Pretty is as pretty does was something her mother use to tell her when she was just a little girl. That was what Abigail Curtis was thinking when the knock at the window startled her. Starting her car she pressed the power button lowering the window. Her neighbor stood staring down at her. “Is everything alright Abby?” The young women dressed in the latest athletic wear asked running in place. “Yeah Kathy, I . . . I Um,” Abby stuttered not knowing what to say. “Well just wanted to make sure,” Kathy continued. “I was warming up for a run and saw you just sitting there and you know.” “No, I’m fine thanks.” Abby assured her. “Okay then” Kathy waved as she ran towards the running track.
Abby sat staring at the apartment building where she and Kevin live. Watching the sun fall behind the building made her realize she had been sitting there for over a half an hour or so. Kevin would be waiting maybe even angry and she just didn’t want to talk to him. Drama, that was the word easily used to describe their life together lately. The saying her mother left her with made her feel anxious. What had happened wasn’t pretty so it left an unpretty feeling wrap around her. Taking in a deep breath thinking Kevin must never know, she mustered up all her courage because avoiding him was not going to save her.
Kevin sat on the couch in their living room nervously watching the apartment door, waiting for it to open. Sun had met evening falling away to darkness. The lights in the common area must have come on causing a streak of light beamed across the living room from a small opening in the curtain. Again he didn’t know where she was, again she didn’t answer her cell, and again he had a terrible feeling deep down inside the very part of him that loves her, she is cheating. What do you do when you know it is all falling apart? That was a question he was not ready to face. So sitting there listening to the silence, just a shadow on the couch, letting his mind wonder, he tried to find the answers to sooth a questioning heart.
As of lately she was mysterious, at times evasive. Abby had changed. What seemed like the truth about what was going on between them just seemed to be smacking him into reality. Confronting her was the only answer, but could he? Did he really want to know the truth?
Kevin stared harder at the door as if willing it to open. Looking up at the clock hearing it loudly ticking the minutes then hours to what seemed like forever, he questioned why what should have taken an hour is taking so long. Maybe it wasn’t how long ago Abby was suppose to be home but more about why she didn’t answer her cell phone.
There was no question in his mind when they met. The immediate thought was this is kismet. I have found my soul mate. From that day on the plan to propose was in motion. However lately though, things had changed between them. He couldn’t put his finger on when it happened but he could say around him she was different. The tone in her voice when she talks to him, or the way she touches him and mostly won’t touch him. It was just the way she made him feel when they were alone together. As though he just irritated her and got on her nerves. The love seemed lost somewhere. “What happened?” he whispered out loud then was startled by the door.
“Hey Kev, I’m sorry I’m late. I got caught up talking to my brother. We went and got something to eat and well” While kicking her shoes off into the corner onto the carpet by the door she went on. “You know how he likes to talk and he started talking about Emily.” Her voice trailed off as she left the room to go into their bedroom. “Abby, why was your cell off? I tried calling you for hours” he asked following her into their room. “Oh that, well I just turned it off.” Her answer was blunt, without explanation. “Why did you turn it off?” this cavalier attitude was beginning to irritate him. “I didn’t want to be bothered while I was driving. You know I can’t talk and drive. I just forgot to turn it back on. Why do you think?” There was this feeling that she was trying to provoke him into a confrontation but he wasn’t buying into it. There was nothing he could say right now that would have any emotional affect on her. With jaw dropping speechlessness he stood in the hallway between their bedroom and the bathroom, watching her grab her robe and pajamas squeeze past him and go into the bathroom shutting the door in his face.
Twenty minutes later she came out of the bathroom in her robe, towel drying her hair. The apartment was quiet, he had left. Things had gotten out of control. She didn’t know what was going on with her. Sometimes she felt lost somewhere inside herself. Feeling trapped by circumstances that left her feeling powerless. The sad part was there was no way she could alter what was ahead.
Things began to change between them several months earlier. Kevin was just getting on her nerves, always talking about marriage and family. Life was becoming too predictable. Love can smother a person sometimes. Right now space to breathe was all that she wanted. So when her brother Mark invited her to a Halloween party at his office she jumped at the night out. Actually, he invited both Kevin and her but Kevin had to work which really didn’t bother her. It was as opportunity to breathe.
Her old high school cheerleading uniforms seem perfect for such an occasion. Squeezing into it was a whole other story. Leaving her with second thoughts about going then after much consideration she figured, “What the hell. There wouldn’t be very many familiar faces anyway.” Her brother of course and his girl friend but other than that she would not know anyone else. Maybe that is why she felt comfortable about going. How nice to just be Abby Curtis. Not someone looking for a lifelong relationship. The mere idea of permanence terrified her. Maybe it was the concept of commitment. The need to experience something, actually anything as long as it didn’t have anything to do with marriage, kids or ever after was all she was looking for.
