Until It Fades(7)

By: K.A. Tucker

There’s no response, and I start to think that Lou is gone until she calls out, “Time’s up!”

Taking a deep breath, I reach for the stick with a trembling hand.

“No, no, no . . .” My back hits the wall and I slide to the floor, my eyes glued to the second dark pink line. There’s no mistaking it.

Oh, my God.

But how? I’m on the pill! Granted, I missed a few here and there, especially over the past couple of months.

Hot tears roll down my cheeks as I grip the test, thinking back to the only night this could have happened. I was so hurt . . .

So drunk.

So stupid.

As if I haven’t fucked up my life enough. How am I going to do this? I can’t live at Misty’s with a baby, and there’s no way I’m crawling back home. I don’t have a job and now who the hell is going to hire me?

The door opens without warning and Lou steps in, peering down at me with my arms wrapped around my knees, sobbing uncontrollably. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the results, I guess.

She hesitates, but only for a second. I get the impression Lou isn’t the type of person to beat around the bush. “Do you know who the father is?”

Fair question to ask the town slut, I guess.

I bob my head.

“How far along are you?”

I quietly do the math. “Seven weeks, maybe? Or eight?”

“You gonna tell him? Get him to help?”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s only right.”

I avert my gaze to the faded rose linoleum floor. I think I’ve sufficiently screwed up my chances at getting this job.

Misty comes barreling into the tight space. “Leroy said you were—” Her voice cuts off when she sees the test in my hands. “Oh, no . . . Cath!” Her hands go to her stomach, pressing against it. “Oh no, oh no, oh no!” After a moment, “This is all my fault!” She looks about ready to burst into tears.

“You’re not exactly equipped to be blamed for this, Misty,” Lou points out.

“No, but I’m the one who convinced DJ to bring his friend from New York to that party, so he and Cath could meet.”

“DJ, your ex?” Lou spits out his name. I’m guessing she dislikes him. Most people do. DJ Harvey is a snake disguised as a hot guy. If cash goes missing from your house at a party, you can bet it’s in his pocket. If there’s a fistfight and he’s around, you can bet he provoked it. Smashed window or spray-painted wall? Check for his fingerprints. I never understood how Misty could ignore the shadiness. It has only hurt her reputation.

Misty’s blonde curls bob with her nod.

Lou sighs. “And I suppose the guy who got arrested with him is this friend from New York?” Everyone around here has heard about DJ and another guy getting busted for dealing marijuana and coke in Belmont the very next day after that party. It was a reprieve for me, because it gave people something else to talk about. Misty was smart enough to dump DJ right away, though she cried for a week after.

Another head bob.

Another heavy sigh. “On second thought, I wouldn’t be too quick to say anything. No one needs to know your baby’s daddy is a drug dealer. Not like he’s gonna be able to support you from jail anyway, and it sounds like he’s gonna be there awhile.”

“People saw me get into his van, though.” Actually, they saw Matt drag me into his van after I lunged for a girl who spat in my hair. In all the months of gossip and sneers since Scott was arrested, it was the first time I had physically lashed out. I was drunk and so angry; I couldn’t help myself.

Matt lit a joint and we hung out in the back of his VW van for hours, complaining about how fucked up life is as the party raged around us. It felt good talking to someone who didn’t know a soul around here besides DJ and didn’t seem to give a shit whether I slept with my teacher or not.

He wasn’t bad-looking and had me laughing by the time he leaned over to kiss me . . .

And now I’m pregnant.

As if I haven’t provided these people with enough to gossip about. Not that I should be worrying what people say or what they think about me anymore. I have a bigger issue now. Another human being to take care of, when I can’t even take care of myself.

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