Think of the Children
On one particular morning, she arose right after the sun did with a sharp pain in her stomach – apparently the baby was going to be a soccer player once it was old enough or something. After stumbling to the bathroom and splashing cold water on her face in a vain attempt at forcing the rest of her body to catch up with her abdomen’s wake-up call, she pulled on a silk bathrobe and began the less desirable part of her morning routine. On the other side of the bed, her husband was still asleep, and while it was halfway tempting to wake him, Julia resisted the urge. His alarm clock would go off in precicely sixteen minutes, if her eyes weren’t fooling her as she stared across the bedroom, and she was willing to grant him that.
When she made it out to the main room of the apartment, however, all thoughts of domestic bliss evaporated as she took in the sight currently on the longest of her couches. A body, tall and lithe, clad in an outfit that might’ve been presentable if certain bits were buttoned, and missing one of her shoes. In other words, Chelsea was back.
As best friends went, the blonde who doubled as Julia’s step-sister-in-law wasn’t bad. The majority of the time, Chelsea Kearns kept her hurricane life wherever it occurred, and when she ventured into Julia’s territory, she did it with her tail between her legs. Apparently drunken misadventures were exempt from this rule, however, and the petite brunette regretted ever having given her friend a key. The two women were practically sisters, but there were some things that even that relationship couldn’t justify. Finding one’s platonic soulmate passed out on one’s couch was definitely one of those things.
Cautiously, Julia inched closer and, when she was within range, reached out and jabbed a fingernail into the other woman’s neck. The effect this action produced was exactly as she had hoped. The blonde sat bolt upright, tired eyes blinking as she took in the daylight. “Good morning!” she exclaimed with more sarcasm than anyone should be capable of at roughly half past six.
“What are you doing in my house?” Julia asked, bypassing formalities entirely.
“Oh dear.” Chelsea blinked again, this time taking in her surroundings. “Um… the last thing I remember was disappointing sex with a diplomat who may or may not have spoken coherent English, so… your guess is as good as mine, babe.”
“We have rules about this. More importantly, I have a three-year-old son who will be traumatized if he sees you in this condition.”
“And you’re sure he’s Dominic’s kid?” Chelsea laughed. “Please, Harry will be fine.”
“If you’re volunteering to pay his therapy bills, we can work with that theory, but if not…”
“C’mon, all I did was crash on your couch. I have a key, I’m sober now, and my bits are covered. How is this a problem?”
“Because you practically broke into my house and nearly convinced me that you’d died on my furniture,” Julia snapped. “Is that reason enough to get through your thick skull?”
Chelsea rolled her eyes. “If I wanted to die and haunt someone’s apartment, I’d go bug my mother. I like you, remember?”
“You have an odd way of showing it,” Julia muttered.
Before she could say anything more on the subject, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder and heard a calming albeit rather tired voice. “Do I even want to know what’s going on here?” “
Chelsea had another of her adventures,” Julia explained, turning slightly to face her husband. “And somehow she ended up here and we’re not entirely sure how that happened.”
“Ah.” Dominic nodded, eyes darting between his wife and stepsister. “So business as usual then?”
“Yup,” Chelsea replied. “Totally normal. Now, if one of you darlings will remind me where the guest bathroom is…”
“Not going to happen,” Julia countered. “It’s right by Harry’s room. We are not waking him up at this hour, not because of this little situation.”
“I can be quiet – and I don’t mean to be vulgar, but I need to pee.”
“Fine. Down the hallway, second door on your right, accidentally end up in my son’s bedroom and I will change the locks.”
Once the blonde had wandered off, the Trasks exchanged looks. “Remind me why we gave her a key?” Dominic asked worriedly.
“Because she’s your sister and my friend,” Julia replied, reaching out and squeezing his hand. “And because this is at least slightly better than getting a panicked phone call from the night doorman at four in the morning.”
“You have a point there,” Dominic muttered. “But still, it’s just not a good idea anymore. We’ve settled down, had children, and turned out to be responsible adults who are capable of making decent choices. She… hasn’t.”
“If she ever turns up here under the influence, I’ll call the cops. Considering that she currently has one of the worst hangovers of her life and may or may not have had an awful one-night stand…”
“She’s married,” Dominic interjected.
“Legally,” Julia corrected. “As if that’s ever meant anything to her. As if that was going to stop her acting like this.”
“We can only hope that something does sooner or later.”
“My bet’s on an unintended pregnancy of unknown paternity,” Julia muttered under her breath.
From down the hall, the couple heard their friend’s shrill voice. “Oh… this isn’t the bathroom. Good morning Harry!”
“She is way too energetic for this early in the morning,” Dominic whispered to his wife.
“Well, that’s what mixing Red Bull and alcohol will do to a person,” Julia replied. “Or then again, this is Chelsea we’re talking about. It’s probably better not to know.”
“Correction – it is always better not to know.”
Copyright © 2014 Alyssa Murphy
Alyssa Murphy is a writer and shopgirl based in southeast Indiana. Her work has previously appeared in The Storyteller.