It’s Always Something

Like many women of my rapidly advancing age, I loved Gilda Radner. I watched old SNL skits on VHS, while eating popcorn with my dad. He and Gilda helped me learn what funny was. 

When I later became a reader, I devoured her memoir “It’s Always Something”, probably still while eating popcorn. The book was funny and heartbreaking. A passage always stuck with me. 

When Gilda was advancing down the floor, dancing with cancer, she told of lying in bed at night with Gene Wilder. She relayed her memory of once again crying, being scared and needing someone to hold her and make it all okay. 

She revealed, to my teenage disgust, that on one dark and lonely night, Gene could no longer do those things. He too was tired. He was scared. He needed someone to rub his own cheek with words of solace, and make it all okay. 

How dare he! I spat and eye rolled and huffed as only a disappointed privileged teen can. How could he ever consider not being there to the very last curl of his hair for Gilda Radner!

I didn’t get it. 

Now I do. 

I watched my own dad die of cancer. I watched my mother care for him as he slowly did. My father needed the physical care. The mental care. 

But so did my mother. 

It’s not easy to be the caregiver or the partner. I know that. Sometimes, it really is easier to be the patient. As hard and callous as that sounds. 

I watched her do it before for him. Before cancer. She laid with him through anxiety and mental illness. I know there were nights that she didn’t have any more to give. When she was bone-tired from her feet to the end of pin-straight hair. When she needed someone to tell her it would be okay. 

There was no one. 

Last night, I lay there like my dad. 

I was the one hurting. 

Again. 

And I was the one who asked to be held and comforted and coddled. 

Again. 

And I never thought for a moment to consider if the one I was asking might not need some care, too. 

They did. 

I forget. I avoid. I neglect. Not on purpose. Not at all. But because while anxiety and depression hurts. And hurts. And then hurts even more. To have your own brain and body rebel and scream lies. It hurts. I was too busy hurting to see. And remember. 

It hurts to be the one watching. 

It hurts to give and give and never get any return. To reaffirm and encourage and try to lift up someone who seems to only want to drag themselves as far down in the pits as their claws will carry them. 

And that’s what I do. What many of us with unquiet minds do. And sometimes we bring the ones holding us down with us. 

Because it is always something. It’s work. It’s a kid. It’s a bill. It’s a failure. It’s a successs that’s not success enough. It’s a wonderful weekend of love and magic that your brain tells you to fight against for no good reason, only that you can’t believe it actually happened. 

Today, I want to remember. To be thankful for the love I take that is so freely given. Again and again. Even when I don’t see or believe it. To see, really see when someone is watching me and maybe hurting too. I want to go into the pit alone if I need, but alone. And I want to have strong, free arms to grab hold, to keep them from going into the same dark. 

That’s what love is. 

Being there. 

Seeing. 

Believing. 

Remembering every little something.

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 13

New horror fiction.

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 13 – The End

 

Chapter 13

 

“Lynnie?” Shawn called from the doorway. The apartment was silent. “You home?”

He dropped his bag by the door and moved to the kitchen. There were cups and glasses scattered on the counter. No dishes. On top of all these, toppling into the sink, were handfuls of dishtowels and at least two bath towels. The pilling cotton looked like someone had spilled a bottle of red wine, maybe two, and tried using one after another to mop up the mess. Shawn didn’t see a wine bottle. He ran to the bathroom.

The tub was empty. The floor was bare. There was another wet, red dish towel in the bathroom sink. The faucet slowly dripped water onto it, forming a pink puddle in the folds of the fabric. Shawn ran to the bedroom.

Carolyn lay on the bed, alone. She was only wearing a t-shirt. There was blood smeared from her pubic hair to her thighs. It clotted on her skin. Her eyes were open. But she was gone. Even though he saw that, knew that in his heart, he jumped on the bed with her and tried to save her. He pumped, he breathed, he yelled to her, calling her name. But she was beyond all that.

Shawn climbed off the bed. His own shirt was now covered with patches of blood. He had to call. Someone had to take care of her. He reached in his back pocket for his phone. It wasn’t there. He touched across his chest and his pants, looking for it.

“I have to get my phone. I’ll be right back,” he said to Carolyn, who lay on the bed without breathing.

