Josh had been pacing around the apartment for the last half hour, not sure what to do with himself. He’d started trying to tidy up his room, then walked to the kitchen to get something to eat, but he’d stopped halfway through each task, moving on to something else in a different room, and eventually just walking around aimlessly. He couldn’t keep his thoughts in one place, or himself for that matter, so he decided to take a walk. He figured that New York City would be the best distraction. He retrieved his leather jacket from the hall closet, put on some sunglasses, and walked out the door, shutting it carefully behind him. He shoved his hands into his pockets and bowed his head against the constant wind, letting his mind wander as his feet carried him in any direction.
The past week had been a blur for Josh. It had begun perfectly, when he took Barbie on a date to this nice restaurant and they’d had a fantastic time. The next night she was sick, and they’d both dismissed it as the flu until the next day when his whole world shattered. Everything was different now. He didn’t know what to do or say or even think.
Barbara had come into their room the day after she’d been sick and said she had something to tell him- that she was pregnant. Pregnant. With a baby. His baby. When she’d first told him, he hadn’t been able to move. It just shocked him. A million thoughts were now constantly running through his head, and he couldn’t focus on just one of them. All he knew was that he wanted to keep the baby. He would do whatever was necessary to keep this child. What he would do when he had the child, he didn’t know. He didn’t have a single clue about pregnancy or how to raise a kid, but he was damn well going to try. He knew one thing for sure- that he was in love with Barbara. He knew that to his very core, and nothing was going to change that. From the minute he set eyes on her, he knew that she was something special. He had no doubt in his mind that he wanted to marry her and start a family with her someday, he just didn’t think it would be so soon. He decided that he just had to take life as it threw itself at him. If anything, his love just multiplied by two at the knowledge that Barbie would be having his child.
But no matter the silver lining he found on the situation, it was still so hard. He was twenty, barely out of his teenage years, and he was going to be a father. Barbie was still just nineteen, and her modelling career was at its peak. He would never forgive himself if he destroyed her career with this baby. They’d talked the subject to death since finding out, but every time they talked Barbie blamed herself, and that killed him. She kept apologizing and saying that it was her fault. He couldn’t figure out how she worked out that it was her fault, if anything she was the victim in this situation. It takes two people to make a baby, and they had both participated in that activity. She also seemed to think that he was going to up and leave her, after everything they’d been through. He didn’t know what to say to make her believe that he was as invested in this as she was. He couldn’t leave if he wanted to. It physically pained him to be away from her. Recently, every time he looked at her, he saw a shadow of the girl he’d known just a week ago. She was exhausted, her carefree spirit dulled by this huge responsibility that she had been forced to take on. He wanted so badly to take away the hurt and terror that he saw in her eyes, but he knew he couldn’t. The only thing he could do was be there for her, and let her know that he isn’t going anywhere. He wanted to gather her in his arms and hold her until she’d cried out everything she had to cry. He wanted to let her know just how much he loved her, but he really didn’t know how besides just being there for her.
To put it simply, he was confused. He was scared and angry, yet weirdly happy and excited. He was terrified that something bad would happen and they would lose the baby, but he was always terrified that nothing bad would happen and they would have a child and not know what to do about raising it. He was angry at himself for being so careless. He was angry at the universe for letting this happen so soon, when he knew that he and Barbie could have had a perfect family one day. Now all that was ruined by one stupid mistake. But he didn’t regret it. No matter how angry he was, he was able to accept that there was nothing he could do about it. He was oddly happy because he was going to be a father, something he’s wanted all his life. He didn’t expect it to be in this way, but he decided to accept it as it was. Josh smiled to himself as he imagined a little boy or girl waiting for him at home, calling him “daddy”, asking him to tell them stories at night, letting him rock them to sleep, asking him all sorts of questions, and him being able to tell them the answers.
