CH. 41: HEATHER
A trace of blood runs down her inner thigh. She places her fingers over her vaginal opening and holds them in front of her face. They’re coated bright red. Why now? I shouldn’t have a period for another couple of weeks. Did the implant mess up my cycle? Am I even fertile? She pulls a wad of toilet paper from the roll and bunches it up before shoving it between her legs. She peels her leggings off, tossing the soiled pair of underwear into the sink under hot water.
“Just a second!” she hollers. “Almost done.” She wrings the underwear out and looks around. She doesn’t want Andrew to see her like this. She crams the undergarment into the bottom of the trash reciprocal and starts the shower.
There’s another series of knocks on the door. “Just a second!” she repeats.
She throws the toilet paper into the toilet and flushes, then jumps in the shower, rinsing her body off and flushing her blood-engorged vagina out. After throwing a towel around herself, she pulls the door open. “What?” she asks, staring at Andrew.
“We need to talk,” Andrew says firmly.
Heather freezes in place, not accustomed to his somber, yet serious tone. “What’s going on?” “Tammy is pregnant.” He exhales, lacing his fingers together. “It’s mine.”
Heather’s mouth falls open. “What, how? That can’t be right.”
“She’s going to be staying here while I’m away.”
“Where are you going?!”
“You don’t have to worry about that. You just have to worry about finding a new place to live.”
“I could be pregnant, too, you know. In fact, I’m pretty sure I am,” she says, jutting her chin forward.
Andrew’s eyes trace her leg. “I somehow doubt that,” he says.
She follows his gaze. A thin line of blood peaks out from under her towel. She quickly rubs it away. “Fucking asshole,” she mutters.
Andrew sits down at the table.
“You don’t have any right to kick me out!” she yells, hovering over him. “You need to give me some time to get some money together first! That’d be the decent thing to do, you bastard!”
Momentarily speechless, her lips press together. “Well, alright then. Good.” She walks into his bedroom and closes the door behind her.
“Oh, and Heather,” he calls. “Please move all of your belongings into the other room. I no longer require your services.”
She scoffs. Pulling on a pair of underwear. she yanks the door open again. “Does she know about Rachel?”
“What’s there to know?” he asks, eyeing her bare breasts.
She squints. Is there really nothing going on between them? “Andrew, please. We can work this out.”
He puts his hand up. “I don’t have time for this.”
“How many times have you cheated on me?” she pleads, her eyes widening. “Just tell me, so I know. For me. How many times?”
“I never cheated on you. You knew about every single one. You agreed to the arrangement.”
“It was tearing me up inside, you coming home smelling like other women.” Her chin wobbles.
Andrew exhales. “I’d stopped going out.” he says. “In case you didn’t notice, I was ready to settle down and have a family with you, but you ruined it.”
“It’s not too late.”
“It is too late. You’ve sullied yourself... I can’t even look at you.” He eyes his phone. “Tammy will be here shortly, so I suggest you put some clothes on.”
She clenches her jaw. He doesn’t know the half of it, she thinks. Apparently he has no idea about Tammy and what she’s done. She forces herself to swallow her words. Tammy’s secrets aren’t hers to tell. There has to be a plausible explanation for everything that’s happening. He’s probably winding her up. This could all be a test.
Somehow Tammy looks even more repugnant than usual. The heavy black eyeliner and bright red lipstick makes her look like an old, pathetic hag desperately clinging to her youth.
Heather stands awkwardly in the hallway, her hands hanging at her sides. She itches to do something with them, but ignores the urge to cross her arms, or pull at her face.
Tammy doesn’t look in her direction, which only adds to the mounting tension in the room.
Andrew embraces her, rubbing her back slowly. It looks more platonic than romantic. There’s nothing to worry about, she tells herself. Andrew doesn’t even like skinny women, he’s said it himself. He’s just desperate to make her regret what she’d done. As much as she hates to admit it, it’s working.
He guides Tammy into his bedroom and closes the door behind them.
Heather blows air out of her lips, resisting the pull to stand by the door and listen. Instead she turns on her heel and makes her way into the living room.
She can’t find Rachel’s presence online anywhere. Why doesn’t she have a Facebook? In this day and age, not having a Facebook is as good as being dead. She settles for Rachel’s mother’s Facebook page instead, scrolling through her pictures impatiently until she locates some of Rachel and her daughter. She brings the phone close to her face, enlarging the media on her phone’s screen with her forefinger and thumb. Doesn’t even look like Andrew. The baby looks mixed. Maybe a Mexican co-worker from her old job. She imagines Rachel pushed up against the wall of a broom closet taking load after load of south-of-the-border cum.
