Given the fact that my relationship with Sean Flaherty and Erica LaFleur you would be surprised to find out that I am writing this post from Erica's apartment.
I had barely seen her since Sean made it very clear, last summer, that he was going to raise this kid, and I was fine with it, but I felt like it was a loose end in my life, one of, perhaps, too many. There's no way I can rationalize it, but something didn't sit right with me about the idea of some poor bastard child being conceived during my time away from my body. The last time I had seen Erica and Sean, it was at a New Year's party we all happened to attend (hey, we run in the same circles.) Sean was shooting me death glares anytime I looked in their direction. Erica, sweet kid she is, had the look of a sympathetic, somewhat remorseful, and very, very pregnant captive.
I didn't know how to reach out to Erica. I didn't want to overstep my boundaries or get in a conflict with Sean. Frankly, I sympathized with him. From his perspective, I took advantage of a difficult time in his relationship with Erica. In some perverse form of retaliation, he and Alia started hooking up. After Sean and Erica patched up their differences was when she learned she was pregnant. I became his enemy.
I should note that Sean and I were never the best of friends to begin with, but we had hardly been enemies.
Bad feelings, man. It's hard to get over something like that, and as much as I want to be big about it, the only thing I could do was separate myself from them and let them live their lives. But it was always felt like that thread of my life was hanging, and apparently, so did Sean.
A couple nights ago, he showed up at my door. It was a Wednesday night, and someone was buzzing at my intercom. Sleepily, barely cognizant of what was going on, I unlocked the door, unsure if I had heard him correctly when he mumbled "Sean" into the receiver. He must've been halfway up to my place when I awakened and was struck with a sudden sense of dread. Did I really just invite Sean Flaherty up to my house, at 2 AM on a Wednesday night? (Well, now Thursday.) My heart began to beat. It was the kind of stress I hadn't faced much since regaining my own body.
When he arrived, it was pretty clear he was drunk. He sat himself down on the couch and proceeded to drink from a half-empty mickey of vodka that looked like something a 17-year-old pinches from his dad (I'd know.) I offered him something to mix with, he chose orange juice.
I wasn't sure whether he'd come to make peace or to beat the shit out of me. I think he hadn't decided between the two, because his attitude was shifting wildly. I just sat and listened patiently while he rambled, finally telling me exactly how mad he was about the way things had gone this past year. I told hi he wasn't alone, and he told me to shut the fuck up, and asked "What the fuck do you know?"
He continued, "What are you, mad about not having Alia? You could have her. I know she loves you, and I don't know why she's with Bryan right now, so I figure it must be because for some reason you decided you don't want her. But if you wanted her that badly, you'd just have to walk in there and tell her so. I know that's how she feels about you." She must've been very honest about the matter when she was with him. I wanted to tell him it was more complicated than that, but I didn't feel like outlining the reasons why. So I let him go on.
"But me? It's like, there's no hope for me anymore. This baby is coming, and it's yours. And no matter how close I am to it, it's always, like, going to be something that's between me and Erica, something that's keeping us apart. It's not taht I'm afraid of being a dad... it's just... I'm afraid I won't be able to be one when the time comes."
I was about to console him on the matter when he said something startling. "I proposed, you know. She said no. I tried to make this right, I'm trying to make it work, we've been together almost as long as... I was gonna say almost as long as you and Alia but I guess you're not together now are you."
"No, I guess not."
"But that's how long anyway. I don't want to be with anyone else, and we've all fucked up and I want to move past it."
I asked "Do you know why she said no?"
"Fuck no. Do you?"
"Nope. This is the first I've heard of it."
"It's not like we broke up or anything, she just said now wasn't the time for it. I don't know. Do you get women?"
I sighed. "Now less than ever."
He finished his drink and continued to ramble circularly. I had poured my own drink by this point. As he turned to leave, he explained why he had come to me. "I've got a chance at a job, at a hospital out in Vancouver." Sean is a male nurse of some kind. "I have to fly out for an interview, but Erica, she's, like, due any day now. I hate the thought of leaving her alone like this, so I was wondering if you'd, you know, take care of her. Just in case. Until I get back."
It was a very humane gesture, a real olive branch moment. I told him of course I would, and we shook hands, and he disappeared into the night.
It's been good, coming over here after work, just to be out of the house with someone, away from the Bry/Crystal show, to be social again, in a way, like I was with Ginny. To be on good terms with the women of the world. To have something of importance going on in my life. Not that this is Earth-shattering work, making dinner and watching TV with a pregnant lady, but it's the most tangible thing I've done with my life since I got back to it.
I think, in theory, it could've been anyone looking after Erica. She has any number of female friends who would've been more sensitive to her needs, most of whom Sean wouldn't have to fear her cheating with. But it's the gesture more than the practicality of it: I suspect Erica has been on his case about the cold war between us.
We haven't talked about any of the serious issues. She hasn't seemed keen to talk about, you know, the circumstances under which I impregnated her. I haven't asked why she rejected Sean's marriage proposal. But Erica is a smart cookie and we've had some interesting conversations. I'm starting to wake up out of what feels like my post-return coma.