With nothing to do, I went to the linen closet and retrieved the pregnancy book I'd bought a week before. It was stashed there under an unopened box of sanitary napkins; a box I'd bought over a month ago, I was sure. I sat down in the living room and cracked open the virgin spine and began to read.
By that afternoon, I'd read the whole hardcover book. I'd also eaten an entire box of Hostess cupcakes. When I replaced the book in its hiding place, I turned the box of napkins over in my hands. Had it been a month since my last menstruation? My stomach was doing flips. I actually felt a little sick.
When Russ walked in the door I did my best to smile. I took his briefcase from him and then his coat and put them in the entryway closet. While he was in the bedroom stripping off his tie and collared shirt, I went to the kitchen and made tea for him.
Once he was comfortable in his easy chair I handed him the hot cup and rushed stealthily to the bathroom. Hoping to expel whatever was upsetting my gut, I knelt in front of the porcelain bowl and dry heaved for a good five minutes. Nothing came out.
After washing up, I returned to the kitchen to make dinner. I looked at the ground beef I'd set out a half-hour before. Nothing inside of me told me I wanted to eat that; a big ball of bloody meat. I wrapped the meat back into the paper and returned it to the icebox. Then I fished out the last TV dinner. I turned the oven dial to preheat while I gave the toilet bowl another visit. Still, nothing happened.
Later, sitting at the dinner table waiting for his food, Russ looked surprised to see me pull a single dinner out of the oven. I scooped the veal goulash and potatoes from the aluminum tray onto a proper plate. Then I set it in front of him and took my seat in the other chair.
"Aren't you going to eat?" he asked, already with his fork in his food.
"I can't. Something's wrong. I feel sick. I feel like I want to throw up, but I can't."
Russ scrunched up his face. "Jo, really."
I apologized sincerely for nearly ruining his appetite. But he carried on with his mouth partly full.
"Maybe it's something you ate."
"I only had lunch today," I fibbed. "I had egg salad."
"Maybe the eggs were bad."
"Could be." Could be something else, I thought.
I excused myself quickly and rushed again to the yellow-tiled bathroom. This time something did come out. The remains of my egg salad sandwich and some chocolate swirls floated in the bowl in front of me. It wasn't just in my mind. I was truly sick with something. Or someone.