Amarna awoke, in the arms of Azad. His hands were over her belly, and as he was still sleeping (snoring in fact), she gently brought up his hands to her chest, and played around with his fingers. They felt rough, and she noticed calluses down his finger joints – the hands of a person who spends way too much time on the mouse and keyboard.
She could almost detect the faintest traces of alcohol in his breath, from yesterday's night, but it didn't matter, as she brought his fingers to touch her areolae, lightly rubbing the area by her tender nipples and feeling a calming arousal surging through her body.
The golden rays crept through the blinds, Azad's bedroom being doused in the warm morning mood.
Then Amarna thought of the impulse she followed – the risk she took – which led her here. She thought of her morning routine, which was to boil some black tea or coffee and by the time Alex was up, she had breakfast already made, and he'd be watching on his phone of some artist, doodling cute pics. ("Who is that you are watching?" she'd ask, and he'd be like, "It's Eskimo – I like her drawings.")
Instead, she was a young girl again, in another person's bed, not even sure if she'd be welcome to eat breakfast with the family. Alex would be worried.. but it wasn't like he couldn't make something for himself to eat.
Azad had been grumbling, and Amarna took it as a sign to let go of his hands – it would be weird to have him wake up to her auto-groping.
Too late; she had turned around, and Azad was up, much to his pleasant surprise.
"I thought you were my dream," he said, groggy. He hugged her, yawning, and Amarna let out an involuntary giggle, as she felt extra skittish.
"No," she went. "I came because I was scared. I had a nightmare about my old boyfriend.. like he's coming after me, and I could not escape him. So I came over.."
"Not over to Matthew?" He was studying her eyes, as she realised he was still miffed over yesterday.. the arguing.. her declaration of a polyamorous love. Amarna looked back at him, regret in her eyes, like the past months she had steadily grown astray from the things she'd hoped for.
"He isn't you, Azad." As if she was releasing a long-held thought in confession.
He was relieved. They gazed at one another as the sun rays crept up upon their faces, with the glow shining behind Amarna's head, giving her a pastel sheen. If this morning could last forever, but alas, Amarna felt the urge to pee. She arose from Azad's bed – in her sleepwear, confident that she could find the washroom on her own. It was still early, and with the rest of his family hopefully still asleep, she crept the hall, her bare feet upon the cold, hard floor, smelling the savoury spices emenating from the kitchen.
When she found what looked like the washroom door, she turned the knob, and inside was Azad's little brother upon the toilet, who squeaked, and Amarna recoiled, quickly shutting the door – "Dios!" she muttered, her thoughts racing as she worried that now, she'd be discovered, and her secrecy as the house infiltrator would go down the drain, when his little brother would tell on her to the parents.
She heard the flush, and then the sink's running water, and she waited by the door when Azad's brother came out.. they were in a stare-off, awkward and silent.
"Buenos días," she said timidly, waving a little.
"Morning," his brother went, before slunking back to his room, like it was no big deal that this stranger had shown up. Amarna heaved a breath of relief, before using the washroom – smelling musky in there with dried-up soap residue. She wiped the toilet seat with paper dabbed under the sink, then she sat down – her phone pulled out.
There were a ton of notifications; many of them were supportive comments on her YouTube vlogs and Instagram, but her first worry was letting Alex know of her whereabouts, that she had not suddenly up and vanished into thin air while he was sleeping (hehe). She messaged him:
"Oh, I'm away visiting Azad – there's some leftover salad in the fridge for breakfast. I don't know whether I'll be back for lunch, but just in case, you can order something from the deli for takeout. morning hugs my dear Alex~"
Amarna felt a blush of joy after sending that to him, even guilty over leaving him alone in the first place, but it's life – the unexpected always occurs. She was quickly thumbing through the parade of encouragement over her upcoming role in the Bohemia festivities, before a sudden nausea hit her guts, and she was on the verge of losing consciousness from the light-headedness, before her phone clattered to the floor, and she vomited all over the toilet seat.
The resulting scene looked gross, and when she came to her senses, she had to wipe off some of the vomit that was dripping down from the toilet's edges. A part of her didn't want to admit it – maybe there was something from last night's venue, but she recognised the signs when she got pregnant. It happened to her a few times.. and if this was the case, what should she do?
Amarna flushed the toilet again, when she heard knocking, jolting her in shock. Was it his family? Or just Azad?
"Amarna?" she heard Azad's voice. "Are you alright?" He tried opening the door, but she had it locked.
"Si, si.. I- I was vomiting.."
"Eeee-gawd." A beat. "Do you mind letting me in?"
She hesitated, not wanting Azad to see her in this sorry state (the lingering stench was just awful), but caved into opening the door. Azad was hit by the smell, like that of rotting rats from a dumpster, but when he saw Amarna hunched on her knees, he went and comforted her.
