17 June 2008

Untitled, Part Six

(Ed. Note: There is a bit more cursing and rapid mood swings that may be a bit confusing. I'll try to keep it in context, though. Enjoy!)

"How are you feeling today, Andrea?"
"Like you don't know the answer to that. I feel like shit."
"How are your hands?"
"They hurt, and I wish I could have hit the bitch one more time."
"Why did you attack your new roommate?"
"She saw the pictures of my children and called me a cheap whore. She deserved it."
"So, now you're back to a private room?"
"Yes, but they're not letting me call home. I hate this fucking place."
"Well, let's get to why you hate this place. Is it the food?"
"Stop it with that patronizing bullshit. I hate this place because I don't need to be here. I'm not crazy."
"Nobody said you were. You're suffering from post-partum depression-"
"Doc, you and I know that's not why I'm here. I'm here because of him."
"Who?"
"Devon. He used me again, and they think I'm crazy now. I should have known he'd never change."
"How did he use you? And why do you say again?"
"He always makes me out to be the bad guy, to take the fall. This time, it worked."
"Let's explore that."


Alyssa picked me up from the airport. I saw her eyes widen as she took in my belly, and the pallor of my skin as I left the security checkpoint. She hugged me tightly, her reed-thin arms barely encompassing me. In a few weeks, she wouldn't be able to hug me, and I needed all the help I could get. We walked down to the luggage carousel, making small talk, avoiding the elephant in the room: me.

"How was the flight?"

"Long. The guy in front of me decided to put his seat all the way back, then never fell asleep. And the movie was terrible."

"Hungry?"

"A bit. 'Course, I'm always hungry these days." I gave her a small smile, and her eyebrow did a crazy little jig up into her hairline. She smiled back.

We got my small suicase and walked out to Alyssa's minivan. We had dubbed it the Purple People Eater when she bought it--an apt label, since the grey plush interior practically swallowed you when you sat down. Normally, it bothered me, but today the too-soft seats provided a soothing coccoon around my pendulous body. The landscape had hardly changed--while Chicago was a cold, desolate wind tunnel, Portland was experiencing a bit of Indian summer in late November. We rolled down the windows, chatting about my niece and nephews as we left the airport and headed west towards I-205, bound for Alyssa's Gresham home. As we hit the highway, I closed my eyes, listening to the other traffic rushing by and the warm air washing over me like a prayer. I could tell that Alyssa was dying to tell me something, but I decided to pretend I was dozing. I couldn't deal with her admonitions--plus, I knew she was ganging up on me over lunch. My ruse failed.

"Andy?"

"Yes?"

"I talked to Mom and Dad and told them. Dad's a bit shocked, but Mom is over the moon." This shocked me--I figured my mom would be having kittens, while Dad would be taking it in stride.

"Thanks. Do they know who the father is?"

"No. That's your decision to tell them, but..."

"But what?"

"Devon knows you're home. He came to see Mom last night when I went home and she told him everything."

"Everything?" Suddenly, the warmth of the day left, surrounding me with the arctic chill of midwinter. Alyssa, taking advantage of my silence, blundered forward.

"He's going to be at the house this evening. He wants to talk to you. Alone," she added, answering my unspoken question.

As if feeling my agitation, someone kicked me in the ribs, causing my skin to ripple slightly beneath my form-fitting dress. I put my hand over the foot? hand? and massaged gently. The babies had been active the whole trip, constricted as they were by the seat in front of me. I wanted them to sleep; it felt like a rave had gone on in my stomach, and every internal organ was tender.

The thirty-minute trip felt like a funeral procession--traffic was whizzing along, and yet my heart stood still. I didn't want him to be there; I didn't want him to see me and know. I just wanted to disappear. Chasing these thoughts around in my head, I was shocked to realize we'd just pulled up into the circular drive outside of Alyssa's spacious home.

We unloaded my small suitcase and walked up the steps. My nephews came barrelling out of the house, shouting, "Auntie's here!" and wrapping their little arms around my swollen legs in joy. My brother-in-law, Andrew, came out of the front door. His eyes also widened at my stomach, but he smiled and wrapped his arms around me, hugging me close. "Welcome home, stranger." My head barely reached the shoulder of my brother-in-law, "Big Andy." A third-generation horse trainer, he smelled like hay and sunshine. Immediately, I was seventeen and learning how to ride for the first time.

I closed my eyes and smiled, tears leaking out of the corners of my eyes. Home, I thought, as the last knots of tension released. My sister clapped her hands and called from the foyer, "Lunch is ready!"

Shrieking in joy, the boys let go of me and ran into the house, following Alyssa and Andrew. The smell of pasta sauce wafted from the spacious kitchen, and I sank gratefully into a small armchair near the back door. My nephews, Brady and Craig, clambered up on the ottoman next to me, their five-year old minds whirring and spinning.

"Auntie, why are you fat?"

"I'm not fat, Brady, I'm going to have two babies that are twins, like you and Craig."

"Are they boys or girls?"

"One of each."

"Can we see them?"

"Not right now, but you can feel them." I took their small hands and rested them on the sweel of my stomach. The babies kicked and pushed, sending the boys' hands up and down on the waves of my skin. They squealed and took turns pushing back until my sister took pity on me and put lunch on the table. I was tired, but peaceful; somehow, everything would be all right, I told myself as we ate.

