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Callie woke slowly, her eyes red-rimmed and raw from tears that refused to slow down after the front door slammed last night.
Erica’s words rang loud and unwelcome in her head and she closed her eyes again, wishing the pain away. Last night did not go as planned at all, not by a long shot. She knew something was wrong, she could her it in her ex’s voice. Her ex.
Fresh tears started and Callie quickly swiped them away. But these tears were different from last night. Last night she cried from the shock of seeing her life start falling apart before her eyes. Today she is crying from hurt. Her heart had been shattered into thousands of irreplaceable pieces. For two years she had devoted her time and her heart, all of her love to the woman that she thought would be with her forever. They had talked only briefly of marriage and though she knew the idea would not come to fruition until years from now, she still clung to the hope that they would indeed be together. Now the one person who had stole her heart had ripped it out of her chest in a matter of minutes and threw it back at her. It was a big ‘screw you’ to everything she thought her life was.
Sitting up slowly in bed, she brought her hands to her head, a dull ache settling in behind her eyes and she knew a headache was about to take her over. She made her way to the kitchen and swallowed two painkillers and looked around her apartment. Everything her eyes settled on was a painful reminder of last night. The dishes from dinner last night sat cleaned in the drain, the table was still set with a nice tablecloth and a vase of roses in the middle and she bit her lip to hold back more tears. She needed to get through this…she had to be strong because it wasn’t just about her anymore. It was about the tiny being growing inside her.
She tenderly touched her stomach and rubbed small circles over the fabric of her shirt, the shirt she had collapsed in on her bed, too tired and lost to change.
“It’ll be alright little one. Momma is here for you, we are strong.” Smiling softly to herself she patted her tummy. “We are Torres’ after all.”
The smile quickly faded from her face as a wave of nausea hit her and she hurried to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before doubling over and emptying the contents of last night’s dinner. Just lovely.
After a few minutes of calming her nausea, she searched for her cell phone and felt a flicker of hope, wishing Erica’s name would be flashing as a new message. Taking a deep breath, she looked down at the phone and…nothing. She sighed and shook her head. Erica was gone. She needed to accept that. She needed to figure out where her life was about to go and how she would take care of the little one inside her. She was an adult, she was a surgeon, and a hell of a good one at that. But now her life seemed so uncertain, but she knew that she couldn’t do this alone. Sitting on her bed for hours, she glanced at her phone absent mindedly, chewing her lip as she thought things over. Finally she ran a hand through her hair and dialed a familiar number.
“Mark?” Callie’s voice surprised her, coming out as raspy and broken and her best friend immediately knew something was wrong.
“Callie, what is it? Are you alright? Are you hurt?” Mark’s questions caused Callie to smile bitterly. She was hurt all right, but probably not how he thought.
“Mark…Erica-” she took a shallow breath and shook her head. “Erica is gone. She left me.” The words stung as the thought about Erica’s hasty escape last night. “Jack is sick and she went to be with them in Philadelphia.”
Mark stayed quiet despite the building anger in his chest. He knew his friend needed to talk and judging from her last statement, she had a lot to say and he was the only one she had left.
“She isn’t coming back, Mark. She’s gone, she was sure to let me know that. Things have been falling apart between us for a while, but I thought the baby-”
At this Mark stopped her, trying to make sense of what his best friend was saying.
“Baby? Callie, no…”
Callie nodded, even though she knew Mark couldn’t see the action, couldn’t see the distress on her face. Mark knew Callie had been trying to get pregnant for a while, she and Erica had decided that it would be good for them, and that they were at a point in their lives where they wanted to start a family together. And now she had walked out on Callie?
“That bitch.” Mark muttered and scratched his face. Callie was alone and she was pregnant.
“Cal, come over to my place. Brings some stuff with you, clothes and what not.” Mark knew what he needed to do. He needed to be there for his friend because from the sound of Callie sobbing on the other end of the phone, he knew that things were not going to get better anytime soon.
Despite the tears streaming down her face, Callie smiled a little and spoke quietly, trying to lighten the mood.
