Clementine’s funeral was excruciatingly painful. However, I was so proud of Salem for handling it as well as she did. She was even rather cordial with Toni’s side of the family.
After the service, Salem wandered into Clementine’s room. Everything was exactly how she left it. Salem recounted every memory they shared together. From preteen gossip to their first kiss, to waking up together as one anther’s wife.
Suddenly, Salem heard a buzzing sound. She then realized Clementine’s cell phone was ringing from the across the room.
She looked at the caller ID that read “UNKNOWN.”
Salem debated whether or not she should answer the call.
“H-Hello?” Salem answered, her voice raspy from crying. “Who is this?”
“Hello,” The stranger greeted. “Am I speaking to Clementine Clinton?”
“Uhhh… Yes. Who is this?” Salem asked once again.
Salem listened to the brief message the unknown caller relayed to her from the other line. Salem felt her insides turn to ice.
“What… What do you mean I’m pregnant?”
Eventually, the pain of losing Clementine got a little bit easier. Time went on, our hearts began to heal.
There were good times. Like attending my aunts and uncles’ parties with Donna.
They all really helped her adjust to coming back home. Almost as if she never left.
…. And there were bad times. Like when our family lost our family dog, Misfit. It would be a long time before we were willing to get another pet again.
Donna’s pregnancy progressed rather quickly and before we knew it, it the big day was almost here. Of course I was there for her every step of the way, but not in the way I wanted to be. I was very hesitant to act romantic toward her in any way, because I didn’t know where she stood. Still, I knew time was running up and I knew if I ever wanted to be with her I’d better act soon. I knew I had to muster up the courage to ask her out on a date.
“So I have no idea how to go about doing this, so I’ll just ask if you’d accompany me to lunch today.” I blurted.
“Are you asking me on a date, Mr. Darling?”
“No! Well, it doesn’t have to be… Actually, yes, yes I am.”
“I thought you’d never ask!” She said. “Of course I will.”
On our way out the door, my mother stopped us to listen to Donna’s belly.
“How’s it going, little guy. Can you kick for Grandma?!” She asked.
‘Grandma’? Did she really just say that? Kirsten’s assumption that Donna and I were an item was more than enough of my fair share of embarrassment for the day.
While on our date, I knew I needed to make sure Donna was comfortable with Kirsten’s remark. Grandma, ugh.
“So I noticed my mom referred to herself as Grandma today. That’s not something you’d be fine with, right? Considering the implications.” I asked.
“The implications that you are the father, right? Yes, I’m perfectly content with those implications.” She said.
“Donna, I do wish that more than anything that the baby was mine, but I couldn’t step on Montgomery’s toes…”
“Montgomery is dead.” She interrupted. “I don’t believe he deserves the title anyway. I’ve always looked at you as the father. As long as you’re okay with that.”
“YES! Yes, of course, Donna.” I said.
I was so relieved to finally have some sort of clarification. Although I had about a million more questions, I couldn’t bombard her with them now.
As our date wrapped up, I surprised her with flowers to thank her for her time.
She grabbed my hands and pulled me closer. Her smile was so bright, but suddenly, her expression changed drastically.
Donna went into labor! Despite all the books I had read to prepare me for this moment, I had no idea what to do and I was panicking. Eventually I calmed down enough to drive her to the hospital to give birth to our first child.
That day, baby Brick Eric Darling was born. Donna handled his birth like a champ. The family welcomed him with no hesitation. He was a Darling.
When I read the birth certificate, I saw myself listed as the father. It’s not that I didn’t believe her, but that really helped it sink in.
That was the last time I ever had to ask, it was official, baby Brick is my son and I am his father.
The next few days were extremely exhausting for Donna. I was happy to do my part in taking care of Brick.
“Look at your mama, Brick. Isn’t she so beautiful? I’m going to marry her one day, if she’ll let me.”