I remember the taste of the cheap merlot on my tongue. The green bottle has been in the refrigerator for four days now. It’s going to go bad soon, and that would be a waste of money. The hum of the refrigerator and the beating rain outside is the only noise as I stare at the bottle.
Four days late doesn’t mean anything, I tell myself, and I pour a glass for Greg and myself.
There is a crack of lightning followed immediately by thunder so loud I look up to make sure the roof hasn’t been ripped off of the apartment. There is another flash of lightning, and this one is so bright the living room is illuminated with a white light that turns the cloudy evening into day. I jump, and the ever so slightly too full wine glasses spill a little on my hands. The lights flicker, and then go out completely.
It can’t be later than 7 o’clock in the evening, but the clouds are so thick and our apartment windows so small that it might as well be midnight dark. I set the wine glasses down on the counter and fumble for the paper towel roll that is somewhere by the stove. The bedroom door opens from down the hall; Greg walks down the hallway and another flash of lighting and earth shaking boom shows that he is wearing nothing but his boxers.
“Power’s out,” I state the obvious. “I guess we'll just have to entertain ourselves tonight.” I crumple up the paper towel and toss it on the counter. The candles and matches are in the first drawer by the stove. Soon our bedroom is a tea light filled dream; we drink our wine and drink in each other as the storm rages outside.
The next morning I wake up on the opposite side of the bed from Gred with the covers thrown off. It’s sticky hot. The power is still out and the familiar sound of the vents pushing out cool air is not present. I leave the bathroom door open a crack for light, and my heart does a small jump when I still do not see any blood.
Day five, okay. Stress can mess with your cycle, you know that. You applied for grad school. That’s stressful. There’s been a torrential downpour outside for over a week now. That’s stressful. The more you think about it the more stressed you’re going to make yourself, and therefore the longer it will be. You.Are.Not.Pregnant.
I wash the wine glasses in cold water, and I eat a Kroger brand Toaster Treat for breakfast. The good stuff had all been bought up before we even knew to get to the store to stock up. The cinnamon filling isn’t bad, but the pathetic excuse for frosting on top is. I spend the rest of the morning by the window, using the gray light to try and read. My Toaster Treat lays partially eaten on the coffee table.
By noon I am just standing at the window watching the ditch behind our apartment complex fill up. I can see that the houses on the other side have either pulled their cars up into the grass or they are gone. Maybe we should have left? We aren’t from here. We didn’t know what to do. At first I had been excited about experiencing a hurricane. My co-workers thought I was nuts. I think I was nuts, too. This is not what I thought it would be. I’m not even sure what I thought it would be. Just a lot of waiting and praying and hoping the food doesn’t run out.
Harvey might be a good name. Or maybe that is not okay? People are trapped, hungry, possibly worse. But what if it’s a girl?
The water looks higher now. I had spotted a dandelion plant earlier a ways into the grass, and now the water from the ditch was slowly drowning it. How long have I been standing here lost in thought? We have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. Greg opened the refrigerator as fast as he could to grab the jelly. I could still smell something in there already going bad.
The early dark controlled our bedtime. We crawled under the sheets not knowing what time it was. Our phones had died earlier in the day, right after both of us called home to let everyone know we were okay for now. My stomach churned, not a lot, but enough to make my arms hug around my midsection.
Was the jelly bad? No, there’s so many preservatives in jelly. Maybe it’s an early menstrual cramp! Or maybe it’s a sign for something else?
Greg, taking my curled up body as a sign that I was cold, pulled my into him. My breasts felt tender against the firmness of his chest.
Rebecca could be a nice name for a girl, I thought. I have a good job, and so does Greg. We could afford a baby, and maybe buy a house, or at least get a two bedroom apartment until I graduate. Greg’s arm went slack against my flesh. Greg. Would Greg marry me if I was pregnant? Do we need to get married? Shit, he doesn’t even know I quit taking birth control. How long has it been? Two months since my last pill? I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that it can take 6 months to a year to get pregnant after going off the pill. Shit.
A splash of water wakes me up. I open my eyes to see the dark water stain on the ceiling. “Greg,” I shake him. “The ceiling is leaking. We have to move the bed.”
After we move the bed we begin checking the rest of our small apartment. That is the only ceiling leak, but the window sills are all leaking, and we place towles under all of them to try and protect the carpet. Our home is crying.
I finish my book and find myself looking out the window again. Greg joins me by staring out the other window. If I could just get to a store. There is no way I’m pregnant. Well, there is a way. I look at Greg, and he looks back at me.
“Do you think the parking lot will flood?” he asks.
“I hope not,” I reply.
“It’s not raining as hard today. Maybe it will go down soon.”
I look out the window again. My dandelion is gone, swallowed up by the waters. My new marker is the curb for the parking lot. It’s about 1 foot away from becoming a tiny waterfall.
“I love you,” Greg’s voice in my ear makes me shudder. I didn’t even see him move behind me. “You’re so beautiful,” he kisses my neck, and his hand goes to my hip to turn me around.
“I haven’t showered in two days,” I say.
“So?” He pulls me into the bedroom. I am only too aware of him reaching into the nightstand drawer for protection.
Would I be cute while I’m pregnant? Our baby would be cute. Look at him.
“I love you,” I say.
“I love you, too,” he replies. Three years of dating, and hearing those words still makes me smile.
The next four days are a blur. The rain stopped at some point, but all of the towels under the windows are soaked through. I’ve lost count of how many times we had to dump the bucket of water from the leak in the bedroom ceiling. The stain has also spread to about three feet in diameter. My marker of the curb never floods. I say a small prayer to God thanking him. On the last morning I wake up chilled. The AC is running!
We charge our phones, unsure if the power will stay on permanently. We both have an uncountable number of missed calls and texts from friends and family back home. Kroger’s will be partially open tomorrow according to their website. I can finally buy a pregnancy test. My heart jumps at the thought of two blue lines. But it isn’t a terrified jump. I’ll see that I’m not pregnant. My system is just all sorts of messed up... Harvey, could be a good name, but maybe it would be too sad. What about Ryan? Or maybe Sarah?
I turn the handle in the shower, and steam rises from the water stream. I take my first shower in days. I wash the dried sweat from my skin and the oil from my hair. My wash cloth is lathery with lavender scented soap. Then I look at my filthy feet, ready to give them a good scrub, when I notice a trickle of red on my leg. Then I feel the familiar wave of pain that comes with every first day of bleeding. But this one feels worse than usual. This one hurts my heart.
Well, good. I was just late, I tell myself.
Then I slide down the shower wall and sit until the water runs cold, watching the thin line of blood wash down the drain.