Arriving late was not unusual for her. “Where have you been and where is Kevin?” Mark glanced around. Kissing her brother on the cheek she asked “Were you waiting for me and Kevin. Well, Kevin had to work again…” Noticing her costume, “Hey, isn’t that your old uniform from high school?” She pouted then looking down at her costume. “I didn’t have anything else to wear” trying to defend her decision to wear it. “Likely story,” Mark quipped. “I hope I look alright.” Glancing down again at herself feeling uneasy. Shaking his head smiling “Trust me in that outfit you look just fine” “Would you hold on to my car keys, I didn’t bring a purse and I don’t want to lose them?” “Sure” stuffing them in his pocket. Just then Batman swaggered toward them. “Hey Mark, who’s the cheerleader? You are going to introduce us?” Batman smiled. There was an uneasy feeling emanating from this stranger yet his eyes were friendly almost inviting. Maybe it was their deep blue color that reminded her of a summer evening sky that caught her off guard.
“Allen, be nice this is my sister Abby.” Mark advised. “Abby this is Allen,” Turning back leaning toward Allen, he whispered, “She is already in a relationship” then sternly followed with “you are too old for her anyway!” “Why would you say that?” Allen retorted whispering back under his breath. So Abby could hear he said, “We are both grown adults and don’t you think Abby is old enough to make her own decisions, what do you think Abby?” “I think my brother is a pain in the ass.” Looking right at him, “and I wish he would just stop.” “Mark” A young women dressed as a Pirate called to him. “I gotta go, Ellen wants me.” He patted Allen on the back, “Behave, you hear me?” cautioning his friend before leaving.
“Well, that was interesting.” Allen commented almost to himself. “Yeah, he is always interesting. Don’t pay attention to Mark, I don’t.” They both laughed. “So are you here by yourself?” Allen asked Abby as they both walked into the party. “Yea, I guess you can say I am here by myself. How about you, where is your date? I can’t imagine someone as obnoxious as you alone.” teasing. “Hey, Hey that’s not nice, true, -- but not nice.” “So old man should I feel threaten? Are you trying to rob the cradle?” “I’m not old. I’m twenty seven. At least I don’t think that’s old.” “Well now I can relax. I guess you have to excuse my brother he thinks he is protecting me.” “I guess he does, anyway, can I get you something to drink? There is a bar in the other room?” “Sure, surprise me.” It was good to change the subject. Allen brought her back a drink and talked with her for a while. There was something about him that attracted her to him but yet she also felt uncomfortable around him at the same time. The familiar way he touched her a lot, on the arm, the back; put his arm around her shoulder. Excusing herself to find the rest room was an easy escape. Maybe he would get the hint.
The .COM office was not very big and almost everyone there was part of it. There were wives, girlfriends, and her but other than that there were really no outsiders. Since the office was not well-known to her asking someone dressed as Count Dracula was great help in locating the restrooms.. How unfortunate that he seemed to be the only individual not drunk and he actually knew where he was. “What lushes,” she whispered to herself overwhelmed and flushed.
In the restroom she patted the back of her neck with a cool wet paper towel and wondered if maybe coming without Kevin was a mistake. It was amazing how she needed him and how hard she was fighting that. All her life she had needed someone and now she really just needed to depend on herself. The reflection in the mirror was a new improved Abby. The question was did she really want this change.
The restroom door swung open. A cheerful “Hi!” came from a young girl dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. “Nice costume.” Abby complimented with raised eye brows. The dress was very short accented with thigh high net stockings and spiked heels. Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ did not look like that.
“I like your costume too probably because I always wanted to be a cheerleader but never made it,” The girl giggled. I am not sure if this girl is drunk or a ditz Abby thought trying not to laugh out loud. “It really isn’t what everyone thinks; trust me I was a cheerleader in high school. It was no big deal. You didn’t miss much.” The girl disappeared into one of the stalls and Abby left.
After mingling for about an hour she decided to leave. There was a chance maybe Kevin was home and they could at least spend some of the night together. After tonight it would be nice to just cozy up on the couch with him and watch a movie. Just as she headed toward the door Allen approached her. “Hey, I got you drink.” “No thanks,” she begged off. “I’m tired, I’m going home.” “Come on Abby, have one last drink with me. We may never meet up again.” He pointed at a small leather couch in the waiting area. Abby reluctantly agreed following him. They sat down. The attraction to her was extremely strong. A little conversation with a pretty girl for once would make his evening worth being at this lame party.
