CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE FRIENDS WE KEEP


‘There used to be a grey tower alone on the sea, you became the light on the darkside of me…’ 

Seal’s Kiss from a Rose played lowly on Jason’s car radio. Adelide stared blankly into the distance, as she focused on the neon street lights that ran past the car. She firmly clasped her fists together between her thighs and bit down on her hoodie neckline. She felt like she was in a dream. 

‘I like this song,’

‘What?’

‘I said I like this song’, Jason repeated as he turned the music up a bit, but only enough to hear the jingle, I compare you to a Kiss from a rose on the gray… Adelide’s cheeks flushed with color as her ears tingled. But she didn’t say a word. She only retracted her head deeper into her hoodie like a turtle retiring into its shell. She stiffened a bit as she noticed from the corner of her eye that Jason had been staring at her for a little more than a while. 

‘Yeah, Seal hit a home run with this one. It was even a sound track to the 90’s Batman’ Adelide knew her movies. 

Jason gave a faint smile as he shifted his gaze back onto the road. ‘So you work out?’

‘What?’

‘I mean your leggings; they are Calisthenic.. so I thought you must be a crossfit enthusiast’

It was a painfully difficult conversation. Adelide had wished for the longest time to have an intimate conversation with Jason, and now that it was happening, it didn’t feel quite right. The events preceding that very moment had shortchanged her. Meanwhile, Jason too was a shadow of his usual self. He hadn’t talked to Heather and the kits he found at her flat only added oil into the fire that already consumed him. He needed answers now more than ever.

The rest of the journey was rather quiet. She was dropped off at her place and Jason drove back home to his mother. She was still watching her classics and her favourite MGM show was on. He gave her a glass of water to down her medicine, checked her fever and put her to bed. Then he tucked himself in. But he couldn’t sleep. How did things get so convoluted so quickly. He turned in his bed. Adelide too. She was a mess. Her fairytale dream and her most ghoulish nightmare had intertwined into a most vivid reality. She put on some Adele. Perhaps listening to her would soothe her flaring nerves.

Jason was up earlier than usual the following day. As usual, he checked on his mom and gave her her medicine, put on her classics from the PVR, and promised her that he wouldn’t take long, before he left. Adelide came in from the back just to catch him driving away. She regretted why she had taken a detour to Mac D’s that morning. She looked at the burrito she had in her hand as if wanting to throw it away. But it was too perfect, like a bread-and-filling baby swaddled in tin foil. She put it aside as she told her driver to follow Jason.

He was back at Heather’s but nobody was home. That was odd since there was always someone at the house, either one of the plastics or a freshman who was being hazed into the sisterhood. But just as he was about to turn back, Lindsey, one of the plastics, the blondest for that matter, appeared from the door. 

‘Hey Jason, you meeting up with Heather at the OBGYN?’ Lindsey started with a rather carefree and oblivious tone. 

Jason didn’t reply. He only jumped back into his car and quickly revved it onto the road heading to the only hospital he knew had a Reproductive Health Clinic – His dad’s former clinic before he fell off the rails. Adelide was still behind him and as she was driven past, Heather’s house, she caught Lindsey’s antipathic and averted glare. She looked away.

Jason had no time for proper parking. He even didn’t switch off the engine. He just jumped out and ran to the door. Heather came out. She was pale and held tightly to a crumpled piece of paper. 

‘So it is true. The kits I found in your house. We are pregnant?’

‘What?’ Heather retorted as if confused and disgusted at the same time.

‘Last night, at the party where you publicly ashamed that poor girl and were obviously avoiding me. Remember? I found these in your toilet..’ he said that as he revealed the pregnancy kits from his jacket. He hadn’t changed his wardrobe.

‘First of all, that is gross and super disgusting..’ she responded firmly. But then she started to stutter, ‘Second, yes they are mine,.. er, not really mine, not all… urgghh! This is not the right time for this!!’

Jason stood his ground. He wanted answers. Was it his baby? Was she even pregnant?

The kits belonged to Heather. But they had been used by all the plastics at the same time. For moral support of Lindsey who had suffered a pregnancy scare. Heather was evil, but she was still human enough to have compassion for her own. Jason dropped all of them on the ground. The thought of the cocktail of germs that had gone from those kits to his hands. Too much.

‘Then why are you here at the OB’s’

‘Can we talk at another place?’

No, right here, right now!’

Heather paused hesitatingly.

‘Ok.. been having cramps for a while. Thought it was just normal and tried to drown it out. But the pain got worse. Like really bad and I tried some of the off-the-counter medicine but that wasn’t helping. So I came for a biopsy at your father’s practice last week..’

Getting to the point...’

She couldn’t speak any more. She was already sobbing. She gave Jason the paper in her hand. He read it slowly.

‘Cystic ovarian cancer!!’ He shouted.

Adelide had finally caught up right in time to hear that. Though deep down she knew that karma had come up big time for her, nobody deserved such news, no matter how ugly they were inside. Both of them were now monsters of their own making. She sympathised with Heather.

‘You need this more than I do,’ Adelide gave Heather the burrito.

Everyone stared at each other quietly.

*****THE END*****

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