Road To Eden
chapter one

I’m laying in bed with the lamp on, on the bedside stand beside me. I’m lying with my arms folded up behind my head, staring at the ceiling. The window is open, and the light is on in the bathroom of the master bedroom. My wife is still in there, washing her face and going to the bathroom. Wife. I’ve been married for a month, my wife is due to have our child in five more, and I’m still trying to grip that this is a reality. The bathroom light went off, and she came out slowly; her stomach had barely changed at all, if you looked close enough and really strained, you could tell that there was a very slight roundness. She climbed into bed beside me, and moved close to me. She always did that – I don’t like it sometimes; sometimes I wish she wouldn’t.

“Tay, are you gonna turn off the light?” She asked quietly, waiting for me to do so. I reached up and clicked it off. She laid her head on my shoulder, but I didn’t move. She turned on her side, and I felt her slight stomach against me. Our baby is in there… baby. How could there be a baby? That was a stupid question; I know how there could be a baby. Yeah, I know I should have been more responsible, but it’s not all my fault. I never forced her to have sex with me, it was her choice too. I’m not angry that she’s pregnant; I’m happy about the baby, I think. Very surprised, but happy, I guess. I didn’t think my parents were going to force me to marry her though. It’s not that I don’t care about her, I really do, but I’m not so sure that I love her the way I should.

She sat up and kissed my lips lightly. She took one of my hands, and laced her fingers with mine, and then brought my hand to rest on her slightly growing stomach. Maybe at that point she’d sensed my apprehension, and that was why she put my hand there. I don’t really know. I thought that I was in love with her; I think I am, but I don’t know. I didn’t even propose marriage to her – my parents arranged everything. They were pretty upset when she told us that she was pregnant to begin with. They didn’t know that we had a sexual relationship, and I’d never told them because I knew that they’d disapprove. They didn’t believe in that – premarital sex – and I hadn’t either, but… I don’t really know what happened. Maybe I was just lying to myself about what I believed and what I wanted to believe. In that case, I lied to a whole lot of people. But, what’s done is done. My father told me, like I knew he would, “If you’re responsible enough to have sex, you’re responsible enough to be a father and get married.” I was so upset – I threw a fit about getting married. I didn’t do it in front of Natalie, I didn’t want to hurt her, but both of my parents got to see me throw a temper tantrum about it. I didn’t want to get married, and they forced me to. I just simply told her, “My parents said we’re getting married.” I know I could have been a little more sensitive about it, but I wasn’t thinking about that. She was happy about it, getting married, I mean. I had a feeling she would be. I’m not jumping to conclusions, though.

“Night,” she said quietly.

“Night,” I replied.

“I love you,” she whispered, and kissed me lightly once more before laying back down, my hand still on her stomach. I was supposed to say “I love you, too,” but it didn’t come out that way. Instead, I simply whispered, “Me too.”

The sun had risen hours ago, and I was supposed to have met my brothers at my parents’ house at eight. It was now almost ten o’clock. I called my mother and told her to apologize for me, and tell them I was obviously running late. I showered, and went downstairs. Natalie was in the kitchen, cooking breakfast – at least what she knew how to cook for breakfast. At eighteen, I didn’t expect her to know a whole lot about being someone’s wife. Hell, I’m only nineteen.

“Morning,” she said.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?” Not exactly what I should have said, but…

“I’m sorry,” she replied. “I was sick this morning.”

“Oh…” I said. “Sorry.” She shook her head, her dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. “Uh, what’re you cooking?”

“Just some eggs. Not too good at the cooking thing yet.” She grinned a little. She had that right, but I never said anything.

“You’ll learn,” I replied. I came up behind her and put my arms around her, my hands resting on her stomach. Sometimes I was so confused about everything. Our marriage had been fine this last month. Sometimes I think I really love her, and sometimes I think that maybe I don’t love her the way I should, and sometimes I think all I feel is obligation towards the child she’s carrying. I held her like that for a few minutes, and kissed the base of her neck. “When will it start moving?” I asked her.

“I don’t know; I’m just as new at this as you are. I’ve never been pregnant before.” She replied.

“Well, I’ve never gotten anyone pregnant before, so we’re even.” I probably shouldn’t have said that, because I knew she caught my meaning. Which was, exactly: I hadn’t intended on getting her pregnant; I guess I was also implying that I wish I hadn’t. In a way, I do wish that, to be completely honest. Maybe I’m being selfish, but I never planned on being a father and a husband at nineteen – part of me still doesn’t want to be either.

