Cruel Infidelity

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CH. 11: RACHEL

As Rachel lays down to sleep, there’s a dread deep inside her bones. Guilt and fear. The simple reality of being alive terrifies her. Her mind races as she tries to make sense of her awareness.

She scans the room. Her furniture glows with a subtle blue hue. She stares at the ceiling. Why do I feel this way? Why am I so painfully aware of existing? Could it be the awareness of being is directly linked to the awareness of mortality? Someday she will cease to be. She will be like the dirt, marked only by an overpriced piece of granite.

With the weight of anxiety pressing heavily on her chest, she throws the blankets off her body and trudges to the kitchen sink, sucking water into her mouth from the source.

She finds a corner and awkwardly sits, not bothering to turn on the light.

Memes for nurses flash before her eyes as she pulls her finger down over her phone’s screen. Her eyes shift to the upper left-hand corner. Heather should have been home hours ago.

Despite the extra hours Heather claimed to be working, she hasn’t offered to help with extra bills or even pay any more rent than she had been before the alleged overtime. She’s been trying to talk to Heather for days now, but there’s always some excuse about her being too tired, or not having time.

Rachel jerks her head up as a slowing car approaches outside. She rises to her knees and parts the blinds, watching as Heather’s green 98’ Ford Expedition pulls into the driveway.

“She still hasn’t gotten that light bulb replaced,” she mutters to herself. Springing to her feet, she quickly takes a seat at the table. She’s going to talk to Heather tonight whether she wants to or not. No more excuses.

She stares at the front door intensely, listening as Heather slowly climbs the stairs. Her attempt of slipping in unheard only serves to raise more questions. Why the need to be so sneaky about it?

The key slides into the lock and the door opens very slowly. Rachel sits silently, watching as she carefully pushes it closed, clicking the lock into place with barely a sound.

“How was work?” Rachel asks flatly.

“Jesus Fuck, Rachel!” She flicks on the lights. “You scared me half to death! Why are you just sit—” She stops short, her eyes widening. “Your hair.” Her eyes shift to the side and back at her. “Is that. Um, I mean, is that why you’re still up? To show me your haircut?” Her mouth pulls into a thin line.

Rachel scoffs, shaking her head. She had a feeling she’d react this way, but the gamble was worth the truth coming out, even if she never admits it. “I just thought I’d wait up for you,” she says in a honeyed tone.

“Oh. Well, I had to work late. I told you that.” She rolls her eyes.

“Yes, So you tell me,” Rachel answers dryly. “As you’re aware, we’ve barely seen each other these past couple of weeks.”

“I’ve been busy with work—”

“I’m not attacking or blaming you for anything. I just really need to talk to you.”

Heather loudly exhales through her nose and folds her arms. She presses her lips together and focuses her attention on the stove top clock. “It’s late.” Her upper lip curls slightly upward, her eyes narrowing.

“Sit down,” Rachel says, shoving a chair toward her.

Heather rolls her eyes again, still refusing to look at her. She sits with heavy thud. “I’m tired, Rache, please make this quick,” she huffs, eyeing her phone.

“I’m pregnant.”

Heather’s eyes jump to meet hers finally. “What?” She stares slack-jawed at her for what seems like minutes. She shakes her head. “Whose is it?” Her voice is so low it’s almost a whisper.

“I’ve only been with one man.” She stares hard at Heather.

She swallows audibly, her eyes racing side to side. “You’re a liar.” she growls, looking up to meet the force of Rachel’s glare. “Andrew would NEVER get you pregnant.” Her nostrils flare.

Rachel squints. “You know that isn’t how it works.”

Heather stands abruptly and hovers over her. “You just want to take him for yourself. You’ve always been jealous of me, I just didn’t realize how much hate was behind it.”

Rachel pushes out of her chair, knocking it to the floor. “I’m jealous? You turn everything we do into a competition and you think I don’t notice!” She grits her teeth.

Heather balls her fists and her face turns a deep pink hue. “Yeah, you think so? Well I see you were stupid enough to actually cut your hair! You look like a bull dyke and no man will ever want you.” She folds her arms defiantly across her chest, smirking.

“Oh, I had a feeling.”

“And you did it anyway? Wow, you really are stupid, huh?”

“It proved to expose what a snake you are, so no, not stupid. Well worth it.”

I’m the snake? You’re the one trying to pin a fake pregnancy on my boyfriend.”

Rachel chuckles, shaking her head. “Oh, he’s your boyfriend now, is he? Does he know about us?”

Heather sticks her nose in the air, refusing to meet her eye.

“I don’t want your boyfriend.

“Bullshit!”

“I haven’t even told him, nor do I plan to. I’ve ignored every last text he’s sent me on top of that. If I was planning to do anything, don’t you think I would have done it by now?”

