When I turned 30, I decided I would move to Juarez, not halfheartedly, but full on, research the history of the drug cartel, learn Spanish, maybe even get a maid for 35 cents a week. It seemed like something a serious journalist could really sink his teeth into. Then I turned thirty and met Rebecca, and everything changed. I was sitting at Starbucks, sipping my Venti chai latte, and growling at the nonsmoking sticker after a busy day at Shake United Magazine. We were preparing our September Issue about high luxury rain gear and I had just got done fact checking a story about a multimillion dollar umbrella made out of emeralds and was feeling rather flush. To be honest, I fucking hated my job and didn’t give a shit that Tiffany’s made parkas. I wanted to be a journalist to inform and capture amazing stories about people’s lives, not advertise Sonoma placemats. Most of my time, I sat in my cubicle watching porn and debating whether or not to set myself on fire with my cigarette lighter. My therapist told me I was depressed, but really, I was trapped, suffocating in a superficial photo-shopped plastic world. Rebecca was walking on the sidewalk holding a large red Icee in a Peirce the Viel sweatshirt and jeans of all things in the 100 degree August heat and man, I was so pissed off that my editor wanted me to write a piece about Grunge Fashion, I just wanted to tear off her clothes. Her pink hair was matted to her neck in sweat, and she was barefoot and panting on the sidewalk, wiping her forehead with her sleeve as she put on her purple sunglasses. I had watched Rebecca walk daily, wearing the same sweatshirt until she would pause by a bridge and sit down, kicking her little feet off the edge as she put in her earphones and stared at the water tinted the color iced tea. Each day on the way home from work, I’d stop at Starbucks and pass her sitting there, wondering if she had a car, and why she never wore any shoes- but I never talked to her. Usually, I’d come home, smoke some weed, comfort eat $10 gourmet gluten free white cheddar popcorn in my god damn blue Sonoma bowl, iron my shirt for the next day, and think about what I would say to her if I ever got the courage. She seemed so interesting- like finding your grandmother’s jewelry box with love letters inside the drawer. You know you shouldn’t read them, but holding them wrinkled in your hand, you just want more. That summer day, I folded my Ipad in its case, and approached her.
“Icee girl, do you need a ride?”
She seemed startled- as if I was talking to someone else- but then I realized she was listening to her music loudly and tapped her on her orange cat fur covered sleeve. Rebecca stiffened.
“I no want Ipad.”
I figured she thought I was one of those creepers who stand outside of Walmart selling Siamese cats at 2 am and laughed. Rebecca took her earbuds out of her ear and shook her head as if she had just gone underwater.
“I wasn’t selling you my Ipad, I was wondering if you had a car, or if you needed a ride. “ I said.
She looked out at the sidewalk, then back at me. Her eyes were the color of the sky in a Wes craven movie, cloudy and if you look close enough, dead inside.
“I like walking.” Rebecca said. “I live right across the bridge.”
“Oh, I know. I’ve seen you-” I said. “I mean, not in a creepy way like I stalk you or anything- is that cherry flavored?”
“Do you get the same flavor each time? Why do you walk so much? And in a sweatshirt? In July?!”
“What is this an interrogation?”
“Sorry. I’m a journalist.” I placed my hands inside my pocket wishing I wasn’t so awkward. “My name’s Ted.”
“I’m Rebecca. That sounds cool! Do you like it?”
“I want to kill myself.” I grinned. “Why an ICEE?”
“I got my tongue pierced a few months ago and it’s soothing.”
“Are you sure you don’t want a water or anything?”
“Are you writing a story about me?” Rebecca smiled and I saw a flash of metal inside her stained mouth.
“Maybe. Wanna walk this way?” I nodded my head towards my black Mitsubishi with a small simper, and Rebecca, swiped her hair to the side and bit her lip.
“Okay, Teddy bear.”
I fumbled with my keys then opened the door while Rebecca swirled her red straw in her ICEE’S remains.
“Is it okay if I take off my shoes?” Rebecca said.
