RECAP: Carolyn has a fantastic date with an unlikely subject, but ends the evening with another of her blackouts. Who knows what she could have done? She takes the subway home where another man confronts "Theresa" and discovers that she somehow knows self-defense moves that she never learned. After celebrating the thorough butt-kicking she gave him, she starts thinking about who this woman, Theresa, might be.
As always, ratings and comments are appreciated, and thanks to the cc creators for their fantastic work.
As always, ratings and comments are appreciated, and thanks to the cc creators for their fantastic work. It’s Saturday morning. Tina’s birthday. I wake up at 6:30 like I do every day for work, but there’s no need to get up today. I’m still sleepy and I was out pretty late last night.
I smile, remembering my evening. Sean was amazing. Perfect, even. Almost like I’d created him out of a fantasy to be exactly what I needed. Even waking up in his arms, afraid of what I might have said or done, I’d never felt so safe and content.
And then I remember the subway. Did that really happen? I don’t know any kind of defensive fighting. Jeez, did I dream the whole thing?
I roll back over and snuggle up with my Cookie Monster. If I was dreaming, I might as well dream a little longer. The next time I wake up, it’s 11:00. It feels great to sleep in, but my tummy is complaining for breakfast. Even well-rested with the sunlight struggling feebly through my windows, I don’t feel any clearer about whether last night really happened or I dreamt it. I stumble into the kitchen and open the fridge, looking for some breakfast. It looks like there’s something in the fruit drawer, so I slide it open. Ugh! Mangoes! Tina’s husband, Todd, must’ve put them there again. He’s such a prankster and he knows how much I hate them. I dump them all in the garbage, almost gagging at having to touch them. I’m not hungry anymore. Next to the garbage, I spot my phone. 1 missed call, 1 new message. I dial my voice mail and listen. “Hey Carol, it’s Sean. Umm.. I got your note. Just wanted to make sure you made it home ok. Wish you would’ve woken me. Not that… I know you can take care of yourself and all…“ he fumbles. I smile. He knows all too well how I feel about my independence. If only he know how well I really took care of myself last night. “Anyway.. I had a great time. Call me.”
I’m almost giddy with excitement. I didn’t dream it. It really happened and he actually likes me! I hug the phone to my chest, feeling like a schoolgirl. I decide to call him this evening. I don’t want to seem too desperate, right? Maybe I should ask Tina. It’s been ages since I had any real kind of relationship. Wow, I’m pathetic. I decide today is going to be my perfect lazy Saturday. I don’t want to do anything but lounge around in my PJs and play video games all day. And that’s exactly what I do until the door buzzes at 6:30. I sigh and walk over to the speaker. Probably someone selling magazines again. I press the button. “Yeah?”
“Are you ready to go?” It’s Tina.
“What? Go where?”
“Awww sis. Did you forget my birthday?”
“Of course I didn’t. Happy birthday. Where are we going?”
“Simmy Carla’s! Ugh! Just let me up.” I press the button and dash into my bedroom to change. When Tina walks in a few minutes later, I’m already dressed with my hair thrown up in a quick ponytail.
“I swear, you’re the most absentminded smart person I know. You invited me out tonight. Todd’s staying home with the kids so we can have our girl time. I’ve been looking forward to it all week!” I force a laugh as I quickly brush my teeth. “I was just joking, Tina. Of course I didn’t forget!”
I spit and rinse, and stop to admire her. “Wow, that haircut looks fantastic! When did you get it done?”
She grins. “Thanks. Just today. I was feeling old and needed a change.” She giggles. “Or at least that’s what I told Todd when he saw the bill.” Simmy Carla’s is busy, but we manage to find a table and order some food. We’re trading the usual gossip while Tina watches the people on the dance floor. She stops mid-sentence with a disgusted look on her face. “Eww. I hate when people do that. Right in public! Why don’t they get a room?” I turn around to see what she’s looking at. There’s a couple out there, and the woman is all over the guy. Her dress barely covers her butt, and not much of anything else. What kind of guy would even go out with a woman dressed like that? I guess the kind who’s looking for exactly what she’s offering. He finally comes up for air and my stomach turns. It’s Sean.
I turn back around so he doesn’t see my face, hurting more than I would have thought possible. I feel like I’m going to be sick.
“Carolyn, are you ok?” my sister asks. “You look really.. pale.
“Actually, I really don’t feel very well. Maybe I just need some air.” Anything to get away from that sight. I duck my head and scurry out, as far away from the dance floor as I can get. “Are you sure you’re ok? I can come in and stay with you. I’ll make you some soup. You really look terrible,” Tina says.
