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Don't Pull Out
Author: Frankie Love








“Aunt Olivia?”

A young girl of about four years tugs on my dress. I kneel down and pat her on the head. “Yes, Charlotte?”

She isn’t my officially my niece. No, just one of my friend’s daughters, who calls me an aunt. I don’t mind it, even if I don’t think myself tight enough with Rebecca to be called such a thing.

Charlotte looks up at me with the starry-eyed gaze that only a child can manage. “Where’s your wedding ring?”

I smile back at her nervously. “I don’t have one, sweetie.”

“But you’re old.” I wince at her childlike words, knowing there was no venom behind them. “And people as old as you have husbands.”

I push a strand of my hair back on my head, grinning nervously. We’re at a first birthday party for Chloe, the daughter of my dear friend Tabitha. And here I am, a childless and single woman who would never duck out on something so important to a friend.

But to say it doesn’t stir up certain feelings of jealousy inside me would just be lying to myself.

“Not everyone gets married so soon, sweetie. It takes time to find the right person for you. And then it takes more time to make sure they’re the right person.”

“But all the other old people have husbands and wives. I don’t get it.”

“It involves a lot of stuff I’m not sure your mother wants me to tell you about just yet.”

“Oh. Okay. I hope you find your husband too before you get really, really old like Grandma.”

I force a smile, trying not to be too angry at someone who doesn’t know any better.

I’m twenty-nine years old. Not even thirty yet. Old isn’t a word that’s meant for me.

I get up and walk away from Charlotte, and she runs off and plays with the other toddlers and young children. I grab a soda out of the mini fridge and crack it open, wishing it was a lot more alcoholic than it is.

Kids. Kids everywhere. Tabitha invited everyone from her college circle to the party, which is about a dozen women. Ten of them are already hitched, and all of them are in the process of building their families, be it caring for babies already or simply eating for two.

One of Tabitha’s friends joins me by my side, cracking open their own soda. “Maybe I should get one of those flasks, the ones you can store whiskey in, and I could slip some into my drink without anyone asking any questions.”

I smile her way. “You really think it’s the best idea to be drunk at a kid’s party, Piper?”

“Probably not the best idea. But it’s a fun one. Good and fun sometimes don’t go together.”

I shake my head. “As much as I’d love to be a drunken wreck of a spinster, I think I’d enjoy my life more if I was like everyone else.”

“Gotta be a conformist, huh?” Piper sips her drink. “I guess everyone gets hitched for a reason. It makes them happier in the long run. This whole dating and breaking up cycle that goes on endlessly isn’t exactly the healthiest thing.”

“We’re almost thirty,” I say. “We gotta get our shit together, Piper. We’re young, attractive, smart women. We’re incredibly eligible bachelorettes. Guys should be climbing over themselves to have us.”

“Yeah, we got plenty of options, but none of the options are really worth a damn. My last three boyfriends had handsome faces but were useless in the bedroom. And then they got pissy when I tried to tell them what to do. Can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to be taught.”

“I’m almost willing to settle at this point.” I look at the kids running around. All the babies. All the happy mothers, and the fathers too. “I feel like I’m being left behind. I still feel like a stupid teenager when all of our friends are grown-ups with families.”

“Don’t be so down on yourself, Olivia, you’re not too far behind. People are marrying later and later in life. Having kids later and later too. We still have a good ten years and some change if we want families.”

“I don’t want to wait that long. Do you want to wait that long? Do you want to be pushing forty and still single, wondering where all the time went?”

Her shoulders sink. “Not really. Sounds like all this is making you a tad baby crazy, though.”

“Just a bit. We’re the last two girls standing, Piper. No one else will be left to catch the bouquet when we get married.”

“Neither of us even got it last time. Really rude of that waitress to run in and catch it at Melissa’s wedding. Maybe that was our one chance.”

“We can’t rely on old superstitions.”

“That waitress is getting married next week, Olivia.”

“I don’t care. We’ll make our own luck.”

“What are you going to do about it, then?”

“Try. Try really, really fucking hard. I say we make a pact, Piper.”

She raises an eyebrow. “A pact? Should I go get a knife? Like the time we tried to become blood sisters?”

I shake my head. “We were nine and copying the boys. I think we can just rely on one another’s word now.”

“Fine, fine. No knife. What’s your pact, Olivia? What are you being so serious about?”

“Today is Chloe’s first birthday. By her second birthday, the two of us should be married and, if possible, expecting our first children.”

Her eyebrow raises more. “You really are motivated all of a sudden.”

“This is the determination I think we’re going to need, Piper. We’ve become complacent. We have our careers. We’re doing well. We’ve been just waiting for Mr. Right to show up in our lives. But we have to go looking for him. He’s not just going to fall out of the sky for us. We have to try. And try hard.”

She closes her eyes, deep in thought. “And if either of us fails to live up to this pact of yours? What happens?”

I shrug. “We deal with the crushing loneliness and feeling like an outsider that comes with being surrounded by so many happy families. The sting of wondering what’s wrong with you, why you’re the only one who is apparently unlovable and alone.”

“Ow. That’s pretty deep. And depressing.”

“So, don’t let that happen. I don’t want you to be lonely anymore either, Piper. I want you to find the love you deserve right alongside me.”

“What if I want to be a fifty-year-old spinster with ten cats and no kids?”

“You don’t want that, Piper. You’re in the same boat as me, so let’s find our life raft before we sink into the ocean of depression.”

“So poetic. Okay, fine.” She puts out her hand.

I put mine on top of hers. “Then it’s a pact. We swear that by this time next year, we’ll be married and expecting. That we will both be wed and bred.”

“It seems daunting, but to heck with it. I’m going for it.”

“What are you two on about?” Tabitha, with the birthday girl in her arms, comes up to us. “I was looking from across the room and you’re being all dramatic.”

“Nothing in particular,” I smile. “Just talking about how lucky you are, Tabby. And how much we wish we were you.”

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