I looked down at her feet caked in mud and grass clippings. Her red toe nails were chipped and she was missing the big toe.
“I’d prefer if you didn’t.”
Rebecca nodded then took off her flip flops and stared at me like a cat.
“You have a nice place.” Rebecca said. “Did you decorate yourself?”
I looked at her naked big toe then at her. “Um yes. Actually, it was the Sonoma catalogue. “
She followed me into the kitchen, her dirty feet thudding on my freshly polished hardwood floor.
“You’re really into Sonoma, huh?” Rebecca said, holding my blue bowl and looking at the sticker still on the back. I opened my stainless steel fridge and grabbed a bottle of water but all I could think about was Rebecca’s dirty feet and the little Lamasil demon I watched at work and I wondered if she had a disease of some kind. Youtube always shoved the most inappropriate commercials in while I was at work trying to jerk off. I handed Rebecca a water, then took a swig of mine.
“I hate it. I hate this apartment.”
“Then what are you doing here?” Rebecca spewed her water out all over my granite counter top. “This tastes like vodka!”
I grabbed the bottle from her and smelled it. “Sorry, that’s my work bottle.”
Rebecca took off her sweatshirt and revealed a white Tank top, somehow, only slightly stained with sweat. The air conditioning had caused her nipples to raise slightly, and her chest was flushed pink. It was cold but the smell of her body echoed. Rebecca’s amber eyes locked on me staring at her and a change overcame them like dropping a stone into lake and counting the ripples.
“So let me get this straight, you hate your job, you hate your house- is there anything you like to do?”
“Don’t laugh.” I took a swig from my bottle. “But I want to go to Mexico.”
“To try cocaine?” Rebecca smirked.
“No. Go undercover and write about the drug ring. I want to write about the history of it, the meaning behind it-“
“Wow. What’s stopping you?”
“I don’t know. It’s comfortable here. Mexico seems like a dumb dream, a waste of money, and a way to get seriously injured or killed.“
“I pierce and stab people for a living.” She was playing with my blue bowl, tossing it in the air like a pizza.
“I’m a tattoo artist at Tree Life. Pain has never stopped anyone from doing stupid shit before. Why is it stopping you?”
I leaned back against the counter placing my hand to my face when Rebecca dropped my bowl with a loud crack. Shards of blue glass flew all over my hardwood floor and Rebecca got down on her knees.
“Shit! I’m so sorry!”
“You broke my blue bowl” I said, slowly.
“Fuck, I know. What was it? $2.00?”
“No.” I got down onto her level and grinned breathlessly. “$35!”
Rebecca tried to pick up a piece of glass when a sliver sliced her finger. I took her hand in mine.
“Don’t move you’re barefoot!” I leaned across the broken pieces and grabbed her, scooping her into my arms and carrying her into my room. The glass crunched beneath my feet. “It’s okay, I have tweezers.”
“Of course you do.” Rebecca said. I placed her on my futon and laughed.
“Well, Okay. If you want to.” Rebecca smiled, as I delicately turned over her hand. Her skin was pale, smooth, soft, and I took a deep breath seeing how small and perfect they were, like stars.
“There’s no glass. Just a little cut. You have nice hands.”
“Thanks. Yours are so warm.”
I don’t know who kissed who. Rebecca pulled me down on top of her, her hands clawing down my back. I felt her cool metal tongue against mine and moved my hands beneath her to squeeze her peach of an ass. I came up for air, unbuttoning my jeans, and throwing them, knocking over my Urban Outfitters light with a crash.
“You really like to break things, dontcha?” I said. We were driving 90 miles per hour to the pharmacy when the light turned red and I stepped on the breaks hard. I turned Korn on as high as the speakers could go.
“Cute.” Rebecca said. “It’s not my fault the condom broke! You were the one who wanted me to go upside down!”
“I wrote a trapeze column and it really turned me on!” The light turned green and I hit the gas. It was two minutes to 10, the time the pharmacy would close.
“Would you stop driving so crazy? I could be pregnant right now!” Rebecca lit a cigarette.
