Finding out about Jill’s betrayal seems to have opened a door in my mind. As I go down in the elevator in Jill’s building, I start to see snippets of conversations, of scenes from the last three years unfolding before my eyes.
“Maggie! Maggie! Are you all right?”
“Yes, I… I think so… I just got really woozy for a moment…”
“Everyone’s waiting for you to walk down the aisle… can you do it?”
“Of course I can! Are you kidding me?”
“Thank goodness. I was worried about you for a minute. All right, start on the right foot…”
The elevator is moving too fast and a wave of vertigo overtakes me. I lean against the side of the elevator, feeling suddenly weak in my legs. It’s like I have motion sickness all of a sudden. In an elevator. That can’t be normal. I wonder if it’s related to being pregnant. Still, I’ve been in plenty of elevators in the last month and never felt this way before.
“So was the test…?”
“So you’re not pregnant.”
“Walt, I think we should see a fertility specialist.”
“No. I won’t.”
“Margaret, it will be fine. Trust me. There’s nothing wrong with us. We’ll make a baby.”
When the elevator doors open, I feel a flood of relief. No more elevators. From now on, I’m only going to take the stairs.
As I step back outside, the cold air hits me. How did it get so cold so quickly? Even though I grew up in Ohio, I’ve always hated the winters out here. When I was younger, I always fantasized about moving somewhere like California.
An ice cold breeze blows over me and I hug my coat to my body. I feel colder lately, not sure why. Is the baby sucking all the warmth out of my body?
“Mrs. Sneed, you’re…”
“I wouldn’t delay trying IVF. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to conceive.”
“I’m sorry. I know it’s hard to hear this.”
“It’s okay. I’ll… I’ll be okay. We’ll do the IVF.”
I start the long trek back across campus. Even though I initially felt better when I got out of the elevator, now the feeling of vertigo has returned, only worse. My legs feel wobbly and my head is starting to throb.
I start walking faster. I need to see Riley. Now.
“Margaret. Kind of formal, isn’t it? Like you’re the prime minister of England or something.”
“My friends call me Maggie.”
“Can I call you Maggie?”
“No. You can’t.”
“Fine. Margaret. Where’s your office, Margaret?”
“It’s in the Potter building.”
“Oh, hey. I’m right next door. I wonder if you can see my office from yours.”
“I doubt it.”
What if Riley’s still in his meeting? Should I text him? No, I don’t want to bother him. Maybe he’s done by now.
If he’s not done, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll camp out in front of his office, I guess, until he shows up.
“Riley. You brought coffee!”
“Yeah. Wasn’t sure how you take it, so I brought five packets of sugar and five of cream.”
“What if I say I want six sugars?”
I’m about halfway to his office when the cramping in my abdomen begins. It’s a squeezing pain, like a fist tightening over my belly. At first, it’s a dull pain that’s easy to ignore. But as I walk further, it sharpens. It’s bad enough to bring tears to my eyes.
I walk faster. Got to get to Riley. Hang on…
“Riley, come on.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help it.”
“To a guy who treats you like shit.”
“He doesn’t… Look, even so. You’re just…not my type. I don’t feel that way about you.”
“I’m not completely oblivious.”
“I had to try, right?”
The cramping worsens to the point where every sixty seconds, I have to stop walking and breathe through it. There are a few moments when I’m not sure I can go on, but by some miracle, I make it to Riley’s building.
Holding on to the side of the building with my hand, I look up at the window for his office. My heart sinks when I see the light is dim. He isn’t here.
“I can’t believe you’d do this to me, Walt! How long have you been fucking her?!”
“I don’t know. A few months. It’s not that big a deal.”
“Not that big a deal? Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Calm down, Margaret.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down! How could you do this to me? You, you…”
That’s when I feel something warm and wet running down my leg. My cheeks burn—did I pee on myself?
Then I look down at my ankles and see a droplet of crimson. Blood. I’m bleeding.
