No one can find me.
I’m on my third glass of Shiraz when he sits beside me. We make small-talk as he rubs a thumb on his Miller Lite bottle. His wife Lori’s across the way holding a champagne flute. Our banquet room inside this trendy high-rise hotel is too small. There's not enough air for the three of us.
At the beginning of the night, I kept running into Lori. She’s elegant in a way and in the bathroom, I tell her she’s pretty, that it's nice to finally meet her, even though I didn’t mean a damn word of it. Her hair is black, severely short. She has masculine features: a square face, a strong nose, and perfect make-up. The more I drink, the more she reminds me of a drag queen.
A few of the single women I’ve come with have disappeared mingling with others. My hands are starting to shake, but not from the Shiraz. It's this damned day. I’ve thought about it over and over, the memories, all the weight.
My eyes study Ryan closely now, the way he raises his brow when he intends to make a point, his carefree, ain’t got no worries, kind of laugh. It's the delicate details, comforts, these tiny gestures that defined my youth. He's talking about his favorite history teacher, Mr. Carr, how his lectures motivated him to be better and stay clean. It's a touching story, only his voice is beginning to sound muffled like we’re trapped underwater.
There’s a faint hum inside my ear. I can’t seem to gather details. Something is pounding- pounding inside of me. It's hard to breathe. I need out of this box. I need a window.
These thoughts rush through my head before I utter the words. I finally tell
Ryan my secret, I had your baby. I gave him away. Then I add, Oh God, the reason I was home-schooled those years, but it comes out in a nervous choke, a way to fight off tears.
Ryan glares at me with genuine concern then horror, the same way mother did when I told her I was pregnant at fifteen. Tears spill from my eyes when I whisper, What have I done? My mouth is dry- dry-dry. I feel like I’m going to vomit.
The disco ball reflects light around us; tiny sparkles are everywhere. I’m having a hard time moving, rising to get OUT. From a distance, I see the wrecked image of a long-lost girl in the wall mirror before his hand touches my shoulder.
My Ryan reaches for me.