“Mark now is not the time to hook up with me. I know I’m the little vulnerable and broken woman, but keeping it in your pants would be a good idea right now.”
Mark chuckled softly at his friend’s witty remark and he shook his head.
“Once upon a time, Torres, but not anymore. Come on over, I am going to order to take-out and it’ll be here soon.” Mark paused, trying to think of the right words to console his broken friend. “I’m here for you, Cal. You are gonna get through this and you won’t do it alone. You are a Torres after all.”
Callie found herself giggling as she started to pack some things into a big suitcase and shook her head, thinking of how Mark’s words reflected her own earlier in the day.
“Thanks Mark. You’re great, you know that?”
Mark laughed quietly and smiled a little. “I’ve been told that a few times, now get your ass over here, Torres. I need to meet that little Torres.”
Callie felt her heart flutter at the thought of her baby and she smiled big for the first time today. Saying their goodbyes, the two hung up the phone and Callie took a last look around her apartment, glad that she would get to leave the memories behind for a few days.
Callie was greeted with a huge hug from her best friend and she felt her resolve start to melt as Mark’s protective embrace made her feel that maybe, if only for this second, everything would actually be alright.
Their hug was interrupted as a knock at the door signaled the arrival of their dinner and Mark paid the man, bringing two boxes of Chinese food and sitting them on the coffee table as Callie laid her suitcase along the back wall.
“Torres, you can sleep in the guest room, put your stuff in there.”
Callie obeyed and then took a seat on Mark’s black leather sofa; its comfort was a welcome to her weary body, tired from crying and worrying and wishing that this was all a dream, a really bad dream.
Quietly, Mark settled in next to Callie and handed her a box of food, taking one for himself and started eating slowly, knowing Callie would talk when she was ready. He could see the tired circles under her eyes and the puffiness surrounding her brown orbs. She was beautiful, loving, strong, intelligent, and kick-ass. He shook his head, wondering how anyone could ever walk out on her. A new round of anger flared up in him and he chewed his food vigorously, trying to keep his thoughts to himself. Cursing Erica’s name at the top of his lungs would surely not help Callie at all, so he calmed himself and looked down at his food until Callie finally started to speak, trying to explain everything without letting salty tears drip into her food.
“Jack has leukemia. She found out when she went to that conference two months ago.”
Mark nodded slowly, knowing all too well which conference his friend was referring to. Ever since Erica returned, everyone could see that things were different with the woman, but only Mark knew how much it was affecting Callie. She sat on this very couch many times before, or sought Mark out at the hospital, pulling him into an on-call room to tell him how she and Erica had fought the night before. Every day was the same, the arguments never ended and Mark knew that something was bound to go wrong. Callie put her heart out there to Erica. She was the first woman that she had ever dated and she made sacrifices to be with the woman that she had fallen in love with during their happy friendship. But now she was gone, the woman with eyes to match the ice in her heart had left Callie alone and defeated, and carrying a child.
“She wants to be with them, she said that she couldn’t abandon them again like she had done once before.” Callie chewed her food and then stopped eating.
“You know, I should have seen this coming. She left Jennifer a few years ago, right after Jack was born. Jennifer had cheated on her and it was too much for her when she found out that she had cheated while her fiancée was pregnant with their child.”
Callie shook her head, deep in thought and sighed heavily, looking out of the glass doors that led to Mark’s small balcony.
“What did I do wrong, Mark?” Callie felt broken and confused and her words reflected her heart. “I never cheated on her, I loved her like I have never loved anyone else. We were happy for so long. She loved me…well I thought she did. But she said that she never stopped loving Jennifer and Jack. So-” she slumped her shoulders and set her food aside. “The whole time she was with me, her heart was somewhere else. I knew about Jennifer and Jack, but we never talked about them. All this time I was just her experiment, her way of trying to heal a broken heart.”
Hating to see the pain clear on Callie’s face, Mark reached out and rested a hand on the black-haired woman. “Cal…” Mark chose his words carefully, trying to avoid further upsetting his friend.
