Jennifer Gintub jumped out of her Pino-ed pineal dream state at the sound of the exuberant doorbell. How drunk must she be not to have heard someone walking up the heavily gravelled garden path? She wondered with a little concern and looked into the bottom of the fish bowel she’d just drained. It can’t be him already, he’d be with her, by now, and anyway he had his door keys with his car keys…who could it be? Her now calmed, almost apathetic demeanour heaved her heavy body from its slumped sitting position and screeched the chair legs along the real oak floor boards as she stood up.
She sloshed and waddled her way to the door with an ungraceful Grigio-ed gait, pushing against frivolously dressed unnecessary side tables like a half-cut gondolier making his way down river. As V was about to impatiently ring the bell again, Jennifer wrenched the large wooden and steel door open just enough to stick her charcoal tear-stained face through. She looked V up and down with unselfconscious caution. “Yes?” She ventured with a curious smirk. This scratched, spindly figure looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t be bothered to wrack her brains as to where she might have seen her before. The domestic despair coupled with the baby booze goggles gave Jennifer a somewhat ‘devil-may-care’ attitude towards this sorry looking stranger. She looked totally harmless.
“I’m so sorry to disturb you, um, madam” said V, using her naturally frantic speech and dishevelled appearance as tools in her ploy. “I’ve just crashed my car a mile or so down the road and I can’t get back into it to get my mobile, coat, or anything! Can I please borrow your phone to call the AA? I know it’s getting late…if I could just come in for a few moments, I’d really appreciate it. It’s so cold out here.” Her lip quivered on cue.
“Well I suppose so,” responded Jennifer, feeling a little sympathy for this poor unfortunate soul. What a silly girl, probably swerved to avoid a pheasant or something pathetic like that, she surmised. To her own surprise she was also suddenly desperate for some female company. She opened the door widely and motioned to V to come in. This gesture revealed the yummy bump in all its juicy glory. “Oh wow, you’re pregnant!” Said V with feigned surprise, and walked in towards her. “Yes yes, 8 or so months now.” She reeled off the verbatim lethargically as she closed the door behind V.
The house was warm, woody and littered with golden lamplight. V slipped off her tatty plastic ballet pumps and felt her tiny tired feet melt into the soft woollen carpet that lined the hallway, like shrews nestling into their fluffy burrow for a long winter hibernate. A warm shiver ran up her spine and her forever furrowed brow relaxed.
“Would you like a cup of tea…or glass of wine?” dared Jennifer who was brazenly pouring herself another.
“Why not” joined in V as she followed her into the kitchen. Jennifer handed V a fishbowl of her own, testing the strength of her feeble wrists. V lifted it to her mouth with both hands and sipped at the rim. A green tinted glow washed down her gullet and (as sensitive as we all know V is) she instantly felt at ease. A little rosy colour even graced her hollow cheeks.
“Delicious!” she gasped.
“Should be,” retorted Jennifer, “it’s from his special collection, fifty quid a bottle or something ridiculous,” her chin wagged mockingly. “Might as well enjoy something of his,” bitterness started to reach the tip of her tongue. “Not that I have been able to lately of course,” she pointed to her belly, “but tonight it was totally necessary to calm my frayed nerves! God knows what stress can do to a baby, and me!” Suddenly she got on a roll, and it just felt so good to release… “Why shouldn’t I think of my needs hmmm?! All he thinks about is his needs, I mean, I know I’m obviously not my sexy, slim, sensational self when I’m this huge whale and can’t even see to shave my legs properly, let alone anything else, but does that really mean he should be able to go off shagging the next tanned, blonde, size 6, 25 year old who comes along. I mean, he even thinks he can justify it! Says I’m making a fuss, and my role is to bare the children and not ask questions!”
She slumped back on the chair and began sobbing again. She had completely forgotten why V was there, and just finally felt able to vent some spleen, or womb, on this seemingly friendly face. “I’m sorry darling, god, you must think I’m a total state, and a terrible person! And to be honest, I am! He’s always telling me I’ve not eaten the right food, or done the right exercises, and that I’m harming the baby when I have a nap…as well as telling me I look dreadful in everything I wear and should make more of an effort with his friends even though I’m exhausted. He says he finds me repulsive when I’m this size and is sending me on the baby-weight boot camp when it’s born. All our friends know what he’s like but they wont say anything as he’s the chair of the country club and they all want to keep their memberships! I just want to leave it all behind – him, the club, this life, but he says he’ll leave me with nothing and make my life, and the baby’s, hell if I try to divorce and shame him. He’s a mason from a high up family background in law too so god knows I wont get a penny! But the child will have a good life with his money if I stay with him….Ooooohhhhhh I just want to die!!” She sobbed until she gagged.