“You know, if the pill doesn’t work, you could always smoke and drink a lot.”
“You already did, silly!” I grinned and Rebecca punched me hard.
“My god, what if I’m pregnant?”
“Relax. My ex girlfriend took the pill before. It works for 75 hours after. You just might have some cramps.”
“So you have broken condoms before?” Rebecca said. She was seated indian style in the passenger seat barefoot. Her red hair was flying with the windows rolled down as we drove past the beach gift shop and she reminded me of a punk rock version of the Little Mermaid.
“No. I had sex with her in my sleep once.”
“What the FUCK?!” I stopped at another red light and Rebecca took my keys straight from the ignition.
“My car was still in drive! You’re going to ruin the transmission, Psycho!”
“YOU NEVER TREAT A WOMAN THAT WAY!”
“I was on Ambien for insomnia! I had sex with a bowl of mac and cheese too!”
Rebecca screamed, then began to cry violently. I was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with her. Maybe her period was coming soon- at least, hopefully. “Honey, don’t cry.” I put my arm around her and kissed her on the forehead.
“Could you hold me?”
“Of course.” I unbuckled my seatbelt and reached across the shift. Rebecca leaned into my chest and moaned.
“What hurts?” I looked up at the intersection and saw the light was still red.
“This is where. This is where.” Rebecca repeated. She pointed at her stomach.
“Your stomach hurts?!”
“I’m so empty! ” Rebecca wailed, shaking against me before she let her head fall to her knees, her face shielded by a curtain of red hair.
“Oh, sweetie.” I pet her head. “Um, maybe after we go to CVS we can get you some Wendy’s or something? Maybe a frostie?”
“I like frosties.” Rebecca stopped crying.
“Um who doesn’t?!”
Rebecca lifted her head, and wiped her eyes smiling a little. I took the keys as the light changed green. When we had finally pulled into the CVS parking lot, I grabbed Rebecca’s hand and she trailed along beside me. The lights were off and the gate was closed. Luckily, I spotted the tablet in the aisle and grabbed it sighing about the cost. Rebecca started crying again.
“I can’t do this alone.”
“You’re not alone! Do you hear me?! I’m not going to leave you. You are a beautifully strange woman and I love you.”
I watched Rebecca down the forty dollar tablet with a chocolate frosty and six cigarettes sitting on my couch. Then, I put my arm around her.
“Teddy bear, tell me a story. I’m really tired.”
“Once upon a time, there was a couple of ninjas and they decided to make a porno.”
Rebecca laughed. She nuzzled her cheek into my shirt as if she had done this for years then closed her eyes, and I pulled her closer. There was something about her and that night that made me wonder if we’d be together forever, and then there was another part of me, a small part of me, that asked like lightning, what the hell did I get myself into.
I awoke to the sound of Rebecca’s Disturbed ringtone lying next to her on the couch. The clock read 4:50 am.
“Wake up sleepy head!” Rebecca sang. She sat on her knees and began kissing my face like a puppy.
“It’s 5’oclock in the morning.”
“Let’s go to the beach!”
“It’s still dark outside,” I said.
“The sun will rise soon!!”
I followed Rebecca outside where I could see the first peach ribbons of sunrise along the horizon. It was weird, but even though I had lived on the beach, I had never bothered to step outside on the sand before dawn. Rebecca took off her T-shirt and ran naked into the ocean.
“We’re going to get arrested!!” I screamed. I followed her to the ocean’s edge watching her red head bobble in the clear waves.
“No one is awake yet.”
I undid my shoelaces, my sneakers still on from the previous night and noticed a piece of blue glass in my sock.
“Are you on any kind of drugs? I’m not being mean, I’m just curious.”
“I’m just a fish swimming by, Teddy. “ Rebecca smiled. “Come catch me.” Rebecca went under then, her head disappearing beneath a white cap. I took off my shirt then waded in the water where I found her soft shilloutte and held her from behind. Her body was stiff at first until she began to relax while the waves rocked us back and forth and a splash of salt got in my mouth. I coughed and Rebecca laughed, pointed.
