The curtains were drawn against the chill of an early winters evening. The only sound to be heard was a sigh as she poured over one of her interminable lists, this being for the coming weekends dinner party.
She was concerned how she would keep them apart after the recent unpleasantness.
It was unthinkable she not invite them both, but in doing the right thing by them, had created a problem for herself…..
Drawing a soothing draught of red wine from her glass, she looked up from her list and stared across the room. A distant memory, like the transient flash of ‘his’ handsome smile, spurned her inner turmoil. She had developed feelings for Steven during her initial tenure at the University. Their first encounter seemed almost cliche. A fateful walk across an autumn campus, a stack of books falling upon golden autumn leaves, polite words spoken, lucid eyes meeting hungrily. Butterflies.
What had begun as an innocent friendship between colleagues (for Amy would later be introduced to Steven as a contemporary) later spurned into a brief, but torrid, romantic affair. When the couple resuscitated themselves from their grey moral vortex, they realised that they would make better friends than bed-fellows and had decided to remain in each other’s lives. Now, Amy had the task of playing chancellor and counsellor to her friend, as he struggled for a sense of equilibrium in his failing marriage. Once again, she sensed the butterflies.
Amy sealed both invitations, one for Steven and one for Margo, his estranged wife, and adhered a lovely tiffany art stamp to each. “I hope to God, they aren’t still arguing over custody of the dog or the chimp – helluva a dinner topic that will make.” She put the invitations aside for the post office run she would do in the morning and pondered the menu for the party. “Now what dish would both please Steven and compliment his lovely golden curls by candlelight – of course, curry!”
Amy sat on the couch contemplating the difficult intricacies of the seating arrangement when the phone rang.
“Ms. Neidelson, thank God you’re home. This is Dr. Shotzendach. I hope I’m not catching you at a bad time.”
“No, doctor. I’m just sitting . . . Is everything okay?”
“Well, I do believe we’ve found the source of your equilibrium problem and I’m glad you’re sitting down. You’re two months pregnant. And here’s the best part: You’re having twins! Congratulations! Ms. Neidelson?”
“Uh . . . I don’t understand doctor . . . I mean, I understand but . . . how do you . . .”
“Your lab results and the CAT scan images told us all we needed to know. Ms. Neidelson? Ms. Neidelson, are you still there?!”
Amy began to laugh hysterically. A bit too hysterically . . .
The phone slipped from her spasming hand and crashed against the glass of wine. Her laughter morphed to sobs as she sat mesmerized by the bits of broken glass and the spread of the crimson stain against the polished hard wood floor. Bitterly she asked herself, how could she have come to this pass. She had been so careful all her life and yet one afternoon of unbridled passion had sent her whole world reeling.
For as long as she could remember, Amy had vowed not to conceive. She had worked her entire life to not only conceal but to expunge the story of her childhood. She had spent her early years raised in a traveling circus but not the romanticized life. Her father was not the Lion Tamer and her mother was not the Beautiful Lady on the Flying Trapeze. No that was only in her dreams. Her father was Wee Willy Winky, The Smallest Man in Northern America, and her mother was Woolly Wanda, The Bearded Woman. Tears ran down Amys’ face as she wondered if this life would be exposed if she was to give birth to two small bearded goat girls.
She berated herself but she knew that it could have been no different. She had not the power or the will to avoid succumbing to the charms of the Parcel Delivery Man. She had been in a high state of anticipation over the delivery of her lavender shower curtains when Dan rang her doorbell. One look at his glittering smile, the first glance at the sunlight shimmering off his baseball cap, and her heart and her loins melted.
But what now? How could she put on a brave face for the dinner party this weekend with her entire life in turmoil.
After wiping away warm tears, Amy smoothed out invisible wrinkles from her dress and stood to look out the window. Her sniffles and tears subsided as mascara had run down her cheeks, staining her fair skin. As she watched from the foyer’s window, she noticed a few children playing in the snowdrifts across the street. This saddened the woman as she knew that she would never have normal looking children that didn’t need a daily shave at the age of four, but at least they’d stay warm during the chilly winter season.
Amy’s thoughts went to the Parcel Delivery Man and his wooly, sweater-like back hair. What a lovely sight, she remembers. It reminded her of her dear, late Mother. A heavy sigh escaped her as she shook her head, cursing herself at the thought of the dinner party, and the details that still needed to be finalized. “Woman, you must pull yourself together, if only for the weekend!”
She pondered the guest list and thought of him, Steven.
Lil ‘ol me
As she went to the closest for the broom and dustpan she remembered the first night she spent in Steven’s arms…dinner and dancing till dawn at the officer’s club. He had looked so stunning in his military regalia. At their initial meeting as colleagues he had invited her to attend his official retirement from the Marine Corps to enjoy his teaching position full time. The butterflies increased but the evening had followed with the most intense love making that Amy had ever enjoyed and had since to be repeated. Even the afternoon spent with Dan was no match. If only she would have been as careful with her birth-control methods then.
She swept up the shattered wine glass and reflected on the fact that she had been drinking while her unborn children inhabit her womb. What type of life was she bringing them in to? Were her bearded babies lives to be hampered with an addiction to alcohol like hers had been? The circus life had been hard…sometimes the only thing her father would bring home from the store was alcohol to drown away the lonely life the family lead.
I hope I did OK! This is so fun, and if you want to follow me I’m passing this back to the Muse.