Taking the drink from him, she sat it down on the table in front of them. A cowboy tripped and fell onto her. Allen pushed him off. “Hey watch what you’re doing.” “Sorry man.” Picking himself up he almost knocked over Abby’s drink. Catching it before it fell over spilling on the table he set it back down. Standing up and straightening himself out again he apologized, “Again sorry about that.” The young man hurried away. “What a jerk!” Seething with anger Abby picked up her drink and gulped a mouthful. “I was hoping you could actually taste it since I had it specially made for you. So to ask you how do you like it would be fruitless?” “Well” embarrassed she sipped it this time, “I do kind of like it, it’s sweet.” She licked her lips. Did she know how so damn sexy she was he was thinking as he watched her? “I thought you would like something sweet.” She began to feel so relaxed, not at all herself. “So what do you want to talk about?” Abby asks feeling unusually woozy. “I’ll tell you what, first you tell me something about you, then I will tell you something about me” It felt like he was playing games with her, but she really did not feel like talking, in fact, she felt too tired to talk. “No! . . . no. I think I’ll just go home.” There was a slight slur in her speech. Rising to stand up she lost her balance almost falling.” “Boy, I guess that drink was a little too strong for you. I’m sorry. It wasn’t supposed to be. I mean I had your brother make. Maybe you should go home? I can drive you. You really shouldn’t drive yourself.” He sounded genuinely concerned. “NO!” Abby could feel herself sweating. Clearing her throat and desperately trying to calm herself, “I mean no that is OK. I will just stay here and leave with my brother.” “Hey Mark,” Allen called, “Come over here will you.” Mark walked over to them. “What’s up?” He asked. “That drink I had you make made her sick. I really don’t understand” Allen explained. “Yeah, she doesn’t drink much. How many drinks have you had Abby?” She couldn’t answer. “Why don’t I take her home? I don’t want her to drive. I feel like this my fault.” “You know what Allen, take her to my house its closer and I’ll take care of her. Kevin’s going to kill me for letting her get drunk.” He sounded upset. “You know where I live right?” “Yeah” “Here are my house keys. I’ll be there in about an hour. Oh and almost forgot” digging into his pocket and pulling out another set of keys. “Here are Abby’s car keys just hit the alarm button and you will probably find her car. Handing Allen both sets of keys he just shook his head at Abby. “Mark, I, I, I only had one drink.” She tried to say it out loud but it came out as a slurred whisper. Mark just walked away.
“Come on little cheerleader let’s get you home.” Outside he hit the alarm button on her keys. Her car wasn’t too far from the office. Helping her to her car Allen gently placed her on the passenger seat buckling her in. When they got to Mark’s apartment he left her in the car to open the front door. It was a struggle to get her out of the car carrying her most of the way. She felt like dead weight although she seemed conscience she didn’t move much. “Are you alright he ask her several times?” Her behavior was worrying him. Abby tried but couldn’t answer him, she just felt numb.
Once inside he carried her to the first bedroom he could find hoping it was the guest room. “I’m going to put you to bed,” gently laying her down then covering her with the blanket that lay folded at the foot of the bed. A smile crossed his lips watching her sleeping. There was an innocence about her that fascinated him. Maybe the fact that she didn’t understand how appealing that quality makes her even more attractive. Now he just has to figure out why she got sick from the drink he gave her. As a detective with local law enforcement, being suspicious of everything is par for the job. Why, though, would she get so sick? Her own brother made the drink. Maybe she was taking some type of medication. Medications shouldn’t be mix with certain alcohol, but she didn’t say anything. Regardless, he figured he would stay around until Mark got home. Then talk to him about this. His car is still parked near Marks office. Luckily Mark’s apartment isn’t far from his office so if Mark could give him a ride back that would be better than walking around in his costume...
Allen was starving so after rummaging through the kitchen all that could be found was a bottle of flat coke and a bag of potato chips. It would have to do. Making himself comfortable on the living room couch he decided to watch a little TV till Mark got home. After watching the last half an hour of a rerun of The Office, he checked on Abby, she was still sound asleep. He could hear Mark at the door so he shut the door to the bedroom and went to meet him. “Hey before you get too comfortable how about taking me back to get my car” Allen asked. “You still here,” Mark asked puzzled. “I drove her home in her car remember. I left mine at the party; I don’t want to walk around like this. I let her sleep in the first bedroom I hope that was your guest bedroom. I wasn’t really sure.” Allen explained. “Yeah that’s fine, just give me a minute.” Mark went in and checked on Abby first then drove Allen to his car.