I pulled into my parents’ driveway. I could see one of my younger sisters at the window, watching my brand new black Santa Fe pull in, and then she disappeared. I was going to get pounced on when I walked in the door – which I never minded – and then I was going to get an earful from my brothers for being so late. Because I rolled out of bed so late, and got there so late, meant we were going to get to the mixing studio late, and, well, I’ve made my point. I sat behind the wheel for a moment before taking my key out of the ignition; I pulled it out and put them into my pocket as I climbed out of the vehicle. I walked myself up to the front door, and went inside without any hesitation. Now I knew what was going to happen as soon as I walked in that door – I knew I had this goofy expectant grin on my face, and yet, she still caught me by surprise. Zoë came running, and wrapped herself around my legs.

“Whoa!” I cried out in surprise, laughing, and picking her up.

“Tay!” She squealed. She rarely called me Taylor – she couldn’t say it right, it always came out sounding more like Tayder, so it was easier for her to just call me Tay. Everyone did anyway, but it was special when Zoë said my name. When I moved out she cried. She broke my heart.

“Hey Zo!” I laughed. She hugged me tightly, and I caught view of my mother standing in the doorway that linked the living room to the dining room, smiling. She had her arms crossed over her chest, leaning against the doorframe, just smiling. Now she was an extraordinary woman. She had seven children – myself included in that seven, obviously – and she loved her life. She still had unbelievably long blonde hair – that’s where most of us get it from. She had a very elegant look to her face – it was careworn, but not wrinkled with age, and her eyes held all the love you could ever hope to see in someone’s eyes. She loved each and every one of us; she didn’t play favorites, all though she and I had always been the closest. So when she found out about Natalie being pregnant, naturally she was disappointed in me. She wouldn’t even look at me that whole day, and the next. And of course she cried. If you really want to feel like shit, knowing you made your mother cry is the way to do it.

I smiled back at her, while my little sister had her arms wrapped around my neck. “Hi, Mom.” I said.

“Hi honey.” She said back, coming towards me. I leaned down a little so she could reach my cheek to give me a kiss – I’m too tall for her. She kissed my cheek and pushed my hair out of my face, tucking it behind my ear. “Zoë, let go of Taylor’s neck before you choke him and make him pass out.” She said lightly, still grinning. She reluctantly let go of my neck and I shifted her around to set on my hip. She started playing with the back of my hair like she always did.

“Are you gonna take me to da park?” She asked me.

“If we come back before it gets dark, I’ll take you to the park. Okay?” She nodded. “So where are they?” I asked my mother. She motioned with her head to the dining room.

“Kitchen. Where else?” She had a point. All of her lovely sons ate like pigs, including me, contrary to what people seem to think. Unlike the lovely rumors that circulate about me, I am not, in fact, anorexic or bulimic. I eat like a horse. All the time. I bounced Zoë on my hip and she smiled at me, and my mother and I made our way through the living room and dining room, through the door in the dining room that lead to the kitchen.

“Well, well, well. His royal highness hath arrived.” Isaac said with a Shakespearian British accent.

“It’s not my fault.” I replied. “Natalie was supposed to wake me up, but she was sick, and I didn’t set the alarm because she was going to wake me, so I ended up sleeping nearly two hours later than I was supposed to, in which case lead me to be late coming here, which is going to make us late – “

“Tay?” I looked at Zac. “Shut up.” My mother grinned and shook her head. I have a tendency to ramble sometimes. Okay, so I have a tendency to ramble a lot of the time.

“Let’s go before they decide not to let us in the studio at all.” Isaac said with a smile, walking over to our mother and kissing her cheek. “We’ll see you later.”

“Bye honey.” She smiled. Zac kissed her, and then I kissed her, and handed my little sister to her.

“Aw, you’re leaving?” Zoë questioned. I nodded.

“Sorry, Zo, but I have to. I have to go to work.” I said, really feeling sorry that I had to leave her. My mother had said to me once that she thought I would make a great Dad some day. Who knew someday would come so soon?

“Okay,” she said, a little disappointed. “Love you, Tayder.” She said to me, stretching out her little arms. I hugged her tightly as she squeezed me.

“Love you too, Little Girl.” I said to her. She kissed my cheek with a loud smack that made me laugh.

“I’ll see you later.” I said to my mother. Natalie and I were supposed to eat dinner with them. I would get out of the mixing studio, go home and pick up Natalie, stop and pick up Orange soda for the kids, and drive back to my parents’ house. I love running back at forth all the time, it’s wonderful. In all honesty, I wanted to be done mixing early so I could go get a cup of coffee before I went home – my home, I mean, with Natalie. I like to have some time to myself, and I don’t always get it. I’m not whining, I’m just stating, that’s all. So I left my parents’ house, Zac’s red jeep following behind Isaac’s BMW, and my Santa Fe at the end of the line.

chapter two
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