He ran out of the bedroom, past the empty bathroom and the kitchen with the towels he now knew weren’t stained with wine. He crashed to his knees by his bag he had dropped by the door, upending it. Clothes, linen sheets, bottles of massage oil and a knobbed roller flew across the room. “Where’s the god damn phone?” he yelled to the lifeless room. He spun around the room, searching, scanning. Finally, he saw Carolyn’s phone on the table. He raced to it and dialed 911. He didn’t remember much after that.

 

 

 

When he walked back in the apartment the next day, his bag and its contents laid scattered where he had left them. He dropped his keys on the floor among the chaos. He was so tired. His feet drug along the floor as he slunk to the bedroom.

The bloody sheets were still on the bed. He sat down on the edge of the bed, far away from the red stains. He pulled the phone out of his pocket. He was still carrying Carolyn’s phone. He dialed.

“Dae,” he said when she answered. “I’m all right. Just got back. No. It was the cysts like we thought. Ruptured. Bled and they lost her pressure. No. Not tonight. I can’t tonight Dae. Can’t do it. Come round tomorrow. We’ll look. Pick something. I know, love. Yeah. Ok. Bye.”

He threw the phone on the bed. He couldn’t stop looking at the blood on the ivory sheets. He grabbed anything within arm’s reach: the sheets, the comforter, the pillows, everything. Yanking them off and curling them to his chest, he squeezed them, rogue pillow cases dropping as he ran to the hamper to get them out of his sight. His eyes barely open, he slunk back to the bed and laid on the bare mattress. He curled his knees to his chest and closed his eyes.

The room was dark when he woke. The world outside the window was also dark. It wasn’t the light that woke him. He heard it again, music. Soft tune with sharp ebbs and flows. It sounded like music that might have played at a fair he remembered. One in May. It kept playing. He sat up and looked around the room. It was in the room somewhere. They didn’t have a radio. His laptop wasn’t on the desk. He still had no idea where his phone was, but if he did, that song wasn’t on it. He looked to the pile of dirty sheets in the hamper. There. He lunged at the hamper and pulled everything out, shaking and sifting their soiled life onto the floor. Then, he heard a dull, flat thud. Carolyn’s phone landed on the floor in front of him, still singing its organ-grinder ballad. He stared at it. He had lost his phone and was carrying hers. Why was her phone in the basket? Why was anyone calling her? Someone who didn’t know. He jabbed at a button to make it stop. It didn’t and instead kept playing. He stared at the screen, an image of him and Carolyn wearing plastic crowns. That’s when the music stopped and Shawn lost consciousness.

When he awoke, Pam was standing in the doorway. Shawn was lying on the bed, nestled in freshly-cleaned sheets. He started up in bed when he saw her.

“That one wasn’t bad,” she said. “You’ve had much worse.”

Shawn wasn’t afraid. He was alert and oriented enough that he knew he should be. But he wasn’t.

“Don’t worry yourself over who I am or what I’m doing,” Pam said. “She’s fine. And so is she.”

Shawn tilted his head.

“She. The baby,” Pam said.

He lilted his head again.

“They never want to listen to women. Always want to think they’re crazy. You started having fits and they didn’t think you were crazy. Just a little bug in the brain.”

“Carolyn…”

“You have to take it back for a while. The seizures. They’re start again tomorrow. But Carolyn is fine. She did what she could. Did a good job of it. She’s happy now. And the baby.”

“I want-“

“No,” Pam said. “Can’t have that. Too late now. But we’ll be seeing you again. Soon.”

Shawn looked around the room. It was clean. Clothes folded, shelves dusted, and a navy suit was laid out over a chair.

“She managed to name him after you. Lucky girl.”

He stared at the suit. He remembered her buying it, but never wearing it. He teased her about stockings. That seemed so awful now.

“Is she…” Shawn asked, but the room was bare. The woman in the room was gone. He saw Carolyn’s phone in the folds of the bed. Grabbing it, he curled his hands around it. He laid on the bed and waited for it to ring again.

As he was drifting off to sleep at dawn, it did. When he picked it up, he heard a baby cry. Then he heard nothing. The seizure took over his mind and body. There was no more baby. Only dark.

My dark novel Drowning Above Water is now available at Amazon. 

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 12

New horror fiction.

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 12

 

Chapter 12

 

The room was already bright when Carolyn opened her eyes. She was accustomed to waking up at dawn, when their bedroom still had slanted shadows. Shawn was always up before her. Sometimes making teas. Other days he mediated or did sun salutations quietly in the corner. On the best days, she woke to see him staring at her.