I’m holding my stomach as she drives me back home. After I decorated the bushes outside of Simmy Carla’s she insisted on calling it a night. “No, I’m fine. I just need to get some rest. I’m so sorry I ruined your birthday.”
“Don’t be silly! We’ll do it some other time. It’s not your fault you got sick today.”
I swear my sister is a saint. I don’t understand how we can be related. She walks me up to my door and I fumble for my keys. She looks me over and chews on her lip, a sign I know. She’s trying to decide if she should say something.
“Carolyn, are you sure everything’s ok? You’ve been forgetting a lot of things lately. Are you… are you having those blackouts again?”
I turn my back to her as I unlock the door so she can’t see my face. I’m a terrible liar. “No, everything’s fine. I’ve just been really busy.” Jeez, that even sounded like a lie to me. She sighs out loud, but I know she won’t interfere unless I ask for help.
After giving me one last hug, she says goodbye as I go inside. As soon as the door closes behind me, I run for the bathroom. I’m afraid my stomach will never stop heaving. The contents were long ago emptied, but my body seems determined to get rid of every bit of bile. I’m exhausted, mentally and emotionally spent, but I can’t seem to make it to my bed. I rest my head on the toilet seat, and that’s when I see it. They’ve gone back to his apartment. She leads him upstairs to his couch. She tells him that she remembers how comfortable it is. He wraps his arms around her and kisses her hungrily. Not the gentle Sean that kissed me, but the Sean that knows exactly what he wants and what he’s doing. There’s soft music playing in the background. They clearly had everything planned out. I jerk awake as my head slips on my arm. I sit up too fast and my stomach objects. After a few miserable minutes, I am able to catch my breath. My eyes are watering and sweat drips down my face. I’m just so tired and weak. I rest my head again for a moment. I guess the couch wasn’t good enough. They’ve made it to his bed, bathed in red light. The music is even louder, the beat pulsing with the light. I’m stuck behind a glass wall, forced to watch. I can’t close my eyes. My legs are frozen in place. I hammer on the glass, begging him to stop, begging someone to let me out. He doesn’t hear, or chooses not to.
But she does. She raises her head and leers at me. “Come on now, Carolyn. Did you really think YOU would know what to do with a man like Sean? You couldn’t possibly satisfy him. You’re pathetic.” And then she laughs, an evil sound that makes every bone in my body ache. Sean is oblivious.
I wake up in a pool of sweat on the bathroom floor. I’m burning up. Can a broken heart make someone sick? I don’t know. I can’t think. My mind is fuzzy, but at least I feel safe to leave the bathroom. Sometime Sunday the fever breaks, and I’m able to get some real sleep. When I wake up on Monday morning, I feel fine, much to my dismay. I don’t want to face Sean. I haven’t figured out what to say to him. But I know that avoiding him will only delay the inevitable, so I trudge to the shower to get ready for work. Friday night was so magical – for one of us at least -- but it was just one date. It’s not like we were exclusive. I have no right to expect him to burn his little black book. So why does it hurt so much?
I want to kick myself for not seeing this coming. What was I thinking? I knew who he was, I knew what he was doing, but I let myself fall for him anyway. What would he want with me, anyway? The nightmare girl was right. I’m inexperienced and naïve.
I vow to never again let myself get caught up like that. And I can’t let myself forget who I am: the girl who’s just one of the guys. By the time I make it to work, I’ve decided to just play it cool. I’ll pretend it didn’t mean anything to me, like it surely meant nothing to him. He’ll figure out I’m not interested and go away. Surely he’s done it a hundred times himself.
My head filled with these thoughts, I’m not managing to get much done this morning. I hear a knock on my door and quickly flip open my laptop and pretend to be working. “Come in,” I call, without looking up. I smell Sean’s cologne as he comes up behind me and reaches around me with a single rose. I clench my teeth and stare straight at my screen. He whispers in my ear. “I’ve been thinking about you.”
I rein in my temper. I will not make a scene. I will not make a fool of myself. I will not show how much I let him get to me. But then he moves his fingers to my neck and all I can see is his fingers wrapped around HER neck in the pulsing red light and I lose control. I spin around and shove him, knocking the vase out of his hands. “Really, Sean? Were you thinking about me Saturday night at Simmy Carla’s? Were you confused about whose throat your tongue was down?” His face turns white and he stammers, “She.. we… look, I made the date a long time ago. I didn’t know.. she--”
“SHUT UP, Sean. I don’t even want to hear it.” I feel tears burning in the back of my eyes and I take a breath to calm myself, remembering my plan. “I just.. this isn’t going to work. We’re obviously not looking for the same thing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” I turn my back to him.
