Chapter Fifteen: Pink is the New Black
Jared was gone when we woke up in the morning and the bathroom was spotless. Jesse didn't say anything about it when he drove Carolyn and I home. I told him I would see him on Monday because I had to go to Charlene's baby shower the next day. He seemed angry but I didn't think I did anything wrong so I wasn't going to apologize.
I had a full day of playing stupid baby shower games and watching twenty-something women ooh and ahh over things like little pink jumpers and newborn diapers ahead of me so I spent Saturday hanging out with Brandy. At least she didn't expect anything of me besides the occasional drink from the fridge and silence during the Price is Right. I didn't even have the energy to insult her anymore and I didn't like that feeling.
I was getting ready for bed around midnight when I heard a tap on the window. I quickly pulled my T-shirt over my head and hoped it was Jesse and not some creepy peeping tom or something. I pushed open the window and Jared's head popped in.
"Jared? What are you doing here?" I asked in surprise.
"Can I come in?" he asked.
I expected him to crawl in through the window but I realized he was twice the size of Jesse and that probably wasn't going to work. My Mom was already in bed and I left Brandy on the couch snoring a few minutes earlier so I told Jared to meet me at the front door. I motioned for him to be quiet and led him down the stairs to my room. He walked around for a few minutes, not saying anything just examining my books, CD's and whatever else there was for him to examine. When he was finished avoiding whatever he needed to say he sat down on my bed and looked at me.
I raised my eyebrows in question. Was this just an excuse to get in my room? What did he really want?
"I'm sorry about last night," he muttered, looking down.
"It's alright. It didn't even happen, don't worry about it," I assured him.
"Are you really dating Jesse?" he asked without looking at me. He fiddled around with the comforter. He looked so sad and small sitting there on my bed too shy to look at me. I couldn't stay mad at him even though he had acted like a total brain dead jerk last night. You say I'm too forgiving, I say I just want everyone to be happy.
"Yeah I really am," I told him but I sat down next to him anyway. Maybe I was contradicting what I was saying but there was something about the way he couldn't look at me. He was a good guy even though he did have momentary relapses into typical jock behaviour.
"But I want to help you," I told him.
"You do?" he asked turning to me with that hopeful look on his face. I didn't really know what he thought I meant by that so I kept going.
"I want to help you get back together with Miss Prince," I said.
His face fell a little. "I don't know if that's a good idea. I mean it is illegal and that isn't going to change just because we want it to," he said. He actually sounded intelligent for once. He wasn't totally controlled by lust or whatever it is that makes it okay to sleep with a teacher in a teenage boy's mind.
"But you love her, don't you?" I asked. Yeah, I said it. I uttered the word love as if it could conquer all, even the law. I was slowly descending into the world of soap opera fantasies and trashy romance novel love stories. I shook my head in disgust.
"Yeah I do," Jared said despite the sour look on my face. He was hopelessly and disgustingly in love with his math teacher. Gross. Gross didn't even come close to describing it. But I was going to help it continue for my own benefit. Hey, I'm not perfect and if I remember correctly, I never claimed to be.
"Okay, we start on Monday then," I told him. He smiled at me and kissed me on the cheek on the front porch before walking down the street. I watched him until he turned down another street and I couldn't see him anymore. I was about to back inside when I saw a limo put on its headlights and drive away. It had been parked across the street and a couple houses down from me. Normally I wouldn't have though anything of it but it just seemed strange to me. I had never seen a limo in town before let alone on my street. But I put it out of my mind and went to bed. I might even have been looking forward to the baby shower. But just a little and don't tell anyone I said that.
My Mom dropped Jenna and I off at my Dad's house the next day at a quarter to one. She had insisted on driving us even though Dad offered to pick us up. Maybe she was going to come out of her ridiculous depression and reenter the land of the living. Hey, a girl can hope.
There were pink balloons and streamers everywhere. Call my crazy but I think Charlene was hoping for a girl. Everyone was wearing some article of pink clothing. Apparently my Dad had forgotten to mention the dress code. Oh well I didn't own any pink besides one sock that didn't seem to have a mate.
"Ohhh you must be Elise! And Jenna! Adorable!" A woman with rosy cheeks and huge teeth pounced as soon as we walked in the door. "I'm Charlene's sister Lucille," she gushed.
