, but one seemed to be moving exponentially faster than the other. Almost as if they were running out of time. When they were around each other, nothing else existed. They were the only ones in the universe. This couple, amidst the iconic palm trees of Los Angeles, committed to "I love you" within the first week. They meant it so fiercely that it hurt.

They missed a lot of work to spend time together. They would wake up next to each other, look in each others eyes, and knew that they needed that feeling forever. They would send a quick text with a flimsy excuse to their respective employers, and hold each other as though they were clinging on to an infinite high.

Marriage and children came up early on. They knew they were going to go the distance with one another. She wanted two boys and two girls. He already knew where they were going to get married. The details of the future felt certain after a week. When you know, you know. 

She had all of his passwords for social media. They were always together and had nothing to hide, so the information just kind of fell into her lap. She wouldn't even think of using them though. She trusted him.

It was all bliss in the beginning. They shared everything and all of their time. It was perfect.


Over in New York City, a pair of young creatives met through mutual friends and clicked instantly. Their vibe was magnetic and contagious. Over the course of a month, they talked about exclusivity. They both had been hurt before, and they wanted to take things slow. 

New York provided a creative safe space for young people to pursue their dreams. The smitten duo clung to their projects and pursued greatness in parallel directions. They were highly supportive of each others endeavors. 

On the first few dates they talked about what their future would look like. She was a firm believer that if the other person didn't want the same things then it was a waste of time to get caught up in feelings with them. They laid everything out on the table and admired the other persons honesty. They were excited for the potential.

They couldn't spend a lot of time together because they were both really involved in their work. They saw each other maybe once a week, and it was hard. They missed each other, which was kind of nice, but texting was so intermittent that it bred an environment for creating stories. Everything was still kind of new, so when a text went unanswered, there cast a lot of doubt. 

When they were together, though, she couldn't take her eyes off of him. And he felt the same. There was so much scary vulnerability that was overpoweringly sexy to the both of them. This was an entirely new feeling and they both just jumped into the deep end. Whether they sank or swam, they knew it was important to take the plunge.

In the blazing heat of downtown LA, he received a phone call. It was her. He answered with a sincerely smitten sensibility, but her voice was devoid of joy. She had news. 

On the one occasion that they weren't together, she needed him the most. She was panting trying to catch her breath from hysterically crying. This wasn't how her life was supposed to go. She had goals and aspirations. A baby just couldn't be in the picture yet.

She sobbed on the phone as she explained to him that she missed her period and decided to take a pregnancy test. It came up positive. She was afraid and broken and needed support from the love of her life.

He didn't know how to respond. He agreed that having kids in the future would be great if it made her happy, but he was still young and his whole adult life flashed before his eyes. He tried to console her the best he could, but he was freaking out as well. He told her he would come over that night and they would discuss their options.


She sat on her toilet in her Queens apartment with her head in her hands. Her body felt paralyzed. She stared at the positive reading on the pregnancy test for 45 minutes before moving an inch. How could this happen? We were so careful! 

She knew he had to work late and didn't know if she was going to hear from him. She debated just going to Planned Parenthood by herself and taking a pill. She couldn't have a child right now and it was her right to choose. But still, she knew that going through the ordeal without him would create a thread of secrets, so she cast a line by sending out a cryptic text in hopes of getting a response.

Call me when you can. We need to talk.

She stared at the text screen waiting for the three bubbles to appear. He's probably busy. Or maybe he's ignoring me. Fuck maybe I should have worded that differently. Ugh this is torture.

His cheerful mood took a 180 when he got her text. He really liked this girl and things were going so well. Did she want to break it off? Did she sleep with someone else? Did I say something to offend her?

He waited about an hour so he could straighten out his head and sent Sure, is everything OK?

Yes, just call me when you can.


It was already 7:30 and she hasn't heard from him. She sent him about 40 texts and called him 15 times with no answer. He logged on to Facebook at 4:45, she saw he was active on Messenger. Was he ditching her? Did he get hit by a car? Something must have happened because he wouldn't just leave her to deal with this alone. She needed him and he said he would be there.

She paced around her room and dialed his number again. Now it went straight to voicemail. What the fuck was going on???

