It was silent now, without the sound of the TV and the heater and phones buzzing and ringing. It was silent and there was nothing to do but sit and wait.

It would happen soon.

The world would end and everything would come crashing down.

It was not that he did not want the child, he was certain he’d love it. But this time, the time when it was just him and her and the silence, it would end. There would be noise, so much noise. And the mess. And there would be no more lazy Sundays laying in bed having sex over and over again for the mere fact that they were bored and already naked so why not.

He was determined to love it, no matter what. He should no longer call the baby an it. That was not fair. It was a he. It was going to be Cody and he was going to love it.

He cursed himself.

The baby would be named Cody, after his brother and he would love Cody. Cody would be wonderful and make him happy and he and Julie would coo and ooh and ahh at every little shit the thing made.

He doubly cursed himself.

He was not ready to give up the silence, was the problem. He stood, in the hospital, pacing in between two rows of chairs that looked like a plastics factory had an illicit affair with a carpet factory. He walked, pacing, wishing he had a cigarette. He was should be in the room with his screaming wife, but he had needed a break and it had been hours of her clenching his hand and then letting go and saying all the calming things his sister, mother and the lady who taught that class told him to say. It was tiring. Not as tiring as what Julie was doing, but tiring nonetheless. So he walked outside, claiming he needed a cigarette even though he could care less so he could stand here, fretting about their sex-filled Sundays and where they would go and wishing they were home and watching Glee instead of this, eating ice cream and cookies and laughing.

He wondered if anyone else had ever been ready. He wondered if his father had been ready. If only he could’ve asked him. If only he had someone to ask, “Am I supposed to be this freaked out? Shouldn’t I want to bring this child into my life and nurture and care for it? Shouldn’t I love it already?”

He wondered if he was selfish. When Julie had started casually bringing up having kids he was much more excited at the possibility of having even more regular sex than they already accomplished, in the name of having a baby that is. He had been excited at not having to deal with Julie’s anxiousness at whether she had taken her Pill that day or if she had forgotten or where they were. Maybe he should have told her this. But he loved her, and this would make her happy.

He saw the way she looked at her nieces and nephews, the way her eyes had strayed to the kids clothing in Target. He knew his time had ended and that the silence was over. He loved her enough to give that to her, the things he loved most for the woman he loved most.

But shit. He was not ready for this Dad shit. He was scared he would not do it right and he wanted his silence. He wanted it to be just the two of them, happy. It was selfish. He was a jerk, all in all. But maybe this is what all potential fathers said to themselves as they paced a lobby, avoiding their sweating pregnant screaming wives.

Maybe he did need that cigarette. He dug in his pockets and walked outside, staring at the automatic doors moving open and closed for the excited and sad people wandering in and out of them, walking slowly down the hall as if to his own death. It was cold outside, fresh from the rain earlier. The sky was clear and despite the Los Angeles smog he could see a star or two. Or maybe they were planets. He looked up and lit his cigarette, taking a long drag and then staring at the smoke mingling with the bright dots in the sky, like fog on the beach in the morning. He watches the smoke swirl and rise up and up toward the stars until it disappeared. The cigarette seemed to last much longer than it usually did, the red cherry keeping him company and the smoke killing his lungs and keeping them warm at the same time. He hated that he still smoked. His mother smoked when he was a kid and he hated it. Another thing he’d lose because of it. Smoking.

The quiet outside was broken by the wail of an ambulance. He stepped aside as people bustled in and others streamed out to see what was going on.He did not look to see who was brought in, but kept staring at the cherry on his cigarette, watching it glow. He did not hear the bustle. He did not notice the man wheeled in. He dropped the cigarette on the ground.

He did not notice the loss of the silence until he looked up and heard all of the noise finally.

He followed the gurney inside, and kept walking past the waiting room.

He had been away too long. He had to get back in there, back to where things were. On the way he counted all the things he was losing, and he hoped that it was going to be worth it.