"Nice to meet you." I forced a smile and took a step to the side, pretending to be arranging my shoes in line with all the other ones. Charlene's sister Lucille had apparently been drunk when she got dressed in the morning. She was wearing a neon pink pencil skirt with black socks that were pulled up to mid calf. There was too much going on with her shirt for me to even begin to describe it.
"You aren't wearing any pink! Oh dear," she exclaimed. She was turned up to full exaggeration mode and it was giving me a headache.
"Here, put this on." She handed me a pink lei and took it upon herself to drape one around Jenna's neck. Jenna looked positively terrified and I couldn't blame her.
"Oh Elise, Jenna! You made it!" Charlene appeared from the kitchen. Her stomach was huge under a pink tank top but she looked genuinely happy. I was just glad to be taken away from Lucille who couldn't really manage to breath without making noise. She was so jolly she could be Santa Clause at the mall at Christmas and no one would notice a difference.
At least ten women sat in the living room, all with their legs crossed, all with ridiculous grins on their faces. They picked at tiny sandwiches without crust and plates of vegetables and dip.
Lucille gave everyone a clothes pin that was meant to be clipped on the hem of your skirt. If you uncrossed your legs than your clothes pin would be taken away. Jenna was very serious about it, she kept her short legs crossed the entire time and ended up winning the game. All the women fawned over her as if she was a little doll they could dress and play with. I couldn't quite understand why I should get excited about having a clothes pin taken away, it wasn't as if I needed it to hang my laundry on the line later. Everything about the baby shower was sickeningly feminine.
Names were discussed and I had to choke back a couple laughs when "Destiny" and "Charity" were suggested. That poor little baby didn't know what she was getting herself into.
I was in the kitchen getting a glass of water when Charlene came in. She was carrying an empty plate and rubbing her stomach.
"I'm so happy you and Jenna decided to come," she told me. She smiled at me warmly and started filling the plate up with more carrots and broccoli. "I really would like it we could be friends. I want my daughter to know her big sisters."
"Yeah of course," I told her. It was my obligation to at least be civil with her. She had never done anything to be personally.
I turned away for a second to fill my glass up with water and there was a deafening crash. I whirled around to find Charlene on he kitchen floor in a mess of baby carrots and ranch dressing. She had agony written all over her face.
"The baby," she managed to squeak, doubled over in pain. The next hour was a total blur of pink and worried faces. Paramedics arrived and put Charlene on a stretcher. She begged me to come in the ambulance with her and who was I to say no? Lucille promised to watch Jenna and make sure my father was called.
I sat in the back of the ambulance holding my stepmother's hand. I felt like I had entered the twilight zone. I ended up sitting in the waiting room until my father rushed up to me in a frenzy. I told him where Charlene was and what I knew so far which wasn't much.
"Thank you for coming with her. I'm glad she wasn't alone," he told me. He actually gave me a tense hug and then hurried away to find Charlene's doctor. I was confused. Should I stay? Should I just go home? I wanted to know Charlene was going to be okay but the hospital smell was starting to get to me. I looked up and down the hall and to my surprise I was caught in an eye lock with none other than Jesse's father. He was sitting in a wheel chair just outside a room. He sneered at me and started to wheel himself over. I looked away quickly hoping irrationally that he hadn't recognized me and he wasn't coming to talk to me. But he was in front of me in seconds. There was no getting away now
"You're Jesse's little friend. I know what you two did. It's your fault I'm like this," he accused me.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I told him looking him right in the eye. He was the type that liked to intimidate people. Well I wasn't going to let him do that to me. At least that was the effect I was going for.
"I could have told the police that little shit broke into my house," he said. "But I didn't."
I didn't say anything.
"You tell him he better come home if he knows what's good for him. His mother abandoned him. I'm the one that's been taking care of his sorry ass for the last few years." He babbled on about how he protected Jesse and helped him with his homework. I knew he never did any of those things.
"I have to go," I said when I saw my Dad coming down the hall. I stood up but he grabbed my wrist and twisted it painfully. "Hey! Ow!" I said, angrily trying to yank it back.
"Tell him what I said," he ordered and let go. He wheeled himself back to the door he had been waiting at. I turned away from him.
"How is she?" I asked my Dad.
"They had to do an emergency C-section," he said. "It's a boy."
I couldn't help but laugh.