The Pregnant Widows Club, a novella, part 3
About three o'clock in the morning, Iridella scanned the mostly
dozing (and burping) slew of preggos and saw one set of half-
opened eyes, those of Iris.
"I can be. What's up?"
"I have some questions."
"Don't we all. About the Club?"
Iris struggled to her feet, trying not to dislodge whichever
blanket-covered snoring lump was next to her. She tottered a bit,
burped, and headed for the kitchen. She waggled her hand in a beckoning.
Iridella practically had to roll to get out of her chair. Except
for pit stops, she hadn't been out of it for five hours. Her knees
popped. She settled her shoes on her feet and managed to totter
after Iris, who was quietly shifting some of the dirtier dishes
and pans to a general area near the sink basins.
Iridella opened the fridge and took out a bottled smoothie. Oddly,
she thought, for a pregnant women, Spree kept a lot of beer and
a bottle of tequila in her icebox. She mentioned it to Iris.
"Oh, that's not for her or us. That's for our gofer, um, what's
"Imp...," said Ivylynne's sleepy voice from the floor by the TV.
"Thanks," said Iris.
"Don' mention it..."
"She's got ears like a fox terrier in a thunder storm,"said Iris.
"I heard that..."
"Go back to sleep."
"'Kay, jus don' talk about me..."
"Sure. Anyway, this Imp fellow used to be a widowed dad until his
wife's family took the child. He's got this do-gooder thing going
on and he tries to help whenever he can. Otherwise, he hangs around,
tolerates our abuse and drinks beer by the gallon."
"Isn't that disgusting?"
"Sometimes. But a few of us used to do the same and it's not too
bad being teetotal when you can watch someone else make a fool.
The worst part is he's not allowed to smoke. I really miss that."
"Did your husband smoke?"
"No. I did. Pack and a half a day. Unfiltered. But only with Turkish coffee.
Sped my day up. Now I breath fresh air, get plenty of exercise,
do my prenatal vitamins, drink and eat plenty of yucky healthy
crap and look forward to the day my sprout goes off on it's first
day of... anything!"
Iridella leaned against the breakfast counter and contemplated
her navel. "Does any of this make any sense to you?"
Iris stopped fiddling, turned and took Iridella's chin in her
calloused hand. She looked into her eyes and said,"No."
Iridella turned out of her touch.
"You're not going to cry again, are you?"
"No. Actually, I feel like breaking something or shouting real
Iris patted her on the shoulder and stepped away. "That's the spirit."
Iridella sucked on the smoothie for a minute, rolling the tough
bits around on her tongue.
"Sp, why don't you?"
"Why don't you break something or do some shouting?"
"Look, it doesn't do to be so indecisive. If your babe lives, then
you will have officially become a parent. Not truly an instant adult,
as I sincerely doubt some of us will ever reach that pinnacle...
You have to become decisive. Even if you are wrong. Many things
will depend on you and you have to become dependable to yourself
and your child. Might as well get into the habit now, 'cause you
won't be able to think later."
Iridella tossed her bottle in the general area of the trash bin.
It didn't break.
"How many children did you say you've had?"
Iris winced. "Yeah, I know."
"She finks sheeze un Earth Mother... nose ebberfing about mummying..."
"Oh, shut up, Ivylynne."
Iridella giggled. Iris stuck her tongue out.
Iridella wanted to go home and Iris decided to leave her bike
and catch a ride with her. She'd forgotten and left one of the windows
cracked and the car was full of condensation and damp wool seat covers.
Though they hadn't drank anything but mineral water, they both
felt a little giddy. Iridella left the window down on the driver's
side so the air would help keep her awake. Her contact lenses
felt like wagon wheels and her eyes like dry marbles. Iris was
sorting through the deck of CDs on the window shade flipper.
"Wow, girl, you gotta bunch of old school crap in here, don't you?"
"The Bootsy Collins "Best Of" is the next to last one..."
"Ah. A hint of cross-cultural intelligence. I thought I was gonna
get stuck with Foreigner or Elvis Costello singing with Iron Maiden..."
"Oo! I've got to get that one!"
"You are truly not funny."
"You're the one that made the joke."
"And all you're supposed to do is laugh politely."
"In my own car?"
"Thou hast a point. What do you want to listen to?"
"What's that? Ah, here's the label... Ry Cooder! Yeah, baby!"
Iridella was surprised to discover that Iris lived in a sprawling
Greek Revival Ranch style house in a couple of acres of land just outside
the city limits. There was redwood playground equipment, a couple
of newer vehicles and a Bluebird RV bus.
"Really something, isn't it. I sold my start-up computer security
company just before the Y2K boom. There's no fool like a rich fool
wanting to become richer. Now he does freelance repair work for me. I have a small chain of computer stores scattered around."
"What was it you said you did, again?"
"I write ad copy for a tampon company."
"Can I laugh?"
"Please do. Otherwise, I will cry."
"Don't start that again. Well, good evening. See you later."
Iridella drove her damp car away, thinking about missed opportunities
and convincing herself that she should just stop thinking and
turn up the stereo.