Friday, June 14, 2013


By Miriam B. Medina

Billy shoved his chair back from the table, his face twisted in anger. He reached for his wallet and threw thirty dollars at Melissa, storming toward the door, slamming it hard behind him as he left. Billy felt stifled, trapped like a wild animal. He had to get away from Melissa's constantly whiny, b*tching voice. Their first-born, Joey, was only 10 months old, and Melissa was almost three months pregnant.

"How could she be so careless," he raged to himself, "I thought she was on birth-control pills." He had just joined the ranks of the unemployed, and now there was another mouth coming that he would have to feed. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. He jumped into his car and sped off to the nearest bar, searching for a sympathetic ear.

Melissa was in shock after Billy left. Tears spilled down her face. "All I asked him for was for money to buy formula and diapers for Joey, and he blew up... " she cried to no one in particular. She couldn't understand the change in Billy's attitude towards her. He had always been extremely attentive and loving with her. He adored their son Joey. She vividly remembered the tender, intimate moment they were sharing just before she had to tell him about her 2nd pregnancy. It was becoming obvious. She couldn't keep it a secret any longer.

"Billy, can I talk to you about something?"

"Yeah, sure. What?" he cooed, as he kissed and tickled her playfully.

"I'm pregnant," she said, a small gleeful smile on her face.

"Oh my God! Melissa... You're WHAT?" he yelled. He jumped out of bed, grabbing his pants off the chair, stumbling as he tried to put them on.

"I thought you would be happy that we were going to have another baby?" she said.

"What, are you crazy? This is no time to have another kid. Are you sure you're pregnant?"

"Yes, I took the over-the-counter pregnancy test and it came out positive. Besides I missed my period, two months now." She was afraid to tell Billy that she hadn't gone to the doctor yet, because of their financial situation. Now she was glad she didn't.

"You'll have to get an abortion." Billy said in a commanding tone.

Melissa believed strongly in Pro-choice and refused to even consider having an abortion. "I'm sorry you feel that way, Billy, but I won't have an abortion. I am going to have our baby." she meekly responded.

"So, Miss Smart Ass, that means that I'll have to pay out-of-pocket for all your doctor visits... probably the delivery too, because my health insurance went with my job. Where am I going to get the money for all of this? Between the mortgage and our living expenses, whatever savings we had are gone now. There is no more money!" Billy hissed, his face beet red.

Melissa said, "I'll borrow the money from my parents, they'll help us out."

"So how in the hell are we going to pay them back, when I don't have a job?" Billy shouted angrily.

She gazed at her husband for several seconds before she timidly answered: "I don't know."

Billy was fuming. They were already in debt up to their ears thanks to overusing the credit cards.

Thinking back to that awful day, Melissa suddenly felt sick, fighting back an urge to throw up. This pregnancy was extremely hard on her. She was unable to do anything, exhausted a lot of the time, always dizzy and vomiting. This fighting wasn't helping. She felt more irritable than usual. She had been losing a lot of weight. Billy had no patience with her anymore. He suddenly refused to lift a finger to help her with Joey, with the housework, or even with the laundry. He would just sit in front of the TV and ignore her. He was determined to make things difficult for her. This unexpected pregnancy meant financial worry and uncertainty for him.

Melissa remembered how healthy and happy she had been throughout her first pregnancy. She was a paralegal assistant making a great salary with a reputable law firm, Hotchkin & Hotchkin. Billy was elated when she told him she was pregnant. He was 42 and she was 35. He was madly in love with Melissa. He started to date her after he won a law suit at her firm. It was love at first sight. After they married, they waited two years before starting a family. Finally, their bundle of joy arrived. William and Melissa Thornwall had a healthy son, 8 pounds and 9 ounces. They named him after Billy's grandfather, Joseph Thornwall II. They both agreed to set aside Melissa's salary, saving it to purchase their dream home, living off of his salary during those two lean years. Things were going well for Billy at the job then. He was earning an excellent salary as a Web Master. After her pregnancy became too much for her, Melissa decided to go on maternity leave. Once Joey was born, Billy didn't want Melissa to go back to work, so she left the firm. Billy felt he was earning enough to maintain their lifestyle.

