I was woken up by a banging on the door. I’ve no idea how long I slept, but it was getting dark so it must have been hours. I stumbled to the door, trying to decide whether it would be the police or Craig and which would be worse, then I opened the door and it was Solveig and I nearly fainted.
I’ve only known Solveig a couple of years, but you know sometimes you just click with someone and you’re soulmates at first sight? It was like that with Solveig. She came along to a Power Core class I was teaching at my old gym on the Southside, and that first class she kept getting the giggles which normally would annoy me as it’s not fair on the others. But there was something about her giggling that was so infectious – she wasn’t taking the piss, she was genuinely amused by how crap (she thought) she was, that soon the whole class was laughing along and encouraging her and it was one of our best classes ever. She’d just moved from Iceland to do a Masters in Criminal Psychology at Glasgow University, though you’d never in a million years know she spends her days exploring dark and twisted minds from how daft and funny she is the rest of the time.
She stepped in and gave me a hug but that freaked me out even more so I shank back and stared at her like some weirdo from another planet all confused at seeing someone who wasn’t green. Because that’s how shocking the sight of her was. Because she’s pregnant. And out to here, at that.
I saw her less than a week ago, when she was merrily knocking back cocktails with the rest of us. I was definitely pretty away with it that night, because that was the day I noticed my passport had expired – I had no idea if I could get it renewed before our flight,and I’d never hear the end of it from Craig if I mucked the holiday up. Even if she just found out about the baby in the last couple of days – and who is the father by the way, she’s not seeing anyone – how could this massive bump have rocked up between then and now? I’m no expert when it comes to baby stuff, but I’m pretty sure bumps don’t explode fully formed the minute that wee line goes pink (or whatever it does).
Pins and needles started running through me, like white water rapids torrenting around my organs and bones, and for a second I thought I couldn’t breathe.
“Breathe,” Solveig commanded, and her lilting accent convinced me it was really her and not some knocked up doppelganger. She took my hand and led me to the couch. “Breathe in, hold it two, three… and out… slowly.”
I obeyed, and put my head between my knees – only partly to avoid looking at her bump which made me feel lighteaded – and she rubbed my back.
“Mila phoned me and asked me to set up an appointment with you,” she was saying, though her voice was all distant and echoey in my ears. “I realised it was you and — oh Linley, where have you been?”
Where have I been? My heart started pounding. Not her as well.
“You’re pregnant,” I muttered, and she smiled and replied that we could start there. Before I even asked the question she told me that she’d ‘met’ Sperm Donor No B4573 who came with his very own perspex tube and she got the whole bed to herself afterwards. For just a second, I forgot everything. Even though I was filled with a million questions – how is she going to work? What do her family think? How on earth to do you pick a sperm donor – is there a catalogue of grinning men extolling the virtues of their spunk? – I was also thrilled for her. She’d been talking about doing this forever.
But that doesn’t explain how she’d done it and become about six months along in a few days.
“Linley,” Solveig said. “You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to, I’m just glad you’re back. But if you need any help –” She looked over my bashed up face — “I’m here for you.”
I think I said then that I’d not been anywhere and I didn’t know why people kept saying that. She stared at me for a bit, then she rummaged in her bag and brought out her phone and showed me the date.