Read Attachments Online

Authors: Rainbow Rowell

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Adult, #Humor, #Chick-Lit

Attachments

BOOK: Attachments
13.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
CHAPTER 1

From: Jennifer Scribner-Snyder
To: Beth Fremont
Sent: Wed, 08/18/1999 9:06 AM
Subject: Where are you?

Would it kill you to get here before noon? I’m sitting here among the shards of my life as I know it, and you …if I know you, you just woke up. You’re probably eating oatmeal and watching
Sally Jessy Raphael
. E-mail me when you get in, before you do anything else. Don’t even read the comics.

<>
Okay, I’m putting you before the comics, but make it quick. I’ve got an ongoing argument with Derek about whether
For Better or For Worse
is set in Canada, and today might be the day they prove me right.

<>
I think I’m pregnant.

<>
What? Why do you think you’re pregnant?

<>
I had three drinks last Saturday.

<>
I think we need to have a little talk about the birds and the bees. That’s not exactly how it happens.

<>
Whenever I have too much to drink, I start to feel pregnant. I think it’s because I never drink, and it would just figure that the
one time
I decide to loosen up, I get pregnant. Three hours of weakness, and now I’m going to spend the rest of my life wrestling with the special needs of a fetal alcoholic.

<>
I don’t think they call them that.

<>
Its little eyes will be too far apart, and everyone will look at me in the grocery store and whisper, “Look at that horrible lush. She couldn’t part with her Zima for nine months. It’s tragic.”

<>
You drink Zima?

<>
It’s really quite refreshing.

<>
You’re not pregnant.

<>
I am.

Normally, two days before my period, my face is broken out, and I get pre-cramps cramping. But my skin is as clear as a baby’s bottom. And instead of cramps, I feel this strangeness in my womb region. Almost a presence.

<>
I dare you to call Ask-A-Nurse and tell them that you’ve got a presence in your womb region.

<>
Given: This is not my first pregnancy scare. I will acknowledge that thinking I’m pregnant is practically a part of my monthly premenstrual regimen. But I’m telling you,
this is different.
I feel different. It’s like my body is telling me, “It has Begun.”

I can’t stop worrying about what happens next. First I get sick. And then I get fat. And then I die of an aneurysm in the delivery room.

<>
OR …and then you give birth to a beautiful child. (See how you’ve tricked me into playing along with your pregnancy fiction?)

<>
OR …and then I give birth to a beautiful child, whom I never see because he spends all his waking hours at the day-care center with some minimum-wage slave he thinks is his mother. Mitch and I try to eat dinner together after the baby’s in bed, but we’re both so tired all the time. I start to doze off while he tells me about his day; he’s relieved because he wasn’t up to talking anyway. He eats his sloppy joe in silence and thinks about the shapely new consumer-science teacher at the high school. She wears black pumps and nude panty hose and rayon skirts that shimmy up her thighs whenever she sits down.

<>
What does Mitch think? (About the Presence in your womb. Not the new consumer-science teacher.)

<>
He thinks I should take a pregnancy test.

<>
Good man. Perhaps a common-sensical kind of guy like Mitch would have been better off with that home ec teacher. (She’d never make sloppy joes for dinner.) But I guess he’s stuck with you, especially now that there’s a special-needs child on the way.

CHAPTER 2


LINCOLN, YOU LOOK
terrible.”

“Thanks, Mom.” He’d have to take her word for it. He hadn’t looked in a mirror today. Or yesterday. Lincoln rubbed his eyes and ran his fingers through his hair, trying to smooth it down …or maybe just over. Maybe he should have combed it when he got out of the shower last night.

“Seriously, look at you. And look at the clock. It’s noon. Did you just wake up?”

“Mom, I don’t get off work until one a.m.”

She frowned, then handed him a spoon. “Here,” she said, “stir these beans.” She turned on the mixer and half shouted over it. “I still don’t understand what you do in that place that can’t be done in daylight…. No, honey, not like that, you’re just petting them. Really
stir
.”

