"I'm pregnant," I said without hesitation. I gently swirled the contents of the glass I was examining. Ripples formed inside it, but nothing spilled out. The background noise I was facing was as turbulent as the liquid I was observing. Murky. Or rather, noisy.
I usually came to this club just to unwind, but this time, even unwinding felt pointless. For me, it was just a routine visit, hanging out with my two incredibly talkative friends, whom I only agreed to come along with.
"Dang! Don't play around, Anya," one of them exclaimed.
"Shut up! If you want to joke, don't be that foolish!" Obviously, it wasn't my shout, but Doni's, who turned into Dona whenever he was with me. My male friend, who we often called Dona, never got offended by the nickname. He even joked that maybe in his previous life, he was indeed a Dona, minus the sideburns that occasionally grew around his jawline.
"I'm not joking," I replied wearily. My gaze now focused on them, observing how their faces displayed shock and fear. They were both terrified; how about me? As I found out from the pregnancy test result and the series of examinations this afternoon, I no longer knew the color of my face.
Perhaps pale like a corpse.
I, Anya Joice, want to carry a child. In a legitimate bond according to law and religion, that's an absolute requirement. Not like this. Damn it!
"Do you know who the father is?" Dona asked, immediately grabbing my hand. Maybe he needed something to hold onto, unlike me, who felt like I was floating away.
"I do know," I replied weakly. As I was reminded of the person who continued to knock on the doors of my mind, I suddenly felt shivers down my spine.
Around me, it was seriously so noisy. The DJ's music that always livened up our nights disappeared from my life. My body was here, but my mind seemed to have wandered off. Most importantly, I was thinking about another life within me.
"Anya," Naomi, my female friend, held both of my hands. "You can tell us. What's going on with you?"
"Yeah, Anya. You usually talk a lot when something happens," Doni Andrean, his full name, but both Naomi and I mostly called him Dona, added sympathetically. He embraced me, trying to contain part of me in his arms.
Could I hold back my tears? No.
So, I let these tears flow in front of them. I shared my doubts, worries, and other negative thoughts with the two people closest to me. In Washington DC, they were all I had. In this transient world, I was all alone. My parents had long passed away. Their bodies weren't buried in the ground; in my heart, their existence was no longer there. So, I guess I consider them dead.
"Who?" Naomi asked softly.
I was confused myself, wondering why I could be so foolish. I'm not a saintly woman, I apologize. But I'm not the kind of woman who opens her legs for just any man. No, I'm still sane, except maybe two or three months ago, right? I'm a bit forgetful, but I remember vividly, even under the influence of vodka, who was on top of me.
Ah, my goodness! I'm so stupid.
"Cedric," I whispered softly.
"Son of a bitch!" Dona cursed. "Why did you mess around with the office boy?!"
I closed my eyes. If I had known, I definitely wouldn't have done it!
"Anya..." I shuddered when Naomi spoke so softly and sharply. I knew I wouldn't be able to resist her. "Don't jump to conclusions. Cedric is a good guy, Anya. You know that."
"I feel so stupid, Naomi?" I felt cornered now. "You talk like I'm the one who seduced Cedric."
I heard Naomi sigh. "That's not what I meant. You know what I'm trying to say, Ya. If you had said you were pregnant with Dewangga's child, I'd believe you. Or even Kelvin's."
I laughed. "Yeah, right. They've been aggressively pursuing me."
"There you go!"
"Yeah, true." Now, Dona joined in. "And why did you say you were pregnant with Cedric's child? You've rejected Dewangga or Kelvin, who are clearly shining like gems."
I just rolled my eyes in annoyance. I knew the two men they were talking about. One is the IT manager at my workplace, Kelvin Sturborn. The other is the store manager of a café across the street, where we occasionally hang out to unwind after lunch, Dewangga Obrey.
As Naomi said, both of them have been competing for my attention. I'm not trying to act like I'm something special or anything. For me, they both treat me like a dessert. I need more than just sweetness to be enticed. I'm not blind to that. That's why I've been trying to avoid them as much as possible. It's challenging, but at least, I still had my dignity.
And now, my dignity has completely disappeared.
In the silence we shared, my mind was so loud, trying to figure out how I would get through the next day.
"Does Cedric know?" Naomi asked. This question struck me multiple times. Since the first and last time we met and did it, we haven't seen each other again. Except at the office, of course.
"I'm sure he doesn't know yet, Naomi," Dona said to Naomi. "When did you check for pregnancy?"
"This afternoon." My shoulders slumped. The tissue I used to wipe my tears now covered the table, soaked with my tears. This time, we sighed together.
"You have to talk to him. Cedric has to take responsibility," Naomi emphasized the word 'responsibility' in her words just now. "But before that, you have to tell us. Why did you let yourself go with Cedric, but rejected Dewangga or Kelvin, who are obviously dazzling?"
"It's all vodka's fault."