"I'm so sorry – made such a big mess," she went, and then cried, hugging Azad with all her might out of no apparent reason, other than that she felt whole.. with him by her side.
"It's fine," Azad said, smiling, before he pulled from the bathroom cabinet a toilet cleaner and scrub; a chore he usually despised, when his own papi would call on him to do it right as he was in the middle of ranked – such sadistic timing. But for Amarna, anything. The bleach, though unpleasant in its own right, swiftly wiped away the traces of vomit – "All done, good as new.. let's get you some water."
Amarna would tell him later; right now, she didn't want to ruin the elated mood.. but as they went out, they met face-to-face with Azad's parents.
"Azad.. how could you continue to disappoint us?" His father was built firm – like a mafia boss, and Azad was slouched upon the couch, a citizen guilty of everything, but numb to the accusations. "First you take drugs, you gamble with your life earnings, and then you sneak your girlfriend in behind our backs.."
Amarna, like an accomplice, stood by with her head hung down. She felt sorry for Azad, and at the same time, felt the same shame tugging at her – as though Mohammed was lecturing her again on those things she did not measure up to, like an awful doting father. Still though, she was an adult, and a free-spirited one at that.. not some child.
"Da -" Azad began, his voice croaking with the same exhaustion set in from yesterday. "I'm not stupid. It was a venue, lots of things and such.. what's so wrong with having Amarna over anyway?"
"Sleeping with girls to get away from thinking about what you've done!"
"I snuck in," Amarna blurted out. "It wasn't Azad. I had trouble sleeping."
His father paused, and then Azad's mum stood by her son, and said: "He's still young.. it's fine to have fun after working so hard from his studies. Pere, you're too harsh on our boy."
Azad's father seemed to soften. Then, with baited breath: "Azad – don't make the same mistakes my friends did back at home. They would drink, take up in opium dens, gamble, and lose track of the bigger picture as the revolution swept the country. You are my boy; I expect so much better from you."
"I will, da," Azad went. "I won't disappoint you."
As Azad's parents got breakfast ready, Amarna huddled by Azad. "He's your father," she went, "but it doesn't give him the right to dictate who you should be."
"Yea.. my da is stern," Azad said, as he went to his room, yawning. "It's not a biggie. Over little things like this, he blows up over easily."
The thought was nagging Amarna – she felt like she had to let Azad know, even if he was still tired from the eventful night.
"Azad.." she went, right as he was getting his bed set. "I think I'm pregnant."
He had just let the blanket settle over the mattress, like he'd heard her say that it would be a sunny day out. "What?"
She reached for his hand, and let it settle over her tummy. "I'm pregnant," she went.
Then it dawned on Azad what she really meant, and a dozen questions burst into Azad's mind, all at once. "From when?" And also, with a slight undertone of confused jealousy: "Was it from me? Did we.."
"I don't know.."
She found how last night's memories were a blur, besides that it felt good, touching him all over and surrendering to her urges. Was there any penetration? She didn't recall having an orgasm. Or was it from those times she spent with Matthew, in those marijuana and alcohol-induced dazes?
"Azad, I've run out of those morning-after pills. They've expired.. and the pharmacia's here out of stock.."
"Amarna – are you sure you're pregnant? Is that why you vomited? Maybe we can get you tested?"
Out of his horniness, Azad wasn't even remotely prepared for the reality of having another girl pregnant, let alone being a father so early. He felt his room spinning as he realised he might have a whole new thing over his shoulders.. he was heaving breaths.
"You did nothing wrong, Azad," she went, a hand over his back. "I can get it checked at a clinic."
"I'm going to be a daddy.." he said. "I'm gonna be a dad!"
"No, not necessarily. If it comes down to it, I'll take an abortion – you're too young, and now isn't the time to have a child yet."
Azad's parents were calling him for breakfast, the smell of beef with Turkish pancakes.
"Ok," Azad went, still recovering from the bout of sudden anxiety. "Can we do the clinic checking today?"
"Yes—" She had only visited the clinic once before, when she'd just left Spain, and needed to check herself for any possible STDs. "After eating. Would your family mind?"
The breakfast felt insanely filling, with Amarna asking for thirds. Azad's mum had gloated. She was proud that her cooking had made another friend happy, and all the while, his brother sat beside Amarna, absorbed with watching his favourite YouTubers as part of his Saturday routine.
"Sorry Amarna -" Azad's papi went. "You did not have to see that. I care all too much about my family.. I usually like listening to Jeanlenin. You know Jeanlenin? Of the classics?"
"Jeanlenin? Mmm," she said. "Is he from your country?"
"He means John Lennon," Azad went. "The Beatles?"
