When Allie made her bargain with me I never expected to want to stay. I’m a travel writer, and home has always been a relative term for me. I grew up as an army brat of a single parent. I’ve never stayed anywhere long, nor wanted to. I liked my freedom, and long term wasn’t an option for her either. She didn’t want a permanent commitment from me. I thought I could handle that. Allie had a defective heart, and the prognosis wasn’t good. Her rare blood type made finding a donor for a transplant that much more elusive. I sought to memorize her there on the beach. She liked to paint, as the sun was rising. I’m surprised she could carry her easel and supplies out that far; yesterday, she could not even get out of bed.
“Hey Sunshine,” I said. “You’re out early, everything okay?
“What’s going on? Something I can do?” I pulled her close. She let me.
“Actually… No, and yes.”
“I’m pregnant. It’s not fair. We made a deal, but I won’t be here to care for our baby.”
“You won’t survive that.” I felt the hours ticking by.
“No, but our baby might.”
I scrambled, “What if you don’t have it?”
“I still won’t survive Jack. You knew that going into this. Our bargain ends in one week. You said you’d go, for me. Now I’m asking you to stay for our baby.”
I wanted to hit something. Allie was going to die, but I just guaranteed it. Maybe I should have been elated by the news, but all I could think about was losing Allie. I thought I was prepared, but I was wrong. This was going to kill me. Finally, I said, “I don’t know if I can do this.”
Allie laughed. “Life doesn’t always give us choices, Jack. Sometimes the best we can hope for is to live life well.” She turned in my arms. “This has been the best year of my entire life. Tell me you want our child if I can carry to term.”
“I don’t want to lose you.” I couldn’t meet her eyes.
“You were always going to lose me. We made a miracle. I’m leaving you something behind.”
I was unable to speak, to breathe. I realized my face was wet. In that second, I knew I’d see this through for Allie. I wanted our baby. I loved her with every breath I took, yet I never said the words. In this one need, I wouldn’t let her down. “I promise I’ll take good care of our future. I love you, Allie.”
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