Three Minute Fiction Round 10 prompt: write a story in the form of a voicemail, under 600 words
Friday, February 23, 9:47 p.m.
Hey, Ellen. It’s Hal. I guess you still don’t want to hear my voice, but um…
Listen, I want you to know I’m not going to make this difficult for you. You can keep the house. I’ll have Greg draw up papers, so I can sign it over. But, well… I was thinking that I could set up the RV down behind the old garage, maybe? That way I could take care of the chickens and feed the horses, you know, until the baby gets big and you have more time. Plus, if something happened and you needed… I don’t know. Just think about it.
Also, these last few weeks, I keep remembering that night when Dani and Al came over for enchiladas, and you wore that watercolor dress. Your belly was already so round, and you were glowing pink all over. I remember Dani made some remark about how we should hurry and paint the library, so we could fill it up with baby furniture. And you were smiling, and I said, “Don’t get her hopes up, Dani.”
And you got so damned quiet.
And then later that night you locked yourself in the bedroom. Tried to hide that you were crying. Said I wanted you to miscarry. And I denied it. Called you crazy.
But I’ve been thinking maybe you were right, a little bit.
Twenty years, Ellen. Twenty years I’ve been loving you. It’s what I’m best at. But ever since you found out about this baby, you’re not you anymore. You’re not mine anymore.
I guess I kind of panicked. Okay, yes, I panicked. At first I thought I could keep hold of the old Ellen, big belly and all, baby and all. But you became a mom so fast. Made me dizzy how fast. This kid isn’t even part of the world yet, and still, there’s no denying you’re a mother. I just couldn’t keep up with you, El. I don’t know how to be a dad. I don’t know how to love some kid I’ve never met, or even seen.
But I know now what I could have done. I could have been happy for you. God, El, it’s the least I could have done. You’ve been waiting for this since college, and all these long, dry years in between. And here it is, this tardy miracle growing in your belly, and all I can do is doubt and grumble and oppose you at every step.
I’m a jerk, El. I understand why you don’t want to see my face right now.
But I want you to understand that I get it. I’m meeting with Al twice a week. Did he tell you? I know he’s not a professional psychologist or anything, but he raised three decent men, so that’s something, right?
Al says the best way to be a good dad is to be a good husband first. And you know what, El? I can do that.
It’s going to take a lot of work and change, but, if you’re willing to let me try, I’ll follow your lead. I promise you, Ellen. I will love the crap out of you. And I’ll love the kid too. I mean, he’s half you, right? I’ll start with that half and take it from there.
Okay? So, anyway, I hope you hear this. And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Ellen.
Oh, and by the way, I never answered you before, but… Liam. I think he should be Liam.