“I love you in the morning,” he had told her. So many times. “When your mind is quiet and calm and your face is naked.” He was the quiet, calm one. She was the one with the scattered thoughts. Racing. Anxious. Unsettled. Until now. She had turned peaceful. Preparing. He had become the one flustered and segmented and hurting. And he was the one who was gone. She laid in the bed alone. He had never stayed away from her without reason. Travel. Work. Visiting. But never like this. She stared at the empty side of the bed. Her heart hurt. And then the rest of her body hurt.

The pain felt like a sledgehammer to her pelvis. It folded her in half. She desperately tried to find a position that didn’t bring tears and allowed her to breathe. Her eyes were closed and she called out, “Shaw…” before she remembered he wasn’t there. She buried her head in her pillow and twisted onto her hands and knees. After a moment, the pain eased, but only by a degree. She managed to get to the edge of the bed, still aching through her ribs and stomach.

“It will get better,” she heard from the doorway. She opened her eyes, and for some reason, that made the pain worse. She closed them again. Pam stood, waiting for Carolyn’s pain to ease again. After a moment, it did.

“How did you know?” Carolyn asked.

“I just know. I’ve always known.” Pam walked toward the bedroom, carrying a huge bag over her shoulder. She talked as she worked. “I’m going to get the room ready.” She pointed to Carolyn. “You, sit. Save your energy. Going to be a long day.”

 

Carolyn leaned on her nightstand with one hand and the other sunk into the bed. Her legs were spread wide and she shifted her weight from her left foot to her right. The hand on the bed slipped and she lost her balance.

“God damn, son of a bitch,” she screamed. She didn’t fall but slumped onto the bed.

“I got you,” Pam said, gathering Carolyn around the waist and guiding her to sit on the bed.

“God damn…” Carolyn said, her breath breaking.

“Almost there,” Pam soothed. “Almost there. Let me look.” Pam reached her fingers in between Carolyn’s legs. When she drew them away, she held them up for Carolyn to see. They were covered with blood that dripped down to Pam’s knuckle. “Look, Carolyn. Keep breathing. Look at me.” Carolyn did, wincing. “Good girl. She’s coming. It’s time. I’m sorry. I wish we had a bathtub. Fucking New York. Come on. Into the bed.” Carolyn wobbled as she got from sitting and laid down in the bed.

“Why is…blood, why is there blood?” Carolyn said, her voice faint.

“Has to be born in blood,” Pam smiled. “That’s what it takes. That’s what makes it sealed.”

“Wha-“  Carolyn grimaced as her word turned into a scream against her will.

“You are a light,” Pam said. “Our light. And She will be our Beacon. The One to guide. Thank you.”

Carolyn tried to respond. There was nothing to be said. And after her next breath, there was nothing more to see. There was no more light. Only dark. And pain.

My new dark novel Drowning Above Water is available at Amazon. 

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 11

 

New horror fiction. 147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 11

 

Chapter 11

 

Shawn let himself into the apartment and dropped his backpack at the door. Puddles of water pooled around his boots and leaked in a trail to the bottom of his bag. He didn’t bother to move it. Neither did he bother to take off his boots or sweater when he walked into the kitchen.

He stood at the refrigerator, dripping on the rug, holding the door open. It was full of glass and plastic containers, which held all manner of foods. All of them organic. Most of them green. Normally, he enjoyed having these things around. Tonight, he just wanted a paper full of greasy chips. Instead, he settled for some sort of tan grain with olive-colored specks. He ate it cold, standing, his hair dripping into his dinner. Or was it lunch? He couldn’t remember.

“Here. Let me take your coat,” Carolyn said from the doorway. He didn’t look up. He kept eating.

“I’ll get it,” he said. He took a final huge bite, a few grains slipping out of the glass tub and onto the floor. He stepped to the sink and tossed the bowl in with a clank.

“Could you…” she said.

“What?” he asked. “What can I do now?”

“Nothing,” she said. “How was work?”

“It was long. I’m going to bed.”

“Oh,” she said. “Good night.”

She walked to the sink and turned on the water, full and hot. The steam rose and she felt it, loosening the tightness in her face. The calm stopped when a pain grabbed onto her. She gasped and put her hand to her side. They were getting stronger. She’d had them before. They were sharp and quick, but they faded easily enough. She hadn’t had one for a week, then had one in each of the past three days. She braced herself against the sink with her other had and tried to breathe as deeply as she could. It was coming. Closing her eyes helped to focus her imagery, picturing her rib cage widening to allow for more air in her lungs. She opened her eyes when she heard the water shut off in the sink. She’d forgotten that she had left it on. Shawn was drying his hands on a towel. Carolyn heard him sigh.