“Look! It’s the sun!”
A blinding white orb rose from the blue water into a pink orange and lavender sky. Rebecca squeezed my hand.
“Isn’t it so beautiful?”
“Yeah.” I breathed. “It really is.”
“Shit! What time is it?” Rebecca said.
“Um 6 ish maybe?”
She ran onto the beach, naked still, and I could see the tattoo on her forearm that read Feel the fear and do it anyway in middle evil black script as she wrenched the water out of her hair.
“I got to go get ready for court at 8!” Could you take me home?”
“Yeah, hopefully I’ll get my car back today.”
Rebecca ran dripping inside and I followed after her. I asked her if she had a DUI when I slipped on the wet floor and landed flat on my back.
“No! Why does everyone think that?” Rebecca said. She gave me a hand and I pushed it away, helping myself up. “I moved out of my ex boyfriend’s house and my car insurance got mailed to the wrong address and I never paid it. Could I borrow one of your shirts?”
“I doubt if any will fit you.” I took one of my Xanax then opened my walk in closet full of Ralph Lauren button downs in teel, turquoise, navy, indigo, cerulean, cobalt, and lavender. “Why did you guys break up anyway?”
“I wanted to be with a man who has more balls than I do. Why do you only have blue shirts?!” She had a cigarette in her teeth, her sixth that morning, and was trying to light it. I handed her a navy polo on a wire hanger.
“They’re good for work and blue is my favorite color.”
“Mhmm.” Rebecca said. She grabbed her orange lighter, and set my polo color on fire, then dropped it like a crumpled Kleenex on the hardwood floor.
“JESUS CHRIST!! ” I dropped my happy pills stomping on the sleeve that caught flame. “Did your exboyfriend know you were a pyro too?!”
Rebecca did the most amazing thing, then. She handed me her lighter, and placed her hands on top of mine.
“Feel that fire? It’s right there inside you.”
She leaned in as if she was about to kiss me, but didn’t.
“I hate these shirts.” I said. “I hate this apartment. I hate these god damn pills!” I kicked the orange prescription bottle.
“Do it.” Rebecca lifted the burned shirt off the floor. I looked through the empty space surrounded by ash. “Do it.” Rebecca repeated, her voice dark as her black expressionless eyes. “Do it!”
I cocked my head to the side, then lit a corner, and a smile overcame my face for the first time in years. Rebecca screamed and I kissed her so hard our teeth knocked together. We fell back into a row of blue fabric, and I lifted her into my arms, nearly tripping over the bottle of Xanax, and slamming her against a wall. It was a release better than an orgasm. Rebecca slid off my wet underwear and I carried her with Dolce And Gabana still around my ankles to bed, panting. About two hours later, Rebecca put on one of my shirts, and her dirty yellow flip flops and we speed to the courthouse, arriving five minutes late. I came back and waited outside in the hall, a couple of bagels in hand when I saw a guy in an orange jump suit being escorted away.
Rebecca arrived on the marble staircase twirling her red hair in her fingers. Her face was blank and when I handed her the brown paper bag her voice cracked.
“I got my car back” Rebecca said. “”Everything’s going to be lifted and I won’t have to pay.”
“That’s great, Honey. I thought I’d surprise you before I went to work-”
“Is that cinnamon raisin swirl?” Rebecca’s lip quivered and she started to cry. I enveloped her in my arms while she heaved, then pulled away. There was a snot mark on my shoulder. “ Please don’t go.”
She took a deep breath. Then, as mysteriously as she began crying, she stopped and a wall of snow came over her the flowers of her green eyes. “I have work today.”
“Okay, do you need a ride to get your car?”
“No. Were finished here.” Rebecca pivoted, and turned around, her flip-flops making a crick crack crick crack sound on the polished courthouse floor.
“Hey!” I touched her shoulder. “I called in sick. I’m coming with you.”
