As Sarah cheerily drew back the curtains, the afternoon sunlight burst into their room, going from almost pitch black to bright day, causing her to squint. She looked out the window and down to the street, and saw a woman in the crosswalk pushing a bright red stroller.

“Peter! What is your daughter’s name?” She realized suddenly, that she didn’t know it, thought it odd that she didn’t. She remembered that he had mentioned in passing about a month ago that it was the child’s 1st birthday. Sarah turned from the window and looked at him, faced away from her, adjusting his belt, head down. He waited a few seconds before answering.


Oh, Sarah thought, how cute. Sort of old-fashioned and unlikely, but still cute. She walked over to the desk and picked up her watch and put it on her wrist. “I suppose she is walking now, yes?” Peter did not say anything, a longer pause, then spoke, even more into his chest.

“I don’t know.”

Sarah stopped to look at his face and try to catch his eye. He did not look over. “What? You don’t know?” she asked, confused. This was strange. He just stood there, didn’t move to put his shirt on, just stood for some time.

“My wife gave her up for adoption when she was born.” He walked to the chair where his blue shirt was, picked it up, held it in his hands.

Sarah reeled back a bit, her mind spinning. “What? What??? She gave her up?? What are you saying? Why?”

He slid his shirt on, stiffly, spoke plainly, quietly. “She didn’t want her.”

Sarah plopped down in the desk chair, trying to process what Peter was saying. “So…you are telling me that she got pregnant, decided to have the baby but didn’t want a baby, and gave her up. Is that right??”


She paused, took a breath. “Well, what about you? Didn’t you want her??”

Peter didn’t speak again for a time, buttoned his shirt, tucked it into his pants. He finally looked at Sarah, his eyes bright and focused hard on her face. “She didn’t want her.” He turned away again, point made.

Sarah sat, feeling heavy and tired suddenly and thought for a few minutes. “When did you see Pearl last?”

Peter sat on the edge of the bed and put on his socks, then shoes. “On her fourth or fifth day of life.”

What an odd way to say that, Sarah thought. She stared at him, realizing for the first time how little she knew about him, unsettled by the idea, saddened, thinking.

She rose, slipped on her heels, gathered up her purse. “OK?” she nodded at him, and he gave her a small, quick smile back.

They walked out of the room and made their way down to the hotel parking garage and as always, kissed each other on the cheek and gave a single hand squeeze before heading off to their separate cars, Sarah’s heels click-clacking off the echoing concrete.