Blogging has reignited my passion for writing, specifically creative writing. Each writing challenge I’ve participated in (NaBloPoMo, #XD30, #Love: A Musical Retrospective, etc) has reaffirmed that my passion is indeed my calling.
I write with the goal to one day escape the monotony of cubicle life. To wake up at some abnormal time (anything before 10 is considered abnormal to me) to spent 8-10 hours padding someone else’s pockets is ridiculous. Especially when you have the skill set to be able to support yourself.
Entrepreneurship here I come!!
My right eye slowly opens, but the left eye is still shut. How did I end up on the floor? The room is dark. My head is banging and there’s something metallic-tasting in my mouth. I spit. It’s blood. Less than five feet away is Ashley. She’s not moving. I try to reach for her, but my arms are bound behind me. What the hell is going on?
“I see someone is awake. How’s that broken jaw working out for you?”
Chills dance on my spine as I crawl across the floor. I manage to sit upright against the sofa. Turning my head towards the window, I see Yelena.
“How…how did you get in here?” I ask, moaning in pain.
Yelena squats down next to me. There’s less than 5 inches between our faces. If only my hands were free.
“Since you asked so nicely, I’ll start from the beginning. I walked into the lobby and told the very helpful concierge that I was surprising the two of you. He not only escorted me up, but he was kind enough to let me in. You had your back turned to me, which made the surprise even better. You never saw it coming,” she explains as she relentlessly pokes my severely swollen jaw.
A piece of my jawbone is pressing against my cheek.
“I fucking hate you,” I mutter.
“The feeling is mutual,” she responds, standing up.
I feel a series of flutters in my stomach. The baby is moving.
I turn my head towards the door. Ashley is slowly crawly towards me. I scoot to meet her halfway, but after about five scoots, Yelena pushes her brass-knuckled fist into my jaw. I can feel a tooth bouncing around in my mouth as I scream in pain. Yelena laughs.
“I bet you regret sound proofing this condo. Nobody can hear you two.”
Yelena walks over to Ashley, grabs her arms and drags her across the room. She props her up against the sofa . I grab her hand and squeeze it.
“I can’t feel my legs,” she whispers.
Something’s up with Ashley. She’s been anxious for weeks. If I ask her a question and she happens to answer, her responses are snappy. Otherwise, she just ignores my question altogether. Thinking it was work-related stress, I let it slide. The video game has gone into production and she ought to be much more relaxed.
Not the case.
Another thing that raised my eyebrow was her cell phone. She changed her lock code three weeks ago. Nothing happened three weeks ago…what the hell is she hiding? I check the clock on the wall. Ashley’s been gone for two hours. I send her a text.
Are you coming home tonight?
Instead of waiting for a response, I call the one person who knows what’s going on with Ashley: her mother Renee.
“Hellllloooo!!!!!” Renee sings. She’s so animated.
“Hi Renee,” I respond, trying my best to stifle laughter.
“How are you and my grandbaby?”
“We’re doing well. I’m swollen and hungry.”
“Welcome to pregnancy dear. I was just telling Ashley’s dad that with this upcoming down time, I can finally visit ya’ll.”
“That would be awesome. You know how much I love when you visit…and cook.”
I sigh. Here goes nothing.
“Ashley has been acting really odd lately. I thought it was work-related, but…”
Before I could finish, Renee interrupts.
“Hold on Susan. You need to know that Ashley’s going through some things. I promised her I wouldn’t say anything but I don’t want you to worry.”
Too damn late. My mind starts considering the worst of possibilities.
“Breathe Susan. I need to hear you breathing before I continue.”
Inhaling deeply, I exhale loudly.
“Thank you. Ashley said she has been having these horrible coughing fits for the past month. They keep getting worse. About two weeks ago, she was in a meeting when she started coughing. She went to the bathroom, coughed into a napkin, and saw flecks of blood.”
I start feeling lightheaded. Stay centered Susan, stay centered.