Lincoln stirred harder. The whole kitchen smelled like ham and onions and something else, something sweet. His stomach was growling. “I told you,” he said, trying to be heard, “somebody has to be there. In case there’s a computer problem, and …I don’t know …”

“What don’t you know?” She turned off the mixer and looked at him.

“I think maybe they want me to work at night so that I don’t get close to anyone else.”

“What?”

“Well, if I got to know people,” he said, “I might …”

“Stir. Talk and stir.”

“If I got to know people”—he stirred—“I might not feel so impartial when I’m enforcing the rules.”

“I still don’t like that you read other people’s mail. Especially at night, in an empty building. That shouldn’t be someone’s job.” She tasted whatever she was mixing with her finger, then held the bowl out to him. “Here, taste this …What kind of world do we live in, where that’s a career?”

He ran his finger around the edge of the bowl and tasted it. Icing.

“Can you taste the maple syrup?”

He nodded. “The building isn’t really empty,” he said. “There are people working up in the newsroom.”

“Do you talk to them?”

“No. But I read their e-mail.”

“It’s not right. How can people express themselves in a place like that? Knowing someone’s lurking in their thoughts.”

“I’m not in their thoughts. I’m in their computers, in the company’s computers. Everyone knows it’s happening …” It was hopeless trying to explain it to her. She’d never even seen e-mail.

“Give me that spoon,” she sighed. “You’ll ruin the whole batch.” He gave her the spoon and sat down at the kitchen table, next to a plate of steaming corn bread. “We had a mailman once,” she said. “Remember? He’d read our postcards? And he’d always make these knowing comments. ‘Your friend is having a good time in South Carolina, I see.’ Or, ‘I’ve never been to Mount Rushmore myself.’ They must all read postcards, all those mailmen. Mail people. It’s a repetitive job. But this one was almost proud of it—gloaty. I think he told the neighbors that I subscribed to
Ms.

“It’s not like that,” Lincoln said, rubbing his eyes again. “I only read enough to see if they’re breaking a rule. It’s not like I’m reading their diaries or something.”

His mother wasn’t listening.

“Are you hungry? You look hungry. You look deficient, if you want to know the truth. Here, honey, hand me that plate.” He got up and handed her a plate, and she caught him by the wrist. “Lincoln …What’s wrong with your hands?”

“Nothing’s wrong.”

“Look at your fingers—they’re gray.”

“It’s ink.”

“What?”


Ink
.”

WHEN LINCOLN WORKED
at McDonald’s in high school, the cooking oil got into everything. When he came home at night, he felt all over the way your hands feel when you get done eating French fries. The oil would get into his skin and his hair. The next day, he would sweat it out into his school clothes.

At
The Courier
, it was ink. A gray film over everything, no matter how much anyone cleaned. A gray stain on the textured walls and the acoustic ceiling tiles.

The night copy editors actually handled the papers, every edition, hot off the presses. They left gray fingerprints on their keyboards and desks. They reminded Lincoln of moles. Serious people with thick glasses and gray skin.
That might just be the lighting,
he thought. Maybe he wouldn’t recognize them in the sunshine. In full color.

They surely wouldn’t recognize him. Lincoln spent most of his time at work in the information technology office downstairs. It had been a darkroom about five years and two dozen fluorescent lights ago, and with all of the lights and the computer servers, it was like sitting inside a headache.

Lincoln liked getting called up to the newsroom, to reboot a machine or sort out a printer. The newsroom was wide and open, with a long wall of windows, and it was never completely empty. The nightside editors worked as late as he did. They sat in a clump at one end of the room, under a bank of televisions. There were two, who sat together, right next to the printer, who were young and pretty. (Yes, Lincoln had decided, you
could
be both pretty and molelike.) He wondered if people who worked nights went on dates during the day.