On the ride back to his car Allen brought up his concerns. “I am really worried about your sister. The way she got, was well, a little suspicious. I mean.” “Nah, she just had too much to drink. I told you she doesn’t drink much.” Mark tried to reassure him. “Well if it was my sister I would check into it. I just didn’t like how she seemed so out of it.” While feeling strongly about Abby’s behavior he didn’t try to push the subject. They pulled up to his car. “Well, here you go, buddy. Thanks for taking care of Abby.” Allen got out shut the door, leaned against the car talking to Mark through the open passenger window. “I would still have that checked out. Really” “I will, you don’t have to worry.” Allen stepped back from the car, Mark pulled out. Allen didn’t really know Mark all that well. They would see each other at the club and sometimes play racquetball. Once in a while, Mark would invite him over to play cards. There are times he gets invited to things just because he is a detective and people feel good saying they know him.
Dreams sometimes seem real but this more than just seemed, it felt real. It wasn’t her room or bed. The cologne wasn’t Kevin’s nor was the feel of the body that was on top of her. Maybe she was dreaming no she could feel everything but felt nothing. The warm breath on her neck was real and so were the hands that touched her. Sex, was this sex? Abby felt totally lifeless feeling nothing other than the pressure on top of her. There was no stopping him or even protesting because her body and her mind were disconnected. Confusion jumbled her brain, eventually passing out again.
Opening just one eye caused extreme pain inside her head. Was it morning? Still night? Whose bed is this? When they say a splitting headache she is sure now they mean your head splits in half. That could be the only reason for the horrendous pain shooting around in her head as if trying to escape. “Abby” the whispering voice sounded familiar or did it. It settled near the bed. “Hey lush it’s time to get up. Do you have to work today?” All she could muster was “HUH” Then moaned “Mark is that you?” “Of course it’s me who do you think it is?” She was awake now still not moving and definitely not opening her eyes. There was a sick feeling rising up from her stomach she was desperately trying to push back down. The bed moved she moaned. Movement of any kind was torture. Mark sat next to her on the bed, “So do you work today?” She wasn’t sure what would be worse shaking her head no or saying no. Either way she was going to be in some kind of pain. Finally, she whispers, “I’m up and no I don’t work. I have to get home. Kevin’s going to kill me!” She tried to get up but her head spun, she jumped up and ran for the bathroom no longer able to hold down what she had fought from coming up. “Oh, I can see this is going to be a wonderful day for you.” Mark laughed. He could hear her throwing up and just shook his head and went to make him some coffee and her some tea.
She staggered into the kitchen. “Sit down Abby before you fall down. You look like death warmed over.” Mark pulled out a chair and helped her into it. “Mark,” she said in a hoarse voice. “Something’s wrong.” “Yea you drank too much.” He answered back annoyed at her. “Honest Mark,” stopping to catch her breath, “I only had two drinks all night. Allen brought me a drink right before I got sick. I think someone put something in my drink.” “Abby you watch too much TV. It was my office party who would do something like that. I made the drink remember.” What was she trying to say he thought irritated by the implication of her comments. “I know you did it had to be later after you made the drink. I have never felt like this before.” Again a wave of nausea hit her and she ran to the bathroom. “You have a hangover! If you’re going to drink all night then you are going to be sick the next day.” Mark hollered after her.
As she lay next to the commode in his bathroom she realized that if he didn’t believe someone spiked her drink with something then he definitely wouldn’t believe what happened while she was unconscious. Maybe it was a dream. She began doubting herself, how would anyone else believe her? What was she looking for anyway? Sympathy? Anger? Protection? Did she expect that from anyone?
The wet washcloth felt good on her face. Slowly lifting herself up off the cold hard floor Abby decided to go home the best she could. There was a knock on the bathroom door. “Hey, Abby I’m going to the gym. Lock up when you leave.” “I will,” she whispered as loudly as she could back at Mark. She could hear the front door close. The task of fixing the bed was almost more than she could bear almost causing her to faint. That is when she noticed how a spot stood out on the green sheets. Maybe if they were white or tan she might not have even noticed it. Mark’s guest room was only used by family so she knows the sheets were clean.
The night before was not a figment of her imagination. It was such a violating feeling, even more than that not being in control left her feeling damaged. Yet there was no way leaving the sheets like that would prove to Mark it happened. Especially since Allen was in the apartment with her? Such a dirty feeling! The only control left to her is not to leave any signs of the deed done to her so she threw the sheets in the wash then took a shower scrubbing until she almost rubbed her skin off. Since there were none of her own clothes to change into she grabbed some sweats out of Mark’s closet and wrote a note telling him she took his clothes. When the sheets were done drying she quickly remade the bed while trying desperately not to throw up again or pass out from the headache. Finding her keys on the kitchen table she locked the apartment door and left.