“Leave it,” he said. “I’ll wash it tomorrow.”

“I’ll do it,” she said. “I’m fine.” She rubbed her stomach as the pain started to loosen its bite.

“I know.”

He stared at her. “I can’t do this. I can’t look at you every day like this.”

“Like what?” she asked.

“Look at you,” he said, voice raising to an echo in the small space. He gestured with his arms and when they collapsed back to his sides in defeat, water droplets flew off his coat. “You are not having a baby, Carolyn. I don’t care what you say. You’re not. So, I don’t know what this is.” He yanked his coat off, catching it at his elbow. He grunted and struggled and finally threw it to the floor. “And I don’t know what to do. You won’t go see someone and I can’t help you. Something is wrong. It’s very wrong. And I don’t know what to do.”

“You think I’m crazy,” she said.

“I think you’re sick.”

“I’m not sick, Shawn. I’m having a baby.”

“You’re not having a fucking baby!” he screamed. “You are full of cysts and tumors and maybe even cancer.  You’re going to die. And I have to watch.”

Carolyn leaned forward and picked up his wet coat. She grunted quietly as be bent down.  He grabbed the coat out of her hand and kicked it out into the hall. “Leave the fucking coat.” Carolyn stood quietly, her hand protectively folded over and under her round belly. She did look pregnant. She had gained forty pounds, at least. Maybe more. But not everywhere. Only her stomach.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“It’s all right. You just don’t understand. She said you wouldn’t.”

“Who? Who said I wouldn’t?”

“Pam,” Carolyn said.

“And who the bleeding hell is Pam?”

“She’s my friend. She’s helping me.”

“Well, she’s right. I don’t understand. But if she’s helping you, brilliant, because help is what you need. And I can’t.” He stared at her.

“I know.”

“I have to go. I’m sorry.” He stepped toward her and kissed her. It was habit and compunction, not compassion. “I’m sorry.” He hurried out of the kitchen. He scooped his wet coat off the floor of the hallway, slammed the door, and was gone. Carolyn turned back to the sink, and starting washing the dirty bowl.

My new dark, suspense novel Drowning Above Water is available at Amazon. 

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 10

New horror fiction.

147 E. 9th Street

Chapter 10

 

Carolyn walked to the far back of the bar. There was an empty stool with a red drink sitting in front of it. Pam sat on the next stool.

“Cranberry,” Pam said, gesturing to the drink. “It’s fine. You’re allowed to be in a bar. No smoke. Easy crowd.”

“You knew I was coming here?”

“She told me,” Pam said, downing her shot of whiskey.

“He didn’t come with me today. To the doctor. Everyone thinks I’m crazy.”

“They’ll see,” Pam said. “You can already feel her, can’t you?”

“I can,” Carolyn said. She wrapped both her hands around the cranberry juice to steady her trembling.

“It’s early. But not for you. They say four months, but I always felt mine early.” Pam downed another shot. Carolyn took a careful drink of hers.

“It’s so cold,” Carolyn said.

“The cold helps. Trust me,” Pam said. “Especially in the morning. You’re showing. It looks good.”

Carolyn smiled. “I hoped you would be here,” she said. Then she lost her smile. “What do I do? About this? I don’t know what to do.”

“You don’t have to do anything. Actually, it’s better if you just let it go.” Pam lifted another shot to her mouth, but put it back down on the bar without drinking it. “Talking about it will only upset him. He doesn’t understand. None of them do. And it’s not their fault. They don’t have the capacity for it. But he will come around.”

“What if he doesn’t?”

“Then he doesn’t. And she’ll still have you. All she needs. So just be still. Be quiet. Let it happen.”

“She’ll be all right?” Carolyn asked.

“She’ll be perfect,” Pam said. She finally took her latest shot. Carolyn took another swallow of her cranberry juice.

“This really is so good,” Carolyn said, draining the red juice. “Why is it so good?”

Pam nodded to the bartender, who set another full glass in front of Carolyn. Peering inside, Carolyn leaned down and almost touched her nose to the ice cubes floating on the surface of the drink. She inhaled. “It smells like a popsicle, on a scorching day at beach.” She drained half the glass. Her cell phone rang and she put down the drink. It wasn’t the canned carnival ring. It was her usual parred down symphony.

