Eleven

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Dear Diary,

I’m writing a strongly worded letter to Day 28. On the homepage of the website, it says: “Day 28, we consider every woman’s needs to offer our clients only the best.” Ha! Every woman implies that there are no restrictions. In fact, if I believed their false advertising, they would deliver to the most remote village in Africa.

Signed,

Ashley

 

The next morning, I’m still safe but I can feel it. It’s a matter of time, of hours, maybe even minutes. It’s like a race against the clock, but instead of a prize at the end for beating the odds, I get punished anyway. It’s the worst marathon ever.

I throw on a pair of double extra large sweatpants that look more parachutes on each leg, an oversized hoodie, and sunglasses. Fashion has to take a backseat. I can’t be bothered with peep toe pumps or showing off my calves.

My phone vibrates, jumps across the table. It’s probably Ryan again. He’s texted no less than four times since last night, and no, not in the creepy stalker kind of way but in the concerned beautiful boyfriend kind of way. I want to tell him the truth, I really do, but let’s face it, it’s not exactly something you throw in over casual dining.

So guess what, Ryan?”

“What?”

“I go through hell no less than once a month. My mother says it’s bad genes. I say it’s the Universe cracking a joke for amusement. It’s best if you mark your calendar to include designated safe times.”

If I told him that, then there would be no Ryan to keep texting me. I feel horrible for lying to him, because liars are losers but it’s less of a lie and more like omitting important details of my life. No false advertising here.

          Are you sure you’re okay?

See? He really is perfect boyfriend material.

I type back.

        I’m fine. Just a little under the weather.

That’s probably not the smartest thing to say to a doctor, but I can’t waste time thinking of a better, more detailed excuse. The clock is ticking.

My mom is in the kitchen, making breakfast.

“Here, honey,” she says. “Sit down.”

“Can’t, Mom.” She looks at me disdainfully. “I want to but I can’t. I have to run out. Can you put mine in the fridge? I’ll eat it as soon as I get back. I swear.”

“Ashley, I don’t see what is that important that you have to miss…”

“Mom,” I say. “Please. It’s an emergency.”

She rolls her eyes and shakes the plate she’s holding in my direction. “You best eat this when you come home. I’m out today with Edna. We’re stitching quilts for the church fundraising sale.”

“Sounds like a great day,” I lie. “Bye, Mom.” I hoist my handbag up on my shoulder and grab my keys from the hall table.

This is only my second trip to the grocery store since I’ve been a resident of Fairview. My mom is big on doing her grocery shopping and she refuses to let her air boot or me interfere. If alphabetizing soup cans and making pre-made freezer meals floats her boat, than who am I to argue?

I keep my sunglasses on, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone as I grab a cart and proceed to the junk food aisle. I toss both chocolate bars and bags of chips into the cart, not caring that they’ll probably be on my hips for a week, maybe more. When I reach the pharmacy section, I place various and assorted boxes of my favourite girl products in my cart, realizing I forgot herbal tea. I push the cart forward, determined to locate it, when I run into something solid.

Crap. I’d recognize those forearms anywhere. I plant a fake smile on my face and look up.

“Ryan, what are you doing here?” I nonchalantly pull my cart away from him, and behind me, doing my best to hide it and its contents. Please don’t let him notice.

He arches an eyebrow and holds up a handheld basket. “Well,” he says, “Seeing as how you were under the weather, I figured I’d follow the old wives’ tale and bring you some chicken soup.” Chicken breasts, veggies, noodles and broth fill his basket. Heaven help me, that perfect man was going to make and then bring me chicken noodle soup! My heart melts before the reality of the situation hardens it.

I wait, hoping some kind of excuse will form in my brain, but I have nothing and snap to just in time to realize I’m standing there like a fool while he begins surveying the contents of my cart and, for a brief second I actually contemplate tossing my entire body over the cart like a blanket, blocking his view of my mountain of feminine products.

“Either those are on sale or you’re waiting for a flood,” he says with a laugh.

I cringe. If I had a dollar for all the ways that’s not funny, I’d be a very rich woman. His face drops when I offer no response.

“I really don’t want to talk to you about this,” I tell him. “I have to go.”

His grin evaporates. “Ashley, I…”

“Please,” I fight the tears burning my eyes, and refuse to blink for fear that they’ll fall. “I mean it, I really have to go. This isn’t about you.”

He steps to the side and I ditch the search for herbal tea and head to the checkout till. I feel completely humiliated when I reach my car. I toss the bag into the back, plant my forehead on the steering wheel and cry. How can I ever look him in the eye again?

 

 

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