15 Fifteen

    My bathwater was pink.

    I took a breath and submerged. In my warm, silent, womb-like world, I rested.

    I put my hands over my stomach, ballooned with blood. I looked like I was halfway through a pregnancy. Even now, though, my body was absorbing the blood, shrinking my body back to normal-a pregnancy backward, like everything else in this second life.

    I stayed underwater, felt along the edges of the bathtub for my sponge and soap and when I had them, scrubbed away every bloodstain.

    I had to leave soon, if I was going to be at counseling on time, so I unplugged the bath with my toes and toweled off while the water drained away. I sprayed it down with shower cleaner and then hid the shower cleaner under the cabinet behind extra bottles of bubble bath. Will joke about me enough without that kind of ammunition.

    Wet, my hair was almost black, and the contrast with my pale skin, even flushed as it was with my large meal and hot bath, made me look ghostly in the stripe of mirror I'd cleared of steam. I combed my hair into a ponytail, rubbed moisturizer with sunscreen into my face and neck, grabbed my lipgloss, and went to pull some clothes from the closet.

    Dressed and glossed, I took the bus to Dr. Parrish's office, feeling uncertainty twist my too-full stomach.

    I sat in the waiting room, staring at the giant clock behind Dr. Parrish's assistant, sure that at any moment, she would say, "I'm sorry, Annie, but I don't have you written down for an appointment today. Is there some kind of emergency?"

    And then I would say, "No. My mistake." And I would leave and never come back, spend the whole night walking around, lamenting my inability to live in the moment, always dwelling on the past and future and-

    "Dr. Parrish will see you now," the assistant said.

    I stood and walked into the office out of habit, not realizing until I was halfway through the door that I should be celebrating. He was seeing me. I wasn't being kicked out.

    "Nice to see you again, Annie," Dr. Parrish said.

    "Nice to see you too," I said, as politely as I could.

    "Thank you for the nice note. Can I assume this means that you won't be breaking into my office again?"

    "Yes. No, I won't break in again," I said.

    "Excellent. Now tell me how Will's party went. You said you left early?"
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