“I knew she was coughing, but she went to the doctor and was on medication. She’s gotten better.”
My chest is heavy.
“The doctor gave her medication for a lung infection, which helped for a bit, but the coughing got worse. She went back to the doctor for X-rays and that’s when they…”
Her voice trails of. Sniffling, she clears her throat.
“…found a tumor on her lung.”
Tears flow down my face. My legs shake and I fall down, my head hitting the floor.
Susan looks so calm holding that gun by her side. It takes a few minutes for me to calm my nerves and gather my thoughts.
“What exactly do you mean by ‘money doesn’t keep crazy away’”?
Susan laughs and walks over to the bookshelf. She carefully puts the gun back in the book and places the book back on the shelf.
“Let’s not play stupid Ashley. You know exactly what I mean. Yelena is not going to just go away. No amount of money is going to keep her away. A bullet on the other hand…”
Oh. My. Damn.
“You can’t possibly be talking about a permanent means to remove Yelena from our lives?”
Susan sits on the chaise lounge and rubs her ankle.
“What part of permanent don’t you understand?” she asks, left eyebrow raised.
“You know what? Your hormones have you on 10 and I need you to bring it down to two and a quarter. You’re pregnant. Sit your ass down somewhere, put your fucking feet up, and chill the fuck out!!”
Storming out of the room, I didn’t hear her respond. At that moment, I had enough of her. If her way of coping with the truth is the handgun edition of Show and Tell, how the hell is she going to deal with motherhood?
“Where are you going?! I know you hear me!!!!”
Feeling an anxiety attack coming on, I grab my jacket from the hall closet, and snatch my keys from the stand next to the front door. The door closes behind me. With hands shaking and breathing erratic, I get on the elevator to the lobby. Opening the lobby door, the cool air dances across my face. Standing against the brick wall, I release the tears. Tears steady flowing, I grab my phone from my pocket and send a text.
I don’t know how much longer I can do this.
The sun greets me with a warm kiss on the cheek. Once again, I’ve fallen asleep on the sofa. The pleasing aroma of bacon and maple syrup fill the air. Praise Sweet Baby Jesus, Ashley’s cooking! Giddy, I get up, shuffling my way to the kitchen.
“Well hello Chef,” I say seductively.
Ashley’s dressed in a hot pink lace slip. I debate on whether I want to attack her or that plate of bacon. The woes of a pregnant woman. Ashley sways her ample hips back and forth.
“I know what you want. Come and get it.”
She didn’t have to tell me twice. Walking up behind Ashley, I wrap my arm around her waist, tickling her stomach. She moans. My fingers trail past her stomach, grabbing two slices of peppered bacon. Ashley turns, spanking me on the ass with her hand.
“Move greedy ass,” she demands, giggling. “Breakfast will be ready in a few.”
Frowning, I stomp over to a bar stool at the counter. Watching Ashley pour the last of the batter into the waffle maker, I realize it’s now or never.
“Did you pay Nick off?”
Silence…until the waffle maker beeped. Ashley seizes the opportunity to avoid answering my question. Placing the hot waffle and a pile of bacon on a plate, she cautiously places the food in front of me. I lightly grab her arm.
“The truth Ashley. I want the truth.”
Defeated, she slumps against the fridge.
“As soon as you told me about that Halloween party, I made a financial arrangement with Nick to keep our secrets.”
She’s fidgeting, which means she’s withholding something. With my fork, I gesture for her to continue. She wipes her forehead with a paper towel.
“Jesus Susan, what else do you need to know?!”
Did she just fucking say that to me?!
“Two can play this game Ashley. Why would Nick tell you to pay Yelena?”
Ashley’s face pales with guilt.
“I…I…,” she stutters, her body shaking, tears rolling down her face.
“STOP BULLSHITTING ME!!!” I scream, throwing the fork in her direction. She ducks, waving her hand.
“Dammit!! Okay! Okay! Yelena and I dated for 18 months before you and I got together. When we got together, I broke up with Yelena.”
