Jeff traced the back of my leg with the tips of his fingernails as I lay on the couch next to him. He was on his phone scrolling through Instagram, as I watched out the High Street window at the snow falling.
“Should we go sledding on the golf course?” I asked. It was hard for me to sit still, especially on the weekends, when I had just two days of freedom before getting back on that hamster wheel of my working life.
“Why can’t we just relax here?” Jeff asked. “Do we always have to be doing something?” His thumb flexed back and forth, up and down, scrolling through Instagram. Sometimes it would pause to give something a favorable heart.
“You’re right. Instagram is so much better,” I said, kicking my leg up in the air and landing it on the cold wood floor. The floors had large cracks between the boards, and I could feel the cold air rising from the basement onto my feet. The heat bill this winter was going to be egregious, regardless of the fact that I kept the thermostat at 63 and wore my favorite purple knit cap all the time to stay warm. I could tell Jeff was annoyed with my restlessness. He just wanted to lounge around, drink coffee, read books, and look on his phone. I, on the other hand, felt the compulsive need to make the most of my life and headed to the shed in the backyard to look for the tube and sleds.
Dingo dashed out the door into the snow as soon as I opened it. He jumped up over the drifts, like a horse mounting the hurdles. I squinted as the bright sun reflected off the snow and thought about my friends skiing in the Berkshires or at Stowe. Somehow the idea of an inner tube on the golf course felt somewhat…deflated. And, in fact, the tube was deflated. I needed a bike pump. I looked around for a pump and instead found myself rearranging boxes, making room for the rusty 10-speed I found on Buzzards Bay Avenue with a “Free” sign on it last summer. It was tipped over on its side, sans kickstand. I then stopped to open an unfamiliar looking box. It had Jeff’s handwriting on it and said, “PERSONAL” in a black Sharpie. I looked behind me to see if Jeff was on his way out, but all I saw was Dingo eating a filthy paper towel he picked up from the neighbor’s recycling bin.
“Drop it!” I yelled, knowing full well Dingo wouldn’t listen. I watched him chomp the towel defiantly staring at me all the while. I didn’t even care, because I wanted to open the box. I turned back to look at it. “Personal,” I read again. Well, that looked like an invitation to me. I mean, I was his wife after all. Didn’t I have a right to see what was inside? Nothing is personal when you’re married! Right?
Well, maybe wrong.
Inside the box I found letters, lots of letters, tied together with an old string. They were letters from his ex, Jessica, the wretched, gold-digging Vegan, whom he was supposed to marry, and who now resided on Joy Street in Back Bay with some geriatric investment banker named Todd. Things between her and Jeff didn’t end well, since he came to rescue me from Stephen’s apartment in NYC. And I knew for a fact she hated me, because, well, she told me as much to my face. “I hate you,” she scowled, wiping the tears and gobs of foundation off of her porcelain face with her long, gel-dipped nails. I felt a pang of guilt. But who can take someone seriously when they have the word “PINK” stamped to the back their ass?
I couldn’t believe he kept her letters. Or, at the very least, why couldn’t he find somewhere else to keep them, like his mother’s attic, or… the dump. Did they really have to travel with him to our new marital home? Sure, they were outside in the shed, but why were they even there at all? Was he still harboring some feelings for her, and maybe like sat in the shed slugging a beer, re-reading and pining away for days long gone? Maybe he wasn’t over her. Maybe he was impetuous breaking it off with her and wanted her back! My mind started spiraling. I frantically began reading. “Dear Shmoo,” she wrote in eighth grade bubble letters. I wanted to vomit.
“Did you find the sleds?” Jeff asked, quickly approaching the shed in his LL Bean duck boots and orange puffer jacket. I panicked and lobbed the letters back into the box, which then crashed to the floor. All of them spilled out. I was going to be busted. I was caught.
# # #
#love #marriage #fiction #woodshole #falmouth #capecod
“Do you think we should have a baby?” I asked Jeff. I was watching Teen Mom 2, one of my favorite reality shows on MTV, despite the fact that I was neither a teen nor a mom.
“You mean so you can hang out with Amber and Macy more?” Jeff replied. These were the names of my friends—oops, I mean, the teen moms on the show. I started to feel like they were my actual friends during the winter months in Woods Hole, because, truthfully there were not many women my age, or of my type I should say, around. I was in this vacuous zone of being in my early 30’s on the Cape, without kids, so that opportunity to make friends on the playground, or at sports games, and at PTO was not there. I wondered if maybe I ought to rent a kid as a prop, or offer to babysit, just to secure some winter besties. Shady? Perhaps. Most women who were in their 30’s near me already had kids. They didn’t spend their 20’s bar hopping, riding the subway, and reading “What Color is Your Parachute” trying desperately to find out who they were. But, since I had arrested development (read: made bad choices), I was still somewhere between Teen Mom and Soccer Mom and it was a nebulous place to fall socially.
