CH. 51: TAMMY
The morning sickness has already started, or rather, the night sickness. She picks up the phone and calls out from work. It’s been impossible to get more than an hour’s worth of sleep at a time, despite her being exhausted. The sleep was fitful, and on several occasions she found it too hot in the bedroom.
She forces herself out of bed, very aware of the stillness of the apartment. No light shone from under the door and there’s none of Heather’s familiar elephant stomping.
She sends a quick text to Chris, asking if he was porking the fat bitch again.
Not inna millyon yrs!
She rolls her eyes. “Sure,” she says aloud.
She opens the door and the colder temperature of the rest of the apartment shocks her awake. She returns to the bedroom and dawns Heather’s gray Seattle Seahawks sweatshirt, doubting very much that Heather understands anything at all about football. She’ll do and say anything for attention.
She flips on the light switch in the kitchen and sets a k-cup into the coffee machine. Eyeing the french press, she vaguely remembers the time Heather wouldn’t shut up about only drinking organic coffee from the foothills of Peru.
Once the machine finishes its job, she adds two tablespoons of cream and four tablespoons of sugar.
Cupping the mug in her hands, she stands at the window, peering out of the blinds. Heather’s car sits in the driveway, lights off.
“Heather?” she calls out. There’s no answer. She stands at the bedroom adjacent to Andrew’s and gently knocks. When there’s no answer again, she pushes open the door, struggling against a floor full of dirty, discarded clothing. “Heather?” She flips the light on, taking in the scene—A messy bed, mountains of clothing piled onto the floor, and unwashed dishes covering every spare surface of her night stand and dresser. “Gross,” she says, curling her nose. The smell is a combination of musty body odor and rotting food. Fruit flies stick to the purple bottoms of her old wine glasses.
She returns to the window, staring down at the car. If Heather isn’t up here, she must be down there, she reasons. She sends her a text.
Are you in the driveway?
What are you doing?
Tammy hesitates, peering down at the car again.
How long have you been thinking?
Couple of hours. Waiting for u 2 go 2 work.
I’m not going to work tonight.
Guess I’ll come upstairs then.
Heather looks worse than she’s ever seen her.
She sets her coffee down atop the counter, folding her hands together. “What happened?” she asks. Something about her presence tonight feels unnerving, she can’t shake the feeling something’s off.
“Our dear sweet Andrew is with Rachel right now. Did you know that?” She practically spits the sentence at her.
Tammy stares at her, careful to keep her emotions in check. Andrew had warned her about her mental health issues; that she could come unhinged at any time, especially now.
She slowly takes her mug into her hands, bringing it to her lips, heedful not to make any quick, sudden movements.
Heather glares at her. “Nothing to say to that?”
“You know that Rachel is the mother of his child. Maybe that’s getting to your head,” she suggests.
“The only thing getting to my head, as you say, is the fact that he’s been using and abusing me since the day I met him. You’re dumb if you don’t think he’s doing the same thing to you.”
Tammy instinctively places a hand over her belly.
Heather’s eyes dart down. She smirks, letting out a contemptuous snicker. “You think that guarantees you sanctuary?” she asks.
Heather’s unusual word choice doesn’t go unnoticed. “I don’t know what you mean,” she says, keeping her tone steady and firm.
“Do you know what he did to me after he got me pregnant?”
Tammy swallows. “What did he do?”
“He made me abort it!” Her chin wobbles, crinkling hideously and then straightening again. She appears to be fighting back tears. Her glassy eyes narrow in on her, her face reddening. “Nothing to say to that?”
“I didn’t know. You never told me you were pregnant.” She inhales. “He must have been going through a lot. You’ve cheated on him multiple times after all.”
“You aren’t so innocent yourself, Tammy!” she yells. “You fucked all those guys at the party, too!”
“But they all came inside you.” she points out, forgetting herself.
“How can he be so sure it’s his? Huh? He doesn’t question it?”
Tammy downs the rest of her coffee, walking it to the sink. “Of course he doesn’t question it. He knows I’ve only been with him and Chris.”
“Yeah, you’ve been with Chris. That’s the reasoning he’ll use to make you kill your baby, too.”
“No…” she says, squinting. “That’s precisely why he doesn’t doubt it’s his.” noticing Heather’s blank face, she asks, “Wait, you don’t know?”