I say nothing and continue eating. A couple of minutes of silence should scare her. As I chew the last of my food, I stand up and walk towards the den. Minutes later, Ashley follows me.
“Say something!” she yells, her voice shaky.
Standing in front of the bookshelf, I reach for a vintage-looking dictionary. I open it, taking out my beloved Smith & Wesson M&P .357. Ashley gasps.
“Where…how long…a gun…”
“I inherited it from Uncle Jeff. He always told his nieces to never rely on anyone to protect you. Taught me the art of the take down with one bullet.”
I walk over to her, gun by my side, and brush her hair out of her face with my free hand.
“He also taught me that money doesn’t keep crazy away.”
It’s crazy how fast the past three months have flown by. Susan is currently 20 weeks along and last week we found out we are having a girl. She finally decided to slow down with work and relax. I’m fighting the urge to fill this condo with all baby everything.
“I would soooooo love a foot massage right now,” Susan asks, wiggling her toes on the sofa.
“Coming!” I respond, grabbing the bowl of fruit salad.
As I rub her feet, I see that my notification light on the phone is blinking. I glance at Susan. Head turned to the side, she’s dozing off. Definitely doesn’t take much these days. I stop massaging and check my phone. It’s an email from Nick.
Paperwork has been signed.
I breathe a sigh of relief. Guess it was loud because Susan starts to stir. I put the phone down.
“Just because I’m sleeping doesn’t mean you stop rubbing,” she mumbles.
I laugh. She never skips a beat.
“Are you hungry? I made a fruit salad with mint and balsamic vinegar.”
Susan’s eyes light up.
“We’re always hungry, however, I need to pee first,” she announces, sitting up.
I watch her walk down the hall out of sight before I sneak a few bites of salad. Not too bad for someone who can’t boil water. I hear the door open and quickly put the bowl back on the coffee table. Susan shuffles back into the living room. She’s rubbing her temples.
“These sonofabitch headaches suck! I hate them more than dizziness, leg cramps, and heartburn combined.”
“I’ll grab a lavender eye pillow from the bathroom.”
“Ahhhh love, thank you! I wouldn’t want to be having a baby with anyone else,” she exclaims, kissing me on the cheek. The faint smell of coconut tickles my nose.
I grab my phone and continue reading.
Being $50,000 richer feels mighty good. Thanks.
The red notification light on my phone is blinking. I knew it was an email from Nick. As much as I want to answer it, I don’t want to potentially ruin this moment that Ashley and I having. This shit is stressful. I mute the TV so I can check my phone.
I appreciate you informing me of your pregnancy. Nobody has been informed on my end in regards to your email
and I have no intention of telling anyone else. I know that you and Ashley will do one hell of a job raising the baby.
Have your lawyer contact me so that I can sign the necessary paperwork to relinquish my parental rights.
All the best,
I exhale and turn to Ashley.
“He’s going to sign over his rights.”
Speechless, Ashley begins to cry. I wipe the tears off her face.
“Baby, I promise these are tears of joy. I was mentally prepared for a fight. This is a HUGE weight lifted off of our shoulders.”
We continue to enjoy the moment until we fall asleep on the sofa. Dreams turned into nightmares, waking me up. As Ashley sleeps across my lap, I lightly comb her hair with my fingers. Never in a thousand years would I have imagined that we would be here. I’ve put Ashley through a lot and I just want this pregnancy to proceed as smoothly as possible.
“How long have you been awake?” she asks groggily.
I trace the outline of her eyes with my finger.
“For about an hour. My mind wouldn’t let me rest.”
Sitting up, Ashley rubs my belly. I may be crazy, but I swear I felt a rumble in my belly and it wasn’t hunger related.
“Holy shit balls, the baby kicked!!”
The door slams. Yelena left. I walk out of the den and into the living room. Susan is in the middle of the room, stifling laughter.
“End scene!” I yell while curtsying.
Susan grabs my hand and spins me around.