Jeff picked up a hotel from our Monopoly Board that permanently rest on our kitchen table. We liked to drink wine and play each night, fighting over who would get the blue fancy properties like Park Place.
“Do you think we should open a bed and breakfast?” he asked, turning the red square hotel between his two fingers. “I could cook, since clearly that’s not your forte, and you can…Hm. What can you do?” he asked.
“I’ll do the bed part.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“You do the breakfast, and I’ll do the beds. I’ll, like, change them and stuff.”
“This sounds like an optimal business plan,” he said and tossed the hotel back in the box. I looked around the room. Jeff and I had moved in together on High Street, but there really wasn’t much evidence of that, or the fact that anyone lived there. We didn’t have framed selfies of us on hikes, furry pillows, candle sticks, or anything from Home Goods. I’m like the anti-hoarder, tossing things annually, able to still move on the fly. I don’t buy anything, I don’t keep anything, and I don’t decorate anything. I sound really fun. Right? I have analyzed this concept and think it’s either, (A) because I moved seven times in six years; or, (B) I have antisocial personality disorder and no attachment to anything or anyone. I’m going to go with (A). Given what I learned in my research unit job at Cape Cod Hospital, that seems like the better choice.
#TeenMom2 #CapeCod #HomeGoods #Monopoly
The first year of marriage of is like the icing on a cake. It’s sweet, lavish, often colorful, and indulgent. It’s no wonder that a year later, the bride and groom traditionally eat a piece of their frozen wedding cake, because the icing is gone, and they are graduating into phase II of marriage, the cake part, or reality. There’s nothing wrong with the cake. In fact, some might argue the cake is sweeter than the frosting, but–
Okay, I’ll stop waxing philosophic and cut the metaphors. Let’s get to the point: the first year of marriage with Jeff was fun and easy. Introducing him as “my husband” gave me pangs of joy and good fortune. I felt like a school girl all over again, never lamenting my days on Match.com and Tinder.
Scuba Dave was a thing of the past (though I ran into him often at Coffee Obsession), and I was living Cape-style in Woods Hole, the way I’d hoped, having beach bonfires in the snow and sipping cider at the Annual Cider Press outside the village library. My weekends with Jeff were composed of trips down Cape, drinks at The Squire in Chatham and art gallery shopping in Provincetown. Or, since we lacked a schedule, and or anyone to take care of, we’d often wake up at ten and grab brunch at Quick’s Hole Tavern or The Pickle Jar.
Life was good (notice I didn’t say Life IS Good, like that saying from Nantucket that pops up on the fenders of yuppy Jeeps or on an infant’s onesie at baby showers). And speaking of babies, they were the last thing on my mind, despite the fact that my eggs were almost fried, and everyone was asking me when we’d start trying.
#HonorGirl @HonorGirlBook #fiction #books #capecod #weddings #marriage
Why I **Secretly** Hate Meghan N:
- She’s invited to everything.
- She can do no wrong at Lakeview High.
- Cam likes her.
- Actually, every guy likes her.
- Actually, make that every guy and girl likes her. She transcends gender preferences ‘cuz she’s just that hot.
- She’s totally Extra and Emo. Can’t even.
- She has her driver’s license already, because she stayed back a grade, even though no one even seems to realize that. #notassmartasweallthink
- The teachers favor her, including Mr. Wagman.
- I am her shadow.
- I’m invisible next to her.
Meghan Nook lay in a pool of her own blood at the bottom of Lakeview High’s gym stairs. The ends of her thick, platinum blonde hair soaked up the blood, coloring them a shade of pink. Her head turned to the side, and her almond-shaped eyes closed—-those familiar blue eyes that Callie divulged all her darkest secrets to. Callie felt sick to her stomach, but it may have been the Stoli orange vodka. She didn’t push Meghan; it was an accident. Wasn’t it? She couldn’t remember, but everyone was hounding her, including the police.
“So you were where exactly, Callie, when Meghan fell down the stairs?” Sergeant Kim asked, adjusting the mechanical pencil behind his ear and holding a long reporter’s notebook.
“I’m trying to think,” Callie said, looking around the gym in search of a friend—any friend. But everyone was down with Meghan. She was alone. Typical, she thought. When it comes time to pick a side, Meghan is always first.
“I don’t feel good. I think I need to sit down,” Callie said, clomping over to the bleachers in her Gucci heels. This wasn’t the time to say or think anything negative about Meghan, especially since everyone was pointing the finger at her as the main suspect. She wanted to give the Sergeant some answers, but she honestly couldn’t remember.
