“Mrs. Jacobson, if I may, it occurred to me while I was researching this stuff for you that, that perhaps I could… uhm…help you?” I concluded, not really sure how to word it appropriately. What is the polite way to say ‘sell you some uterine space’?
“Help me?” she said, raising her eyebrows into an impossibly high arch and lighting a cigarette. “How so?” It seemed obvious that she thought the idea was preposterous. An insignificant little commoner like me, helping her? Was it preposterous? Perhaps. But I had to find out.
“It was just a thought, but I’ve had a bit of a rough go here lately. Student loans, car payments, and then there was my ex, who ran up all my credit cards before he… before he…anyways, that’s not the point. The point is that we can help each other.”
She dragged on her cigarette and then French inhaled it. “This is a lot to consider, Kristina,” she answered after a moment.
“I know,” I replied. A part of me couldn’t believe it I’d said it in the first place. Was I really considering this? Could I really go through with this?
“You’d be going through invasive procedures, pregnancy, childbirth. You’ll experience discomfort, pain, weight gain, be marred with stretch marks. Of course you would be compensated, but would you really, truly, be able to handle all of that? Are you not getting married, Kristina?”
Never mind the fact that I hadn’t worn my wedding band for the last six months, or the fact that I mentioned that the wedding was off right in front of her at the ‘festive party’ which, as you well know, was neither festive nor a party.
“No, I’m not getting married.” Hadn’t I just mentioned an ex? Does she listen to me at all? “And as for whether or not I can handle all of that, I don’t know,” I answered honestly. She wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for the whole thing.
“I shall have you speak with a counselor, to determine your suitability as a candidate. The one thing that you must understand, Kristina, is that Horrace and I have experienced a great deal of disappointment. Four miscarriages. One adoption that fell through at the last moment. We cannot endure another loss.”
I simply nodded. What could I say? I couldn’t very well guarantee her a child, for it was totally out of my control. I didn’t really know how fertile I was, I’d never tried to get pregnant before. In fact, I’d actively avoided pregnancy for the previous ten years.
There was a moment of awkward silence, and for a moment I thought she was done with me. But then I realized, she was trying to figure out a way to thank me, something with which she was clearly unaccustomed.
“Kristina, I do consider your offer very generous,” she said while butting her half smoked Slim in an overflowing ashtray.
I guess that was the best she could do.