By Kiera Golden
Five minutes was an impractical amount of time to wait for two little red lines to appear; especially since Ophelia had much better things to do with her time than sit on the dusty toilet seat, holding a white and pink stick between her legs. After all, it hadn’t been her wielding the small drugstore package like a baseball bat into her dilapidated bathroom.
It was Isidore, her cotton-candy blue haired ‘friend’ who’d broken into the studio, yelling a string of obscenities at the intoxicated resident, passed out in the pile of beige pillows center the chaotic apartment. A lengthy argument about their differing opinions on personal boundaries ensued thereafter, eventually leading to the topic causing Ophelia to be hauled off her ass into the equally cluttered bathroom.
Isidore, wearing her typical gothic attire and black apron dusted with dirt and fertilizer from the flower shop she owned, pulled stale cheese-sticks from a Pizza-Hut box that had laid around since the previous week. Ophelia had ordered them as a ‘required food item’ to go with the six pack of Bud-lite. She leaned against the doorless door frame and watched the slightly swaying woman on the toilet. The door had been blown off its hinges during one of Ophelia’s routine acid trips many months ago; and since things tended to stay broken around her place, no one had the will nor money anymore to replace it for the dysfunctional female living here.
“Toss me the bottle of wine on the sink, will you?” Ophelia said, as with one boney hand-pushed knotted moon-colored tendrils behind her ear, the other hand now the sole carrier for the ‘piss-stick’ (a term she coined moments before) she held.
She didn’t need to look up from her dazed focus on the pill-bottle and garbage covered concrete floor to know that a bottle of some sort of liquor took residency in the bathroom; it was her unspoken house law that mandated at least three bottles stocked in here just in case one of her ‘babysitters’ came in acting like it was the prohibition and replaced all her alcohol with water or various brewed probiotic tea. They would be too busy with the hurricane of flasks in the studio to come in the rarely used restroom to confiscate the ones hidden in the medicine cabinet, trash bin, hole in the wall, or toilet tank… and if they did, they would be depleted of enough energy to only snatch the decoy on the sink.
“You’re kidding right?” Violet eyes didn’t as much look at the presumably three-dollar bottle resting precariously against a rusted faucet and chipped sink bowl. “How, in this situation would you even think that I would consider that?”
“Because there is no way in hell there is a situation… I’m just doing this to humor you.” She leaned back against the seat, sickly pale-yellow eyes rolling skywards. Inhaling and exhaling exasperatedly, her black bralette, a matching set with the drawn-down thong, stretched across tattooed breasts with every labored breath. Inked wolves and snakes chased each other along her curves in a never-ending race.
Although she couldn’t win a memory contest, tell someone what she’d done thirty minutes before, or what day of the week it was… she knew that she had been blacked out for a large portion of the last year; meaning any sort of possibility there would be a second red line near impossible. This she was sure of, the increasing throbbing in her head confirming her suspicions.
“So, the voicemail you left earlier- screaming that you’d been throwing up, missed your period, and wanted to see Aggie has nothing to do with what you’re doing right now?”
“Funnily enough, I know that never happened,” Ophelia sighed. But, quickly glancing into the moldy tub to her right told a different story- a greenish-white stain crusted on the edge of the tub… a faint smell of bile wafting under her nose. Moments after this realization, she glared back at the other woman, brows furrowed. “That could be from drinking! And- uh, you know I don’t eat a lot anyways, and my flow’s always been irregular so- “
“And what about Aggie… you gave her up in June, and haven’t given any inclination thus far that you wanted to see her- not even when you’ve called drunk before.”
Aggie, the bright eyed four-year-old in the polaroid’s tucked away in drawers; white pigtails pinned with butterfly clips. Six months ago, after weeks of fighting in family court against the man who’d written his name in hundreds of thin white lines along Ophelia’s back, CPS had whisked Aggie away from the studio and to an adoptive family- neither mother and father deemed fit enough for custody. Visiting rights were few and far between.
Dolls were still stuffed in the closet, a toothpaste-crusted child’s toothbrush and gummy vitamins sat on the chipped sink adjacent to the decoy bottle of wine. A whale bath-toy lay beached in the tub, now growing mold out of its spout. Ophelia could hear the chiming bells of her daughter’s giggles as she popped soapy bubbles in the tub- the little seal toy that came as a set with the whale in her other stubby hand.
These memories Ophelia could remember; there was a white fluffy bathmat where her bare feet now touched the floor, and the place had only looked decrepit back then. When she had first signed the lease on the studio, it still smelled clean- not like sweat, smoke and late-night drinking.
It was two years into the lease that the days became foggy, or forgotten entirely. The hot water was turned off, and Aggie would go weeks without a bath, because she’d cry because the water was too cold; and since the heat had also been shut off, when she got out, it would take hours under blankets to get warm again. Ophelia could barely feed Aggie, so she started drinking at the bar when she was on shift, and stole pub-mix when she could for herself, without the hard-ass boss looking- leaving the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the little one.
Ophelia even knew somewhere in her mind that sometimes, the woman standing across from her would drop the little girl off after she’d been babysitting her all day at the flower shop, and find her passed out in the bathroom, a few times also close to overdosing on her antidepressants. And when Aggie had been taken away, the occurrence of finding Ophelia blacked out became a daily ordeal.
Maybe it was true. Maybe she had left a voicemail and said all those things.
“Hey, it’s been five minutes,” Isidore dropped the empty box on the floor, snapping Ophelia out of her hazed thought. The woman on the toilet hadn’t registered the few tears that had escaped her eyes, and the slight tremor in her hands. “Do you want me to check it, or you? Because you went silent there for a sec… and you’re practically holding it like it’s got the plague…”
Without a verbal answer, Ophelia pulled up the arm that had dropped to the side up to her reclined head, fingers slightly sticky.
Two red lines.
She slowly stood up, pulled up her underwear and walked out the doorless bathroom, shoving the pregnancy test into her friend’s hands as she went.
“There’s at least four bottles in there… can you take five minutes while I get dressed and throw them out?”