She knew his Facebook password and logged onto his account. She looked at his most recent activity and at all of his messages. Nothing really showed signs of foul play but he did like this picture of this girl earlier in the day. Was her going to leave her for this Facebook skank? Did she scare him off?

She knocked on her roommates door and asked her to use her phone. Maybe if she called from another number he would pick up. She called three separate times but it still went straight to voicemail. Maybe his phone was dead or he was out of service? She couldn't take the thought of losing him. She needed him like the air she breathed. This couldn't be happening. THEY WERE IN LOVE.


On his walk to the subway, he mustered up every ounce of courage that he could and called her. She answered after one ring, because she had been staring at her phone for three hours in deep anxiety. 

"There is no easy way to say this: I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I do not want to keep it, as you know we both have careers we are trying to pursue, but out of courtesy and because I need support, I'd like you to know and give you the opportunity to show up for me."

His jaw hit the floor. He had successfully maintained a sexually active life with no prior pregnancy scares. He always thought about what he would do if it happened, but now he just felt caught off guard.

"Well have you done the research? I know you want kids in the future, is this going to make it hard for you?"

"Well it doesn't matter because this isn't up for discussion. Either you stand by me and support me or I will go it alone and we won't see each other anymore." 

He hated ultimatums, especially when he asked her a question out of concern and shock, but it was her body and her decision. He didn't want a kid right now anyways, and losing her was not an option. He told her that he would do whatever she needed him to, and she was grateful. Her head was still spinning, but she called Planned Parenthood and made her appointment. She told him the date and time, and he agreed to take off of work to hold her hand. 


It was only 30 minutes later when there was a knock at the door. She leapt up from her crying fetal position on the bed and went to look out the window. It was him. 

She opened the door frantically and hugged him within an inch of his life. "Where were you? I tried to call you! I was so worried you wouldn't come over!"

"I lost my phone at the store during lunch. I think someone may have stolen it so I had it turned off. I told you I was coming over, everything is fine."

The relief that washed over her was unimaginable. He was here and the earth beneath her felt still again. Her hysterics were quelled by the light in his eyes. All she needed was him to feel secure.

"So," he said, "I've been thinking."

She looked at him with big blue eyes searching desperately for support and comfort.

He continued with, "Maybe we should keep it. I mean, we already know we're going to marry each other. We already know we want a family. We'll figure out everything else. Maybe this is a sign that we should just do it."

Her heart jumped into her throat. She always had dreams of becoming something great. But nothing has really happened for her yet. Maybe she was destined to be a mother with this man who loved her so much? Her thoughts raced around her head and she quickly came to the conclusion that if she disagreed, he might leave her. She couldn't see a life without him, and maybe this was the only way to keep him around. I mean, just a few minutes ago she felt as though she would die if he didn't come over as promised.

She gazed up at him again, eyes round and filled with tears, and squeaked, "If you think we're ready, then we're ready."


The Margaret Sanger Center was one of the most efficient branches of Planned Parenthood in Manhattan. She walked up to the entrance and he was already there, pacing like a maniac.

She looked at him with relief and a solid sureness. She smiled. He just proved to her that she could rely on him. She took his hand and asked him if he was ready. He looked at her and asked her the same.

They hugged and walked through the doors of the big brick building. 


She looked in the mirror at her figure. She wondered when she was going to start showing. She turned to the side and rubbed her stomach with a weird, mixed feeling of hope and sadness. Once she had the baby she wouldn't have to worry anymore. There would be no more doubt.

She was desperately afraid, but she was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either have the baby and keep him forever, or risk losing the one person in this world that means the most to her. She cried to herself but talked to no one. There was so much shame around her situation that she absolutely couldn't reach for help. She just had to start believing in this because this was the only way to keep their relationship steady. He looked so happy at the thought of a little boy or little girl. She couldn't watch that look fade away.

She stared at her face in the mirror, and a tear fell from her eye as the prison of codependency shut the doors of the cell. 


Both of them sat in nervous panic as they awaited the call from the doctor. They held each others hands, while he stole frequent glances at her stoic face. She tried to keep a calm demeanor, but this decision was not made lightly. The only thing keeping her together at this moment was the silent support of a trusted partner. She looked over at his face, full of curious worry, and thought to herself:

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better life that I go to than I have ever known.

Published by Shawn Engel

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