Then, in 2008, the market took a nose dive. The economy followed, and soon most of the country was struggling. By March 6, 2009, the stock market had dropped nearly 60% from its October high. It was one of the biggest American financial disasters of all time. The corporation where Billy worked was having a tough time staying afloat. Sales came to a stand still. Billy's employer hired a management restructuring consultant firm to shake-up the corporation. The company drastically downsized, cutting Billy's Web Master position and income in the process. Those that were fortunate enough to hold on to a job worked at lesser wages, taking on additional responsibilities. Billy could not believe he had lost his job after being with the company for several productive years. He had to take his place among the swollen ranks of the unemployed, swallowing his pride and worrying about his family in the process. Billy was depressed, often in a foul mood. He felt he was reaching a breaking point. The marriage was in trouble, his job was gone, and he had few prospects. Things looked bleak. Now Melissa was pregnant again, to top it off.

Melissa was feeling quite tired and flushed after putting Joey to bed. Either he was getting heavier or she was getting weaker, or both. She laid down and fell asleep immediately. Suddenly she awoke that night with intense pains and cramps in her lower abdomen and back. The cramps began to subside, leaving her weak and sore. She fell back to sleep again after they subsided. At four in the morning the severe cramps returned and she began to bleed profusely. The pain was unbearable, like she was in labor. She felt like fainting. She woke Billy up, telling him he needed to take her to the hospital. Billy immediately got dressed and woke Joey, covering him with a blanket, and got Melissa into the car. They sped to the hospital as fast as possible.
Melissa lingered outside of the courtroom, talking to her attorney. Joey was playing at her side. "Mr. Hotchkin," she started, smiling at the elderly, distinguished lawyer, "I can never thank you enough for helping me through all of this."

The silver-haired man smiled gently at her and at the young boy by her side. "Nonsense Melissa. We're just glad you came back. You're the best paralegal I've ever had. The place hadn't ran right since you left." He paused and looked at Joey, winking at him. "This won't be easy, you know, divorce never is, even after what you've been through. It will certainly be tough on the child, but we're here for you, Melissa. You're a part of our family."

"Thank Y--" Melissa started, when Billy approached them in the hall.

"You don't have to speak to him. Shall I get a bailiff?" He asked Melissa.

"No," she replied coolly, "It'll be okay. I have something to say to him."

Mr. Hotchkin went into the courtroom to wait. When he was gone, Billy spoke quietly to his soon to be ex-wife. "Please, please don't do this... I miss you and Joey terribly." He begged.

"No, Billy, I've made my decision. It's what's best, and I'm at peace now."

"I'm sorry we lost the baby but that's not--"

"What?" she interrupted, "... Not your fault? Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't. The stress you caused had something to do with it." She felt anger rising. "You ought to be happy now Billy, no more responsibilities. You don't have to pay for our second child, because she didn't survive. Now you can drink yourself to death and say you tried."

Billy began to sob. "It wasn't the money, things were tough and I felt trapped. Please, I can't live without you!"

Melissa shook her head. "You couldn't live with us. We tried that. Things got tough and you became someone else. Money is paper, Billy. We were your family. No matter how bad things would have gotten, we would have remained your family, by your side. But you didn't want us. You wanted security and something easy. You left us, and endangered us, even though you stayed at the house. The Billy I fell in love with abandoned ME when I needed him, and left a drunk corpse in his place. Grow up Billy, get yourself straight and get some help. Do it for your son, he's going to need a father. Do it for yourself. As for me, I've made my choice. I need to find happiness too."

Melissa took Joey's hand, held her head high, and walked with her son, into the court room. She had taken her dignity back, now it was time to take her life back.

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