She flips through dozens of the same picture of Rachel’s mother, each with a different generic frame. There’s a picture of Rachel laid up in a hospital bed. Andrew sits in a chair holding a newborn baby. Proud papa, it reads. Her pulse quickens. When the hell was this? she wonders. When had he left? Does Rachel know he’s still with me? Is she really so stupid to think she could ever take him from me?
Unable to stop herself, she composes a message for Rachel’s mom and quickly hits send.
So because Rachel can’t have me she tries to take my fiancé? You raised a real winner.
Heather shakes her head, purging herself of the disturbance.
The text under her message changes from sent to read.
“Oh yes Andrew, fuck me!”
Heather’s phone screen flashes black, showing an out-of-state number. Oh, fuck. She bites her lip and stands up, walking to the furthest end of the room. Hello? She asks warily, worried it might be Rachel’s mother.
“Is this Heather?” a woman asks in a mousy voice.
“Who’s this?” she demands
“This is Jen. I just thought you’d like to know that Rachel is calling the wedding off.”
“What are you talking about? What wedding?”
There’s a short pause. “She knows about you and Tammy.”
“Me and Tammy? There’s nothing between me and Tammy. What are you talking about?”
“Heather.” a familiar voice says. “He’s been playing us.”
Her chest puffs up. “You have a lot of nerve calling me,” she growls into the receiver.
“Will you just shut up and listen!”
Heather stares out the window, eyes darting around, searching to see if anyone is parked outside.
“He was trying to be with me since I left, telling me our child deserved two parents. I didn’t want anything to do with him or... you… but he was so pushy and made it sound like you were crazy.”
“I’m not crazy!” she yells.
“We got a marriage license four days ago, and we’ve been looking at houses and talking about having more kids.”
“You’re insane!” Heather accuses. “Listen to yourself.”
“Heather, please, I’m trying to warn you.”
“Sounds more like you’re trying to scare me away so you can have him for yourself.”
“You have your skanky girlfriend call my phone, how dare you! You run away like a scared chicken and only return just to play games!? Well fuck you, ain’t happening sister!”
“Who the hell are you talking to?”
Heather’s eyes dart up to see Andrew standing in the threshold, his chest glistening with sweat. She immediately disconnects the call and tosses the phone onto the coffee table. Huffing, she says, “Rachel just called me.”
He stiffens slightly. “What did she say?”
“She’s fucking insane!”
“Are you going to tell me what she said?”
She shakes her head, glancing out the window again. “She’s crazy, she called here saying she knows about me and Tammy. I’m not fucking gay, she’s obsessed!” She paces back and forth. “She said she’s supposed to marry you, talking about houses and kids, it made no sense!”
“Sounds like wishful thinking,” Andrew says slowly. “I wouldn’t put too much thought into it.”
“I’m not, I know she’s full of shit. It’s just infuriating that she would do this.”
“I shouldn’t have introduced her to my family, it clearly gave her the wrong impression.” He sits down next to her. “You know I work with the mentally ill everyday, this is classic textbook.”
“Make her go away.” Heather’s eyes begin to well with tears.
“She’s the mother of my child.”
Heather folds her arms. “I hate her.” She averts her eyes to the ceiling and fans her face.
“What’s going on?” Tammy asks, eyeing the two of them.
“Rachel called Heather trying to start shit.”
“Sounds like a them problem.” Tammy sneers. “What’s it have to do with us?”
Andrew closes his eyes. “Good point.”
Heather pulls away. “Are you serious?” Her eyes dart to Tammy. “You think it’s funny now, well just wait. You won’t last half as long as I have.”
Tammy rolls her eyes and she shakes her head. “Andy, do me a favor and tell this pig to shut her snout.”
“For the time being, for all our sake, can you two fucking get along!” he shouts, pushing himself up from the couch.
“I have no problem playing nice,” Tammy informs, folding her arms. She leans against the entryway. “It won’t be for much longer anyway.”
“Unless you want to be out on your ass, Heather, I suggest you work through your jealousy issues.”
“Don’t give her false hope.”
Andrew closes his eyes. “We can all be friends here. You girls just need to work out your issues. There’s plenty of me to go around.”
Tammy inhales sharply through her nose, rolling her eyes. She turns, padding her way toward the bathroom.
Andrew pulls his bottom lip into his mouth and eyes the entryway. “Heather,” he says quietly.
She sits down next to him, a sense of desperation coming over her.
“You know you’re my favorite girl. You always will be.” He looks at the entryway again. “Rachel has nothing on you. Block her number and promise me you’ll never entertain her again.”
“I promise you,” she whispers, grabbing his hands. “Please don’t leave me.”
“Try to get along with Tammy. Do it for me, and I’ll see what I can do for you.”