New horror fiction.
147 E. 9th Street
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.