V watched and listened and was genuinely moved to outrage. What a fucking arse hole. Is this how the other half live? Is this what she was aspiring to? Is this the perfect marriage? Family life? A nonsensical wave of guilt washed over her. She was suddenly sorry to be slim, in her 20s, blonde and fake tanned to a crisp. With all her dyes, bronzers, bleaches, exercises, diets, vitamins, was she trying to be the sort of girl a man like that wanted to run off with? Is that the dream? Is that the love she was searching for in place of the love she lacked in her early life? This poor pained person in front of her was carrying the purest piece of untainted life in her belly and this is how she was being treated?? Too much was happening in V’s heart, she couldn’t work it out, she just suddenly didn’t want to be all of that anymore….
Instead, she found herself rushing over to Jennifer Gintub and wrapping her arms around her. “Oh you poor thing! He sounds like an absolute sack of shit, and this is all so wrong and unfair! You shouldn’t be treated like that at all! You are so beautiful just how you are right now, and you are so important!” She didn’t know where her words were coming from, the warm green glow settled around her heart centre and her tongue became loose and liberated. She started to sob with Jennifer. They hugged and shook and sobbed together, V’s rickety frame and wispy hair encasing Jennifer like a home-made halo as she stood over the seated pregnant woman.
Eventually, running out of steam, Jennifer looked up at V and stopped crying. “Thank you darling” She said recovering some composure. “Oh gosh, you don’t need all this! You need the phone and to sort your car out and probably get home to your boyfriend or family, they’ll be worried about you!”
“Actually I live alone, and am in between boyfriends, and well, umm family too at the moment actually,” V confessed. She laughed nervously but felt less ashamed than usual. “And oh er, the car is, urr, ok, it’s just on a grassy side road out of the way, no need to hurry really” she remembered the atrocious lie guiltily. “I was just cold more than anything.” She added honestly.
“Well let’s get you warm at least!” Jennifer jumped up clumsily and grabbed a cardigan from the back of a chair and wrapped it around V. Instantly, the cosy cashmere engulfed V like a living creature’s nurturing nuzzle. “Oh wow, um thank you, this is lovely, a bit too lovely for me”. She would never take this off again if she could help it, she thought.
“Nonsense, it’s just an old one of his. He probably doesn’t even know it still exists! And why don’t you stay here tonight with me? The spare room is all made up and he won’t be back until god knows when! Pete, our driver, can take us both into town in the morning, we’ll sort it all out then”. Her face screwed up, “He’s with Melissa tonight – I even know her fucking name! Ugh! Disgusting!” She held her brow in shame then looked up to smile pleadingly, “it will be nice to have some friendly company, I do get so lonely since we moved away from my family and friends and into the town where he grew up. He says it will be good for the baby to know where its father comes from, and go to the school he went to and all that crap.” She looked back at V and lifted her expression sweetly, “What do you say?”
All the evil in V’s mind started to evaporate as she looked at the bedraggled desperate female in front of her. A strength came over her heart that she had never felt before. For the first time in her life, someone needed her. It was invigorating. Life flooded through V’s veins like Iguacu falls. “Ok!” She agreed and beamed a wide smile. Jennifer’s face lit up! “Oh perfect! I know it’s a little strange, but what the hell, maybe its fate that we met like this. Just let me know if you need anything, a bath, whatever. Oh and we may as well tuck into these!” Jennifer went to the larder and after a moment of rustling and reaching, and knocking bottles over with her protruding belly, she pulled out a beautifully hand-painted wooden box. “I’ve been saving them for a time like this…it’s just not come up! They’re from a friend I met travelling in Indonesia on my gap year yonks ago. She was from Bali, we kept in touch and she became a chocolatier!”
Jennifer carefully lifted the wooden lid off the box. “Wow”, said V. “They look super special, are you sure you want to have them now? I don’t think I’ve ever seen such luxurious looking chocolates.”
“Yes, I’m certain. It’s perfect. She told me to share them with a dear friend and enjoy them. This was before she knew I was married and pregnant. For some reason, I didn’t want to admit that I’d settled down and became a housewife, she was so exciting and liberated.” Each woman picked up a chocolate from the beautiful box. They were the colour of mahogany and dusted with unrefined sugar and sea salt…and something else…something aromatic, a little bit spicy, and a little bit familiar…
Each woman looked into the other’s eyes as the delicious delicate treat entered their welcoming gobs. “Oh wooooowww!” They said together through slow, deep orgasmic giggles. “That’s ridiculous,” said Jennifer as she grinned a big brown-toothed grin.
“That is the best thing I’ve ever eaten” said V dreamily, a tear coming to her eye. They languidly gobbled up a few more chocolates each. Chuckling and chiming expressions of pleasure.
Suddenly there was a banging at the door. They both swallowed prematurely and were shook out of their shared sensual sojourn. “Oh god, I recognise that bang. He’s drunk.” Jennifer got up to look through the window, as she did so, V casually looked at the back of the box of chocolates for the ingredients, mainly out of habit but this time also out of intrigue. Her eyes widened with aghast. ‘Nutmeg’ was the familiar spicy flavour.