"I'm pregnant," I said without hesitation. I gently swirled the contents of the glass I was examining. Ripples formed inside it, but nothing spilled out. The background noise I was facing was as turbulent as the liquid I was observing. Murky. Or rather, noisy.
I usually came to this club just to unwind, but this time, even unwinding felt pointless. For me, it was just a routine visit, hanging out with my two incredibly talkative friends, whom I only agreed to come along with.
"Dang! Don't play around, Anya," one of them exclaimed.
"Shut up! If you want to joke, don't be that foolish!" Obviously, it wasn't my shout, but Doni's, who turned into Dona whenever he was with me. My male friend, who we often called Dona, never got offended by the nickname. He even joked that maybe in his previous life, he was indeed a Dona, minus the sideburns that occasionally grew around his jawline.
"I'm not joking," I replied wearily. My gaze now focused on them, observing how their faces displayed shock and fear. They were both terrified; how about me? As I found out from the pregnancy test result and the series of examinations this afternoon, I no longer knew the color of my face.
Perhaps pale like a corpse.
I, Anya Joice, want to carry a child. In a legitimate bond according to law and religion, that's an absolute requirement. Not like this. Damn it!
"Do you know who the father is?" Dona asked, immediately grabbing my hand. Maybe he needed something to hold onto, unlike me, who felt like I was floating away.
"I do know," I replied weakly. As I was reminded of the person who continued to knock on the doors of my mind, I suddenly felt shivers down my spine.
Around me, it was seriously so noisy. The DJ's music that always livened up our nights disappeared from my life. My body was here, but my mind seemed to have wandered off. Most importantly, I was thinking about another life within me.
"Anya," Naomi, my female friend, held both of my hands. "You can tell us. What's going on with you?"
"Yeah, Anya. You usually talk a lot when something happens," Doni Andrean, his full name, but both Naomi and I mostly called him Dona, added sympathetically. He embraced me, trying to contain part of me in his arms.
Could I hold back my tears? No.
So, I let these tears flow in front of them. I shared my doubts, worries, and other negative thoughts with the two people closest to me. In Washington DC, they were all I had. In this transient world, I was all alone. My parents had long passed away. Their bodies weren't buried in the ground; in my heart, their existence was no longer there. So, I guess I consider them dead.
"Who?" Naomi asked softly.
I was confused myself, wondering why I could be so foolish. I'm not a saintly woman, I apologize. But I'm not the kind of woman who opens her legs for just any man. No, I'm still sane, except maybe two or three months ago, right? I'm a bit forgetful, but I remember vividly, even under the influence of vodka, who was on top of me.
Ah, my goodness! I'm so stupid.
"Cedric," I whispered softly.
"Son of a bitch!" Dona cursed. "Why did you mess around with the office boy?!"
I closed my eyes. If I had known, I definitely wouldn't have done it!
"Anya..." I shuddered when Naomi spoke so softly and sharply. I knew I wouldn't be able to resist her. "Don't jump to conclusions. Cedric is a good guy, Anya. You know that."
"I feel so stupid, Naomi?" I felt cornered now. "You talk like I'm the one who seduced Cedric."
I heard Naomi sigh. "That's not what I meant. You know what I'm trying to say, Ya. If you had said you were pregnant with Dewangga's child, I'd believe you. Or even Kelvin's."
I laughed. "Yeah, right. They've been aggressively pursuing me."
"There you go!"
"Yeah, true." Now, Dona joined in. "And why did you say you were pregnant with Cedric's child? You've rejected Dewangga or Kelvin, who are clearly shining like gems."
I just rolled my eyes in annoyance. I knew the two men they were talking about. One is the IT manager at my workplace, Kelvin Sturborn. The other is the store manager of a café across the street, where we occasionally hang out to unwind after lunch, Dewangga Obrey.
As Naomi said, both of them have been competing for my attention. I'm not trying to act like I'm something special or anything. For me, they both treat me like a dessert. I need more than just sweetness to be enticed. I'm not blind to that. That's why I've been trying to avoid them as much as possible. It's challenging, but at least, I still had my dignity.
And now, my dignity has completely disappeared.
In the silence we shared, my mind was so loud, trying to figure out how I would get through the next day.
"Does Cedric know?" Naomi asked. This question struck me multiple times. Since the first and last time we met and did it, we haven't seen each other again. Except at the office, of course.
"I'm sure he doesn't know yet, Naomi," Dona said to Naomi. "When did you check for pregnancy?"
"This afternoon." My shoulders slumped. The tissue I used to wipe my tears now covered the table, soaked with my tears. This time, we sighed together.
"You have to talk to him. Cedric has to take responsibility," Naomi emphasized the word 'responsibility' in her words just now. "But before that, you have to tell us. Why did you let yourself go with Cedric, but rejected Dewangga or Kelvin, who are obviously dazzling?"
"It's all vodka's fault."
The next definition of being a jerk is when you're hit by a disaster and your two friends laugh at you with great satisfaction.
Just like what I'm experiencing now.
I looked at the ultrasound result sheet that I had done earlier this afternoon. Then, I gently rubbed my still-flat belly. I felt like an incredibly wicked person considering getting rid of the life inside me. But it's not because of money. My salary and position are more than enough to meet its needs. I'm sure of that.
What I meant by "capability" is about many things. Especially raising and educating a child. Okay, I know I made a mistake. Naomi was right; I can't just open my legs for anyone. Not to mention the consequences I would face. My job, my life, my habits, and I have to start learning to accept the presence of a little creature called a baby around me in the future. All of that is at stake. I already have to count down how much time I have until my flat belly becomes bigger.
I've already set aside any thoughts about love. What's love got to do with it when Cedric and I only meet occasionally at the office in this case? We just greet each other when Cedric brings me a cup of sweet tea and a full bottle of water. I sigh in frustration afterward. Why did it have to end up with Cedric?!
God, why is my punishment like this?
I can still vividly remember how it came to this. Naomi was right when she said that vodka and I are a crazy combination that should be avoided unless we're having a party together with them, or at least, Dona accompanies me. At that time, I did ask Dona to accompany me, but he had a date. I didn't want to bother him. I'm self-aware enough.
As for Naomi, she was in Bangladesh for work.
Besides vodka, I also feel like blaming my direct superior, Krystal Blaxton. The woman, who is nearing forty, loves to torture me with ever-changing agendas. I'm her secretary, and she's the big boss at my office. It's a company that provides shipping services with a network as vast as the ocean.
The place where I work is considered quite elite. Almost all e-commerce and small to large-scale businesses use our services. All because of Krystal, who dares to take action. To me, Krystal is a role model for a successful independent woman in her career. Minus her tendency to torment her subordinates. Especially me. She said, "You're so smart, Anya. Think about that. Don't tell everything to everyone, be creative, Anya."
Not to mention, "Anya, you know, your face makes me angry. Don't show me your face like a duck. Smile, Anya. Smile."
But I had to carry out a pile, oh, not just a pile, two boxes of work from last year that I had to go through one by one just because there was an agenda she missed. Even though I had already told her a simple way to handle it. Krystal is always right, but I can't refuse to do what she asks.
The peak of it all was when our company was periodically audited externally. And Krystal is a woman with an extremely high level of perfectionism. I'm the one who experienced the effects of it first. Until my stress level facing Krystal was transferred to vodka.
It's understandable, right? I blame Krystal.
I laughed, more towards being pathetic. Cursing myself for this impulsive act that has caused me so much harm.