“Don’t worry,” Pam said. “You won’t get any more of those calls.”

Carolyn hesitated, but after a second refrain, she answered.

“Hello? Hi. I went to the bar on Fourth. I was just really hot. I did. Something red and cold. I’m not sure. Not sure. Soon. Yes. Ok. Love you too.”

“And there you go. What did I say? You’ll do just fine. No. He’ll be fine. You’ll be great.”

“Can I call you? If I get worried? About the baby? He doesn’t believe this. And I don’t have anyone to talk to.”

“I’ll be around,” Pam said. “Get him, would you,” she said, gesturing to the bartender. Carolyn leaned over to catch his eye. He walked toward her.

“What’s your-“ she asked, turning from the bartender back to Pam. The stool next to her was empty. There were three empty shot glasses on the bar. Her half-full cranberry juice was still there.

“You’re good,” the bartender said. “Tab’s paid up.” He cleared away the shot glasses and walked to the other end of the bar. Carolyn sat, staring at the red juice. She finished the rest of it in one swallow. She stood and shivered. When the chill stopped, she froze on her feet. What she felt in her stomach wasn’t goosebumps. It was movement. She put her hand on her stomach. Her fingers were shaking. She felt it again. The baby. It was her baby. And she was moving.

 

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 9

 

New horror fiction.

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 9

 

Chapter 9

 

The room was freezing. But Carolyn could feel her sweat, slick against her chest and upper arms, seeping from her armpits. She lay on the exam table, the white sheet digging in where it twisted under the back of her leg. She was wearing a hospital gown, flapped over itself and lifted, exposing her stomach. Her pants were unzipped and separated. Shawn stood behind her, quiet, his hand on her shoulder. The doctor rolled the ultrasound head over her abdomen and stared at the screen.

“Okay, those are the cysts. We knew about those,” the doctor said, pointing to blurry mounds on the monitor behind her. She moved the ultrasound head as she spoke. “One. Two. Three…and there’s the fourth.”

Carolyn and Shawn were silent. They’d heard the words but not seen the evidence live. Her ovaries, her fallopian tubes and her uterus were filled with strangulating cysts.

The doctor made a sound. It wasn’t a gasp. Nothing so big. But she took in a breath that the room could hear. “Wait…there’s something else here…I don’t remember seeing a fifth one before, this must be a new one.” She moved the ultrasound head again and adjusted a dial on the machine.

“What?” Carolyn said, lifting her head as far off the exam table and forward toward to the monitor as she could. “What’s wrong?” Shawn grabbed her hand. There was a brief percussive sound that came from the machine. A few beats and then another. Then, the muffled but regular sound of a heart beat filled Carolyn’s head.

“What is that?” she asked. She reached up and grabbed Shawn’s hand, digging her fingers into the flash of his muscular palms.

“I don’t know,” the doctor said. “I’m sorry. There must be another one. Small. Something we didn’t see before.

“No,” Carolyn said. “The sound…”

Shawn looked at Carolyn, then at the doctor, and then back to Carolyn. “What sound?”

The fast, regular pounding filled her ears again.

“It’s a heartbeat,” Carolyn said.

The doctor looked concerned. “Are you feeling okay” Faint? Dizzy? Nauseous?”

“No,” Carolyn said. “I’m fine. But I know what…is that a baby?”

“I’m sorry,” the doctor said. “It’s not a heartbeat. You might be hearing, it could be, sometimes when there is more mass, unusually calcified or misplaced, in the tissue space than is usual, the vibrations of the sound waves in the biologic fluid can- “

“I know what it is,” Carolyn said.

“It could just be you feeling unwell. Some dehydration, the beginnings of a migraine, vertigo, could all mimic a similar sound in your head,” the doctor said. “I’m not hearing anything. Carolyn, I need to be sure you understand. With four cysts of that size, all calcified, some precancerous, there is no way that this uterus could sustain life.”

“My uterus is sustaining,” Carolyn said.

“Darling, I’m sure…” offered Shawn.

The doctor turned off the ultrasound machine. “My first concern is for your health. Why don’t you get dressed and we can talk in my office?” The doctor smiled politely, and just a bit sadly.

“We can talk here,” Carolyn said, straightening herself up on the exam table. She smiled too. A real one. Ernest and eager.

“Lynnie,” Shawn said.

“Please. Go ahead,” Carolyn said to the doctor.