Our peace was short-lived. Halfway through lunch, a knock at the door roused us from our companionable silence, while the boys chattered on about the new barn kittens and the horse that had just foaled. Andrew excused himself and answered the door.

"Is Andy here yet?" That unmistakable baritone hit me like a ton of bricks and I blanched. Devon. My nephews, who worshipped Devon, tried to bolt toward the door like puppies, but a stern look from Alyssa subdued them.

"She's napping, Devon. And you're drunk," Andrew said, shielding the view into the kitchen with his body. I stood up quietly, and took my nephews hands, leading them into the nearby bathroom. Their eyes were wide but they stayed quiet as I washed their hands and face.

"Uncle Devon doesn't need to know I'm awake, okay?" I said to the boys. They smiled at me and Brady looked up.

"It's a secret?"

"Exactly." Alyssa had said the boys were into secrets this week; they were obsessed with being spies and secret agents. I counted on them to not give me away. Satisfied that I was safe, we opened the door, and I crept quietly into my sister's office across the hall. Alyssa was washing dishes, and caught my eye as I crept in. She tried to say something, but I closed the door and turned around, barely stifling a scream. Devon had managed to talk his way into the house after all.

"I thought you were asleep."

"I thought you were gone."

"Why didn't you tell me, Andrea? They're mine too."

"No, they're not. I-I met someone."

"Nice try. I know when you're lying. You stutter."

"Shouldn't you be getting home to your wife?" I put as much venom and spite in that word as I could, hoping to distract him from the issue at hand--namely me and my belly.

"You did this on purpose, didn't you?" His tone chilled me. His soft brown eyes had a coldness, a cruelness I remembered. I could smell the whiskey on his breath, and the smell of him. He hasn't showered in a couple of days, I thought, and comprehension dawned on me. He hasn't been taking his meds, I thought fleetingly, and my hands began to shake. I tried a different tack.

"Why would I do this on purpose, Devon? I wasn't ready to be a parent."

"So why didn't you take care of it?"

"I tried! But I couldn't."

"Because you want my money? You wanted my marriage to end?"

"No! No, it's for their sake. This has nothing to do with us, or with you--"

"The hell it does, you lying bitch. You know Heidi doesn't want kids."

"No, Devon, I didn't, I swear! Please, believe me, this was not--I wasn't going to ask you for anything. I didn't even want you to know."

"You would have kept my kids from me?" He advanced on me, his face gone white with anger. His hands were clenched in fists, the knuckles shiny and red.He's been hitting something, I thought, and the world stood still.

"No, it's not like that at all." Trying desperately to defuse the situation, I sat down on the small loveseat and looked at Devon. "I couldn't go through with an abortion, not after I heard the two heartbeats. I wasn't even sure I was going to keep them until just a few weeks ago."

"But you are and you weren't going to tell me? They're my kids, Andrea! How dare you not tell me!"

"I didn't want you to feel obligated." My words were barely a whisper. I had clenched my hands in my lap and looked at the floor, averting his gaze.

"So what do you want, then? What am I going to do now? Heidi left me because of you." My head snapped up, and I looked into his eyes, still cold and flinty. "You happy now? You win."

"No! That's why I didn't tell you! I knew you guys had a rough go of it-"

"Ha! A rough go? Heidi found out about your last night home, and got revenge by fucking our best man the night before the wedding, throwing it in my face twenty minutes after we left the reception? Then, on our 'romantic' honeymoon, she tells me she doesn't want kids, that her trip to Colorado was for a tubal, and now you show up pregnant with my kids and tell me you were trying to protect me?" He was pacing frantically around the room, running his fingers through his too-long brown hair.

"Devon, when did you last take your meds?" I asked softly, my words barely renting the air. I stood up and tried to put my hand on his arm.

I was too slow to stop him. He spun around and punched me in the face. Dimly, I heard a pop as my nose broke and I saw stars. I half-fell back on to the loveseat, my hands clasped over my bleeding nose. Devon got on his kness in front of me, his voice cold and hard. He wiped his hands on my ruined dress as he whispered into my ear.

"This is all your fault, you cheap whore. I hope you can live with what you've done." My breathing was becoming more ragged as the blood filled my mouth. Devon opened the door to the office and strode out. I dimly heard the front door slam, and my sister's scream as she came in. The world went gray and black as I saw the pool of blood on the hardwood in front of me and I fainted.

"Why did you faint?"
"I can't stand the sight of blood. Plus, my best friend just called me a whore and I was pretty sure he hadn't taken his meds for quite some time."
"Medication for what?"
"He was bipolar. He'd stop taking his meds, and this mean, deceitful, hateful person would come out. This was not the first time I took the brunt of it, but it was the first time he'd ever struck me."
"You went to the hospital?"
"Yes, and ended up being admitted for the night. For observation, on account of the pregancy and all."
"Did you get to see your mom?"
"Yes, I was able to take a walk down to her floor later on that evening."
"Was she awake when they told you?"
"Yes."

5 comments:

Kimberly said...

That was so beautifully intense.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Oh my gosh that was brilliant. But I want to punch Devon, and I'm so mad at her family. This is sooo good Loveyh.

Kimberly said...

Just wanted to pop back in and say that the story keeps running through my mind when I'm doing other things.

And I love, love, love that I have no clue what's going to happen. No same-old-same-old element here!

Lara said...

Ack! told her what????

Don't keep me waiting! Please!

holly said...

yeah i'm not really happy with devon either right now.