Heather’s eyes narrow. “Texts you?” she asks flatly. “When has he ever texted you?” She sneers. “Doesn’t matter anyway, because as soon as he sees that botched balding he’s going to run away.”

“He texted me last night.”

“You’re a liar, show me your phone.”

“Why are you freaking out like this? Why does Andrew matter more than our friendship? I am trying to tell you something important.”

“Show me your phone!” she yells, her face reddening.

Rachel pulls her phone from her pocket and pushes it toward her. “Here!”

She watches as Heather frantically opens her messages, her eyes scanning furiously from side to side. “I can’t believe this,” she mutters. “I was with him last night, you know. He was fucking MY ass, not yours!”

Rachel’s brows knit upward in stark confusion. She blinks rapidly, shaking the image from her head. “What are you typing? Give me my phone.”

She looks directly at her before dropping her phone onto the linoleum. “….Oops,” she drawls.

“You’re a fucking cunt,” Rachel says.

Heather freezes in place. Her mouth hangs open in total shock. She closes her eyes and swallows audibly. “You both deserve each other,” she says, her voice shaking.

Rachel looks up to see her chin wobbling uncontrollably. She sighs, and looks down at her phone.

pregnant w ur baby, now we can b 2gether 4ever.

“Heather! Why would you do that! You’ve got to be the most emotionally-stunted individual I’ve ever known!” She shakes her head, sighing heavily as she taps out a message of her own. “There!” Rachel shouts. “I told him it was you. Now get the fuck out of my face!”

Heather’s mouth hangs open in what appears to be stunned silence. She quickly turns, barging into her room and slams the door behind her.

Delete Created with Sketch.

“Are you still awake?”

Rachel’s head jerks toward the whisper next to her head. “What are you doing in here?” she hisses. She reaches to click her lamp on and then sits up. “It’s three in the fucking morning.”

Heather picks at the palm of her hand.

Rachel studies her for a moment, carefully choosing her words. “You know there’s nothing here for us,” she begins. “And you know I’ve always wanted a family of my own.” she parts her lips with the tip of her tongue.

“What are you saying?”

Rachel shifts, exhaling. “We can just leave.” She eyes Heather for any adverse reaction. “We could stay with my parents in Idaho and figure things out… Our jobs will be in demand anywhere we go, and you’re so close to finishing.”

“I’m not going to fucking Idaho, Rachel.” She glares up at her with narrowed eyes.

She clicks her tongue. “Well, we don’t have to stay there forever, it would be just while we figure things out with the baby.” Her palms begin to sweat.

Figure shit out with the baby,” she repeats in a mocking tone. “Listen to yourself, you sound retarded.”

“Heather…I.”

“I’m not going to uproot my entire life just to placate you.” She blows air from her nose. “Wow, you’d have me give up all my friends and family just so your selfish ass can play house. I’m not gay!”

Rachel’s brows furrow. “What does sexuality have to do with anything?”

“Because this is the gayest thing I’ve ever heard! Raising a bastard with another woman!”

Rachel stares at her. Who is this stranger? This isn’t the same girl she’d spent the majority of her teen years with. Where was the girl who got mad at her for spending time with other friends? They’ve shared not just an apartment together, but also a bed, and then a man. And now she was being discarded like trash.

Heather’s body relaxes and she lets out a sigh. “Listen, there are options. Nobody is saying you have to raise this kid. You can give it up for adoption or… You know.” She looks away.

“I will not get an abortion,” she barks. “If you won’t come with me, then fine. I’m not going to beg. But don’t forget that you were the one who pressured me into having sex with that man in the first place.”

Heather squeezes her lips together. “I figured he would’ve worn a condom or you would have been smart enough to go get the pill.

“You know what, screw you, Heather. You’ve been nothing but a manipulative, lying, freeloader. I know you don’t love me, you never did. It’s always been about Andrew, hasn’t it?”

“That isn’t true!” Heather shouts, stomping her foot.

“You know what? Fuck it. I know you haven’t been going to work or staying late,” she blurts.

The top corner of Heather’s lip pulls upward. “What are you talking about?”

“I called.”

“You’re a crazy bitch!” Heather yells.

“And I know you haven’t been going to clinicals! Did you really throw your fucking schooling and future away for this asshole!”

“If you already know everything, then why play games? What was that whole spiel about me going with you?!”

“I didn’t expect you to admit what you did, but I figured I could play stupid and give you an out. Sorry for caring!”

Heather briskly walks out of the room, stopping just at the threshold. “Have fun in your hick-ass Mormon farm state. Your crazy ass will fit right in.”

Rachel reaches over and kills the light. Planting her face firmly into her pillow, she sobs.

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