Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Head

“Hey everyone, seeing as we are rarely all together like this I was hoping I could make a quick announcement.” The casual conversation simmers to a lull and all eyes focus on Janey who is wearing an old pair of overalls and a plain black t-shirt. She has a carving knife in one hand and a pumpkin with a very intricate design is set in front of her on the table but she has yet to puncture the surface. Janey turns slightly pale as the room focuses its attention on her and she proceeds with a little less confidence. “Every year we get together to carve pumpkins; some of us come to exercise our creative spirit and some of us come to take our daily frustrations out on inanimate objects, others are just here for the pumpkin ale…” The room laughs politely and eyes start to shift wondering why Janey has suddenly become an amateur comedian and where this announcement is going to lead. My eyes don’t shift away from the man to Janey’s right, Michael. Michael is Janey’s boyfriend of two years and the love of my life.

If you were to ask me a month ago I would have told you that I would never be the other woman and neither would any other self respecting woman; but sometimes life is a lot more complicated than that. Neither of us had planned it, we just both happened to be decompressing at the same bar one night. Nothing had happened and yet everything in my life has changed. Since that night there hasn’t been a day that I have gone without talking to Michael and rarely a moment that I have gone without thinking about him. We had shared intimate details and desires and secrets that we had never told anyone else. I was certain that Michael felt as strongly for me as I did for him but his situation was more complicated. It was not that he no longer cared for Janey, it was that after we had made such a strong and undeniable connection there was no way that what he had with Janey could even compare.

Janey and I could not be more different. You could compare our pumpkins and see that we have nothing in common. She is a free spirit, creative and imaginative and yet shy; I, on the other hand, am a total type A personality. I like to have a plan and I need structure. But at the same time I have honed a very charismatic personality that offsets the strict regime of my everyday life. I never expected that Michael and I would ever have so much in common, judging solely on the fact that he was with a girl like Janey. A month ago I would have told you I don’t believe in soul mates but now I want you to know that you should never stop searching until you find yours because there is no better feeling.

Honestly, when they arrived together I had been quite surprised. We had not discussed it much and I had certainly not asked Michael to leave her but it just seemed like that is where things were headed. I was pretty confused and went to work on my pumpkin right away to try distracting myself. The few times I had glanced at Michael he had seemed to be deep in thought and not aware of his surroundings at all. I hadn’t caught him looking in my direction at all since they arrived; this fact made my stomach churn as if I’d just been asked to deliver a public speech in just my undergarments. I felt like I was 14 again, which is every independent woman’s worst nightmare.

Now that the announcement had started Michael seemed at least slightly more aware of his surroundings. He slowly put his hand on Janey’s free hand that had been fiddling with the stem of the pumpkin in front of her. This gesture hurt me physically so I started to inspect my own pumpkin. I had already finished carving a very simple and traditional pumpkin and I raised it above my head to try to scrape the remaining guts out as Janey continued with her impromptu announcement.

“No matter what brings us back here every year I’m so grateful that we are all here. That we can all indulge our inner child, if only for the night. Michael and I would like to let everyone know that this is the last year that we will be coming…” My ears perked up and I looked at Michael, who was staring intently at the table in front of him with no signs of emotion or even life on his face. “To carve pumpkins alone, next year we will be bringing a brand new baby pumpkin of our own! I’m pregnant!”

As the last words sunk in I coughed and the pumpkin that I was still holding above my head slipped from my grasp and fell straight onto my head. No one noticed as the room converged onto Janey and Michael to express their congratulations. I could see through the mouth I had carved on the pumpkin and I saw that Michael’s grim glance was focused on me for the first time since he had arrived.

When things calmed down everyone realized that my head was in a pumpkin and it quickly became apparent that it was not by choice. A few of the friends that had been carving at my table scuffled back to help me. Some were making jokes about how an adult could get their head stuck in a pumpkin and that it was a good thing that I was not the one with child. And I started to wonder, what if I had let things become physical? What if I were the one with Michael’s child growing inside me? All I knew for sure was that I was glad that there was a pumpkin on my head so no one could read my emotions. And that is how I got my head stuck in a pumpkin.

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