"Ohhh, si, si, I loved the Beatles.."
The clinic was all the way over in downtown. Amarna had borrowed some of Azad's mum's clothes – giving her a rather conservative look, and in the mirror she styled her hair in a bun, so it goes well with the outfit. She wasn't able to borrow the makeup however, and the dress carried a stuffy scent of age..
"Daaymn," Azad remarked, "you make that look good."
Amarna gave a woman's bow, very charming, as she smiled and carried on to her van, parked in the streets. Parking wasn't too bad, and Amarna recalled which floor to take the elevator up – as she let out some of her nervous energy though a burst of dance and laughter, before an old man with a carriage intruded upon them. There happened to be an old folks home nearby, and Amarna returned the man's grin, as he got off on the floor before theirs.
"I was starting to feel old in these clothes," she said jokingly to Azad, "but he changed my mind."
Upon the clinic, she signed up in queue, waiting behind a woman doting over her two boys by the playpen, and then out the window – the city, Cologne, in which she had now grown accustomed to calling her home. Maybe she could brush up on her German..
Azad brushed up behind her, as if hugging her from the vastness of the world's chaos. Whatever the madness, the ups and downs, there he would be.
Amarna was in the paper gown, her butt and rear hidden by tied knots. It was confidential, and Azad – though anxious over the results, was able to plow by in the waiting room, texting his friends over the $9,000 euros he's made, and all the while, talking with Titan on the new app, Discord – that he felt reassured about being with Amarna again.
"I'm glad you've got your footing back," Titan messaged. "My wife and I.. we're expecting a baby soon in fact."
"Yeah. He's going to be a boy – she's eight months through into her pregnancy."
"Damnn.. nice-uu. And you've got the crib and everything ready?"
"Absolutely. Wife is taking maternity leave, while I've still got to stick it out with deliveries. My butt is killing me.. those eight-hour long drives man."
"But you're getting money, and about to start a family of your own.. that's something.."
"True." A beat. "Well – I hope it works out between you two. Isn't she going to go off in a dance show or something?"
Azad was glancing out the window, as it was glaring sunny outside, almost mid-afternoon. He had to start thinking about getting his stuff packed, as the event was out in the midst of almost nowhere in France. The $9,000 he had made.. it could cover most expenses, but that meant foregoing a decent PC, or some photographic equipment. He'd have to ask Tania, the troupe leader, if she could get a real camera into the mix for the official documentary.
Then a nearby scream, bloodcurdling.
After a series of preliminary tests, checking if Amarna's general health was fine – they wiped some gel around her stomach, before she was strapped onto a bed, which made her feel like she was going to be one of Frankenstein's monsters with the tight way she had to be pinned down.
The bed, as it turned out, slid into a very complicated MRI machine, which enveloped her in its tight cocoon – before the shell split open to reveal a variety of automated lasers, scanning her, while the bed rotated her body around. It was the faster way of receiving a diagnosis, as the human body worked holistically (meaning the vomiting could have come from an undiscovered tumour).
By the time they had finished prodding her body, she felt entirely naked, as though the doctors could tell her whole life story through the micro-fissures.
"Well, Amarna," one of the technicians said, "you are four weeks pregnant. It can be said without a doubt."
She sat over the bed, with her legs crossed, and she was thinking of earlier during the month – did she do it with Matthew? No matter how much she wanted him to open up sexually with her, always, he made excuses or he just changed the subject; even when high.
And she hadn't kept in touch with Azad..
"Who's the father?" she asked.
The technician flipped through the clipboard, a variety of printed sheets. "The X chromosome is yours.. the Y chromosome suggests a mediterranean descent. For sure though, he'll be having black hair."
It had sunk into Amarna.. as she read through her text messages, and tried her best to ignore all the threatening ones from those burner numbers, from Mohammed. She recalled those icy brown eyes, and-
"No, no.. NO!" She was screaming. "¡Esto no puede ser!"
The technician frowned. "Perhaps you'd like some water, miss?"
"Please –" Amarna went, as some nurses rushed by to restrain her from the panic. "Whatever you can do, just get it out of me!"
"We can't," he said. "We don't do abortions.. it's not generally permitted under law."
Amarna had struggled out of the nurses' grasp, and almost in a begging way, she went over to the technician like he was a priest, who held all the answers under the tunic.
"What about if it was from rape?" She looked up at the guy, while out of the corner of her eye, she saw Azad behind the glass door, who yearned to be by her. "If I was sexually assaulted without my knowing it.."
"Have you reported it to the authorities? We cannot do an abortion except if we have proof that the pregnancy was forced upon you.."
Azad busted open the door. "Amarna!"
She was still shaken from the discovery, and couldn't muster up even the desire to tell Azad.. it wasn't even his child.