Josh was jostled by someone beside him on the sidewalk, causing him to snap out of his musings. He looked up, noticing that he was just outside of Central Park. He made a quick decision, choosing to walk into the trees. He quickly found a bench and sat down on it, taking his phone out of his pocket. He started down at the keys, contemplating what he was about to do. He ran his fingers over them, feeling the raised contours of each one before pressing in a number he knew by heart, and hesitantly pressing send. He rose the phone shakily to his ear, hearing it ring a few times, then the person on the other end answered it.
"Mom?" he asked, swallowing nervously.
"Hi honey," she replied, "how are you?"
He hesitated before answering. He was going to tell her. He had to tell her before it was too late and someone else did. He needed help, and his mom was the best place to go for that. She’d understand. “Mom,” he began, “I… uh… I have something to tell you.”
"Josh, you can tell me anything, you know that!" she replied happily.
"You should probably sit down… are you sitting?"
"Yes, I’m sitting, now tell me," she sounded curious, and slightly nervous, wondering what in the world her son had to tell him that she needed to sit down for.
Josh took a deep breath, steeled himself against the response that was sure to come, and just said it. “Mom, Barbara is pregnant.”
There was silence on the other end of the line. He fiddled with the zipper on his jacket, desperately awaiting her response. When the silence dragged out, he though she’d hung up. “Mom?” he asked, looking at his phone and seeing that it was still connected.
"Joshua Ryan Hutcherson," she spoke softly, her tone venomous. "How in the world did you let something like this happen? You got that poor girl pregnant? She’s a MODEL, Josh! She’s got her whole life ahead of her and you got her pregnant? I thought I raised you better than this Joshua, to respect women, to be careful and romantic and to not go around getting girl’s pregnant-“
"Mom, she’s not just some girl! She’s-she’s my girlfriend and I love her so much and I don’t know how I could let this happen and I know it’s all my fault and I’m sorry for doing this to her and I’m sorry for disappointing you but I just… I just don’t know what t-to do and I-I can’t do this alone, Mom, I need you. Please." Josh felt himself breaking down. He fought to hold the tears back that were threatening to spill over, his voice shaking and cracking as he spoke.
His mother sighed on the other end of the line, waiting a moment before speaking again. “Josh I am here for you. I’m sorry for exploding like that a second ago. I still think that you were an absolute idiot with your carelessness, but I understand that mistakes do happen. I’ve made my fair share of them. You’re a grown man, and you can take responsibility for your own mistakes. I will be here to help you. I want you to have Barbara call me, okay? That girl must be scared out of her wits. I can fly out to New York as soon as possible to help her. That poor beautiful young lady, I can’t imagine what she is going through right now”
"Mom there’s no need to fly out here. We are fine right now. But I think talking to you would make her feel better. She needs an experienced mother’s help. She’s absolutely terrified to tell her own parents, so having you as support would mean the world. Thank you so much Mom, honestly," Josh felt like he was going to start crying again at the generosity and true kindness exuded by his mother, but again, he held it back.
The two talked for a while, Josh explaining everything to his mother, while she reassured him that everything would be alright, and that he and Barbie had her support. She said that she would tell his father, but that he should call his younger brother because Connor would want to hear it from Josh himself. They said goodbye, Josh promising to have Barbie call her later. After talking to his mom, he felt a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He’d told the truth, and she was there- ready and willing to help them in any way they needed. He pulled himself off of the bench he’d been sitting on for the last hour, and made his way back to the apartments, a new hope in his chest that everything would be alright.
He walked up the stairs to their floor, hanging his coat in the closet and walking quietly into his room. Upon entering, he noticed Barbie asleep in the bed, her chest rising and falling peacefully. He smiled softly at her sleeping frame. Her hair was splayed gracefully on the pillow behind her head, and her hands rested on her stomach, where their baby was now hopefully sleeping too. Josh tiptoed across to her, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead. “I love you so much,” he whispered, directing the statement to the beautiful girl lying before him, and the growing child she now carried. He turned and made his way into the living room, careful not to disturb his little family.