"Hello, Miriam. It's me. I'm back."
"Hi, Miriam! How are you? I've missed you!"
"Miriam, I know I'm the last person you want to see, but here I am."
"Before you say anything, let me tell you how sorry I am!"
Pacing again, Alexander tried out countless greetings. None of them seemed appropriate to use with Miriam. How was he supposed to say hello to the woman he'd abandoned? The woman who carried his child? The woman whose life he had ruined?
Skipping breakfast altogether, Alexander exited the house without so much as a goodbye to his hosts. He wandered slowly down the road, trying to waste time. There was no way he was ready to talk to Miriam.
Finally arriving at Miriam's apartment, Alexander hesitated, then knocked on the door.
Ah, yes. Miriam would be at the mercantile, no doubt. Where was the mercantile?...There it was. Just a few more blocks down the road.
The bell above the mercantile door tinkled cheerfully as Alexander entered. He hesitated, looking around the shop. He couldn't see Miriam. Maybe she'd moved back to live with her parents! Maybe Alexander wouldn't have to face her after all!
"What are you doing here?"
That would be Miriam. "Hello, Miriam. I...I just..."
Alexander's words were ended abruptly as he noticed Miriam's swollen belly. She looked as though she was ready to give birth any day now. Marla had said that Miriam was eight months along in her pregnancy. How is this even possible? Why would God allow this to happen?
God didn't allow it. You did, Alexander. You did.
Snapping out of his thoughts, Alexander lowered his head as he felt Miriam's stare. When it appeared that Miriam wasn't going to speak, Alexander started over. "Miriam, I came to talk to you."
"I'm not going to forgive you, Alexander. You know I'm not going to forgive you. You've already betrayed me before; this time, I'm never coming back. Ever."
"You have every right to say that, Miriam. I'm not asking you to forgive me. I guess I just...wanted to see you one last time before I...went back home."
"Back home where?"
"If my parents will have me, I'll try staying with them again. It's been six years since I've seen them. Maybe they'll - "
"I don't care what you do, Alexander, as long as you don't show your face again."
But before Alexander could say anything, Miriam's face paled a bit. She gripped the table in front of her and widened her eyes, trying to steady herself.
"Miriam, what is it?"
"It's nothing. I'm fine." Miriam let out a deep breath, but it was short-lived.
"It's the baby, isn't it?"
Groaning, Miriam leaned forward and tried to keep calm. "Of all the cotton-pickin' times to have a baby, I swear, this is the worst..."
Stressing, Alexander threw his hands in the air. "Miriam! You're only eight months along!"
"I'm eight and a half. And besides, Alexander, I - " Miriam's words were cut short again, and she sucked in a long breath.
"Marla said you were only eight months!"
"I think I know more about my own baby than Marla does!" Miriam snapped. "Are we really going to argue right here? Right now?"
"You're right," Alexander said. He ran a hand through his hair. "What should I do?"
"Get the doctor, for heaven's sake!"
"But are you going to be okay?" Alexander rushed to Miriam's side and supported her. "Here, let's get you into a chair or something." He held onto Miriam and helped her over to a chair before another contraction seized her.
"How long has this been going on?"
"A little while now, but I thought it was just one of those - "
"I'm going to get the doctor. Now."
And with that, Alexander left.