It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was bright almost blinding; leaves were swirling about blowing everywhere, crunching under her feet as she walked to her car. The crisp autumn air felt good against her skin. Normally she didn’t mind the fall smells of dirt and burning leaves. Today was different. Everything made her feel sick. Abby gingerly climbed into her car. Her head was still throbbing and aching and her stomach hadn’t settled down quite yet. In general, she felt like she had the flu and all she wanted to do was put on her jammies and go to bed.
The apartment was empty when she got home. There was an empty cereal bowl on the counter and a coffee cup in their bedroom on the dresser. “He probably went to the gym,” she thought. Not even taking the time or energy to change clothes she just got into bed and fell fast asleep.
Kevin walked into the apartment around eleven. It was very quiet. He saw her car out front so he knew she was home. At least he knew her car was home. After tossing his keys in the bowl on the table by the door he went into the bedroom. Abby was curled up in bed like a little kid breathing steady, sleeping soundly. The talk with her brother didn’t make him feel any better. They had talked the night before when Kevin called to see where Abby was. This morning was a whole different talk explaining to him what had happened the night before and asking him to go easy on her because she was really feeling sick. Looking at her he knew he loved her yet he also knew that she was driving him crazy.
There was a time that marriage was very much a possibility. They lived together long enough yet something was keeping him from totally committing himself to her. There were many opportunities when he could have made a plan to purchase a ring and ask her to marry him but nothing seemed to come together. Not the right ring, not the right time. He knew it was more than finding the right ring or the right moment. He wasn’t sure about them either. It was times like this that made him lose his mind. What was going on with her? Just recently Abby had become so distant. He sat on their bed looking down at her. Staring at her face he thought of how beautiful she was. He wondered if she realized how much he loved her. It was no secret that she did not want to get married. To her, it was too risky. There was no such thing as loving someone until death do you part. Marriage was a big mess and someone always gets hurt. They discussed it many times along with having children, which was another pet peeve of hers.
As Kevin sat there wanting to understand her wanting to just hold her he knew it was close to over. Suddenly Abby sat up. When she jumped it made her dizzy, grabbing her head moaning “Whoo, I don’t feel so well,” By then she realized it was Kevin. “What made you jump like that? Lay back down before you make yourself sick.” He commanded. She gingerly laid back down whispering “I didn’t know who was here, I got scared.” There it was that frightened little girl and it made him smile. “How do you feel?” trying to be gentle but still feeling a twinge of anger. “Not so good, I really feel like I’m going to be sick.” “Well, it would probably make you feel better. I’m here if you need me.” He got up heading out of their room. “I’ll make you some tea. Maybe it will settle your stomach.” “That almost sounds nice,” she answered feebly. The sound of her getting up and rushing to the bathroom worried him because she wasn’t a big drinker but it also made him smile because if she did drink too much she got what she deserved.
Abby spent most of her day in the bathroom throwing up. In fact, she was sick for three days. She wondered if it was the flu until she talked to her friend Megan Wall at work. They did telemarketing for a cell phone company. After she explained what had happened and how she was sick for the past three days the girl shook her head. “Sounds as if you were slipped that rape drug… A friend of mine at college had that happen at a Frat party. She quit school and I have not seen her since! But she thought it was more than one guy. She was sick a few days too. Of course, she didn’t want to tell anyone like the cops or campus police she felt too ashamed.” “I know how she felt. I told my brother that I thought someone slipped something into my drink and he thought I was imagining it. Like he said who would do that? I felt stupid so I didn’t say any more to him about that night. There is no way I’m telling Kevin. He always warned me about going out by myself. I thought I would be safe because my brother was there. Ha... That was a joke.”
“So what are you going to do now?” “There is nothing much I can do. How could I find out who did it? The only person I could think of is my brothers’ friend Allen. He took me to my brother’s house when I started feeling drunk; he is the one that gave me the drink.” “Sounds guilty to me, or at least someone to wonder about.” “Maybe I should talk to him, what do you think? Or should I just get on with my life and forget that it ever happened?” Abby asked. “Well, the question is can you just forget? I don’t think I could forget something like that happening to me. You should do something even if it is just going to a rape center for counseling.” “Yea, you’re probably right. I just have to think about it for a while. Everything scares me anymore. You’re the first person I talked to about the, r—r—ra, I can’t even say the word” Tears flooded her eyes and down her cheeks. “Why don’t you take a break and go to the restroom. I’ll cover if someone comes back
That was the beginning of the secrets that Abby kept from Kevin. Several times She snuck out to see Allen. She needed to know if he was the one and as much as he scared her she knew he wouldn’t do anything while she was not drugged. She talked to him on her computer at work and she called him from her cell. He asked her about the night that she was raped. He even asked her if drinking ever did that to her before. She told him no. Allen didn’t like the feeling he was getting about the whole incident. But he didn’t want to upset Abby with his suspicions so he decided to look into it himself and not tell her anything about what he was suspected. Abby didn’t need to know he was a detective. He just wished he would have found a way to test her for what he believed was the rape drug Rohypnol. Unfortunately, it was too late for that though.
