Scene Title Precipice
Synopsis Eileen reflects on an important life lesson learned. Others include that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And, just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.
Date May 10, 2019

Gray House

One of the lessons you learn while living on the edge of a precipice is that timing is everything. What happens in the span of a heartbeat can mean the difference between life and death, carrying on and starting over, existing and simply— not. It's been years since Eileen found herself in such a sensitive position, and then it had involved pulling back on the trigger of an AKS-74U at precisely the correct moment. Today, stooped over the porcelain sink in the second floor bathroom of the Gray family's duplex, it has more to do with assessing the past mistakes than it does anticipating future ones.

She miscalculated.

Sweat beads on her forehead, skin slick and glistening with perspiration under the radiance of the bathroom’s solitary heat lamp as her reflection stares back at her from the other side of the mirror, eyes bright but rimmed pink by exhaustion and made wet by tears. Not the sort that accompany terrible knots of tightness in her chest and belly or the overwhelming sense of grief that sometimes paralyzes her entire body when she thinks about some of the things she and her husband have done, but rather the sort that come from heaving into the toilet's basin.

Morning sickness at approximately 10:26 at night. The first time, she’d been able to pass it off as something she ate. The second, she fingered stress as the culprit. The third, she made an unanticipated stop at Walgreens on the way home from St. Luke's and picked up a Pepto-Bismol pink package labeled First Response, paid the cashier with a twenty and encouraged him to keep the change. The fourth—

The fourth time, she peeled open the box with her fingernail, spread the pamphlet across the bathroom's tile floor and spent what felt like an eternity familiarizing herself with the instructions and picking apart the diagrams contained therein while rotating the test's plastic casing between her fingers.

One pink line for no. Two for yes.

That had been fifteen minutes ago. She wishes Abby was here, if not to reaffirm the result then to push the salt-soaked hair out of her face and offer her condolences. Congratulations?

Congratulations. A giddy snort of laughter bubbles up from Eileen's nose and she tips her head back to let it out, crowing incredulity.

Downstairs, a key turns in the lock and the front door groans open on hinges many decades older than the woman sequestered in the upstairs bathroom, both hands gripping the sides of the sink, thin plastic shell dangling from between two bony-knuckled fingers. Gabriel's footsteps sound across the hardwood floors, creaking, bemoaning the age of the house and the punishment inflicted by close to a century of constant occupancy.

Gray-green eyes dip from the reflection in the mirror to the test in Eileen's hand before sliding over her shoulder to the bathroom door and the sliver of hallway light that creeps in through the gap beneath it. In an instant, her mind snaps back like a steel trap to her coat hanging from the hook in the bedroom and the address tucked lovingly into the front breast pocket, scrawled across a well-worn piece of paper whose letterhead belongs to the Hotel on the Park.

The number attached to Teodoro Laudani's private suite.

Alexander Knight.

She stuffs the box into the bottom of the garbage can wedged between the sink and the toilet, drops the voided test into the indentation made by her fist and covers it in paper before pushing the heel of her hand down on the toilet's brass lever and filling the room with the sound of pipes sucking down water. One final glance at the mirror's pristine surface to wipe the smudges of make-up away from her eyes and the snot from under nose, and she's moving purposefully for the door with her shoulders squared and her head held high.

They've both been under so much pressure. He'll understand, she knows, when she dismisses her disheveled state as a momentary lapse in resolve, her appearance an outward reflection of her inner weakness.

Tomorrow. She'll tell him tomorrow when what needs to happen has, and their hands are washed, clean.

Timing is everything.

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