“I can’t believe we pulled that off,” she loudly whispers, face red from laughter.
I start twirling my hair around my fingers a la Yelena.
“I will have your preggo ass locked up!”
Susan hollers, spinning onto the couch.
It sucks having to terminate our friendship with Yelena this way. It took a while to realize that Yelena’s only loyal to herself. Friendships are a matter of convenience. She could give a rat’s ass less if she burns a bridge. It feels good to beat someone at their own game, especially when they don’t know that they’re playing.
“When are you going to send this email to Nick?”
Susan takes her phone out of her back pocket. No matter where she is, that electronic umbilical cord is never too far away.
“Right now,” she declares, fingers steady typing. “We don’t need to wait any longer.”
Hunger pangs kick in. I only ate a bagel today. Guess adrenaline was masking the pangs.
“Aren’t you hungry love?” I ask, rubbing Susan’s belly.
Looking up from her phone, Susan raises her eyebrow.
“Nom, nom, nom!!” she yells, pretending to put food in her mouth.
I order Thai and hop in the shower. As soon as I turn off the water, Susan knocks on the door.
“Come read the email before I send it.”
I pause. Feeling the beginnings of anxiety, I take a deep breath.
Susan passes the phone to me. Wiping water out of my eyes, I sit on the side of the tub to read.
I’m 8 weeks pregnant and keeping the baby. Let me know whether or not
you wish to have an active role in the child’s life and I’ll have my lawyer contact you.
“Well played love,” I respond, handing the phone back to her.
“E-mail sent. Now we can enjoy our night.”
I put on PJs while Susan answers the delivery man’s knock on the door. The condo suddenly smells delicious.
“Thai, silk pajamas, and snuggle time!!” I exclaim, dry humping Susan as she grabs plates from the cabinet.
We hunker down on the sofa, browsing through Netflix for a movie to watch. Between eating and the movie, something catches my eye.
The notification light on Susan’s phone is blinking.
“There’s definitely a baby in there,” the doctor announces, pointing to this bean-shaped dot on the screen.
I don’t quite know what to say. Susan’s smiling, but I’m sure she’s stressing on the inside. I mean, she’s having a baby with her ex-boyfriend. The same one she left to be with her best friend. That’s kind of a lot going on.
Susan wipes away a tear. “How far along am I?”
The doctor pauses.
“I would say you are around eight weeks.”
I cough. Wow, eight weeks. I’m trying to contain my excitement, but I really just want to text Mom and Yelena with the news. I manage to send them a text message while Susan was getting dressed. Not 10 seconds after I send it, she turns around.
“We have a little bit of time before we have to pick up Yelena,” Susan whispers, tracing the outline of my bottom lip with her finger.
“Watch it. That’s probably how you got knocked up.”
“That and a lot of alcohol!” she yells.
I laugh. I love Susan’s lack of filter. It’s definitely one of the things that attracted me to her. As we walked out of the office, I wrapped my arm around her waist. Susan lets out a deep sigh and let her shoulders fall.
“I have to tell Derek. He’s not going to make this easy,” she mumbles as we approach the car.
“Granted, I know he loathes us. But do you think he’s so upset that he’ll drag this out just because?”
Susan puts on her sunglasses and turns to me.
We grab some food en route to the airport, which makes us about 15 minutes late. Of course, Yelena’s flight would arrive on time. We park and head inside the airport. We approach the door to walk in when we hear a familiar voice.
“Yo, Ashley!! Come here girl!!”
Without hesitation, I turn around and start running. Yelena, multiple bags in tow, starts picking up the pace. We meet on the sidewalk and exchange hugs and kisses.
“Yele, I miss you bunches!!!!”
Brushing her curly hair out of her face, Yelena walks over to Susan and starts rubbing her belly.
“Does Nick know yet?” she asks, looking directly at Susan.
Susan’s face turns a shade of red that I thought wasn’t humanly possible. I’m totally lost. Why would Yelena ask Susan if Derek’s brother Nick knows?