Francisco woke on the other side of the bed from where he thought he had fallen asleep. He had always been a restless sleeper, Rachael told him. She was sleeping, her back turned to him still, and maybe she was dreaming something better than what they had become together.
He pulled himself up onto the pillow. The window was a frightening prospect, so he kept it closed, the shade down, a little longer, please. She’s pregnant, she’s pregnant, she’s pregnant. That’s all he saw now when he looked at her, the little heartbeat somewhere inside. This would be so much harder, he thought, placing his hand on her hip, if he loved her. The three of them rested there in the dark.
It was a memory from before the decision, one that returned when he lost time. One of the only times it seemed like there was a three of them to speak of. It was in that grieving period after Rachael had told him she was pregnant, where he pretended to happiness, even though he knew it meant their relationship would end, and where there was no more reason to take precautions with sex. She was over every night, and they wrung out whatever remained of their time.
“Yes.” She turned to see the ceiling. Then she turned to see his face. “Why do you remember this, Francis? Why this moment, every time. Every time you take that stuff?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, stop it. At least remember the sex, if that’s all we had. At least remember that.” She laughed and turned back away from him and yawned. Her whole body stretched beneath the white sheet.
“Don’t call me Francis,” he said. “I don’t know why I come back here every time. I’ve got to stop doing this.” He looked at her. His memories were supposed to be fixed. They weren’t supposed to talk back to him.
“Maybe you love me. Maybe you love our baby.” Her hand rubbed the sheet at her belly. “That’s why.”
No one ever understood creative types. “Maybe I’m in this for the story. And that’s it.”
“I think you love me more than the story.”
He stood up and pulled open the shades. It was dim morning, at best. He turned back to her. “I love the story more.”
Well, we’ve all put in. It would be interesting to print this out and see if it reads at all cohesive. I enjoyed reading each part individually. Peters added a somewhat mystery-like element, which I don’t think has been totally destroyed. I think my biggest challenge was trying to be faithful to each previous part, while still improvising something subjective out of my head to write for my part. I like Shotts’ memory talking back, J.E.’s brooding writer, and Toby’s character interactions. So do we continue this one, or start from scratch with new stipulations?
Me next. We haven’t seen the last of Frank.
I’d like to see what J.E., the originator, does with all of this. Sorry, for my part, for introducing flashback: an amateur move, to be sure.