“I have to recommend a complete hysterectomy. Not emergent. But I’d like it as soon as possible.”

Carolyn smile flattened, but just a by a degree. “No.”

“Ms. Janus-“

“Doctor McMillen,” Carolyn said, “I am not going to have a surgery. I am having a baby. So, that is what I’m going to do.”

“That is not medically possible,” the doctor said.

“That,” Carolyn said,” is not up to you.”

“I’m sorry, but I have to…Carolyn, you have to listen. Tell her, what happens if she doesn’t have the surgery,” Shawn said.

“This is ridiculous,” Carolyn said. “Why would I even consider this? I’m, we’re having a baby.”

“I don’t care about that,” he said. “I don’t care if we never have any. I want our life like it is and that means you.”

“But I don’t-”

“Tell her what can happen,” he said, voice raising and patience lowering.

“Infection. Sepsis. Rupture. Death,” the doctor said, plain and firm.

“Is that all?” Carolyn asked.

“Listen,” Shawn scolded.

Carolyn slid forward and stood. Shawn stood beside her. The doctor rose to meet them. “Thank you so much,” Carolyn said. “We’re done here.” Her thin hospital bed gaped open, her breasts and torso exposed. She grabbed her t-shirt from a folding chair in the corner and left. Shawn dipped his head slightly at the doctor, then followed her.

 

 

An hour later, Carolyn walked to the corner of their kitchen. She threw the rumpled hospital gown she still had balled in her hand into the garbage can. Shawn waited until she turned around so he could look at her face. “We don’t have to do anything right now. I want you to relax. I’ll draw you a bath- “

Carolyn smiled. “Silly boy. East village apartments don’t have bathtubs.” He started saying this to her shortly after their first date. He offered to draw her a bath. His small apartment had none. He smiled and left the room. When he returned, he handed her a pencil sketch of a bathtub. He was good with his hands in so many ways.

“I’ll make you one: pop out, get a blow-up kiddie pool at Duane Reade, boil water in the kettle while I blow it up. Bubbles, lavender oil, salts, right as rain and then fast asleep,” he said. “Deal with this another day.” He stroked her forearm as he talked.

“You are wonderful,” she said, leaning up to kiss him. “I’m so happy.” He kissed her back and tried to wrap her in his arms. “And I’m starving. I will love you forever if you call out for a curry while I take a shower.” She pulled away from his arms and went into the bathroom. She closed the door behind her and he heard her click the lock. “Seven and a half,” she called to him behind the door. “I want it spicy.”

She stayed in the bathroom for a long, long time. The water in the shower had shifted from scalding hot, to warm to tepid, to slightly chilly by the time she was done. When she finally got out, she’d let go of the day and made her plans.  and wrapped herself in a long, warm robe. She could smell the curry.

He was sitting with a pile of vegetables. There was a bottle of uncorked wine on the table.  She took a bite of her curry.

“It’s perfect,” she said, her mouth full and her nose sniffling.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I told them medium. Do you want mine?”

“No,” she said. “It’s great.”

“I love you,” he said.

“Love you, too.”

“Here. Have some wine,” he said, grabbing the wine and pouring. She looked at him as if he was the most foolish boy. She walked to the sink and poured herself a glass of water. She took several long gulps still standing and then returned to the table.

“What are you doing tomorrow?” she asked. He pulled his phone out of his pocket. They tried to keep their phones away during their dinners.

“Clients until three,” he said.

“Perfect. Keep the evening free.”

“Of course,” he said. “What are you thinking love?

“I think I found a midwife. At the center off 38th. I e-mailed while I was in the bathroom. She’s lovely. We can look at the office tomorrow when you’re done.”

“Lynnie…”

“She has a list of doulas that she recommends. I want to start interviewing as soon as we can. I want as much support as I can get. I know you’ll be wonderful but there needs to be another support. You can’t be my only pillar.”

He slammed the wine bottle back down on the table. Drops flicked onto his hand. “You’ve got to stop. I went along when we were at the doctor’s office but- “

“Look at me. Look at this belly. This isn’t me. It’s her.”

“No, Carolyn. It’s you moping around this apartment and eating and not moving. And I don’t care. I love you no matter your shape or size. I love you and your belly. You are still my most beautiful girl in the world. But there is no baby. And you have go to stop this. Or you will get sick, and then you will get sicker and then you will be my beautiful dead girl.”

“You don’t have to be a part of this,” she said. “We will be just fine on our own.”

