Chapter 3: The Day I Need to Die
There is a woman shouting in my face. I deserve it. Everything she is saying is true. I am low. I am trash. I am a home-wrecker. Mike is going to be pissed. How stupid I am; leaving strands of chestnut-colored hair in the drain. I know better. How she found me; I do not know, but Mrs. Newton is an intellectual woman, so I am sure it wasn't hard.
I'm surprised it took her this long to find out about us.
I shrug it off and walk past her, continuing my way towards the church. They are serving fried chicken today. I hope the lady who brings sweet tea is there. She is always so lovely to talk to. Her stories are incredible.
"You hear me? Stay away from my family!"
Sure thing, Mrs. Newton. Sure thing.
I am dancing on my bed, swaying back and forth with a bottle of good shit in my hand as Rent's theme plays. It's only a commercial on TV, but fuck, it's still so good.
"How do you measure, indeed." I tip the bottle to the screen and take a long swig, before plopping down. There is a small buffet on my bedspread. Nothing too great, except the fried chicken from yesterday. Mrs. Banner let me take some with me. I'll bring her a card next week or something. Mike hasn't called and I'm a little worried. My cash is running low and I only have one set on stage this week. Payment is due on my room.
I reach back and grab my pack of smokes from the dresser. Those are low, too. I sit on the counter in the bathroom and light up, turning on the ventilator. I check my face in the mirror and press my fingers to the dark patches under my eyes.
"Pretty as a picture." I rest the cigarette on the lip of the sink and jump down.
Emmett's number is number three on my speed dial. I press the key on my cell-phone and smile when I hear his voice.
"I need some dates. Mike is MIA." He doesn't ask what happened. It's not his job. He gets me the dates and the money and gives me what I need.
He's a good friend.
This guy is not as gentle as Newton. He likes role playing and spanking. He doesn't give pet names and he degrades as he fucks me. He wants me to look at him and he tells me the truth about myself the whole time. He's twice Mike's size, in every area, and it hurts. He's paying twice as much, but I want out.
I want him out.
It should have come by now, but it does not.
I lay listlessly in bed, watching the light grow dim in the room. I don't have the TV on and it is quiet. My stomach rumbles, but I am too tired to move. It won't stop. I roll over and close my eyes, but it begs for attention. My shoes are on and I am up and moving. My feet drag and the walk seems so long. I buy a hot dog from one vendor and a meatball sandwich from another. I sit on the street curb and eat both, not caring about who is looking at me. I am not homeless, fuck them.
There is a bakery across the street and a hot beverage sounds good, right now. It's fucking cold and not even the expensive coat Mike bought me is heavy enough. I climb to my feet and make my way over. It smells sugary and sweet inside. There is a perky cashier behind the counter who is annoying and way too happy. Caffeine. I order a hot chocolate and take a seat by the window. It burns my lips and makes me shiver, but it is good.
I think about going back and ordering a cookie, but there are too many people in line and I am not desperate enough. The paper cup warms my hands as I hold it. Maybe a brownie? I look back to the counter and debate again. My eyes catch another set of eyes as I turn my head.
He looks away at first; caught. It takes me a minute, but as I look down at his shoes, I recognize him. His eyes come back to me and I feel pissed off. I've had stalkers before, but this was just…annoying. I'd fuck him, just say it. Tell me you want it.
I get up and walk to his table. He shifts uncomfortably, trying to keep his eyes on his laptop, but fails as I take a seat.
"Fifty bucks will make this a lot easier. For both of us, Freak."
His eyes are offended.
"I didn't mean to stare. I just thought you looked familiar and I was trying to place where I knew you from," he apologizes.
"This is the third time I have seen you where I have been. You really think I am buying that shit?"
He squints, looking confused. "Two."
"No, Freak. Three. The corner store, the cemetery and here. I can count. Three."
The man shakes his head. "I don't remember seeing you at the cemetery."
"Yeah well, I remember you, Mr. Shiny Shoes. You were there."
"Well it's a strange coincidence," he concludes.
"If you want something, just say it. I'm the real deal. You get what you pay for. I don't play games and don't worry 'bout the Wifey. I don't need that drama anymore than you do."
He sighs and closes the lid to his laptop. "What is your name?"
"Whatever you like." I expect him to play along, but he looks unamused. I roll my eyes. "Bella."
He nods. "That's a lovely name. I'm Edward, Bella." He offers his hand, but I don't shake it. "I'm not stalking you, nor do I want any…favors. It's just a misunderstanding I'm afraid."
"Uh-huh. Just know this, Edward. Next time I see you where I am, I am calling my friend Emmett and telling him all about these little "misunderstands". I'd watch where you go from now on, if I were you."
Edward calls my name as I stand up. "Bella? I come here on Fridays, usually. Sometimes on the weekend, too. I can't give you a time, though. It varies."
I consider myself warned.
There is a stick that cannot be right, but the Hotline number says it is. I stare at it and can't breathe. I wonder all the names of the men I have been with and try to recall mistakes. Mistakes. They were all mistakes. I count backwards and try to match the date with the person, but there are too many.
There are just too many.
I am fucked. I am so fucked. There is a parasite inside of me and I am so fucked. I walk with a strict purpose towards the Women's Clinic and step inside. I have never messed up this badly before. I am careful. I use only men who are wealthy and clean and dignified. They all use protection. They all use protection. I am chanting these words in my head. All eyes turn to me as the door closes. The room is quiet and full. I don't know what to do.
There is a window and a counter and a chart. I walk towards it, slowly. The woman asks me to sign in and I try to think of a fake name. My father would be so ashamed. I scribble something down and take a seat, unable to focus on another clipboard she has handed me.
The woman to my left has three children climbing all over her. I try to smile and not seem annoyed, but one of them is stepping on my toes and it is highly fucking annoying. Rude.
"Your first?" She asks and I nod slowly. "My limit is three. There's no way I am going for four." She is sure of it, but why is there a bulge on her belly?
"Have you done this before?" I whisper.
"Once. Accidents happen, ya know?" She shrugs and I want to vomit.
A Nurse calls me in and I haven't finished my paperwork. It doesn't seem to matter. She asks me a series of questions and explains to me what will happen. The color must be gone from my face; I feel nothing there. My fingertips are ice cold and numb. She leaves and says she will be back.
I look around the room. It smells like alcohol. Not the good kind. Sterile. The paper crunches under me as I shift. It sounds ridiculously loud against the quiet. I try to stay still, but cannot.
I think of the woman in the waiting room. Her child's face.
I feel this thing all the time. It is not noticeable to unknowing eyes, but I feel it. I know it's there. It begs me for food and sleep. I want to give it nothing. I need to dance and make money. Rent is due on my room. I have nothing left from the John earlier this week and that fuck Mike is officially gone.
I am at the club, but I am scared to death someone will notice this thing I am trying to hide. It is all in my mind - the bump – but the fear is too great. This outfit is too revealing and I am too tired and I feel myself shaking and freaking out.
Emmett covers for me, tonight, but doesn't ask why he has to. He just does it. I am in my motel room, staring at my reflection in the mirror. I am naked and I see it. They might not see it, but I see it. It is hideous. It is disgusting.
I am disgusting.
It sounds so much nicer.
I rush out of my motel room and to the edge of the steps. My room is on the third floor; that would be a mighty fall. My breathing is hard and I feel a tear sliding down my cheek. I close my eyes and hear the preacher in my mind. My body goes limp and I am falling.
We are falling.