Peter and Stephanie lived in Manhattan, where the neon lights and the booming noises, bounced through their apartment windows. They were young, married and happy. They met up with friends for dinner at noodle restaurants or sushi or Thai food several times a week. Peter was a lawyer, Stephanie was in PR and they enjoyed their life. They stayed up late, needed little sleep and felt alive with NYC’s streets lit up with musicians, dancers, and a hundred different languages spoken at a time.
It was not, however, relaxing. Peter started getting restless and started complaining about the noise in the city, and how he could just not stand another ambulance screeching through the city streets. Peter started talking about moving to the suburbs, so they could buy a house, raise children, plant a garden. Stephanie didn’t object outright but she had no desire to leave the city anytime soon.
Three months later Stephanie learned that she was pregnant quite accidentally. She had gone to her Internist for a physical having been tired and feeling run down and when the blood work came back, she was pregnant. She was in complete shock and didn’t tell Peter that night, she needed a few days alone to digest the news. This had not been planned and Stephanie hated surprises but she knew they wanted kids in the future.
Later that week, Stephanie interrupted Peter and said “she needed to talk to him and that it was serious.” He couldn’t read her expression and crazy thoughts went flying through his mind, “Is it over?” Is she having an affair?” “Is she dying?” It was none of those things, she said. She told him that she was pregnant, he was ecstatic and relieved. Tears flooded his eyes and he jumped up and when he tried to hug and kiss her she sat absolutely still. They talked long into the night and Peter could not contain his joy and Stephanie could not hide her ambivalence.
Peter said “ambivalence” was normal, there was never a “perfect time to have kids” and she reluctantly agreed. He called his parents and hers, he called their friends and told them the news; Stephanie liked the attention. Her friends and family were absolutely “cooing” they were so happy and Peter woke up every morning like he had just won the lottery, grinning, his face lit up like the sun.
Peter insisted that moving to the suburbs from the city was the right choice now. They knew they could never afford living in their tiny Manhattan apartment and have room for a bassinet much less a baby carriage. Peter started to look at starter houses immediately but Stephanie stayed home. “She was tired” she said and he knew her taste. Besides, she was just two months pregnant and they had plenty of time.
Within a month, Peter had it narrowed it down to four houses. Peter and Stephanie agreed to meet at Grand Central so they could take the train to Briarcliff Station where their realtor would be waiting for them. They were meeting at eleven thirty to take the train at noon. At 11:00 they confirmed their plans. Peter was there first and he waited for Stephanie to arrive. It was now 11:45 and there was no sight of Stephanie. He rang her cell phone frantically but she didn’t pick up. He waited another hour there and annoyed, went back to the apartment.
Back home he called everyone he knew but no one had seen or heard from Stephanie, not even her family or best friends. They feared she was abducted, it was not like her not to call. Peter had called every hospital in the city, he called the police and gave them a description and a photo, still no word.
Two days later, Molly, Stephanie’s best friend, rang the bell and Peter let her in immediately. She started crying hysterically and Peter couldn’t understand what she said, nothing made sense. Finally, Molly reached into her red, leather bag and pulled out a note and gave it to Peter. It read: “Dear Peter, I can’t do this, this is not the life I want. I have already left and don’t try to find me. There is no baby. Steph.
At that, Peter screamed and clutched his stomach. “Where the hell was she?” Molly swore she didn’t know and Peter believed her. Molly slipped away from the chaos and quietly shut the front door. No one understood, everyone was screaming and crying and shouting. Everyone was worried and mad and scared and in disbelief. “How could this happen to them?” they cried.
Stephanie had been standing at the crossroads for many weeks, she had to decide on her life and what would make her happy. She chose to walk away, to leave Peter and her family and friends and start over someplace new. She had a miscarriage after three weeks, but she told no one. It was her first step on her way to freedom.