One night on our camping trip, after Sarah fell into an unpleasant-sounding sleep, I continued to read by the light of the flickering campfire. Random information jumped off the page-seven servings a day of fruits and vegetables . . . eight glasses of water . . . lots of milk and dairy products-until it all started to give me a headache. Then I came across an alarming passage. Turns out that a number of men suffer from the nagging fear that their wife’s baby is not theirs. Whether or not they trust their wife’s faithfulness is beside the point. The doubt is a common psychological response for men when they’re first hit with a mind-blowing notion: I am powerful enough to create a life.
Is the baby mine? Jeez, I haven’t given it a thought.
I tossed the book aside. Sarah, already asleep, rolled in close to me in her sleeping bag, but my eyes wouldn’t shut. Every pop of the campfire and hum of the cicadas had me thinking: Sarah had been spending a lot of time late at work. She was talking an awful lot about some guy I had never met. Jim or John Somebody. Could it be . . . ?
I felt the book down by my feet and kicked it off into a corner on top of some clothes. Then I lay awake for hours, silently cursing the author.
* * *
The camping was fantastic. The area was gorgeous and it never rained once. I tried my best to be attentive with Sarah, but she kept shrugging it off. She wanted to do things for herself. During one hike, I tried to guide her over a rocky patch, and she yanked her arm away. “I’m not blind, I’m pregnant,” she growled. She hiked and canoed and got the fire going every night like she always had, and she never complained (except when Jason and I disappeared to the casino up the road for some cheap beers and blackjack). Nor did she get even mildly nauseous, and she ate more hot dogs than anyone. It was Jason who got dehydrated and threw up outside his tent.
But by the time we got back to Chicago last night, Sarah wasn’t looking so good. While we were carrying things in from the car, she had to sit down to catch her breath. When I asked what to do with the leftover hot dogs, she disappeared to the bathroom. I thought nothing of it, and brought in the rest of the stuff.When she returned, I was stunned. This was not my wife. She looked like a completely different person-a ragged, angry specter with little tributaries of spit in the corners of her mouth. And I was told quietly, but in no uncertain terms, not to use the words “hot dog” again. At that moment, so help me God, thunder rolled in the distance. A rainstorm is coming, and it’s going to be a big one.