She realized Allen didn’t do it and she started enjoying his conversation and at times his company. They met a couple of times nothing happened though. The experience of the rape still left her uneasy about being intimate with anyone. She and Kevin’s sex life had dwindled down to her on the computer and him eventually falling asleep. She knew it wouldn’t take long for him to doze off so she would play on her computer just to pass the time. There were nights she was talking to Allen while Kevin lay on the couch. He had become a friend and she needed one, eventually though they just stopped talking.
That was how they got to this point. Kevin was catching her in little lies about what she was doing and where she had been. She knew Kevin would find out. He was not stupid just in love. Abby was still desperately in love with Kevin too, but something inside her changed and there was no turning back. In her mind, he deserved so much better. She felt dirty and tainted. This may hurt him but in the long run, he will thank her for getting out of his life. What’s that saying she thought, Yeah “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Hopefully, this will make both her and Kevin stronger.
She didn’t tell him that when she told him she had decided to move out and into her own apartment. They were both getting ready for work. Kevin had to go in early that day so they were both jostling around in the bathroom. “I need to have my own place where I can be independent. I have relied on people my whole life I just want a chance to prove I can do it on my own.” She tried to convince him and in a way herself too. “This is really about us?” He sneered loudly. “Kevin Daniel Madison” she only used his full name when he exasperated her. “Quit yelling I’m right here.”
He was beginning to make her mad. Why couldn’t he see she just needed to be by herself? “In the past months, you have done some strange things. I never know where you’re at, you tell me you are going to be one place and you are somewhere else. You lie to me all the time anymore. What the hell is going on with you? You can tell me if there is someone else.” He snapped red-faced. “Yea right look at you and you say I could tell you if there is someone else. No there is no one else.” “So then you just don’t love me anymore?” He was hurt and angry. The anger shot out at her from his eyes. Like daggers stabbing her. She never saw that look on his face before or felt such pain.
This was the hardest thing she had ever done but she could no longer pretend that she fit into this circle of his life. She was always a square peg. “Don’t love you?” He demanded to know and she was going to tell him about her love for him. “You are the only person in my whole life that I have loved. Look at me. My family is no family to me, you are my family.” “Then why do you need to get away from me?” He seemed to be broken as he sat down on the couch in their living room and leaning over he covered his face with his hands. “It is not you, it is me, don’t you understand, IT IS ME.” She pleaded. “I’m the one with the problem. You knew about me from the start, what made you think I could change? I can’t live up to your expectations. I’m not that person and I will never be that person. I will always feel like I’m disappointing you.” She paused trying to find something to say to convince him. “We will still see each other it will just be different. “ She could tell she did not comfort him with her words.
“You’re right you won’t change. You don’t want to. You like what you are.” There was disgust in his voice. It hurt her and she wasn’t one to back down from a fight. She knew he needed to hurt her but she wasn’t ready for it at all. He was always considerate of what he said to her. “What does that mean?” “You’re asking me.” He retorted. “Look at you. Don’t you think you have changed? Look where you came from. You are not that person anymore. You never were. You just can’t see that can you. It is as if you don’t think you are good enough to deserve anything better in your life. It seems like every time things get good you go back to what you were. What are you afraid of?” He grabbed her by the arm and she pulled away shrugging him off. “I’m not afraid of anything.” She turned and walked toward the window. She stood staring out the window not wanting to look into his eyes. She knew he would see her heart at that moment. She had to toughen up fast. Taking in a deep breath she turned around. “OK, maybe I am afraid … but that doesn’t change anything. You know and I know I need to find some things out on my own. I do love you Kevin. I don’t think anyone will ever mean as much to me as you have. I’m not giving you up I’m just letting go a little.” She honestly sounded sincere. He looked into her eyes and knew there was more but she was always very private. He only knew what she would tell him. She never confided in him about intimate things about their relationship. It was as though she put up with him and suffered on her own. He wanted honesty and he had to admit this was the first time she was trying to be as honest as she knew how to be.
“I may not be here when you have this all figured out.” He threatened. She looked up at him for a moment. He was so beautiful she thought wanting to take everything back but knowing it was too late. She looked down at the floor then answered feebly “I know I just have to do this. Maybe someday you will understand. Maybe someday I will be able to explain everything. But for now, this is how it has to be.” It was not at all the way he wanted it to be but she seemed to be calling the shots.
It took her almost a month to move out. Sometimes he had the feeling she didn’t want to leave other times he felt as though she couldn’t wait to get away from him. Some days her mood was upbeat and almost bearable to be around and other days she was miserable and intolerable. The day she finally left he was not home.
