I turned sideways and lifted up my shirt, running my hand over my flat stomach. It didn’t feel like we were rushing. Five years of trying felt interminable. The thought sparked a reminder and I crouched before the sink, opening the cabinet, and reached into the back for the yellow zippered pouch that contained my fertility medicine.
I pulled out the foil package and counted off the days, thinking of my last period and ovulation window. I’d stopped taking the pills when my fantasies had bloomed out of control but now… was there any harm in starting again? It wasn’t as if the fantasies had stopped. It was as if this medicine had pushed a boulder off the top of a hill. Even without the continual push, the boulder had rolled. Gained speed. Knocked over a friendship and put me flat on my back, between Aaron and E.
Flat on my back, without a baby. I popped an oval pill out of the foil and into my mouth, washing it down before I had time to think about it.
Our relationship, in a small but potentially monumental way, had changed. The fantasies I’d run from were now possibilities. The risk of the medication was worth the reward. The reward of a baby. And, if I was being honest with myself, the reward of pleasure.
I finished the rest of the water glass and flipped off the light, avoiding another look in the mirror.
A private messenger, clad in a sparkly purple G-string and matching cowboy hat, rang our doorbell just after ten on Saturday morning. I opened the door and flinched at the sight. Even Wayland shut his trap, both of us caught off guard by the overly tan man who straddled our front mat.
“Mrs. North?” He gave a bright white smile and I fought the urge to ask what brand of toothpaste he used.
“Yes?” I noticed an envelope in his hand, the item tied to a bouquet of black, white, and silver balloons. Even the giant Mylar penis balloons, which bobbed above the others, matched the color scheme. I watched as a giant glittery cock whipped in the wind and decided that this, whatever this was, was most definitely tied to Chelsea.
“You are cordially invited to the Funeral of Chelsea Pedicant’s Slutdom. She requests your immediate reply.” He extended the card, which brought the mountain of balloons into my personal space. Wayland lunged up in an attempt to get one, and I blocked him with my knee.
I took the card. “Thank you.” Pushing back Wayland, I began to close the door, then noticed the man waiting, his hands tucked behind his bare back as if he was a butler, patiently awaiting instructions. “Oh. Like, right now you want my reply?”
He nodded, and a line of abs cut across the very tan canvas of his stomach. Wayland’s body slammed against me and I heard a balloon snap.
“Wayland!” Easton appeared, a half-eaten breakfast biscuit in hand and pulled on Wayland’s collar. “What the fuc—” He battled past the balloons, then flinched at the sight of the purple Magic Mike double. “Hey man. What’s up?”
“Good morning.” The man took off his hat and bowed forward, revealing a baby bald spot that would be a problem in a few years.
“Chelsea’s having a party,” I explained to E, ripping open the envelope, which had been sealed with a blob of white wax stamped with Chelsea’s monogram. I raised my eyebrows at the extent she was taking this.
“A funeral,” the messenger corrected.
Easton looked over my shoulder at the invitation, which carried the somber look of an authentic funeral invitation. It announced that Chelsea Pedicant’s Slutdom had died, and a Celebration of Life was being held on Friday night at nine o’clock. Friday… six days away. A tight turnaround for a party, given the magnitude of a typical Chelsea Pedicant event.
“Her slutdom has died?” Easton muttered. “What does that even mean? Did you know about this?”
I shook my head. Knowing Chelsea, she probably came up with the idea over yesterday’s breakfast, called her father’s marketing team together for lunch, and spent last night getting the invites and stripper delivery squad set up. I glanced past the sequin cowboy and toward his Ford Focus, which was stuffed with more balloons. “How many of these are you delivering?”
“I’ve got six more. There are about a dozen of us out on delivery.” He started to glance down at his wrist, then stopped when he realized he wasn’t wearing a watch. “Do you have a response?”
“Oh, we’re coming,” Easton replied, tearing off a piece of the biscuit and catching Wayland’s attention with it. “Come on, bud. Let’s go outside.”
The man cocked a pierced eyebrow at me, and I nodded.
“Yeah, we’ll be there.”
He smiled and spun on one white flip-flop, then sauntered along our sidewalk and toward his car. From across the street, Mrs. Vandecamp halted, her white poodle similarly entranced, and stared at the man, who tipped his purple cowboy hat in greeting.