“Carolyn—“ He grabs my shoulder and turns me back to face him. “Please, just let me explain.”
I push his hand off my shoulder and point to the door. “GET OUT!!” So much for keeping cool.
He looks startled as he slowly backs out, pulling the door shut behind him. I’m trying to pull myself together, but it’s not working. My legs are shaking and I feel like I’m about to collapse. Come on, Carolyn. You’re stronger than this.
But I guess I’m not. I bury my head in my arms and cry, listening to the water from the vase dribble onto my carpet. I spend the week edging around Sean. I leave the break room whenever he enters and refuse to look at him during meetings. He tries to talk to me a few times, but I pretend not to hear him and walk away. He calls my cell phone, but I ignore the calls and delete the voice mail without listening to them.
I know I’m being immature. I need to face him and deal with what happened, but the wound is still too raw right now. On Friday, I’m called into the boss’s office. I fidget nervously in the chair. Besides my temper tantrum on Monday, I’ve been distracted and moody all week and haven’t accomplished much of anything. I’m sure he’s heard the story through the gossip mill. I know I deserve a reprimand, so I mentally prepare myself. “Carolyn, you’ve been with this team for a few years now. Your performance has been exemplary. I want you to know that we’re not anxious to lose you.” He pauses, searching for words, and I hold my breath, waiting for the ‘but’.
“But the finance department is looking for a new lead, and I think you’d be perfect for the position. It would be across town, so—“ I let out the breath I was holding and practically jump up from my chair. “Yes!” I clear my throat and compose myself. “I mean.. yes, I’m interested.”
I really am excited about the promotion; I’m not just doing it to avoid Sean.
“There are some things to keep in mind, though,” he cautions. “The hours will be a lot longer, and it will probably be more stress—“
“That’s ok,” I interrupt. “I’m ready for it.”
He looks taken aback at my enthusiasm. "Well.. that's great to hear. I'll let them know." [6 weeks later…]
“Should I just throw these books in with the living room stuff?” Tina asks, helping me pack up my tiny apartment. I got the job, but it’s all the way on the southeast end of Bridgeport, so I’m moving across town to be closer to it.
I flop down on the couch. “Sure.”
I’m exhausted, as usual. I’ve picked up some kind of nasty bug, and I’ve been nauseous and tired almost constantly for the last two weeks. To top it all off, this is one of the hottest summers on record and my apartment has no air conditioning. The heat is killing me. Tina sets down the books in her hand and sits down on the floor, leveling me with a grave look. “Carol, are you sure this is a bug?”
“Well yeah, what else would it be?”
Taking a deep breath, she reaches into her purse and pulls out a small box. I read the label as she hands it to me.
“Pregnancy test?! Tina, I’m not pregnant! I’ve just been under so much stress with the new job and everything.” Her sharp green eyes assess me for a moment, and then she says gently, “Are you sure?”
I bite my lip. I’ve been having more and more blackouts lately with the increased stress. Who knows what I could’ve been doing during that time. I think about that night with Sean, and that night after the Wet Spot. I think about all the missing moments in time over the last few months. With a resigned sigh, I head to the bathroom with the box. Tina is sitting on the couch when I come out. She doesn’t need to ask what it says. She can tell from the look on my face. She jumps up and pulls me into a hug. “Oh honey, don’t worry. It’ll be ok! I’ll be there with you every step of the way.”
I cling to her, my life preserver in this rolling sea of confusion, fear, and anger. This is so unfair! I can’t even remember getting myself in this condition, but I’m stuck dealing with the consequences.
I want to scream and rage and break things. My sister’s wheezing makes me realize I’m squeezing her too tightly. I quickly release her.
“Sorry,” I say, trying to stem the flow from my eyes. She leads me back over to the couch and hands me a tissue, patiently waiting for me to regain my composure.
“I’m so sorry,” I apologize again. “I’m not usually so emotional.
She gives me a little smile. “That would be the hormones. When I was expecting Haley, I cried for an hour when I burned supper one time. I was convinced I would make a horrible mother.”
I laugh through my tears. That sounds more like my cooking. When I have calmed down, she asks gently, “So umm.. who’s the daddy?”
Tears stream down my face and I whisper, “I have no idea.”
Blackout -- Chapter 4
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