CHAPTER 3

From: Beth Fremont
To: Jennifer Scribner-Snyder
Sent: Fri, 08/20/1999 10:38 AM
Subject: I sort of hate to ask, but …

Are we done pretending that you’re pregnant?

<>
Not for 40 weeks. Maybe 38 by now …

<>
Does that mean we can’t talk about other things?

<>
No, it means we
should
talk about other things. I’m trying not to dwell on it.

<>
Good plan.

Okay. So. Last night, I got a call from my little sister. She’s getting married.

<>
Doesn’t her husband mind?

<>
My other little sister. Kiley. You met her boyfriend …
fiancé
, Brian, at my parents’ house on Memorial Day. Remember? We were making fun of the Sigma Chi tattoo on his ankle …

<>
Right, Brian. I remember. We like him, right?

<>
We love him. He’s great. He’s just the kind of guy you hope your daughter will meet someday at an upside-down-margarita party.

<>
Is that a fetal-alcoholic joke?

This wedding is your parents’ fault. They named her Kiley. She was doomed from birth to marry a hunky, fratty premed major.

<>
Pre-law. But Kiley thinks he’ll end up running his dad’s plumbing supply company.

<>
Could be worse.

<>
It could hardly be better.

<>
Oh. I’m sorry. I just now got that this wasn’t good news. What did Chris say?

<>
The usual. That Brian’s a tool. That Kiley listens to too much Dave Matthews. Also, he said, “I’ve got practice tonight, so don’t wait up, hey, hand me those Zig-Zags, would you, are you in the wedding? Cool, at least I’ll get to see you in another one of those Scarlett O’Hara dresses. You’re a hot bridesmaid, come here. Did you listen to that tape I left for you? Danny says I’m playing all over his bass line, but Jesus, I’m doing him a favor.”

And then he proposed. In Bizarro World.

In the real world, Chris is never going to propose. And I can’t decide if that makes him a jerk—or if maybe I’m the jerk for wanting it so bad. And I can’t even talk to him about it, about marriage, because he would say that he
does
want it. Soon. When he’s got some momentum going. When the band is back on track. That he doesn’t want to be a drag on me, he doesn’t want me to have to support him …

Please don’t point out that I already support him—because that’s only mostly true.

<>
Mostly? You pay his rent.

<>
I pay
the
rent. I would have to pay rent anyway …I would have to pay the gas bill and the cable bill and everything else if I lived alone. I wouldn’t save a nickel if he moved out.

Besides, I don’t mind paying most of the bills now, and I won’t mind doing it after we’re married. (My dad has always paid my mom’s bills, and no one calls her a parasite.)

It isn’t the who-pays-the-bills issue that’s a problem. It’s the acting-like-an-adult issue. It’s acceptable in Chris’s world for a guy to live with his girlfriend while he works on a demo. It’s not as cool to chase your guitar fantasy while your wife’s at work.

If you have a wife, you’re an adult. That’s not who Chris wants to be. Maybe that’s not who I want him to be.

<>
Who do you want him to be?

<>
Most days? I think I want the wild-haired music man. The guy who wakes you up at 2 a.m. to read you the poem he just wrote on your stomach. I want the boy with kaleidoscope eyes.

<>
There would very likely be no more 2 a.m. tummy poems if Chris got a real job.

<>
That’s true.

<>
So you’re okay?

<>
No. I’m about to get fitted for another bridesmaid dress. Strapless. Kiley’s already picked it out. I’m dog years away being from okay. But I don’t think I can complain, can I? I want him. And he wants to wait. And I still want him. So I can’t complain.

<>
Of course you can complain. That’s unalienable. On the bright side, at least you’re not pregnant.

<>
Neither are you. Take a pregnancy test.

BOOK: Attachments
13.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl
Whisper and Rise by Jamie Day
The Cinderella Theorem by Kristee Ravan
Rose of the Mists by Parker, Laura
Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay
Emerald Isle by Barbra Annino