“Now what?” He asks. It’s 4:30 in the morning and he has to get to the train station to go to Moscow. I still have a few hours before I need to check out and catch my flight back to Germany and onward to JFK.
“Back to the ‘Home of the brave and the land of the free.‘” The sarcasm in my voice is probably lost at this time of day.
How can he even ask ‘Now what?’ as if he doesn’t know the answer. We’ve never before separated wondering what would come next. There was always another time; Rome, Zurich, Vienna…the list goes on. Today is different. He leaves, and there may not be a next time.
“I don’t know, you tell me.” There are only a few minutes left. Not much time for lengthy explanations. I had put my cards on the table as clearly as I could over the past four days. But I never told him what answer I was looking for. That part had to come from him. And it didn’t.
“I’ll text you from Moscow, make sure you check out on time.” He has a smile on his face, pulls up the blanket and gives me a kiss like I’m his little girl. I feel anything but girly. I push back the blanket and sit up.
“Just one more time before you go, please?” His morning boner hasn’t even passed. I can be done in a minute or two. He owes me that much.
“No, sweetie, it’s getting late and I can’t miss my train.” He never calls me ‘sweetie’. Everything, slut, cunt, whore, or just ‘F’ when he’s writing. He never uses my name. But ‘sweetie’, that’s almost an insult.
Our good-byes are always quick. This one is no exception. He turns around, grabs his suitcase, and leaves. No last look back. He never looks back. Then he’s gone. Reality sets in slowly that this may have been it.
I send him a text as I check out. Two snapshots are on my phone. One before I told him that I was pregnant, and the other he took just last night. What difference. Gone is the escort who tries to pose for pictures. Over the past four days, I turned from sex object to expectant mom. Well, almost. I’m quietly humming ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose‘. I attach both before hitting ‘send’.
Back in New York, I let him know that I arrived safely. We exchange a few text messages. The last I hear of him is ‘Sweet dreams’. They won’t be sweet, but I scroll back up to the pictures I sent him leaving St. Petersburg. Whatever I may have thought before, I like the picture with the baby bump. There is so much more I have to lose than I ever thought I would. If Janice Joplin is right, I won’t see ‘Freedom’ for many years to come. And that is the best feeling in the world.