Early On - with edits

"I need to talk to you."

"Okay---" his voice trailed off, cold. She could almost feel, over the phone line that he knew what she was going to tell him.

"I'm pregnant. About eight weeks."

"Okay---" Then silence, before, "how do you know it's mine?"

She knew then, that if she decided to keep the baby, they would never be together. Well, there was no deciding - she would never be able to abort his child. He was like a god to her, she respected his intelligence and his beauty without reciprocity. They were the thoughts of an immature, overly sexualized twenty-one year old girl lacking in any kind of self-worth, and too naive to realize that most days of her life she had been taken advantage of. Just thinking about the phone call still made her cringe with humiliation.

A few months of pregnancy, and living with her carefree, single girlfriends made Margie take stock of her situation, from more of an adult point of view; so when another one of her co-workers stepped in to take care of her, she didn’t question it. She knew Patrick loved her, and that was enough at the time. She would grow to love him back one day, wouldn’t she? And she would, but not in the way people think. Eventually, their first go round ended because he loved her. Margie remembered thinking it was fucking ironic. The relationship started because he loved her, and ended because he loved her.

"Why Scarlett," she mumbled to herself as she packed Patrick’s things for the moving truck, "I do declare ‘that’ is the alpha and the omega of not loving yourself."

They became a team, Callum and her. Anything bad that happened to them didn’t matter, they got through it together because she loved him. The realities of making choices back then hit her hard:  finally give in to her boss’ advances to keep her job? Yes. Keep her mouth shut even though everyone in the company now thought she was the biggest slut to walk the Earth, and treated her that way? Yes. Finally quit her job so that the government could sue Callum's father for child support because she couldn't afford to procure the "proof" he needed to claim responsibility? Yes. Start dating a string of losers because they took her out, gave her gifts and helped put gas in her car? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. (Well, maybe not a thousand.)

Even as an attractive single woman, her dating pool was limited. Margie couldn’t recall ever having really been asked out on a date. In fact, she usually seemed to “fall into” her relationships – always being the pursuer, never really knowing if her partners were all that interested. So finally, she just gave up dating altogether. Especially after getting pregnant. Especially after getting a very strange phone call from a former lover who'd just been deployed to the Gulf.

"Wow, long time no talk, Brian. Or should I call you Lieutenant Thomas?"

"Ha, yes, thank you. I know, I know -- well - you know then I got my orders."

"Yes, I heard. I guess that's why I'm surprised to hear from you."

"Well, I need a favor. It's very important. I need to know if you've had an HIV test recently."

"No… not recently. Not since we were together.  Why, is something wrong?"

"No, not at all. We're just, I mean, everyone that's getting deployed needs to write up a history of their sexual partners and to get tested before going overseas - standard procedure. So here I am…calling you…from my list."

Margie smiled, "Ah, you have a list - a long one?" She chuckled and then, "Nah, don't answer that - I knew what I was getting into, you heading out to sea and all…  I can tell you right now, you're safe. I just had a baby. But I will still get tested if you want."
            "You have a baby?"

"Yes, don't act so surprised…     So, do you still want me to get tested?"

"Would you mind? I would so appreciate it. I'll call you back in a couple of weeks."

And so she did, and it was negative. Those tests always came back negative.

When Callum was just a year old, she had begun regularly dating a pilot, Tom.  Not the best looking guy, but he sure was smart and to her, that was sexier than your typical, over-promoted, chiseled features and dazzling smile. Call it evolutionary fitness if you want, it was his brains that her genetic code seemed attracted to – so she didn’t question it, (even though other people did).  Plus, he seemed to like her a whole lot. He also became quite attached to Callum; which she thought was an admirable trait. They had a lot of fun, the three of them – and so she began to wonder if Bob loved her enough for a commitment. They had become quite attached to each other, and afterall, neither of them were getting any younger.  Margaret wanted a family, a home, and a career, just like everyone else in America. She wanted the American Dream.

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