HIV? My coffee dropped out of my hand and the mug broke, but I barely even noticed. A spilt coffee and a broken mug were hardly worth mentioning next to the possibility I might have ended up with HIV. I guess that really would be a fitting punishment for cheating on my husband.
But then... what if I’d ended up catching it and passing it on?
I didn’t want to even consider that.
Cayden’s gaze fell to the floor faster than my mug had. I just stared.
“Sorry,” he said.
I spluttered, trying to figure out what to say. “I... You... Have you been tested? How did you even get it?”
"I got tested a couple days ago but I won't find anything out for three months. And Tom kinda dropped the bomb on me the other day," he laughed a little, like he found something in there even remotely funny. I went back to staring and ran a hand through my hair.
“What if I’ve caught it off you? How am I supposed to tell Hadley he might have it too?” What would we tell the kids?
"I don't know, Max."
I stood up. “I should go and get tested,” I muttered, mostly to myself. It felt kinda like I’d gone into auto pilot; I just grabbed my keys and wallet and walked out of the house. I was vaguely aware of Cayden walking with me. What if Hadley saw me in the hospital? What would I say I was there for? There were too many questions and ‘what if’s in my head to concentrate on driving. I’d crash and kill myself before HIV even had a chance.
"Max, I'm really fucking sorry."
“I might not have it,” I said, my voice too high pitched. I couldn’t look at him. “I might be fine. Hadley might be fine.” I guess apart from the general grief it would cause Hadley, it wouldn’t matter if I had it as long as he didn’t. Because he’d be okay. He’d be alive, and the kids would still have some kind of a family.
“I'm sorry for putting you through it in general.” I didn’t say anything to that. If I didn’t have it, it wouldn’t matter. If I did, then... well, I have no idea.
I kept looking around as I got to the reception desk, paranoid that Hadley would be having a break of some kind and find us here. Cayden kept apologising. After a little while, I asked him to go find somewhere to wait for me. I needed to think, and he wasn’t helping in the slightest. I fidgeted around, waiting for the nurse to come test me.
The second it was over, I went straight out and bought myself a pack of cigarettes. Can you blame me? I just sat outside and smoked until Cay came outside and found me. He started apologising some more, and actually said sorry for apologising so much when I told him to shut up. I sat right where I was until I’d smoked the whole packet.
“D’you want me to fuck off?” Cay asked. I shrugged a little. There was a lump in my throat, and my legs felt weak. The original plan had been to go get some more smokes, but I didn’t really get very far before the panic attack took hold and had me on my knees in the parking lot. Cay didn’t know what to do and was pretty much useless as he tried to get me to calm down.
I did my best to remember what I used to do if one hit when I was alone, and after a while, I was just crying, instead of all out panicking. He wrapped me in a hug and I buried my head in his neck, clinging onto him.
“I’m so fucking sorry,” he said again, holding onto me tight. We stayed like that until I’d calmed down enough to at least get home.
"D'you want me to stay or...?"
I felt my lip wobbling again and that lump was back in my throat. "I don't know"
"When does Hadley get back?"
"Lunch break," I told him.
"Will you be okay on your own til then? I don't wanna be around when he gets here.” I nodded. “Call me if you want me to come back once he's gone or anything." I nodded again. He planted a kiss on the top of my head and left me there on my own, just sat there staring at the floor until Hadley got home.
"Hey, gorgeous," I heard Hadley say as he came in. I stared. "What's wrong?"
"Cayden has HIV," I said bluntly. There wasn’t really any point fucking around. It’s not like there’s any sort of way to sugar coat that kind of news.
"What?” he froze.
"Cayden has HIV. Or might do. He said he only got tested a couple days ago, but it was that Tom guy, and they've been fucking long enough for him to have caught it,” those tears were back.
"Shit," was all Hadley said.
"And none of us use condoms," I reminded him, doing my best not to just fall apart on him.
"Shit." Yeah, I wasn’t doing so good at the not falling apart thing. Tears started falling from my eyes again and Hadley cuddled me, letting me cling onto him. "Have you gotten tested yet?" All I could do was nod. "I should probably get tested too, huh?" he laughed slightly. I nodded, snuggling my precious husband against me.
"I guess this puts a damper on our afternoon of wild, kid free sex,” I said, letting out a small laugh of my own.
"Just a little."
"Sorry," I said, feeling like Cayden’s constant apologising had rubbed off on me.
"For what? It's not your fault."
“For fucking him. It wouldn’t matter if I’d been able to keep my dick in my pants.” Because there really isn’t any denying that that bit at least is most definitely my fault.
“How is it okay?” I asked, bewildered. “How can the fact that something I shouldn’t have done in the first place might just have given us both HIV?”
"I don't know, Maxxie, I'm trying to get my head around everything."
I bit back the apology that sprung to my lips. “We might not have it. Cayden might not have it. We might all be okay,” I said, unable to keep the hopeful tone out of my voice. He kissed my head again.
“Let’s hope so.”
“At the very least, we should start using condoms,” I said, smiling a little. He nodded.
"At least until we know."