My cell phone rings, cutting off my reading as the children around me stop. We had started a book that teaches them colors and shapes in a fun way just moments before the shrill tone interrupted us. I thought I’d turned that off. I smile at the children before standing.
“Okay, lets get back to our seats and pull out the worksheet I handed earlier. Grab your crayons.”
They scramble to their seats as I head to my purse. Who would be calling at this time? It must be an emergency.
I shuffle through my bag, picking up my phone to read the lit screen. The boys’ school is calling? I answer on the second ring.
“Hi, Mrs. Fos?”
I turn back to the room, making sure the children are busy working as I cradle the phone between my ear and shoulder. “Yes, is there something wrong?”
“Yes, I’m calling about Ezra. He got into a fight today and I can’t reach your husband.”
“Is he okay?” I don’t know what my next reasonable response should be.
“Yes. We need you to pick him up and have a talk with you if possible.”
I run my hand through my hair turning back to the room “Yes, I understand. I’ll be there.”
I hang up, place my phone in my purse, and reach for the phone in my class to call the main office.
“Are you mad at me?”
I have one hand on the steering wheel and the other rubbing the growing migraine as we leave Ezra’s school. He barely has any marks on him, but I can’t say the same for the other child. We are lucky they don’t want to press charges, but meeting with the principal had set my nerves on edge. And on top of that, my husband isn’t answering the phone.
“No, honey.” I smile through the rearview mirror. “I am not mad, but we can’t hit people. You know that, right?”
Ezra looks at me, then back toward the window. “He started it.”
His face whips to mine. “He did! He made fun of me because I wore a skirt and said I was a freak because of my nails.”
I take a deep breath. That is another conversation I hadn’t had with Ezra. He wants to express himself, how he really feels on the inside, and I allow it. How can I not? He is my son, my baby, my whole world, but people are cruel, especially now. I want him to be who he is regardless of what others think. He is still growing. He doesn’t know proper pronouns or anything like that yet.
“So we need to have a talk.”
He just looks at me, his blue eyes staring.
“The world isn’t like how Mommy and Daddy are at times. Not as nice and many won’t see things like we do. But you will meet people throughout your life who will love and accept you as you are. No questions asked.”
His eyes start to fill with tears, his bottom lip trembling. “But I can’t change.”
I stop the car, pulling over on the shoulder of the road. I don’t care that it is on the highway or not. I undo my seatbelt, putting my flashing lights on and turn to look at him. I reach my hand out, holding his.
“And you don’t have to. You’re absolutely perfect the way you are, Eris.”
The interior of the car melts away for a second. My skin an olive glow as I stand upon a mountain range. My arms folded over my chest, my stomach flat. Not a hint of pregnancy. I am wearing a skintight red dress, the long ends flowing in the draft as we are this high up. I’m standing next to someone, their outfit a mixture of lace, leather, and strings with thick boots that end at mid-calf. Their black hair is short and their eyes burn yellow. A smirk curves their lips as they look out over the world laid out before us. They move their hand across their cheek and look back at me.
“You really think I am something?”
My head tilts, not a single lie drips from my lips. “I think you are everything.”
I sit up in my bed, sweat dripping from my forehead. What? I’m back home. The lights are dim in my room, the window spilling sunlight from the half open curtains. My hand reaches, and I touch my stomach, feeling the little flutter of kicks. Laughter echoes from downstairs, and I swing my legs over, heading toward it. I take the stairs one at a time and peek over the banister, seeing my husband and kids playing.
“There she is.” He stops mid tickle, picking up Eric and Ezra and slinging them over his shoulders as they scream and giggle. “How are you feeling?”
“How did I get home?” I ask, my brows furrowing.
“You drove?” Confusion tints his brows as he swings the kids in a circle and stops again “Headaches still?
I raise my hand towards my head and continue down the stairs and towards the kitchen “Yes. No. I mean I don’t know. I was driving home with Ezra. The school called.”
“Yes, we already talked about that. Then you said your head hurt and wanted a nap. So I made dinner, and here we are.”
I grab a glass from the cabinet and go to the refrigerator to fill it with water. “How did I get home?”
“Stop saying that!” I scream, slamming the glass down hard enough for it to shatter, water spilling everywhere.
Emmet stops, slowly dropping the boys, who look shocked and scared. He pats them on the top of their heads. “Go upstairs, boys.”
They start to interject, but he cuts them off. I bite my lip, looking at the mess I made, and reach for a rag on the door of the stove. Emmet is there in a second, grabbing my hand and moving me toward the sink instead. He turns the water on, making me put my hands underneath it, washing away the small amount of blood from me where I’d cut myself.
“Baby, what’s wrong? Talk to me. You always have? This isn’t like you. The memory lapses and outbursts.” His eyes meet mine
“Pregnancy.” I forced a smile, hiding the lie. He doesn’t say anything as he helps me clean up. I change the subject while we clean. We laugh like normal as we sweep the floor and clean the counter. But it isn’t real and the growing headache keeps telling me something is off. This isn’t a pregnancy symptom but something more. Emmet heads upstairs as I turn the lights off and look around the kitchen once more.
“You coming?” he asks, waiting at the third step.
I turn back to him, nod once as I force another smile before taking his hand. We take a shower, make love, and go to bed. I don’t tell him about how the entire time we cleaned the kitchen it kept changing to some cold dedicated prison. I don’t mention the woman I saw staring back at me as I turned the kitchen lights out. She wore the same red dress, had the same long flowing dark hair, and the same gold eyes and matching jewelry. I don’t tell him about the smile she wore as she pointed to me.
I finally close my eyes.