When he walked in the door that evening there was stillness and a quiet about the apartment that was strange. It no longer felt comfortable or even like home. It felt empty and he knew it would feel this way for a long time. It was late, about eleven; he threw his keys in the bowel on the small table by the door. He took his jacket off and carelessly threw it on the couch. Kevin loosened his tie and sat down on his lazy boy and turned the TV on with the remote. He flicked through the channels a couple of times before realizing he didn’t even see what was on. He felt as if he were in a trance. He felt nothing at all. There seem to be a void where his heart was and now there was just this nothingness within him. He couldn’t cry, couldn’t feel anger, just nothing. Kevin went to bed for the first time in his life without noticing he hadn’t eaten. All he wanted to do was take something for his headache and go to sleep. May be it was really his heart that ached but who could really tell he just hurt and wanted the pain to stop.
Life without Abby was different. There were always things to remind him of her. He called her a couple of times but she always acted distracted and uninterested. He didn’t know what to do. Should he fight to get her back? Should he just let go and move on? If he let her go without any fight and she still loved him would that make her think he really didn’t care anymore? Everything was answered when he saw her with a tall blond guy at a club they frequented. He just paid his tab at the bar and walked out. That was the night he decide it was time to move on.
Work had kept him extremely busy. He was an auditor for a large advertising company and there was an opening that would mean a lot of travel. What better way to get over things than to get away even if it was work? He spent a lot of time in Hotel rooms. He was always catching planes and it left him little time to think.
Abby did what she had to do. There was no doubt in her mind. Not even now while she lay in a hospital bed attached to monitors that would not only keep her in check but her baby as well. The sun brightly filled up the small birthing room. Everything around her was white, a cold white causing a chill to cross over her. Now though, thinking back to him and how she is truly aching to touch his face, see his smile, listen to one of his oh so boring jokes that she hated, but he would die laughing over. “Abby” she is startled back by the nurse. “How are we doing? Are the contractions getting any worse?” The nurse gently inquired. Abby squirms with the onset of another contraction, taking in a deep breath. “I’m having another one now.” She whispers through the pain. “I can see that,” the nurse replies with an interested smile as she studies the monitor. “Just breathe through your nose; you remember how you were taught.” Abby breathes in and blows out in short breaths until the pain subsides. “That was very good,” the nurse says patting her hand.” “You are doing just fine, it won’t be long now.”
The nurse leaves her for a while. Abby lay there alone in her room with no one to comfort her; no one to share this moment with and it is all her doing. Another contraction starts, this time the doctor checks her and tells the nurse she is ready... The pain itself is indescribable. She had never felt anything like it, but giving birth is amazing. When it is all over there is quite a stir. The doctor announces “it’s a boy!” which brings Abby to tears and just as quickly he tells the nurse to send for a pediatrician. The baby is having difficulty breathing. She holds him for a moment then they whisk him away. The doctor tells her not to worry; they would have him checked by a specialist.
How could this be happening? She thinks back to how she got to this point. Yes, she did walk out on him. She had to. She was no good at relationships. It was like a job every day. He was probably the most perfect man in the world. He made her feel beautiful and worth something but that wasn’t enough. She was so afraid he would see her for what she was, worthless… Abigail Renee Curtis was only interested in one thing, herself. She knew it and eventually she knew he would find out. It wasn’t the way she wanted to be. It was as if she had no choice, she was not going to let anyone hurt her again.
From the beginning, she had to fend for herself. Her father died when she was two. He was in a car accident on his way to the grocery store. Her mother would tell her the story over and over again as if she couldn’t stop living the nightmare of that terrible day. When she was seven her mother remarried a man named Joe Curtis. He adopted Abby and had her name changed. Her mother didn’t seem to mind changing her name it was like starting new without the emotional baggage of her dead husband. Several years later her mother had a stroke. From then on her mother just was not the same. Her mind was slow and it was hard to understand what she was trying to say. Eventually, Joe left and took Abby with him. He filed for custody and won, he was also able to get child support from her mother’s disability checks.
He used Abby and she knew it. Her checks came in monthly whether he went to work or not. Not that she saw any of the money. Her clothes were hand-me-downs from whomever he could get them. She always felt like she was tagging along. When he remarried everything in her life became even more confusing for her, she didn’t know who she was. How do you tell your friends he’s not my dad, she is not my mother. So she just didn’t make friends but spent her time at home after school in her room by herself. Sure she could have pretended that they were her parents but for some reason, she thought for sure her friends would know that they weren’t. They never acted like parents so why take the chance of having to explain something unexplainable.