“Chris is sterile. He got the snip at the beginning of our relationship.”
“Andrew doesn’t know that!” she exclaims. “If he would have known… Oh, my God,” she says, balancing her weight on a chair.
“Andrew does know that, though. He told him he’s less of a man for doing it. He even made some crude comments to me about it, asking what it was like knowing my purpose in life would never be fulfilled… It was actually quite rude, Chris didn’t talk to him for wee—
“Shut up!” Heather yells, her head in her hands. “You’re lying!” she stares at her with hate-filled eyes. Pure rage appears to course through her as her whole body trembles. She squeezes her teeth so hard together Tammy fears they might break.
“Heather…” she murmurs, putting both her hands up. “Calm down.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down, you fucking whore!” she yells, standing so fast the chair behind her topples over, hitting the floor with a loud thud.
Tammy swallows hard, her heart rate increasing. “I don’t know what happened or what was said, but I had nothing to do with what happened to you.”
“You had everything to do with it!” she shrieks, her knuckles white from being clenched so hard.
Tammy inches her way along the perimeter of the kitchen before reaching the bathroom door. She stands there a moment, watching Heather like a hawk. Her chest rises and falls fast.
Heather lunges to the side, toppling over a second chair. “I’m gonna make you pay!” she yells.
Tammy pushes the bathroom door open, quickly slamming it behind her. She engages the lock and steps into the tub. “Leave me alone!” she screams. She looks around for a possible weapon and snatches a pair of hair clippers and holds them tightly in her hands. “I’ll be forced to defend myself if you come in!” she threatens, hoping the warning will be enough to deter her.
“Heather, I’m warning you! I’ll hurt you!” Her voice comes out shrill. She quickly pats her pockets, pulling her cell phone out.
Crack! The door splinters, and Tammy screams, dropping her phone. She bends over, picking it up again. Fumbling with it, she dials Andrew.
A break in the door forms
After several rings he finally picks up. “What did I tell you about calling me?” he growls.
“Help! Andrew, she’s going to fucking kill me! Help!”
“Who? Heather? Don’t worry about her, she’s harmless.”
“What the hell was that? What are you doing?”
“She’s going to fucking kill me!”
The head of a hammer breaks through the door. Another whack and more wood splinters away.
“Andrew, please!” she pleads. “Do something!”
A hand pushes through the opening in the door and twists the lock.
Tammy drops the phone and picks up the small hair clippers, running the pointy end into Heather’s hand.
A loud shriek sounds from behind the door and her hand rips away.
“I told you! I told you I would!” she shrieks, stepping back from the door.
There’s a sound of a drawer opening and metal clattering.
She screams as loud as she can, hoping the neighbor downstairs is home. Wouldn’t he call the police? She continues to scream. She stops suddenly, remembering herself. She picks the phone up again, placing it to her ear. Has Andrew been listening this entire time? Her heart sinks and an overpowering feeling of nausea overtakes her. She ends the call and dials 9-1-1.
Heather’s arm bursts through the door, her fingers catching the lock and twisting it downward.
Tammy stares like a deer caught in headlights and holds the phone tightly to her chest. “Heather, no,” she says, her eyes widening.
With a click the door bursts open.
Heather grabs for the phone, grunting all the while.
Tammy holds on tightly. “I called 9-1-1!” She pushes herself backward into the shower wall, refusing to let go. “Do you hear me! The cops are on their way, it’s over for you!”
Heather lifts her other arm, and in her bloodied hand a long chef’s knife catches Tammy’s eye.
“I’m gonna cut that baby clean out of your womb, bitch!”
Tammy searches her eyes, but sees nothing but cold, emptiness. “Heather, please, you don’t have to do this.” Her knees shake so hard they give out, and she stumbles into the tub.
Both Heather and Tammy freeze when there’s a sudden loud banging on the front door.
Tammy bolts upright, shoving Heather hard into the sink, forcing her to stumble over. She pulls the door open and flings herself into the arms of the down stair’s neighbor. “Call the cops, she’s fucking crazy!”
“They’re on the way,” he assures, grabbing her by the arm. Together they fly down the stairs and into the safety of his apartment.
Tammy runs to the window, falling forward as red and blue lights fill the street.
Tears run down her face, and she clutches her stomach, only then noticing her entire arm is coated in bright red blood.