“I think I’ll get a dog,” I said into my bowl of sorbet. “Who invented sorbet anyway? It’s like ice cream without any of the fun.”
“It’s nun ice cream. It’s abstinence ice cream,” Sarah said glumly, looking into her own bowl.
“This is the last time I let you pick the restaurant, Michael,” Molly practically growled. “I am pregnant and I need fat. I don’t care if you’re dating a vegan and want to find the best place for a date.”
“Alright!” Michael said, holding up his hands in defeat. “I get it! Meat for everyone. Meat is tasty, tasty murder!” He yelled this just as our wafer thin waitress passed by and scowled at us, dropping the check with a thud on the table.
“My guess is she’s a vegan,” I whispered and we all burst into inappropriate giggles.
“What do you mean, you’re going to get a dog?” Sarah asked.
“Man replacer,” Molly said with a mouthful of sorbet. “Maybe I’ll get one too.”
“No. You’re going to have a baby. That beats a dog any day,” Michael said.
“Yeah, well, one day the baby will grow up and trust me, no one is coming near a single mom with a ten foot pole,” she countered.
“So you’re really not going to call Chris?” I asked her.
“He’s embarrassed of me, Aust3n. He thinks me getting pregnant is shameful. He can’t face it.”
“I’m not taking his side, but I kind of get it. I mean, he’s Indian. His parents have certain…expectations,” I said, fearful of her response.
“Is it their expectation for their son to turn into a deadbeat dad?” she barked at me.
“No. Good point,” I said. “Anyway, dog.”
“Whatever,” Sarah said. “Molly has a good reason for never talking to Chris again. You? You and Ian could work it out. Or you and Boss. You get to pick!”
“I pick neither,” I said. “I pick a dog.”
“Not one of those yippie little dogs, please,” Michael added. “Not that you’re going to get a dog.”
“I am too!” I said, putting down my spoon, offended.
“How are you going to get the dog to the vet? In your bicycle basket?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “What happens if there’s an emergency? Are you really going to leave the dog home alone all day while you’re out at class and at work and biking around Seattle?”
“Well, I think I’m going to be done with class soon. English classes are not for me. And maybe I’ll drive again. I could get a car,” I said. Everyone at the table stared at me, giving me the same owlish look of surprise. “What?” I asked.
“You? Are going to drive?” Molly said in a barely audible tone.
“You’re having a kid. I need to be able to see you and help in the middle of the night. It’s time, I think.” She nodded at me absently but then said, “Are you doing this because of some notion that Ian will come back to you if you’re more…uh…self-possessed?”
“Hey! I’m self-possessed!”
“I said MORE self-possessed,” Molly huffed. Michael and Sarah continued their owlish looks. “No,” I answered her. “I don’t expect to see Ian ever again. I’m doing this because I want to quit my job and do something else, and I think this is the first step, OK?”
“OK,” she nodded, as did Sarah and Michael. “You want to quit to get away from Boss?”
“I want to quit to get away from ME. I am so sick of that job, of being this person with no prospects. Enough. Time to grow up. Alright,” I said, picking up the check, “This one is on me, but only because vegan food is cheap and I’m going to be broke from car payments soon and you’ll have to pay for me at every meal.”
“I need to tell you something,” Sarah said, clearing her throat. We all looked at her and my stomach started flopping around like a fish caught on a line. “Yes?” I asked.
“I saw Ian and Boss one night when I was out with Ben. And they were, uh, discussing you,” she said.
I put my hand down on the table. “I don’t want to know, Sarah.”
“You want to know,” she said.
“I don’t,” I said. “I don’t want to know anything more about either of them. I’m going to pretend you never said that, OK?”
Sarah looked exasperated with me for a full minute and then nodded. We were all silent after that, probably because Molly and Michael were waiting to leave the restaurant and find out what Sarah knew, and I was waiting to get as far away from there as possible.
I looked at my phone at the text Ian sent a few weeks ago, him smiling at me from some grassy patch in Portland, and I wished I knew even less. I pressed delete and wished him away from my memory, and then went back to the office to talk to his brother.