The next definition of being a jerk is when you're hit by a disaster and your two friends laugh at you with great satisfaction.
Just like what I'm experiencing now.
I looked at the ultrasound result sheet that I had done earlier this afternoon. Then, I gently rubbed my still-flat belly. I felt like an incredibly wicked person considering getting rid of the life inside me. But it's not because of money. My salary and position are more than enough to meet its needs. I'm sure of that.
What I meant by "capability" is about many things. Especially raising and educating a child. Okay, I know I made a mistake. Naomi was right; I can't just open my legs for anyone. Not to mention the consequences I would face. My job, my life, my habits, and I have to start learning to accept the presence of a little creature called a baby around me in the future. All of that is at stake. I already have to count down how much time I have until my flat belly becomes bigger.
I've already set aside any thoughts about love. What's love got to do with it when Cedric and I only meet occasionally at the office in this case? We just greet each other when Cedric brings me a cup of sweet tea and a full bottle of water. I sigh in frustration afterward. Why did it have to end up with Cedric?!
God, why is my punishment like this?
I can still vividly remember how it came to this. Naomi was right when she said that vodka and I are a crazy combination that should be avoided unless we're having a party together with them, or at least, Dona accompanies me. At that time, I did ask Dona to accompany me, but he had a date. I didn't want to bother him. I'm self-aware enough.
As for Naomi, she was in Bangladesh for work.
Besides vodka, I also feel like blaming my direct superior, Krystal Blaxton. The woman, who is nearing forty, loves to torture me with ever-changing agendas. I'm her secretary, and she's the big boss at my office. It's a company that provides shipping services with a network as vast as the ocean.
The place where I work is considered quite elite. Almost all e-commerce and small to large-scale businesses use our services. All because of Krystal, who dares to take action. To me, Krystal is a role model for a successful independent woman in her career. Minus her tendency to torment her subordinates. Especially me. She said, "You're so smart, Anya. Think about that. Don't tell everything to everyone, be creative, Anya."
Not to mention, "Anya, you know, your face makes me angry. Don't show me your face like a duck. Smile, Anya. Smile."
But I had to carry out a pile, oh, not just a pile, two boxes of work from last year that I had to go through one by one just because there was an agenda she missed. Even though I had already told her a simple way to handle it. Krystal is always right, but I can't refuse to do what she asks.
The peak of it all was when our company was periodically audited externally. And Krystal is a woman with an extremely high level of perfectionism. I'm the one who experienced the effects of it first. Until my stress level facing Krystal was transferred to vodka.
It's understandable, right? I blame Krystal.
I laughed, more towards being pathetic. Cursing myself for this impulsive act that has caused me so much harm.
My phone rang, and when I looked at the clock on the wall of my apartment unit, it was already 2 am. I furrowed my brows. Who could it be at this hour?
Krystal: Don't be late tomorrow. Anya has a meeting at SunCity Tower.
A hardworking person at god-level!
"Ma'am, where's your key?" I hiccupped. My eyes wandered around for a moment to make sure this was the corridor I recognized. As far as I can remember, I was near the table next to the bartender. I don't know how many drinks I've had that made me feel so dizzy. "The key, right?" I reached into the bag I was carrying. "Where is it? I forgot." I grinned. Even half-conscious, I heard him sigh. "Ma'am, if you're not feeling well, just sit here for a moment. I'll look for the key." Then what I remembered was him slowly emptying my bag's contents. I saw him searching here and there. In my wallet, makeup bag, or the Stitch-patterned coin purse. Those cute little blue aliens. "Found it, Ma'am." He showed me a single key with a small keychain. The access card to my apartment unit, I saw that he hung it together with my unit key. "Next time, just like this. So you won't have trouble." I laughed again. Trying to stand up, I ended up falling into the embrace of the person who was my conversa
Luckily, I didn't oversleep. I don't know when I fell asleep, but one thing's for sure, tonight I didn't sleep peacefully. Ever since I found out about the other life and a ton of burden suddenly fell on my shoulders, I couldn't sleep soundly anymore. My mind became chaotic. Even though I was attacked by drowsiness, I didn't want to close my eyes.To make matters worse, the events of that night replayed, albeit somewhat blurry. Now I understand what Naomi meant when she said that yesterday. Clearly. I was the one teasing Cedric. At first, I wanted to deny it and would continue to deny it. But in the end, I gave up. I did tease Cedric. Who wouldn't succumb to temptation when I was completely unaware, supposed to be more cautious than usual?A black dress above the knees with a high neckline. And to top it off, I was drunk. Is there anything else I regret? Plenty.That night wasn't the first time I did it. With Cedric, I mean, it was the second time. Back when I was still in college, I