She kept playing the scene over and over in her head. Okay, she thought: (1) I take a swig of vodka hidden in my Poland Spring bottle and pass it to Meghan. Check. (2) Meghan also takes a swig and hears her favorite song, Thunder, playing in the gym. Check. (3) Meghan and I rush over to the gym stairs to go down and dance. We see Sarah and motion for her to come. She runs over and joins us. Check. But then this is where it gets murky. We get to the landing at the top of the stairs and then… BAM! Meghan is lying in her own blood, possibly dead.
“Do you think you pushed her?” Sarah asked, taking a seat on the bleachers next to Callie. She twirled the ends of her hair and chomped on her cinnamon Orbit gum.
“Why do you keep asking me this? Why is everyone asking me this?” Callie said. “It’s obvious you’ve all decided I’m guilty, so just cuff me and take me away already.” Callie forcefully dropped her head into her palms, peering through the spaces in her silver jeweled fingers to see if anyone was watching.
“No one says you’re guilty of anything,” Sarah said, rubbing circles on Callie’s back. Callie shifted in her seat. “Well, besides Cam, I guess.” Callie jerked her head up.
“What exactly did Cam say?” she scoffed, her thread eyebrows narrowing. Be careful, Cameron. Be very careful.
“That you intentionally got Meghan drunk and pushed her; that it wasn’t an accident,” Sarah’s hair twisting and gum chomping intensified and became manic.
“Are you even serious? Whatever.” Callie said, reaching into her purse for her phone. She quickly texted her mom: Come get me now. In the next room, Cam sat with Sergeant Kim. What the hell was he poisoning his brain with now, Callie wondered. What a jealous douchebag. Just because she was Meghan’s best friend didn’t give Cam license to malign her and ruin her reputation that she’d worked so hard for at Lakeview. Screw him. If Cam thinks a push down the stairs is bad, he has no idea what’s coming, Callie thought. He doesn’t know who he’s messing with. He’s messing with a Queen Bee…and he will get stung.
* * *
Meghan opened her swollen eyes slowly and saw the hospital room TV elevated in the corner across from her bed. She had an IV in her arm and her head was throbbing.
“Meggie?” her mom said.
Meghan turned her head to the side and saw her mother in the green, vinyl hospital chair. Her vision was slightly blurred, but she knew it was her mom from the chocolate brown, curly hair and almond-shaped blue eyes, the same as hers. Bright morning sunlight streamed in behind her mom’s head through the window. The floral fabric curtains were drawn.
“Meggie! You’re awake. Thank, God!” her mom said, leaning over the bars of the hospital bed to give her an awkward hug. Her face was pink and swollen, like a newborn hamster’s. Her elbow nearly tipped over a full vase of pink and purple tulips that had a “Get Well” Hello Kitty balloon attached to it.
“Jesus,” her mom said, hovering over Meghan. “I’m so relieved.”
Meghan wasn’t sure what was going on. Why was she in the hospital? Had she been asleep for long?
“What happened?” Meghan asked. Her mouth was pasty dry, like she’d eaten a bale of cotton, and the IV on her hand pinched.
“You had an accident, Meggie. A bad accident, and you fell down a steep flight of stairs,” her mom said.
Meghan was confused. Stairs? Which stairs? She was cold. The vent above her was blowing cold air profusely, and all she was wearing was this flimsy blue-and-white hospital gown that was tied all wrong. The ties were supposed to go in back, and she had them tied in front, almost like she was wearing a peek-a-boo dress. Her light blonde arm hairs stood at attention. She reached for the remote control and aimed it up at the vent, shutting the air off. The room was suddenly much more quiet, except for the din of Good Morning America in the background.
“The doctor said it was a hard fall, and you will have trouble remembering it,” Meghan’s mom said. She left out the part about the diagnosis: Retrograde Amnesia. She left out that her brain had been rattled, like she was in the NFL. And she left out that her best friend allegedly pushed her.
“When can we go home?” Meghan asked, trying to adjust the IV. Her nails were painted bright blue, with the exception of her ring fingers, which were painted gold. She didn’t remember painting them.
“We can go home in a few days, Sweetie. The doctor needs to run a few more tests on your head,” her mom said. “Everything is going to be just fine. I’m so glad you’re awake.”
Meghan looked at her mother, who was swallowing hard, trying not to cry. The crow’s feet around her eyes and her smile lines appeared deep. It didn’t seem like everything was going to be fine. She grabbed ahold of the shiny pink Hello Kitty balloon floating from the flower vase. There was a note attached to it: I love you. xx, Callie.
Meghan felt nothing.
* * *