“Oh, Maggie. Maggie, Maggie, Maggie…”
“No, please don’t stop…”
“You’re just doing this to get back at Walt, aren’t you?”
“Do you care?”
“Actually, you know, I really don’t.”
I’m bleeding. I’m pregnant and bleeding. And cramping. And feeling quite woozy. I may not be a doctor, but I know this isn’t good.
I weigh my options. Should I call 911? Where the hell is Riley?
“You can’t keep calling and texting and emailing me, first of all. Walt will find out. And the guy’s a lawyer—he’ll take everything you’ve got.”
“Fine. So how are we supposed to communicate?”
“Glad you asked. Look at this!”
“It’s a square.”
“No, it’s a coffee cup. You hold that up in the window and I’ll bring you coffee.”
“Okay, but what if I want ‘coffee’, if you know what I mean?”
“Totally thought of that. Look at this.”
“Oh my God! Is that a drawing of my…?”
“Wow. You missed your calling as an artist, you know.”
I reach for my phone. I’ll call Riley. I’ll tell him what’s going on and he’ll come get me.
I pull my phone out of my pocket, but my hands are shaking too badly to type in my password. I’ve got to calm down.
“I’m going to teach you how to juggle.”
“Can I take a raincheck?”
“No. Come on, this will come in handy.”
“I can’t even fathom a situation where knowing how to juggle will come in handy.”
“What if you’re at a children’s birthday party and the clown doesn’t show up?”
“Has that ever happened to you?”
“Yeah, like, constantly. Come on, it’ll be fun.”
“I can think of other things that are more fun…”
“Okay, okay. Other fun things first. Juggling later.”
Calm down, Maggie. You can do this. Do it for the baby.
I find Riley’s number in my phone and I send him a text message: “I’m bleeding. Outside your office building. Please come ASAP.”
Please, Riley. Please come ASAP.
“This is the worst song ever.”
“California girls, we’re unforgettable. Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top…”
“I especially hate when Snoop Dogg starts rapping. He’s such a sellout.”
“It’s a shame you hate this song so much, Maggie.”
“Because it’s our song.”
“What?! No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Shut-up! It is not!”
“I just called it.”
“I hate this song!”
“I can’t believe you hate our song.”
I see the blood running down my legs now, big crimson droplets now soaking my socks. This is a lot of blood. This is a whole lot of blood. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this blood come out of my body at once.
Riley, where are you?
“What are you writing in my book?”
“It’s a limerick.”
“Let me see.”
“Hang on, I’m almost finished…”
“Oh, that’s terrible! And you spelled baggy wrong.”
“How could you say it’s terrible? I think it’s brilliant.”
“It’s sort of insulting.”
“It’s brilliant. And I’m giving it an A-plus. No, an A-plus-plus.”
“Give me that pen!”
About a minute later, I see him wheeling towards me, looking panicked. “Maggie!” he says. “Are you all right?”
Then he looks down and sees all the blood. My legs sway under me, and Riley catches me on his lap. “I’m going to get blood all over you,” I murmur.
“I don’t care,” Riley says, like I’ve just said the dumbest thing he’s ever heard. “Come on, I’m going to drive you to the emergency room.”
“Are you sure?”
“Riley! I told you that I haven’t been with Walt in six months.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m just… wow…”
“I don’t know what to do…”
“I’ll tell you what to do. You pack your bags right now and move in with me.”
“You know I can’t do that.”
“Why the fuck not?”
“Walt will take me for everything I’ve got.”
“So what? I have money.”
“I don’t want to have to rely on you.”
“Stop it. I’m not Walt. You can trust me. I love you. I’ll love you forever, Maggie.”
Riley pushes us both in the direction of his car, which is very close. Thank God for handicapped parking. He opens the back door. “Get in,” he says.
“I’ll get blood all over your car…”
“Get in the goddamn car, Maggie.”
I follow his instructions and climb into the back seat. He makes sure I buckle up and I can see that his hands are shaking. I close my eyes, praying silently: Please be okay, baby. Please be okay.