Cohen lost track of the time staring at the blank document on his laptop screen. The office of the newspaper was now only occupied with his existence, and he was fine with that. His cell phone had been ringing off and on all morning of one night stand encounters making him annoyed with his self.
Cohen reached for the stress ball on his desk and squeezed it though it did nothing to make the flashing on his phone stop notifying him. He remembered back in the days where women didn’t flock to him for attention, not really noticing him at all. It wasn’t until he graduated high school that the opposite sex began to notice him. He took it as a sign that the shells of awkwardness had invisibly fallen off of his person and he was what women found attractive. He began to see women more than he was used to, first starting with a soft heart until it was broken by someone who he had fallen for. After her, he didn’t care anymore and started playing the game that most men did. There wasn’t a month that had gone by that he wasn’t having someone in his living space to roll around with for the night, only to kick them out in the early morning sun light. It was easy not to care after having experienced a heart-break and it made it easier to not care when a women showed her feelings. He had become a man of so few emotions over the course of time, until he was introduced to Schuyler.
Turning the ball in his hands, tossing it up in the air he came to the realization that he was attracted to her. But she obviously didn’t feel the same way; how her dark eyes dared Cohen to pay any type of attention to her made it perfectly clear that her guard was sky-high. The only time that her wall began to shift was when she threw up with him present. Cohen began to wonder how Schuyler was doing since he left Carey’s house that night. He was surprised at himself for the concern he was experiencing for her, but he experienced a vulnerable moment when he mentioned a potential pregnancy for her horizon.
Cohen turned to his laptop and moved his finger on the mouse pad to wake up the screen, typed up the website he was looking for and made a few choice clicks before he could change his mind. He was sure he was going to regret this later but it was the least he could do. Quickly he grabbed his things and walked out the empty office, bouncing the ball as he went.
The deliciousness of Carey’s homemade muffins had done nothing to ease Schuyler’s worries. In between bites, she looked at the tiny window of the pregnancy test that had already decided her fate and her heart began to twist in knots. The familiarity of fear brought back those same tears that came when the two lines appeared.
The choices that invisibly lay before her consumed her thoughts. She refused abortion, even though she didn’t want the child, but ending a life seemed cruel when someone ruined hers. There was always adoption; plenty of adults aspired to become parents, she could easily give up the child and wipe her hands of the situation.
Or she could keep it.
Though she had little to no experience with kids, she occasionally dreamed of having a family of her own; the husband, the kids, the white picket fence and maybe an animal or two. But not like this. This wasn’t supposed to happen to her. Keeping the baby meant supporting it and she could now barely take care of herself.
“I’m only good at one thing and one thing only,” she mumbled to herself. She nibbled on the last of the muffins, glanced at the test and ran her fingers through her now straightened hair in frustration.
The small comforting voice rested her weary thoughts for a moment, not scaring her like it did before. After escaping, she convinced herself that the voice was her sign that she was crazy and it was okay by her. She took deep breaths and was on the verge of closing her eyes until the bell rang. Thinking that is was a salesman; Schuyler didn’t get up from her seat. The doorbell sounded again forcing Schuyler to get off the couch and make her way to the door. In the side window of the door she spotted the familiar face of Cohen and he saw her too, waving.
“What do you want?” she shouted, not opening the door. A look of bewilderment shown on his face and she saw he held a rectangular box in his hand.
“Wanna open the door to find out?” he shouted back.
“Carey is at the bakery, come back later.”
“I’m not here to see Carey. I’m here to see you.”
Schuyler rolled her eyes and opens the door just enough to fit her head through.
“You were sick, so..”
“You though that I needed sympathy from you?” she asks coolly.
“What? No, I was hoping it would make you feel better.”
“I’ll be fine, thank you.” She quickly retreated into the house and tried closing the door, but Cohen stuck his foot out.
“Take them,” he said.
“I don’t want them.”
Cohen sighed heavily and shaking his head, “Are you always this stubborn?”
Schuyler glared at him before opening the door and stepping out, “I don’t take things from people who I know want something in return.”
“Oh really? Well maybe it’s time you take something with no strings attached. Take the damn fruit, please.”
She shoved it back with a little more force than intended, making it fall to the ground. They both went to reach for it only for Schuyler to get the brut of Cohen’s head against hers.
“Ah!” she yelped in pain, trying to stand up quickly. Seeing she was going to lose balance, Cohen grabbed her arm and pushed her through the door, and guides her to the couch in the living room. Making sure she was lying down, Cohen walked into the kitchen and found a bag of frozen peas in the freezer.
“Here,” he said placing the bag on her head, “you’re going to have an ugly bump for a day or so, but it shouldn’t be too bad.”
“You don’t need a bag?” she mumbled.
“Thick skull, barely felt a thing,” he jokingly knocked on the back of his head and leaned back against the couch.
He watched her close her eyes, holding the bag still on her head. His eyes trailed from the top her straightened hair to the sweats she wore until something caught his eyes. Slowly he pinched the object between his index and thumb and brought it to his eye level. The little window on the stick showed two vibrant lines.
“What do two lines mean?” he asked waving the stick like a flag. Schuyler shot up quickly and snatched it out of his hands.
“No one told you to look!”
“No one said I couldn’t, you left it here on the couch for the world to see.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to look,” she slapped the bag and the test on the coffee table in disgust.
“You still didn’t answer my question.”
“I don’t have to.”
“You don’t seem like the type of guy who cares about a stupid pregnancy test.”
“That doesn’t make me the kind of guy that doesn’t care at all. I’m not completely heartless,” he said with a smirked at his little lie.
“You’re a man, men don’t care at all.”
Cohen could hear a bit of anger and pain in her voice but it didn’t stop the anger that was beginning to creep through his being.
“And bringing you a gift means that I don’t care?” Cohen looked at her in amazement.
Schuyler turned to look back at him, hesitating before saying the next few words, “What do you want from me?”
“I don’t want anything,” He couldn’t help but shake his head in frustration, “You can’t possibly believe that every guy has different motives when they give you something. Not all guys are like your last.”
“In my experience, that’s all I know.” Her voice caught in her throat, forcing her to look away before he could see a tear fall. Cohen held back a response this time and reached for the box lying on the table. Opening it, he revealed chocolate covered strawberries and cherries and slid it across the table for her to grab one. She looked at the treats suspiciously without making a move to pick one. Cohen plucked a strawberry and bit into it in swift movement, hoping that his actions would prompt her to do the same.
After a long moment of silence, Schuyler turned to him. Her eyes spoke of pain that he never witnessed with women and like a dam breaking, all of the past weekend adventures flooded his thoughts. Something in him shifted to something somewhat familiar.
“It means positive,” she spoke just above a whisper as her hands picked up the test off the table, holding it gingerly in one hand and grabbing for a cherry with the next. Cohen simply nodded in response and they ate in silence until it was empty. After the last chocolate cherry treat, he came to the conclusion that maybe he could be just friends with this reserved women. In his mind, he created a new game to play.
Don’t fall for her, he thought to himself.