I had known women who wanted children, who had spooked me. One in particular was a candidate for marriage and motherhood not far behind me:
Betsy had moved in, and then out, over the course of six months, living with me in the North Carolina mountains, in a cabin on a white water river. She was the kind of girl who looked stylish in a backpack, with strong legs, good shoulders, and natural blonde hair—the most beautiful head of hair I ever saw—long and thick as low country sweet grass.
We were not in love when she moved in, only trying it on to see if love struck. She made it plain she wanted children. Whenever the subject came up an air of tragedy descended around Betsy. She had been married once, had gotten pregnant and carried the fetus to full term, with no apparent complications, only to have the baby stillborn.
Coming to live with me, she was looking for a breeding partner. She made no pretense otherwise. Which was refreshing, that she did not try to hide her intentions.
I liked the way she took charge of the house, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, and grocery shopping. Betsy was auditioning, a woman craving to be a wife and mother. She certainly threw herself into the act. Her intentions were not dishonorable. She knew what she wanted. She was cool about it except in bed.
And I do not claim that my intentions were other than to cure an absence of affection, however I did fall in love with her, or whatever you call it when it feels like it is going to work; and you’re trying it on and it fits for a while. And then it doesn’t. And then it’s over, and your heart is as empty as a pillowcase without a pillow.