I was the parent helper in pre-school this morning. I learned a few new things: Charlie can not be left alone with the painting project, Anika picks her nose and eats it, in a pinch Thayer can be fed Styrofoam instead of crackers and cheese, and Will's parents do not like Bush ("Miss E, it would be a really bad thing if George Bush died." "Oh? Not everyone thinks that way, Will." "Yes, Miss E, but if Bush died, the Dick Cheneys would take over and Dick Cheneys are Sea Monsters!").
So, here we go with Part IV...
(here's Part I
, Part II
, and Part III
)Life in the Valley
Lanny pulls into the gravel driveway in front of Christine’s trailer. For a moment, he sits in the car, listening to the pings in the engine. Her porchlight is off, but he can see the TV glow through the thin curtain covering the window in her front door. He gets out of the car and stretches, bending backwards, his arms thrown up into the damp night air. The trailer creaks slightly when he steps up to the door, and he slowly opens it and steps inside. Christine is stretched out on the couch, sleeping. One arm is curled under her, her hand cradling her head, the other arm is hanging off the couch, the remote control lying on the floor.
Lanny picks up the remote and changes the channel. He finds ESPN and eases himself onto the couch at Christine’s feet. She jerks awake when the couch creaks, then sits up, blinking at the TV. Lanny opens both arms to her. He motions to her to lay down against him, waving his hands at the wrist, but she continues to stare at the TV, not quite awake. She stands suddenly and goes to the kitchen. He shrugs, kicks his work boots off and watches a few more highlights. When a commercial comes on, he follows Christine to the kitchen.
She’s leaning against the sink, holding a beer in both hands at her stomach, and Lanny almost laughs, but stops. He nods at the beer, eyebrows raised.
“What’s going on?” He asks. He looks in the refrigerator for another beer. Strange. She must’ve only bought one. He turns around, and Christine stares at his dirty jeans.
After a pause she says quietly, “They’re trying to mess with my hours at work. Paula says she won’t do evenings any more and Janice, you know she won’t switch because of that thing with Marci, and, well...” Her voice trails off and she continues to stare at Lanny’s Levis. Then she looks up.
“Lanny, I’m pregnant.”
“Ha! What?” He smiles, but it fades quickly. “You’re serious. Are you serious?”
“I mean, I’m not going to have it. I can’t anyway, you know. There’s no way...” She stops, biting her lip, then rushes on. “My cousin knows a clinic in Spokane. It’s no big deal. I can probably do it next week when Katie’s at her dad’s. So, like, don’t worry about it, you know? It’s no big deal. Okay? I thought you should know, that’s all.”
He doesn’t answer. He looks at the beer in her hand. It’s sweating and he feels a shiver on his back as if something cold has just touched him. He swallows hard. He looks at the window next to the refrigerator, at Christine’s reflection. She’s biting her bottom lip. Her black hair has come loose from the rubber band at the back of her neck and her eyes are covered by the cape of it. He looks back to her and she’s staring at him. Lanny goes to her, arms out, to hug her, but she shrinks back against the sink, and he stops. She thrusts the bottle of beer that she’s been holding to her chest at him and he takes it. She steps around him and walks out of the kitchen. Lanny stays there, staring at the sink, at the spot on the edge of the counter where her back had been resting. He takes a pull on the cold beer.