"Anya?" I flinched. The sheet I was supposed to work on was still blank in my hands. I winced at the thought of my boss turning into a tiger."Be focused."I nodded, unsure of where the conversation was heading."Do you have a problem?"Hastily, I shook my head. Only Naomi and Dona knew about this issue. Krystal? I hoped not! My image would be shattered in an instant, and I wasn't prepared for that. Krystal often praised my performance and skills, and I didn't want that to change just because I was... pregnant.No.No.We were close, but also distant. She easily asked questions and always got answers, but no one dared to ask her questions in return. Even if someone did, Krystal would just smile in response.Her fortress was too high, and maybe that's why I got used to it. I emulated how a career woman should act. Only to certain people would I open up about who I truly was. But that didn't apply to Krystal. She remained an untouchable woman.And I should be like that too, right? Oh Go
"Anya, aren't you eating?" Naomi asked, looking puzzled, I suppose. My best friend seemed to be helping Dona destroy my kitchen.Speaking of the two of them, don't forget about Dona, who now ruled my kitchen as if she owned it. They dropped by after work, uninvited. I didn't want to entertain any visitors, but what could I say when they were already in the lobby asking to be picked up."Later," I replied lazily. I preferred to sit back as I was still tired. Plus, I suddenly felt annoyed. I quickly opened my bag and took out the paper with Cedric's name on it. That darn guy!I crumpled the paper and immediately threw it into the trash can near the TV. "Damn it!""Why are you upset?" Dona asked, approaching me with a plate of freshly fried potatoes. The hot aroma still wafted, indicating that they had just been taken out of the frying pan. "I'm really hungry. Anya didn't want to get food first. She said she was afraid you'd faint."I rolled my eyes irritably. "Both of you are so annoyin
I forced myself to work, ignoring Naomi's nagging all the way to the office. Well, I felt much better now, even though I hadn't taken a shower. Trust me; I didn't smell bad. I just wiped my body with warm water, no shampoo. It's okay for just today. Usually, I'm diligent in grooming my long hair."If you faint, don't ask for my help!" Naomi said fiercely as we arrived in the basement. Naomi's floor was different from mine, although we still worked for the same company. She was on the 21st floor, while I was on the executive floor, the 22nd floor. On the 21st floor, it was more about the central operations like finance, HR, and finance.I just smiled without guilt. Well, since she arrived, I felt a little better, even though I was showered with suspicious looks. She said I was pretending to be healthy just to work. I shook my head in wonder at her thoughts.As we walked around the lobby, someone patted my shoulder. When I turned, I found an oriental-looking man with maybe his best smil
Every time I stepped into the office; I could always smell the damask rose aroma from a well-known brand's scent diffuser. It's because Krystal loves roses so much. I didn't mind it because it was refreshing and made the whole room smell nice. That's why I also stocked up on many room fresheners for my apartment.The scent I chose was more of spices and woods. It made me feel like I was in a pine forest—peaceful and serene.But this time, despite feeling perfectly fine in the morning—no weird sensations or sudden nausea—right when I opened the office door after lunch, I felt queasy. I rushed to the toilet and ended up vomiting everything I had for lunch. No leftovers. It seemed like the remnants of breakfast had successfully occupied the toilet too.I gasped for breath, feeling like a fish, panting heavily from what I had just expelled without pause or apology. I had no idea how long I had been in the bathroom. Fortunately, no other employees entered. At least no one asked me what was
The mug I held warmed me up perfectly as I stood on the balcony, feeling a bit chilly. I let the night breeze mess up my hair. Occasionally, I took a sip from the mug, jasmine tea, savoring each sweetness that touched my taste buds. I didn't care if I caught a cold later.My thoughts drifted to everything that was happening right now, including my conversation with Naomi on the way home from work. She scolded me harshly, even called me stupid. When Naomi used harsh words, it meant she was very angry."I might just terminate it. It's not big yet," I said lightly, not looking at Naomi who had been silent since she got into the car. She had asked about my condition earlier, and I had only answered that I was feeling better thanks to the eucalyptus oil.She said it was possible that I couldn't handle strong fragrances. She also added that hormones of young pregnant women were indeed weird and unpredictable. I knew for sure she was telling me that from an article she had read. Just like Do
"Damn it!!!" I cursed while hitting the steering wheel. Ignoring the slightly painful and definitely reddening hand, I quickly removed the car freshener as soon as my stomach started acting up. I threw it away in a rush, feeling confused about how I would get to the office now.Should I hang a eucalyptus oil bottle here? Ugh, so inconvenient!!!I massaged the bridge of my nose, trying to regulate my breathing and occasionally inhaling the scent of eucalyptus oil. I desperately tried to keep my stomach from acting up in the basement. I was sure I'd pass out if I vomited again."Miss Anya? Miss... are you okay?"When I turned around, I found one of the building security guards looking at me with concern. Before I could answer his question, my phone rang loudly. I nodded briefly at him, prioritizing the phone call over his question."Yes, ma'am?"I blinked, hearing the familiar voice on the other end."Alright, ma'am. I'm on the way."Now I was in a dilemma about how to get to the office