We arrived at the tattoo parlor around noon where a man was waiting to get a tattoo of Garfeild on his ass. I believe he was drunk, but then again, Rebecca was stone cold sober when she gave herself a tattoo of a piece of toast on her ankle. During breaks, I asked her what each of hers meant. She lifted her shirt and showed me the number 6 on her left hip.
“I was just sitting in my living room with one of my buddies one night and told them to put a six right there.” Rebecca said, giving her side a smack.
“It’s a cover up tattoo.”
“ A scar. My dad beat me when I was little.” Rebecca said. She pulled her shirt down and undid several button’s revealing a large snowflake on her chest. “Here’s another one. He got me really good.”
“God, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I was a little shit who deserved it. He left.” She snapped on white latex gloves. “Now, what are you gonna get?”
“What’s the matter, pussy?”
“Besides porn, what has always made you happy?”
I grinned, thinking.
“I’ve always liked stars. When I was in the boy scouts when I was younger, we used to sleep under the stars whenever we went camping and I’d always see the big dipper-”
Rebecca smiled a little, then placed her hand on the back of her neck and looked down.
“Are you okay?” I said.
“Yeah, fine.” Rebecca grabbed her pen, and straddled the metal chair. “Let’s get you your stars.”
“I wish I went camping more often” I continued, ignoring her.
“Then why don’t you?”
“No one to go with.” I laughed. “There’s no outlets for IPHONE chargers in redwood trees and Michael Kors doesn’t make tents. When I’m outside it’s like I’m free.”
“I’d go with you if you want.” Rebecca said. “But, you have to get a tattoo first.”
“That’s not a fair trade at all.”
“Well, I guess you don’t want freedom bad enough.” Rebecca smirked, buzzing her gun. “Or maybe you’re just afraid of the pain.”
I took off my shirt, hating her and loving her at the same time.
“Go ahead, Babe.”
Five days of lying on a pack of pee’s later, I arrived on Rebbecca’s door step carrying my suitcase, my tent and gear in the trunk. I could hear the pitter patter of her barefeet running inside.
“I know you’re in there!”
I knocked again, when Rebecca slowly peaked through the chained door.
“I don’t know if I can go. I’m sick.”
“Sick? What’s wrong?”
She undid the brass chain and let me in, showing me a thermometer.
“This says you have a fever of 112.” I laughed. “It’s warm. Did you stick this in a microwave?”
“No, the toaster actually.” Rebecca smiled. Her small bag was on the couch. “I’ve never been camping and I’m probably just going to get in your way so I think I’d rather stay home.”
“There is a tattoo of the big dipper and an alien on my ass!”
“Yeah” Rebecca laughed. “I thought it would look cool.”
I picked her up and put her on my shoulder.
“You are such a misogynist pig! Put me down!”
“You are going to come camping with me.” I said.
The car ride was quiet and Rebecca seemed to be faraway. I asked her what was wrong and she shook her head. “Nothing. Do you like books on tape?”
Rebecca grabbed her Ipod and pushed play on a copy of James Frey’s A million little pieces read by Morgan Freidman.
“This book is stupid. He made the whole thing so dramatic for money.”
“No he did not!”
“Of course he did! No one has lived a life that fucked up!”
“Yeah.” Rebecca said. “I guess you’re right.”
We pulled into the park, where I saw that there was a lake for Kayaking and touched her shoulder but Rebecca was staring out the window. There was a yellow slide and a little girl playing with her father.
“Rebecca” I said.
“Do you want to talk about anything?”
“No.” She grabbed her knapsack roughly from the back. “Let’s put up this tent and make a fire already.” Morgan friedman told us about getting implants without any kind of anastesia in Drug rehab while we put up the tent, then Rebecca kicked off her shoes and walked across the clearing away from me.
“Why do you keep running away? Can you please just talk to me?”
“I can’t.” Rebecca said. She looked up over at a trail pathway and saw a woman screaming on a zipline and got one those crazy smiles of hers.
The wind whipped through the ropes as we placed on our red helmets. I stared up at the metal wire that was meant to support us, then back at Rebecca, who had started to climb. She missed a loop and screamed. She was breathing heavily, freaked out from the drop and wearing a harness two sizes too big.