Abby lay in the quite of the hospital hoping to hear something, anything about her son. That sounded so strange “her son”. She whispered it aloud several times “my Son. . . MY son.” Then she wondered what Kevin would think. A son… His son… How sure was she, that it was his? The question did come to mind but she pushed it aside not wanting to remember why it might not be. He would have made a perfect father. It just couldn’t be that way. He could never know. The sun was going down and she was exhausted, slowly she drifted off to sleep.
Abby fell asleep in the early evening of November third. The sun had gone down and her room was barely lit by the light in the hall. The door was ajar: and in her sleep she could faintly hear the going on of a normal evening at the hospital. She was not disturbed until late in the night when the nurse brought her new son to her to feed. She was startled awake. “Here is your precious little baby Mrs. Curtis.” The nurse said as she carefully handed the baby to Abby. “You can just call me Abby,” she smiled as she cautiously held her baby for the first time. “Is he Okay?” She asked concerned. “He is fine. He just had a lot of mucus that was interfering with his breathing. We have taken care of it.” She reassured her. “Call me if you need anything. The button is on the bed.” the nurse pointed to it. “My name is Cheryl” Abby smiled and nodded, the nurse left her there alone with her precious baby. He is so beautiful she thought as she looked down at him. Dark hair covered his little head and his eyes looked as though they may be blue. That could change she thought. His hands were so small. She loved to hold them, such teeny little fingers. Abby undid the blanket and carefully checked out her new son. He was not very long about . In all the excitement she couldn’t remember what they had told her when she delivered so she wasn’t sure of his weight. She picked up his bottle the nurse had placed on the tray. Abby had decided a long time ago not to breast-feed. She knew nothing of those kinds of things and she certainly didn’t have anyone to help her now so bottle-feeding seemed just fine. He was a very enthusiastic eater. She burped him a few times and when he was done feeding she changed his diaper for the first time. There was a changing table in the room and it was equipped with all the necessities she needed to care for him while they were in hospital.
Both Abby and her baby fell asleep exhausted. The nurse came in and gently lifted him off her and placed him in the bassinet next to her bed. He woke again around and she realized this would be her life from now on. She would never be alone again. Abby did feed him again in the early morning and wondered what name she should give him. She had to make a decision before she left the hospital of course. She had two days and no ideas.
Abby woke up to the sun shining in her face. She had that lost feeling and couldn’t remember where she was or what time it was. She bolted up in bed and looked around and then lay back down and realized it was just a dream. The hospital, the baby, all of it was nothing more than a dream. The kind that you could swear was real. So real, that she felt as if she had lost something precious. She could see the baby’s face and feel him in her arms. The feeling was truly unbelievable. It couldn’t have been a dream, the nurse, the doctor everything. She must have been so blown away by everything she took and drank that a whole episode of life was created in her mind as a dream. She couldn’t explain the dream. It was too real. And as usual she was deceiving Kevin again. For a long time after the rape she feared she was pregnant. Maybe now she wished she had been, but to Kevin.
A year had passed since their breakup and she was still dreaming about a man she left and now about a baby that never existed. “What the hell am I doing”? She said aloud. “I left him, why can’t I let him go?” She started to cry. She didn’t want to feel anymore. How could she make everything stop? Abby lay there for quite a while until she realized that she didn’t know what time it was and frankly she didn’t know what day it was. The partying began the week before and continued through the weekend leaving her mind kind of fuzzy. Abby went into the bathroom and checked her watch that lay on a small table next to the sink. It was supposed to add some flavor to her tasteless bathroom. Decorating was not her forte. Nothing could help it now. She hadn’t picked up anything in that room in a week and that was just touching the surface. It was in the morning. It was Monday and she had to be at work by eleven. What if she just didn’t show up, what would they do she mused. But then again she remembered very well what they would do down the medical center where she worked. Her ass would be on its way out. That was exactly how the office manager put it just last week before her vacation. Her exact words were “one more screw up, missed days, or late arrival, your ass is out of here.” Abby thought she was just a little menopausal that day but, hey, her word was written in stone in that office. She jumped into the shower threw on her “office outfit” as she called it and ran out the door. If she were lucky she would get there just in time. She lived only a few blocks away and that was close enough for her junker car to travel without breaking down or falling apart.
Her car wasn’t always junk. In fact it was a very nice used car. Kevin helped her pick it out. She had never owned a car before. Then after she broke up with Kevin she met a guy. He made her feel good. They started doing drugs together. Something she thought she would never do. Anyway she let him drive her car a couple times. She dumped him after he wrecked it and refused to pay to get it fixed. He was such a loser she thought. Then she remembered about her dream and Kevin, which brought her back to where her life is now. It is a mess. Today she needs to make a decision. It is a day of reckoning.