“I know that this isn’t easy for you. I know you loved her and maybe you still do.” He sighed and paused. “But if she said she is gone for good, if she made it clear that Jack and Jennifer are more important to her than you and-” he gestured to her stomach. “Then you have to let her go. It’s not going to do any good wishing she’d come back, spending night after night hoping that she will just re-appear on your doorstep. Chances are if she was stupid enough to leave you, then she isn’t smart enough to come back.”
Callie nodded, taking her friend’s words in. It still stung, the memory was too fresh to push out of her mind like it never happened. But as she sat thinking about Mark’s words for a few minutes, she knew he was right. As much as she wanted to think he was wrong, and that after a few days Erica would realize her error and come running back to her, she knew that Erica’s words were the final words of their relationship. Jack really did need Erica, and she understood that, but it didn’t dull the pain of her absence. It was time to move on, and though it wouldn’t happen overnight, she would pull through. She had Mark and she had her baby.
Mark watched Callie’s eyes light up as she sat thinking quietly and he touched her stomach lightly.
“So…tell me more about this little one that’s gonna be the next great plastic surgeon.”
Callie smiled softly and shook her head, thinking about the little one growing inside her, and then her face fell slightly. Her little miracle would be raised alone, and she couldn’t stand the thought of being a failure to her daughter or son.
“I’m scared Mark. I can’t do this alone. I am not ready to do this alone. I thought I was going to have Erica, that our child would have two loving parents,” she cringed as she thought of the baby as ‘their baby’. “But now this baby only has me, they only have one mother who has no idea how to even be a mother.”
A hand rested on Callie’s thigh and gave a reassuring squeeze.
“You aren’t alone, Torres. You have me. And I know that I may not be the best father-like figure, but I don’t have to be that for your child. I can be a friend who won’t leave you when you need help the most,” Mark nodded, knowing his words were laced with bitterness towards Erica. After a pause, he met Callie’s eyes. “Stay with me.”
“What?” Callie’s face twisted in confusion and her word came out as a light laugh.
“Stay here with me. You can have the guest room and we can share my apartment. This place is too big for just me anyways.” Mark shrugged, trying to be indifferent about his suggestion, but hoping truly that Callie would accept his offer.
“You will need help, and I don’t want you to have to do it alone. So stay with me while you get through this. I will be here to take care of you and the baby.”
Callie’s questioning eyes met serious and warm eyes and she thought about her options. She could go back to her apartment where every time she looked around she saw Erica inhabiting their old home or she could stay here with Mark and know that she has someone that won’t abandon her, someone that will be there as she tries to get through this tough time.
“Alright.” She nodded simply and sighed. “I will stay here until I figure out what to do next and get ready for this little life-changing human,” she looked down to her stomach and giggled softly. Mark was an amazing friend and she felt herself wrapping her arms once again around the man that was about to save her emotional life.
“Thank you, Mark. I’m so lucky to have you.” She felt her heart warm as Mark kissed her cheek softly.
“I will always be here for you, Torres. I don’t know what I would do without you quite honestly. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to.”
Maybe things would be alright after all. Maybe she could eventually move on and be strong for her unborn child. For love, she couldn’t say the same. It would take a long time to love again, that she was sure of. Her mind raced through several thoughts of the future as the two friends sat in comfortable silence until a disturbing thought popped unwanted into her head. Callie scrunched up her face and moved away to look Mark in the eyes.
“And Mark…try to keep the man-whoreishness down while I’m here. I can’t have you interrupting my soon-to-be necessary beauty sleep with your,” she motioned up and down Mark’s body, “extracurricular activities in the middle of the night.”
Mark chuckled heartily and shook his head. “I can’t make any promises, Torres, but I guess I can try to be quiet for you.”
Callie smiled and was about to thank him, but was stopped by Mark again and slapped him hard on the arm for his next words.
“But I can’t say the same for the woman that is experiencing the Sloan method.”
- A Life Worth Living-Chapter 2