Shawn stood, leaving the food and wine where it sat. He walked away from the table and she could hear the bedroom door slam from the other room. She took another drink of water to cool her mouth, and then she stabbed a forkful of his vegetables and ate them in one giant bite. Then she took another. It really was perfect.

 

My new suspense novel Drowning Above Water is available at Amazon.

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 8

New horror fiction. 

 

Chapter 8

 

“Hello!” Dae called from the doorway of the house. Carolyn shuffled around the corner, draped in layers of flannel, with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

“Hey,” Carolyn said.

“Damn you are a sexy bitch,” Dae said. She held up bags. “I used my key. Hope that’s okay. And I brought lo mein, about twenty spring rolls, tea and wine. Oh and porn. Something in here should help.”

“Thanks,” Carolyn said. “Just…put them in the kitchen. Or wherever.”  Carolyn walked slowly to the living room and dropped into a chair.

“So…” Dae said.

“So,” Carolyn answered.

“What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it bad?” Dae asked.

“Maybe. I don’t think so,” Carolyn said. “But they don’t know. I’m supposed to see him tomorrow. Talk about the tests.” Carolyn rested her head on the back of the chair. “Shawn is crushed. Not that he’s acting like it”

“Why?”

“He is brighter and shinier than I’ve ever seen him. Hanging out with friends. Going to hear music. He started taking pictures again. Has more clients than he can book. Hasn’t had a seizure in a year.”

“No, sweetie, not why is he acting, like, some white frat boy. Why is he crushed?”

“If we go to the appointment, and it’s bad, then my uterus is officially off the market. Yanking it off the shelves. Expired. Done.”

“Shit,” Dae said, looking at the floor.

“Nothing’s definite.”

“But if you go in there tomorrow and they say, that’s it, baby is off the table– are you…”

“I didn’t know if I ever even wanted a baby,” Carolyn said. “I didn’t think so. You know that. I’m not a mom. Now, all I see is babies. All I hear is kids. Singing. Screaming. I can’t stop them.” The sound of tinny carousel music came from the next room. “See? My phone.”

“Oh. Go ahead,” Dae said.

“No,” Carolyn said.

“I can go get it,” Dae shifted to stand.

“I said no,” Carolyn demanded.

“Ok.”

The women sat without talking. The music marched on for a few more seconds and then stopped. Carolyn hung her head.

“I hate to bring this up,” Dae said.

“Just say it,” Carolyn said. “I know that’s why you came.”

“It’s not,” Dae said. “I wanted to see you.”

“Bullshit. What did they say?” Carolyn said, picking up her head and staring pointedly at Dae.

Dae breathed. “They’re taking you off all your current projects. Raj is going to call you on Friday to formalize it.

“Fuck,” Carolyn said, letting her neck go slack and dropping her head to the back of the chair.

“They’re not firing you,” Dae said. “He is absolutely clear on that.”

“Sure as hell sounds like it,” Carolyn said.

“I’m sorry,” said Dae. “It sucks. But…”

“But what?”

“I don’t want to sound like a bitch. Yeah, I’m your manager, but I’m your friend first and after. The work still needs done. The ad buys are slowing down and we need the content. And besides all that, I think you’re a fabulous woman. But you weren’t getting it done when you were there. I’d rather you be here and get better.”

“He’s a massage therapist, Dae. You know what he makes, what we have. How are we supposed to make it on one salary? In New York?”

Dae pulled out an envelope and handed it to Carolyn.

“What?”

“Pay me back when you can. I probably won’t be there much longer anyway. Looking at some new companies. Maybe try something on my own. When I do, you come with me.”

Carolyn hung her head and tears filled her eyes. “I can’t cry. It hurts.”

“Then don’t, you maudlin, moody bitch.”

Dae crouched down to the floor and wrapped her arms around Carolyn. They smiled. Then, Carolyn wept.

“I hate you,” Carolyn.

“I hate you too,” Dae responded.

Carolyn trembled as she exhaled in spurts and cuts.

“You’re okay,” Dae said. “Promise. You’ll get better and figure this out.”

Carolyn said nothing. Her tears stung her skin when they rolled down her cheeks. There was a twinge in her stomach. Then another one. And then a faint flutter. As soon as she felt that, she stopped crying. She knew what the tests would show. And she knew that they would be wrong. Only she knew what was happening.

If you enjoy these literary ramblings, my new suspense novel Drowning Above Water is available at Amazon.