“Sweetie, you need to tighten this.” I said. I adjusted the straps as Rebecca clung to the ropes for dear life. Her shoe fell off, landing 180 feet down. We could see houses in the distance above the trees that had began to turn orange, red, and green with the fall. It was incredibly cold in the high altitude, and the wind knocked us side to side.
“This is fun” Rebecca panted. She continued to climb, balancing on the rope like a tightrope walker. She took a strand of hair out of her mouth. “If we survive, can we get ICEE’s after this?” I grabbed the wire, forgetting that I was only supposed to use my balance and the harness.
“I think there’s a Seven Eleven across the street.” I said. Rebecca struggled to hang on, and I watched her wobble, giggling, but I could tell she was afraid. “Just take my hand and we’ll use each other.”
I went to grab Rebecca’s hand, then lost my balance once more, and took her arm instead.
“We should move on the count of three.” I said.
“Okay” Rebecca grinned, then ran across the wire like an elf, when a gust of wind blew her off the wire and she dropped 50 feet down screaming, until her harness caught and suspended her, midair.
“It’s okay, honey. I’m going to get you.”
The suspension from her harness, the fall, and the wind, caused her to swing.
“WEEEEEEEEEE!” Rebecca said.
I dropped to my knees on the wire, then lowered myself down onto the next wooden platform closer to her. We were halfway across to the zipline.
“Grab my hand!”
“I can’t!” Rebecca looked down then back up at me.
“I’m right here, honey!”
“I can’t!” Rebecca grabbed my arm. I smiled down at her, and the two of us laughed.
“See? I got you! You want to go upside down again?”
Rebecca pulled herself up and I lifted her onto the platform with me and kissed her lips like a fire that burned everything to ash. She let go of her harness, hooking her fingers onto mine
When we reached the zipline, I sat on the wooden platform, counting until we would let go as the attendants strapped us together.
“Let’s go!” Rebbecca screamed as well fell to the dark ground. Wind whipped through our clothes and for a moment it felt like we were flying. Suddenly, I felt Rebecca take my hand for the first time and hold it back to camp.
We sat down on our sleeping bag laughing.
“I think this is the most fun I’ve ever had camping,” Rebecca said.
“I thought you said you’ve never been camping before?” I said.
“Oh.” Rebecca paused, crossing her legs. “Yeah. I guess I must have forgot. It was a long time ago.”
She went into her bag pulling out a long sleeve t-shirt, then took off her tank top revealing the large snowflake. I reached out and placed my entire hand on her chest, looking at the intricate design and goose bumps in between the spaces of my fingers.
“What made you get a snowflake?”
“I told you. Battlescars.” Rebecca said. She cleared her throat and I saw the reflection of tears in her eyes from the fire. “I’m cold.”
“You’re always cold.” I laughed. Rebecca put on her shirt then moved in front of me, closer to the fire. I placed my arms around her and kissed her on the forehead. Neither of us spoke for a while.
“After my dad left, my mom started drinking a lot and she got remarried. She was always drunk and he took care of me most of the time.”
“Did he hit you too?” I said.
“Sometimes” Rebecca laughed. “He took me camping one winter when I was 12 and beat me. The pain was so bad I fell unconscious. When I woke up he was gone. A scout ranger found me, and I was so cold he took off all my clothes and stuffed me in a sleepingbag with him. They took me away from my mom after that and I lived with a foster mom for a while.”
“Oh my god!”
Rebecca didn’t look at me. She looked straight forward at the flame.
“I had sex with her husband because he bought me things even though he was 43 and I was 15. He promised he’d pay for me to go to art school if I didn’t tell anyone. So I didn’t. I just wanted it so bad. That was pretty stupid, right?”
“No you were young! You did the best you could at the time. You’re only 22 and you’ve been through so much pain.”
“I can’t feel anything anymore. “ Rebecca looked at me and I saw she was crying. “I’m frozen.”
“Well, I know you can feel.” I said.
“How do you know?”
“You can feel me. You’re just afraid.”
