The large iridescent crepe of a wilted psychodelic butterfly graced her closet in a melancholy state. That Halloween: the best Halloween. The last time she put any real effort into her costume. It used to be the one thing Evelyn was supremely great at: creating a costume once a year that inspired others and assured her grace and glory at the Hanson Bash. Jeanine Hanson became pregnant shortly after that and the party was cancelled the following year.
Evelyn still promised to visit on the occasion, though, and sat on the new sofa Ted and Jeanine had picked out as part of baby-proofing the house. Ted declared it “absolutely injury-free,” and Evelyn found it absolutely hideous. Then again, if she ever decided to have runts, she would probably get one exactly like it. Hopefully they would at least have a plaid by then. The floral inferno seared images of Grandma Ruth’s house in her brain…that came of a scent memory of something slightly sulfuric.
“Jesus, this is the third time this hour,” Jeanine said, “I don’t even bother to close the flap anymore, and I think the clasp fell off.” Indeed the flap of her nursing bra, slightly yellowed and draped against her ribcage, looked as though it had given up in despair.
It was nice Jeanine felt comfortable enough with her to sit around in her nursing bra, chatting and asking Evelyn occasionally to hand her the cup of breastfeeding tea. Yet there was still something awkward about nursing women: even her best friend, sitting there. They had seen each other’s body parts a million times during locker changes in high school. Yet there was still something unnerving to this die-hard feminist: she felt in a small way that Gloria Steinem would not approve of her recoil.
“So any fun plans tonight? I have to live vicariously through the childless now.”
Jeanine did not mean it to be hurtful, she was always trying to make some vivid remark. But sometimes the vividness was off-color.
“Oh, I dunno. I’m just not that into Halloween anymore, y’know? I’m thinking about doing Mardi Gras instead in a view months. It’s so much more…continental.”
Jeanine snickered, trying not to disturb little Evan. “And which continent, would that be, my dear?”
“Oh, you know, one where the childless go to commiserate about living alone forever. And frolic until dawn without a thought as to whether or not they’ll be able to make a meaningful contribution to the world.”
Jeanine was really struggling to hold back a sound belly laugh now. “You are so uplifting, you know, Ev. And why do you talk like that? Nobody else I know talks like you.”
“Nobody else wants to be truthful,” Evelyn sunk back into a particularly loud and large rose blossom, “and besides, someone has to be the last of the melodramatic.”
“And what about Ty? Is he game with your Mardi Gras plan?”
The last person Evelyn wanted to discuss was Ty–even with Jeanine. She sighed, rolled her eyes, and said, “Oh, who knows. I may be melodramatic, but I am just a subject in his realm. He is the King of Melodrama.”
Evan stopped sucking and so Jeanine burped him. As she shifted him to her other side, he made small bubbles with his lips and sunk into rest. “Thank God,” she said slowly laying him beside her. The sofa opposite Evelyn was the same size. Evan’s yellow baby blanket covered half of the god-awful print. He made sough sucking sounds in his sleep, and Evelyn’s heart ached.