“This is your last chance,” Mazie said. Mazie was my best friend. Her son, Terry was the same age as my son, Danny.
“You tell me the same thing every month,” I said as I poured her another cup of coffee.
“Some month it’s gonna be true. If it already isn’t true.”
“What are you saying?” For the first time, I was scared.
Mazie took a sip and hesitated before saying, “Well … you don’t even know if YOU can get pregnant anymore. It might not just be Mel. It’s been so long.”
“I still get my periods. On time, every month. And the doctor said I was still fertile.”
“Even so,” Mazie said. She raised her eyebrows.
It suddenly dawned on me she was right. Melvin and I had been trying desperately forever. Even more desperately these last five years since the accident that left him paralyzed, his legs useless and withered. We both wanted a child, but I suspected that having a second would make him feel more alive and vital once again.
“We tried normally a lot and then it’s been the in vitro that never worked, and now it’s going to be artificial insemination for the third and last time. Mazie, maybe you’re right.” I slumped into the chair at the kitchen table. Mazie got that look you get when you see a hurt you can’t heal, but want to try anyway.
“I’m sure it’s gonna work this time, Jan. I got a good feeling. I’m betting in two weeks or so you’ll be expecting again and all this talk will be something we’ll laugh about.”
She patted my hand and rubbed my arm to comfort me, but I didn’t feel any comfort. All of a sudden, lots of things I never said before were streaming out: “It’s Mel. It’s pitiful. It was pitiful before, but now, after the accident …”
“It can’t be that—”
“It’s worse than you think. It’s worse than even I let myself believe. The sex between us was never any good. Mel never cared about my needs or maybe he didn’t know what my needs were, or what any woman’s needs were. And since he’s been paralyzed, he can barely keep an erection, if that’s what you want to call that semi-hard thing, for more than a minute. I have to place him on the bed, get on top and jam my hips down as fast as I can to try and harvest the few drops of whatever drips out of him.”
“Jan, that’s the actual sex. But, you’re going to do the artificial insemination again. That’s got to work.”
“You should see the little watery stain Mel delivers into that specimen jar. Any rational person would know it’s not enough in volume or potency to get me pregnant. I’ve got just the opposite problem with Danny. I keep having to pick gooey tissues off his floor. What does he think, that I figure he’s blowing his nose 100 times a day?”
“Hey, he just turned 18. If you don’t have all the ammunition in the world at that age, you never will. Too bad he couldn’t lend his father some of that rocket fuel. That young, and an athlete in tremendous condition—his sperm count is probably off the charts!”
“Off the charts,” I whispered.
Danny was my only child, and his 18th birthday was just last week. He was, at the same time, a joy and a headache. He was bright and handsome and well built from constant exercise. But, he was rebellious and argumentative. He wanted things his own way and was stubborn like his father.