Rebecca raised an eyebrow. “You’re a pussy! What’s to be afraid of?”
I laughed and pulled her down on top of me and kissed her.
“I love you.”
“You’re only saying that because you think I’m Prego,” Rebecca snickered.
“I just love you. Believe that.”
At work the next Friday morning, I was sitting at my desk drinking my chai latte when my editor noticed my green hair and came in.
“Interesting color, Ted. “ She was wearing her Michael Kors sunflower skirt and leather jacket, the outfit she always wore on Mondays. It was 11:45, the time she always went out to pick up her daily lunch of Tuna fish and baked lays – carrot chips if she was counting carbs.
“Oh, yeah, my girlfriend thought it would look cool.”
“May I see you in my office for a few minutes?”
“Shure” I stood up in my stained Stewie Griffin Boxers and followed her.
Rebecca seemed to think the only way I’d ever find a new job that made me happy was if I got fired- and getting fired required drastic measures. We had spent the past week drinking Icee’s spiked with vodka, stealing a cookie cake from Shop Right, and egging peoples houses naked. We had almost gotten caught when Rebecca took a shit on her mother’s porch. The previous night we had played airhockey at an Chuck E Cheese and had sex in the tunnels.
My editor shut the door behind me and I looked at a picture of her and her son in a silver frame.
“Theodore, I’ve received word from one of my friends at The Onion that they’d really like you to come work for them.”
“The Onion?” Instantly, I remembered the business trip where a man tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his card.
“I am prepared to offer you a raise, but ultimately the choice you make is your own. I know you haven’t been very happy here”
I walked out of her office, smiling, and went to my car to call Rebecca when I noticed there was six missed calls and a voicemail on my phone. I arrived at the Emergency Room as soon as I could. The doctor, a tall blonde man asked If I was Ted. Then shook my hand. Rebecca was sitting up in a backless gown, hugging her knees. I sat down next to her, taking off my leather jacket and placed it on her shoulders.
“I lost him, Teddy.” Rebecca said. I cupped her face, and cradled her as she cried. The doctor said due to her trauma history, there was little chance of her being able to carry a baby to full term in the future. I didn’t ask what trauma history, I just went down to the hospital gift shop and bought her a stuffed animal and a cherry ICEE. When I brought her home, she opened her car door and ran inside the house. I chased after her, opening her front door just as she was about to dead bolt it.
“I’m staying with you tonight.” I said.
“I don’t need you here!” She stomped her dirty feet like a toddler.
“I don’t care if you don’t need me here, I want to be here with you—-” I looked around at the dirty couch cushions stained with hair dye, highlighters, and pizza grease, and covered in popcorn kernels. “Okay maybe not here.” There was half finished canvases all over the place, broken beer bottles, and a piece of bologna hot glued to the wall.
Rebecca laughed. “Sorry my apartment is kinda messy.”
“This place is disgusting!” I giggled. “Where are we going to sleep?”
“I don’t know. I’m going to take a bath and eat icecream.” She grabbed a carton of Twix cookie crumble and walked towards the bathroom.
“At the same time?! Do you want me to clean for you while your in here?”
Rebecca shook her head with the spoon in her mouth. “Just get in here with me.”
I dipped my toe in, sure that Rebecca had turned the water as hot as it could go. I grabbed a tray of ice from the fridge and stuck it in the tub, then eased myself in in front of her whining. I knew I couldn’t bring up working for The Onion now.
“Teddy” Rebecca said. She was shoving icecream into her mouth wildly, then stuck a spoonful in mine.
“Yes?” I crunched on a twix.
“I love you.”
“I love you too baby.”
Rebecca started crying, and I took away her pint and held her.
“Tell me a story,” Rebecca said.
“Once upon a time, a glass man who met a woman made of ice. She was lovely, but she spent most of her days melting. When the woman turned to slush, he was the cup she drank from. The glass man asked the woman to go with him on a journey.”
“Did they live happily ever after?”
“That depends.” I pressed my forehead against hers. “Come with me.”